#RPGaDay2020 – Day 21: Dramatic

Day 21 of #RPGaDay2020 has arrived unexpectedly. This year the prompts seem to be flying by very quickly, and the end of the event seems close enough to reach out and touch.

The prompt that our use of the map infographic has delivered to us today is ‘dramatic’ and it provides a good excuse to talk about play and improvisation from different perspectives. The interplay of such perspectives being great contributors to drama, after all.

Having barricaded the door to the lounge and catering area that serves the tower and executive meeting rooms (Areas 17-19), the ghostbusters race down more stairs, past the ground floor and down to the first underground basement level where they everyone but Diego is surprised to find an underground pool. He, of course, had read and understood the map and had known this was here all along.

The pool had been designed to look like a fantastic cave, with stalactites, hidden grottos, glints of crystal in the faux stone and a strange hot tub in the corner with a transparent bottom over top of a small waterfall. The area is lit by large floor to ceiling lighting arrays along the base of the tower on the far side of the pool, and a wooden slat bridge loops out around one corner to connect with the area beyond. The room is incredibly warm and humid, but the detail which grabs everyone’s attention is that it is not water which fills the large pool area, but ectoplasm. The stuff churns, and bubbles, and I describe the stuff as having a powerful pull on Diego.

“Feel the pulse of the portal!” I exult as Diego’s possessor.

See the source image

“You feel it, I am busy,” Diego retorts, as his player describes checking the PKE valances and doing some quick calculations.

“They possessed the executives here, didn’t they Linda?” Gray asks, looking from Dunhill to Linda to Diego. Linda clatters in response. When she is done, Diego translates for her.

“First, she wants me to tell you Dunhill, that she hopes you are unharmed. She finds you to be very impressive – especially your cranium. She also says it is growing harder and harder to remember how to think like a human being. She also thinks it is important to say that her condition started out just like my possession. Shared control of the body. At first she liked it, because the entity made her feel more capable and able to fill the role of shift supervisor more confidently, but then her body started to transform into something else and she had less and less control over her actions. She wants to say, before she is replaced by the creature completely, that she wishes she had met Dunhill under different circumstances, and she hopes she would have had the courage to ask him out.”

As Dunhill flounders for something to say, Lemmon butts in with a look at the time. “We should get moving on the whole nefarious plot foiling then, guys,” he says. “Maybe we can save Linda here before she becomes a bug permanently, and Diego, too.”

Dunhill nods. The player has latched onto the idea of rescuing Linda really tightly. We have all known some shy and isolated people in our lives, not all of whom are still with us, so these notes sometimes resonate more strongly than intended.

“Your concern for my well-being is touching, Dieter,” Diego remarks dryly, but then the player grows serious and indicates his notes. “Based on what we discovered in the labs, the transformation is not a side-effect of the possession, that is the result of Peck’s experiments in manipulating genetic code. He did this to Linda, and he did it on purpose. Unless I miss my guess, she never suspected a thing.”

Linda is described as reacting strongly with many body parts waving and lots of mandible clicking.

“She has quite a vernacular vocabulary,” Diego extemporizes.

I resume talking in my dramatized info-dump role, “but there is more. This pool is filled with the displaced souls of the researchers and engineers, as well as the abductees. Linda mentioned earlier that she feels it pulling at her, tearing her free of the body she is sharing with her possessor.”

Diego’s player picks up again where I leave off, the glint in his eye showing as always that he gets what is going on with the villainy, “Which means that we can free the souls from the plasm and trap them – which will cause a disruption in the power flow to the portal. If we can shut down the portal, the entities possessing Linda, myself, and the vines, will wither and die like uprooted weeds, baking in the sun.”

I describe Diego’s arm as rising and making a fist while his mouth offers an extended and distant, “Nooooooo…”

He puts the arm back down.

“Thanks, Anakin…” Dunhill’s player notes slyly, glad, I think, to be able to vent his emotion with humor rather than sadness.

“We do not have enough traps for all of these souls, Diego,” Gray says thoughtfully.

I back him up by noting that the characters can see perhaps twenty distinct glowing lights in the plasm and that they know that the facility employed close to fifty people.

“Don’t forget the ones who were abducted!” Dunhill adds. “I know they were used as mulch, but Peck may have gotten them stuck in here, too. I guess this is where they were bringing me.”

I describe Linda as nodding sadly.

“Forgetting about ethics for a moment,” Lemmon begins, and everyone groans. “I spent a glorious summer as a pool cleaner before college. Why don’t we accept that we cannot handle this sort of volume right now, and instead, just deny it to Peck? This pool has to have a drainage system. We could pump all this sludge into the sewers, and then get the city to pay us to deal with the ghost problem that causes down the line while in the short term, preventing Plantapoloozapocalypse.”

There is some silence.

Then some more silence.

“You can’t…” Diego player and I say together as Diego and his possessor.

“I can. Do you have a good reason why I shouldn’t other than the perceived disrespect being paid to an involuntarily incorporeal citizen?”

“Well…” begins Gray, then stops to think about it.

“They get one last thrill, we and the rest of the world don’t die, and then we help them transition to the next life when it is convenient for everyone.”

“It could blow up in our faces,” states Diego.

“What else is new?” Lemmon scoffs. “Just shake my hand, tell me it has been an honor to work with me, let Dunhill kiss the girl, and let’s do this thing!”

One by one the players nod in agreement with the plan.

“It’s been an honor to work with you,” they all say to each other.

Dunhill says firmly, “I kiss Linda.”

I say firmly, “She kisses you back…in a manner of speaking,” and the session breaks up for the night with a recap of the events, a quick check of notes, and then very deep discussions about how a mantis might kiss if it were so inclined.

We agree to meet again the following Saturday. These posts will of course continue tomorrow, right where we left off~

Questions: Why does this scene merely touch on its dramatic elements rather than focus on them? What was the effect on the group of hearing Linda’s story of being suborned and betrayed.

Why is the session being ended here, on these dramatic revelations and decisions?

Link: Below this point, a video will be added which works in concert with this post to explore the ideas about playing and running the game raised in this post~

Ready for a dramatic camera angle and authentic road action?
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