Feb. 10th, 2019

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
I'm running a three-session Tales from the Loop game, set in the 1980s Yorkshire mining town of Crawdon.

Read the
player's briefing slidedeck.

Read the
Session One writeup


SESSION TWO: NODWARC


 
Recap: Margaret Thatcher presses the big red button. There's a flash of light.
 
And during that flash, Emma Craven remembers: two years ago. She gets a call at school. Her mother is in hospital. It's urgent. A teacher drives her over. Her mother is unconscious in a bed, drips hooked up to her arm. Emma's father sits beside, face stony, reading a pamphlet on cancer.
 
Emma feel the fear start to grip her. She fights it by taking charge, asking the nurses to tidy her mother's bed, ordering the doctors to explain the diagnosis, and cooking a meal for her father so he eats properly.
 
He seems shell shocked by the news.

"Thank god I've got you, love," he tells Emma. "Our future is going to be very different from now on."
 
*
 
The flash fades. The four students find themselves alone in the Facility's control room. Or is it? The control desks have gone, replaced by banks of sleek computers and single green-screen terminal.
 
Emma tries typing on the terminal. An alarm light flashes. A horde of spider-bots swarm across the ceiling towards the students. They run.
 
Outside, the boring, square control building of the Facility has been replaced by a bizarre concrete structure that looks like a giant heart. A sign by the door reads 'Nuclear Operations, Defence, Warfare and Research Computer'. 
 
The spider-bots swarm out the door. The students run. The Facility's gatehouse has been replaced by an automatic iris-door in a concrete tower. Gemma tinkers with the control panel until the door opens and the students run out.
 
In the distance, down the hill, they can see Crawdon. Then they see a hovertruck fly past.

 
*
 
They run into town. Some of the buildings are the same. Others have been replaced with futuristic Brutalist apartment blocks. Mr Grainger the Greengrocer greets them as he's packing up for the day, and asks if their fathers are starting Work tomorrow. In the newsagent, Emma finds the newspapers have been replaced with thin info-pads. the headline reads WORK STARTS TOMORROW, but she needs a credit chip to read the article.
 
The students head to their hideout in the caretaker's shed at the Comprehensive. The whole school has been replaced with the same futuristic architecture, except for the caretaker's shed, neglected and ignored up the back of the school.
 
Spike lets them in. Emma makes tea. They work out their flints must somehow have protected them from the change. But what has happened? Emma, Gemma and Spike head back to their parents' places to investigate. 
 
*
Clare stays behind to break into Headmistress Shrike's office again. it takes some work to jimmy the window open, and she injures her hand doing it.

Once inside, she finds all Shrike's belongings have been replaced. On the desk is a photo of Clare and her mother, from before Clare dyed her hair black and turned goth.

A name tag on the desk confirms Clare's mother is now the headmistress.
 
*
 
Spike's house has been replaced with a futuristic townhouse. Inside is a strange mix of high-tech gadgets and familiar possessions. It's as if his normal house has be overlapped with a spaceship. A note from his parents say they're working late at the Facility, and that his dinner is in the microwave.

Spike checks his room. His beloved bass guitar is there.
 
*
 
Emma's father is in the kitchen when she gets home. Again, her house is a mix of the familiar and the futuristic. Her father asks her pointedly if her day has been 'unusual'. She realises that the flint arrowhead she hid in his wallet has kept him safe from the change.
 
He tells her the police are hunting "outliers", and that his boss the DCI has started to suspect him. Before they can say more, the phone rings. It's the DCI. They've found an outlier, a boy names River Quinn who lives in the Travellers camp in Crawdon Woods. Emma's father has to go and help with the arrest.

As he leave, he tells Emma to be careful.
 
*
 
Gemma rides to house. As she does so, she remembers a few months back. Her mother has told her take a pot of soup to her father and his comrades on the miner's picket line. The pot is heavy. The night is cold. When she gets there, her father coughs up black phlegm, the first sign of deadly miner's lung.
 
Gemma copes with her fear of losing her father by taking photos of all the miners, blowing them up to poster size, and plastering them on the Town Hall. The portraits of these ordinary people fighting against the Government wins support for the strike. People understand that they're fighting for the future of the town.
 
Gemma reaches her house. The cramped miner's tenement has been replaced with a striking tower block. Her family's apartment is clean and bright. There's fresh food, instead of the thin stews her family have been surviving on during the miner's strike. As she enters, her mother is telling her father that he should wear his new coveralls to Work tomorrow. What's Work, asks Gemma. "For NODWARC," answers her father, "helping with the expansion."

What about the mines? she asks.

Ugh, says Gemma's mother. Filthy places. I'm glad they were closed down decades ago.
 
When she looks out the window, Gemma notices a strange haze in the sky. It looks as if Crawdon is inside a giant dome or forcefield, centered on the Facility. Using her strongest tele-lens, she sees through the barrier to the town of Millthorpe, which seems unchanged. 

She sees a couple of hover trucks land in the fields between Crawdon and Millthorpe, and start to unload giant boxes of cargo.
 
 
*
 
The students meet up again in the caretaker's shed. They agree to go to the woods, even though it's now night.
 
The woods are dark. Huge, ancient oak trees twist and loom. Through the trees, the students see the flashing red and blue lights of several police vehicles. The police are ransacking the Traveller camp. From one of the caravans, the pull out the boy River Quinn. Gemma sneaks closer to watch. The DCI Martin Millar pulls a out a device, scans the boy with it, then says "Zero percent overlap. He's an outlier."
 
Meanwhile: Spike and Emma search around the edges of the camp. Spike spots a device bolted to a tree branch. It's the same as the devices they saw in Mrs Shrike's office. He rips it off. As he does so, he notices the dome-shaped barrier around Crawdon ripple strangely.
 
The police bundle River into the hover van. The students decide to rescue him. Gemma and Clare create a distraction. Spike helps Emma into the van's driver seat. Emma rips out some of the wiring. The van stops hovering and hits the ground. The police shout. The students run. DCI Millar goes to chase them in his hover car, but Emma's father deliberately crashes his own hover car into his boss's. 
 
Clare grabs River by the t-shirt and pulls him after her. They lose the police in the trees. River's t-shirt rips slightly.

 
*
 
Spike decides to ak his parents what the device is, and brings the other four with him. They sneak down the back alleys of the town, avoiding the security cameras.
 
Spike's parents are finally home, but they're still working on their info-pads. Spike asks them what the device is. His parents realise with a shock that he isn't "overlapped". For a moment it looks like they will report him to the police as an outlier. But he guilt-trips them into helping him. 
 
They explain the device is a quantum superposition inducer. NODWARC is from the future, they say, but by focusing lots of quantum superposition inducers on the Facility's cyclotron, NODWARC is able to overlap with present-day Crawdon.
 
This has turned Crawdon into a techno-utopia, because NODWARC rules with pure logic unaffected by human emotion. The work tomorrow is to build more inducers to extend the overlap beyond Crawdon first to Millthorpe, and then the world.
 
Spike's parents seem oddly happy about this. 
 
While they're talking, Clare steals their security pass and a credit chip.
 
*

The students ride back to the Facility. The disturbance that Spike noticed when he took the inducer has gotten worse. Clouds swirl across the barrier, and lightning flashes.
 
They use the pass to enter the Facility. They pass the banks of computers, now frantically whirring. They take the lift down to the cyclotron, buried deep under the hill.
 
Robots are busy maintaining the massive piece of equipment. Clare and Gemma sneak down to a hidden terminal. Gemma uses the security pass to log in to the terminal, and initiate the shutdown sequence. But she needs to enter a security code.

Spike suggests trying his birthdate.
 
It's a tense moment. Which does his mother love more: her son, or strong passwords?
 
Gemma types the numbers in. They work. "Shutdown in five minutes" the terminal announces.
 
All the robots in the chamber turn to face the terminal, and the students. The storm outside is so fierce the students can hear it underground. The maintenance robots start to roll towards the students, flexing their tool-arms.
 
Emma distracts them by grabbing a metal chair and flinging it in into the cyclotron. Electricity arcs up. A giant crack in reality appears. 
 
Snow blows through the crack.
 
Then a wooly rhino charges out, leaps, and lands on the chamber floor. 
 
As it turns its massive horn towards the students, they see there are two words written on its flank in neon-blue spray paint.
 
The words read NO FUTURE. 
 
 
 
 
 

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