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


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Outside, the boring, square control building of the Facility has been replaced by a bizarre concrete structure that looks like a giant heart.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 The Facility's gatehouse has been replaced by an automatic iris-door in a concrete tower.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. 

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
 *blows dust off DreamWidth*

Does this thing still even work? I haven't updated here since 2014.

Anyway.... I ran my first session of Tales from the Loop RPG on Sunday. I want to post my write up. And thought I might as well post it here.

I'm running a three-session game set in Yorkshire. I've tweaked the setting slightly from the standard game rules.

I made a Google slideshow to introduce players to the setting and character creation.
Clare Pankhurst - a young goth never without her walkman. Her parents divorced last year, and she moved to Crawdon when her mother got a job as science teacher at Crawdon Comprehensive. Clare is in detention for skipping class.
Emma Craven - a bolshie who loves her Converse sneakers. Her father is Detective Inspector of the local constabulary. Her mother died of cancer a few years back. She's in detention for violating the school dress code.
Gemma Bushnell - another bolshie who uses her camera to help save the world. Her father is a miner on strike, her mother works with Women Against Pit Closures. She is in detention for writing 'Thatcher Out' on her school blazer.
Spike - a headbanger with a beat-up bass guitar. His parents both work in the Advanced Nuclear Research Facility. He's in detention for fighting with another pupil about pop music.
Tuesday, 10 July 1984: Tomorrow, the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is coming to Crawdon to officially open the new Advanced Nuclear Research Facility. 
But this afternoon, four students have detention in the school hall.
A long table in the hall holds items for tomorrow's opening ceremony: a "Welcome to Crawdon" banner, display cases holding clay pipes and flint axes found in the area, and boxes of Union Jack flags that need assembling. Emma takes the opportunity to vandalise the banner, turning the A in Crawdon into an anarchy symbol.
The headmistress, Mrs Shrike, arrives. She sets them the menial task of glueing the paper Union Jack flags together. Then she leaves, telling them she has more important work to do. Gemma spots her taking a nip from a hip flask as she exits.
While the students are busy making the flags, the lights flicker, and they hear a deep, electrical hum. Clare's Walkman starts playing by itself, and a voice comes out of her headphones. The calm, female voice says "Warning. Warning. NODWARC is coming. Overlap is near."
The students hear a metallic noise in the corridor. When they investigate, they see a small robotic cat coming towards them. The students slam the door of the hall shut. The humming dies down. The lights settle. The robot cat vanishes.
Suspecting Mrs Shrike is up to something, Gemma and Emma go and spy on her in her office. They see she's working on some sort of electronic device. Gemma takes photos to analyse later.
They scurry back to the hall when Shrike leaves her office. She orders the students to go home. They decide to all go back to Gemma's house.
Back at Gemma's cramped workers tenement house, the throbbing electrical hum starts up again. The lights flicker. Gemma's stereo turns itself on, and the same voice comes out: "Warning. Overlap is near. Shielding is required."
The robot cat appears in Gemma's bathroom/photography darkroom. Spike lunges and grabs it and the cat... starts purring electronically.
"Shielding is required," the voice says, and the cat's eyes flash in time. "Please acquire neolithic artefacts."
The throbbing hum dies. The lights settle. The cat literally vanishes, blinking out like a television station that's been turned off.

Clare makes the connection that NODWARC is Crawdon spelt backwards. But what does that mean?
The students remember the flint axe display case laid out ready for tomorrow's ceremony. Clare, Emma and Spike cycle back to the school, while Gemma remains behind to print up her photos.

At the school, Emma comes up with a plan to break into the caretaker's shed to see if he has keys to school. Spike aces picking the shed's padlock, and they decide the shed would make a good hideout. 
The light is still on in Shrike's office. Clare peers in, and see the headmistress testing a mysterious metal box with a radio antenna and two slits in one edge. Clare thinks it might be a remote control device of some sort.
The students use their keys to break into the school hall and take the neolithic flint axes.
As they do, the throbbing noise comes back. They notice parts of the hall oscillate between reality and some futuristic version. Then they hear a heavy stomping in the corridor. It's another robot. Not a cute little cat robot, though. This is a seven-foot tall security robot with claws and a giant searchlight.
They run out the hall's back door. The robot bursts out a side door to block their path. Clare decides to climb the robot to try and disable it, while Emma and Spike distract it. The plan doesn't go well. Clare and Spike are caught by the robot's claws. Everyone is terrified.
And then Gemma appears to save the day. She yanks out a power cable, and the robot falls over, dead. Emma notices some writing on it: the word NODWARC and a long serial number.

Gemma shows them her photos: the mysterious box Shrike was making contains a radio receive, a battery, a circuit board, and two lasers that shine out the slits. The students have no idea what it does.
The throbbing noise dies down. The robot blinks out of existence the same way the cat did.
The students agree to call it a night. Emma slips a flint arrowhead into her father's wallet, to keep him safe too from whatever is about to happen.
The next day: students are herded onto buses to go to the ceremony at the Facility. Mrs Shrike is nowhere to be found. The bus drives through the rundown center of Crawdon, past the dark woods, and up the hill to the Facility.
Protestors have gathered outside. The buses go through the fences. The students gather in the Facility's control room, where there's a ribbon waiting for the PM to cut, and a big red button for her to press to activate the cyclotron.
The Salvation Army band plays. The children wave their flags. Margaret Thatcher enters the control room. She makes a short speech about how the Facility represents the future of Crawdon, and the UK.
The throbbing noise starts up again. The control room starts to shake. The scientists are worried, but the PM's handlers urge them to finish the ceremony so the PM can get back to London.
Thatcher cuts the ribbon. She presses the button.
There's a blinding flash.
The students shield their eyes. When they can see again, they realise the control room is empty, and the control panels have been replaced by row after row of sleek computer mainframes.
And stamped on each mainframe is the same name: NODWARC.

Continued in Session Two: NODWARC


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February 2019

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