#RPGaDay2020 – Day 30: Portal

I find that each of the #RPGaDay prompts every year offer a portal into a greater shared understanding of the roleplaying game hobby. All we need to do is sincerely step through them each day. #RPGaDay2020 is no different in this regard, and even though (or perhaps because) the prompts of the last two years have only been a single word, the places they have transported us to have been growing more and more varied – if you care to look.

Day 30’s prompt of portal is the other part of what persuaded me to try to offer 31 related examples of play from a Ghostbusters session to highlight flavors of GMing and Playing Characters like some sort of RPG Baskin-Robbins.

In today’s response, the ghostbusters have descended down in the elevator from Area 29 on the map infographic to find the narrow, winding, sloped tunnel of slime that leads to the portal itself….

“I knew I couldn’t get out of this without getting slimed…” Lemmon sighs as I finish the description of how the elevator opens almost directly onto the mouth of a natural stone tunnel absolutely dripping with purple slime that seems to coalesce at its mouth and to be slowly oozing down inside.

“I am just glad that I won’t be the only one,” remarks Dunhill, his grey jumpsuit still damp and glistening in places from an earlier encounter.

“Sharing is caring?” Lemmon drawls sarcastically.

I interject a description of dizziness and disorientation complete with a sense of being drawn down the tunnel for Diego and then fall silent.

“Uh, Guys…?” Diego mumbles.

Gray moves in to support the taller ghostbuster and help him rest against the wall.

“The ghost that slimed me seemed to be booking it away from this direction as fast as he could go, but when we met he chased me back down to that room with the cracked wall to the parking lot. I lost track of him after that,” Dunhill offers.

Gray’s player decides to use the PKE meter which spikes dramatically. As he is using it, I describe a faint outline of a ghostly scientist coalescing before them then being sucked down the tunnel with a faint wail.

“Peck is powering the portal with the power of this purple puss pulped from the plasm of these phantasms…” Diego chokes out.

“That last p doesn’t count,” opines Lemmon. He then gets an idea like a bolt of lightning and starts asking Diego to do math questions – hard ones, worthy of a Brains roll.

“What are you doing?” asks Gray.

“Getting Diego to stand up for himself and evict his guest,” says Lemmon. Kick him right out the door, Diego! Your brain is your house, and it doesn’t work for nobody but you…”

As I nod and Diego’s player gathers his dice, the other players begin humming ‘love machine’ but amusingly they all start in on different songs. Lemmon stands out with WASP, Gray goes classic with the Miracles, and Dunhill surprises everyone with Mollyhaus. Somehow the chaos plays into the scene, and then silence falls as the dice come clattering to a stop.

In the confusion, I had not declared a difficulty, but the roll on 9 dice came to an astonishing 51, which nets him 21 more points than the impossible rating so we felt it was pretty certain that he might have succeeded.

“Send him packing, Diego!” Gray shouts as Diego describes straightening up away from the wall and stepping away from Gray’s helping hands to stand on his own feet, shouting equations and reciting rare facts about proper terrarium maintenance.

I describe the pale purple glow that peels away from him and then with a faint, “I thought we were friends…!” it is gone.

“Friends? We never even knew your name,” Diego finishes coldly as he turns to smile at the others. “Let’s go put Peck out of the apocalypse business.”

“Is there another way down?” asks Lemmon.

“NO!” everyone shouts.

At the bottom of the slime tunnel the portal crosses a broad expanse ofof the floor of a natural cave, its energies swirling like a vast drain, drawing plasm in hungrily while in slowly-timed beats releasing pulses of purple energy into the pale purple roots of the vines dangling down toward it from the ceiling.

Peck is standing on its lip, waving a complicated device and bellowing something.

“Is that Enochian?” asks Dunhill.

“Pythagorean,” quips Gray, and he isn’t wrong. His ad lib fits and and is funny, too.

“You!” I mock scream as Peck. “No! Not you!” and I describe him using the device to scoop out some of the purple plasm and aim it at the group with its sharp end.

I describe Linda looking from Peck to Dunhill and back again, before leaping at the mad scientist with a clatter of mandibles.

I roll my dice for Linda’s selfless risk and a ghost comes up with her otherwise strong success. Once, when she was a villain, the ghost would have been good for her, but now it spells disaster.

The bolt of plasma hits her, further warping her form into a far more twisted and otherworldly version of a mantis.

It hits her, but it does not stop her momentum, and she crashes into Peck, toppling with him into the portal.

There is a pause, then the silence continues as the portal continues to swirl as if it will do so forever until it has swallowed all life and choked the world in starving vines.

“What do we do?” asks Dunhill, pointing the stick of his proton pack everywhere and nowhere.

“We don’t cross the streams, do we?” asks Gray.

I shoot a knowing look at the dice, our portal to understanding. We have lots of jokes about dice having charges, and that you can use up the good numbers if you roll too often or at the wrong time. I know what they are thinking. The Brains roll to get free of Diego’s possessor might have used up all the good charges in the dice and now…. now it really, really counts.

Diego’s player picks up the dice. He knows this will be another 9-die roll, and I know he wants to know the Difficulty.

“Those are hard calculations,” I say – sort of as the voice of his own thoughts.

He nods and lets them roll. When they stop, we will be transported from the place of uncertainty and expectation where we are now, to the place of outcomes, actions, and reactions.

Questions: How many portals are present in this scene and what do they link? What has happened to Linda? What would you want to have happen? How would you make and implement your decision?

Link: Later today, a video will be added below to supplement and support this post.

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