Today we did something quite different, and Christopher let me know (I think he let everyone know) ahead of time. The game would involve everyone acting like one of the characters was dreaming about the entire superhero thing, just like that episode of Buffy.
That, by the way, very nearly ruined BtVS for me. It turned it from something noble and good, to something potentially pathetic and sad. But that’s neither here nor there.
Anyway, I’m playing Ian Owari, orderly at the mental institution where Zephyr will be ‘imprisoned.’
His new character is ST 13, DX 11, IQ 11, HT 11, his skills include Wrestling-13, and Administration, Housekeeping, and First Aid at 12. He’s got Fit, Charisma 1, Stubbornness, Code of Honor (Professional), and Self-Defense Only pacifism. He’s also married to Saya Owari, who is an NPC that he now has the hots for after meeting her last session. Since she’s 2x his point total in the hero game, she’s also a neurologist and neurosurgeon at the hospital, so that’s mirrored there too.
We’ll see. But I think we’re all doing method acting today. I intend to call Merlin’s character Zippy, Zipper, or Speedy instead of Zephyr, of course.
So, let’s get it on…
*** ** ***
Zephyr wakes up in a room that’s not his room. The walls are taupe, the door is open, and it looks like he’s in a hospital.
“Well, that’s interesting.” He looks around for monitors, and there’s no medical equipment in the room, but there is a camera. As soon as he starts moving around, the camera can be seen to move a bit, tracking him, then comes back to normal.
He looks out of the room, and sees several nurses and orderlies, and several people in bathrobes, just like Zephyr’s wearing. One of them is muttering about the pumpkins are going to come to eat him again.
A large, tallish man with an Asiatic face comes up to him with a tray, and some medicine on it. Zephyr notes that he looks like The Commander.
“How are we doing today,” he says. They banter back and forth about how long The Commander has been working there (6-8 years, after he got out of four years in the Marine Corps). He offers “Zippy” some medicine, which he takes without fuss.
“I feel like i’ve just woken up in the real world after being an RPG campaign for a few seasons. There’s nothing like waking up sane one day.”
There’s somone in the corner eating newspaper and trash in the corner, wrinkling her nose like a rat. A janitor comes out of the closet, and scolds the woman shredding the paper not to make a mess.
Zephyr decides to do what any rational person would do in the psych ward – he goes to watch TV. Either that or color with crayons, so we can all see his pictures are normal.
Someone gives him the evil death stare as he reaches for the remote. Zephyr offers a trade for Jell-O. He is rebuffed, and the TV plays a kids cartoon about a schoolbus.
He has a brief vision of being a hero, fighting a magical schoolbus that tries to eat him.
Remote-control guy comes unglued.
“Do we have a problem here?” asks one of the staff.
“Yes, I’m an adult watching kids cartoons in a psych ward.”
“Now, Mr Murui, you know you need to be respectful to the staff. Do we need to give you some Vitamin T before we start the day?”
He’s led to his morning routine, and his reflection in the mirror seems to pulse a bit.
Murui is led to Dr Eamon, who asks how he’s doing.
Well, a little fuzzy, since he wasn’t in the hospital yesterday. Oh, where was he? In his bed in New York, are we in New York? We’re in Bellevue, in New York.
OK. Obviously he’s crazy, not a superhero, he’s been here a long time. He took his pills, watched magical school-bus, and let someone scrub me who’s not part of my family, which is disconcerting. Let’s skip all that, and tell me why I’m here.
Oh, you don’t remember the incident? You had a a bit of a psychotic/schitzophrenic episode that led you to jump out of a window in a third story building. You don’t remember this?
Well, since my feet are working fine, I’m not buying it.
Oh, you’ve been here a while, and you didn’t break that many bones. Only two or three.
OK, who committed me?
Well, no one did, but let’s focus on letting you get a better grasp on the real world here. I’m glad you’re willing to cooperate today.
Well, I’m of the opinion that if you wake up one day with no memories of being a superhero, odds are something happened.
Murui notices that he’s somehow picked up the letter opener from Dr Eamon’s desk, and suddenly feels the urge to stab the good doctor with his “mad” Kung Fu skills. He’s a Shaolin master, after all. Ian walks in at this scene, tosses a tiny Jack Russel terrier at the very soft couch, and does a telegraphic grapple on Murui’s arm; he misses his dodge and then Owari puts him in an arm lock.
Now we have to get him restrained, and maybe something to take the edge off. Where did he get the letter opener? He claimed it was on the Doctor’s desk, but that would be, as Ian says, “crazy talk.”
Murui just wants to stab both Eamon and Ian, on general principles.
Pontikia (The Rat Queen) is stripping the foam rubber off of a chair, and eating it. Occasionally she makes a proclamation, after all, she is the Queen of all Rodents.
Zephyr tries to do a little “magic.” He snaps his fingers, and nothing happens. They must be using a drug to suppress his superpowers, he things, as he struggles against the restraints.
The radio that the janitor is carrying plays on, and it would appear that several hours have passed.
Zephyr wants to try something – he’s got a “crazy” idea. He wants to see if he can will the letter opener – the knife – back into his hands.
The GM asks him very carefully, so it’s on the video recording, if he’s really asking to have the knife in his hand? Merlin dodges the question, but in any case no knife appears. I guess he doesn’t want it badly enough.
Zephyr wakes up the next day, his door is open, and the restraints are gone again. The crazy guy is still talking about pumpkins, and his neighbor is still screaming about rats.
He goes an moseys on over to the pumpkin person, seeing what his environment is like. “They said that Peter was a pumpkin eater, pumpkin eater, pumpkin eater . . . what do you want? You can’t have my pumpkin!” He tries to bite an invisible pumpkin.
Owari comes up, making his rounds. He offers him his meds, and Zephyr wins a contest of something vs Ian’s Perception of 13 and manages to conceal not taking his meds. Yukio the Jack Russel terrier jumps around and starts running around and trying to hump The Queen of All Rodent’s legs. Sigh. Saya wanted the dog as a helpful mascot, but I haven’t done much but chase him around for four years. Sigh.
Dr Finnegan (Eamon) is handing out macaroni in Arts and Crafts. He instantly detects that Zephyr is acting differently, and asks if he’s taken his meds. “Of course.” Yeah, BS. Still, a double dose might cause serious damage, so he refrains from ordering that.
Zephyr asks if he can do paper airplanes instead of macaroni. He tries Origami-13, and takes his time. He tries a few different designs, including a paper samurai. He then goes and takes a crayon, and tries to draw a “spell ward” on the paper with the crayon.
The samurai warrior he folded out of paper stands up and starts talking to him. “What are you doing? We can’t do anythning here unless you help us! Look, if they see you talking to me, this day is going to start over again. Get with it!”
“Can I get a hint at how I can help?”
“Break the system a bit, you complacent fool! Also, can you finish my shoulder plate? it’s not right and it’s bugging me.”
“Oh, sorry man.”
Zephyr starts to fold some paper shuriken, and he hears “The Wheels on the Bus” again. He goes into the other room and threatens to throw paper shuriken at folks. Owari is distracted by Yukio misbehaving again, and misses the initial volley.
A few moments later Owari hears people screaming and shouting, “OH, my GOD, my EYE! The pain! Why! What did you do that for?!”
Owari runs into the room. The Queen of all Rats is chewing on a shuriken, and Zephyr picks up a chair and AoA/Telegraphic attacks the TV to SHUT IT UP.
The TV fails to dodge. Murui breaks the tube, and unplugs the TV. Zephyr swears he can still hear the song. “The daddys on the bus go ‘read read read'”
The paper samurai stands up and says “Great work, dork. You’re about to get Thorazine up your ASS. Why did *I* have to be your spirit guide? Oops. Gotta be paper again.”
Owari does a flying tackle, as the rest of the patients go crazy, and there’s a mini riot on the floor. “This motherf**ker’s a pumpkin. And that one! and THAT one!” The paper samurai is looking up at Zephyr saying “man, this is some crazy shit.”
“Of course it’s crazy, I”m talking to a paper samurai.”
“Dishonor on you, dishonor on your family, dishonor on your house,” but then “you need to get the keys from one of the doctors or guards, and open up the doors. that’ll be your portal out. Now put me in your pocket, because you can’t fold origami for shit.”
“Hey, I was hopped up on drugs!”
Owari is on top of Murui, and tries to backwards head-butt him in the face. Nuh-uh, he rolls a 17, so it’s just too clumsy. He goes for the arm lock, then goes for a zip-tie to handcuff him. He manages to slip out of the arm lock, to everyone’s surprise. Owari gets beaned in the back from behind with a chair. He fails a HT roll and is stunned. Another orderly is still screaming about his eye, and Eamon is also disoriented from the attack with the paper shuriken.
Eamon is over in the corner trying to call more orderlies. Zephyr goes to try and steal the keys from Eamon . . . but the keys aren’t there.
“Dammit,” says the origami samurai, “you gave me two left hands! Why can’t you fold me a paper sword? OK, I think we need to go find the brain-doctor chick.”
Zephyr tries for a Stealth roll, as a half-dozen orderlies come running. They’re not paying attention to Zephyr, and he runs out the door down the hall.
The origami samurai tells Zephyr that brain-doctor is on the fourth floor. The elevator’s doors open, and Crazy by Patsy Kline comes on. “OH, that’s just TOO on the nose,” says the samurai.
There are people in riot gear, and Zephyr sees the doctor. Zephyr has a sudden vision of him getting his ass kicked by the doctor wielding a katana.
The paper samurai says “If you hum your own theme song, you can hide better.”
Zephyr tries to run up, and hums Crazy as he runs up. And gets +2 to the Stealth roll, but still rolls poorly – but he gets past them anyway.
Saya Owari (the neurosurgeon, also Ian’s wife, and Katana in an alternate world) is busy signing paperwork and looking nervously at her phone. Zephyr grabs a scissors and some other weapon and tries to intimidate him. She looks at him like “you’ve got to be kidding me.”
OK, paper samurai, you’re my witness, I didn’t want to stab her. OK, I won’t stab her. I will ninja kick her! While humming Kung Fu fighting.
She grabs his leg, and judo sweeps his butt to the floor. She backs off, not looking terribly worried.
“Just give me your keys!”
“Why do you want my keys?”
“Look, you can take me there. Open the door. If nothing happens, you can take me right back.”
“O . . . K . . . ” she waits for him to go along with things. The paper samurai told him to go to the door, and to the door they go. She’s walking behind him and they go to an employee lounge.
“Now you need to convince her to give you the keys!”
“OK, Dr, just give me the keys. Look, you have nothing to worry about . . .you can literally kick my ass if it doesn’t work.” She draws a baton, hands him the keys, and he turns the lock…
…and wakes up. A bunch of people are around a bed, looking down at Zephyr. Katana is there in a white ceremonial robe. The box is sealed now, we have possession.
Poking out of Zephyr’s robes is a folded paper samurai. None of us remember it being there earlier.
The whole process was the spiritual and mental journey required to sever his ties to the dagger.
“But why was the Wheels on the Bus playing over and over? Come on, paper samurai, tell me!” says Zephyr.
“Are we sure he’s not still in there a little bit?” Eamon says.
Katana assures us in Japanese that he’s all out.
The Commander nods. “Welcome back, Zippy.”
* * * ** * * *
We spend two weeks training, playing with toys, and generally amping up our skills. Merlin practices his magic sans evil magical dagger, and Ian boosts his katana! wildcard skill, picks up a few extra points in some background skills, and starts spending points on Katana and Onyx as allies.
In game, we spend a quiet but boring two weeks, with our new mega-secretary taking care of all sorts of things with ridiculous proficiency. It’s been absolutely quiet, the proverbial TOO QUIET.
We recall that we were going to try and undermine Blue Skies, and that we’ve got two weeks of data on Blue Skies during a critical period. The Commander sneaks in through a conveniently left-open entrance. He is in and out with no one the wiser.
They’ve been really quiet lately, so mission partially accomplished with them keeping a low profile, and we have a source saying that some media corporations are being paid money to ignore certain stories about them. They’re being very careful, but we’re on the lookout for ways we can mess with them, redirect things to blow up in their face, as it were. It’s a wait and see game, and we make plans, keep out initiative, and don’t share command. (Deacon’s Laws)
Murui gets a call from his uncle, and we all go off to his noodle house to meet Murui’s dad and “Uncle Yin.”
Uncle Yin is one of the most brutal organized crime bosses in the entire city, by reputation. No one has come close to pinning anything on him, ever, to the great annoyance of the NYPD’s Major Crimes and Orgainized Crime and Homicide, and . . . you get the point.
We meet the most interesting people at restaurants. Seriously. What is it with Murui and people in restaurants?
“I did not know you were bringing friends,” he says, breathing in heavily. “I don’t want to report this to police for obvious reasons, but there’s going to be a robbery shortly. In the Midnight Market.”
This is a black market, an infamous open secret, that is located through a door that is the unholy spawn of the Room of Requirement from Harry Potter and the back doors from the Matrix. Have we heard of it? Huh, Arc Light crits, spends karma, and he’s actually there all the time, since he often needs stuff you can’t usually get at Target.
He knows who’s going to be robbed, and when, but not who’s doing the job.
OK, The Commander calls Murui over. “Are we really going to help yet another criminal enterprise do their thing? Because the last time, it was such a grey area that my combat fatigues are still covered in soot.”
“Look, when we Chinese come over here, we live on the streets, and . .. “
“OK, Kane, I get it. My ancestors were in interment camps, and me, grandfather, and George Takei are tight like this. But save it. This guy is dirty as hell. Never mind, never mind. I’ll just be over in the corner singing the marine hymn. God, I miss the simple days when I just had to shoot terrorists in the face.”
Uncle Yin shows a picture to Murui of The Maltese Tiger (yes really). An occultism roll by Murui convinces us that having the Tiger fall into the wrong hands would be cosmically bad.
The Commander goes off and starts swearing like the ex-sailor he is. Yet another grey area in which we’re working to help criminals and miscreants to help the greater good, where the downside of not doing it is actually definitively worse than just arresting everyone.
Wars have been fought over this mythical blue tiger statue, with the jade it’s made out of pulled out of the heart of a mountain. An Aegis field team found it, locked it up, and then lost it.
Yin wanted the tiger for himself, but if he can’t have it, he might as well prevent someone else from getting it. We ask him for more details, and there’s a royal seal with the mandate of heaven impressed into the base. The mandate of heaven was there to stop calamity, and there might be an active seal.
Murui takes some time out to talk to his paper samurai, who is now named tanto, for many reasons. Something’s fishy, and we all know it.
“Look, uncle. I’m a hero. I’m going to be real, here. Keeping all of the crazy criminals from destroying the city has helped you too, right?” Right. “So this is one time you have to tell me what’s up. Last time I did that I wound up with a possessed knife on a killing spree. You owe me more information than this.”
He gives us a name. Scott Boling, supposedly responsible for half a billion dollar theft from the diamond exchange. He’s got a very high end theft ring going on.
We agree that this is worth following up on, and end there. We’ll plan our next moves over the following week.
So, this one was fun. I was wondering how we were going to keep up the illusion for three or four hours, and turned out we didn’t need to – it was about an hour long, the same as the Buffy episode.
Good to know that we’re actually all insane, or figments of Murui’s imagination.
Also, we’re about to plunge into the criminal occult underworld with the Chinese equivalent of Gentleman Johnny Marconi.