5Calls.org: https://5calls.org/ – Stance: http://takeastance.us/ – ResistBot: https://resistbot.io/ – Swing Left: https://swingleft.org/

Welcome to a special episode of Game Closet! You won’t hear your normal host’s voice on this one, but stay tuned!!!

Taylor’s been working as the Design Lead for Descent into Midnight for a good amount of time now and the Kickstarter is IN THE FINAL STRETCH! While you listen to these special Actual Plays, go check it out at DiMRPG.io/ks.

Session 2

Show Notes

Rich Howard guides Kat KuhlDC (Orion), and Devon George through the research facility where the team finds the truth behind Vista’s origin and Polyp 39’s past.

Transcript

RICH: Hi everyone. Welcome back to Descent into Midnight. If you haven’t heard our character and world generation episode you may want to pop back in the feed and check that out to see how this incredible world the players created came about. Before we get started, let’s go around and remind people who we are and who we’ll be playing. My name is Rich Howard, he/him pronouns, and I am the Concept Lead on Descent into Midnight, and I will be your Guide today. Next up we have Devon.

DEVON: Hi! My name is Devon George. I go by she, they, or he. I am an artist and illustrator, same thing really [laughs], sometimes game designer. Also, if you look at the art in Descent into Midnight some of that is indeed my art. I am playing a Cultivator by the name of Maybe Many Homes who is kind of like a hermit crab Iron Man who is kind of scared and just wants to help people out.

RICH: How about you, DC?

DC: I am DC… and I’m going to be playing-Oh, my pronouns are they/them. I am playing the Traveler which is the name of the class and also Traveler is the name of my character. They have no pronouns, but they and them is fine. They are this really cool representation of the universe’s consciousness in a very deliberate and I guess unassuming form, which is very cool, and I’m excited to see what happens in this third episode that we can’t talk about yet because you might not have heard anything about it. Go listen to the first episode, please.

RICH: [laughs] And Kat?

KAT: Hi, my name’s Kat Kuhl. My pronouns are she/her. I’m a podcaster, game designer, and voice actor. I’m playing a character whose name is Polyp 39, or whose designation is Polyp 39. Their pronouns are they/them, and they’re based around the Redeemed playbook.

RICH: Alright. Our fourth player from the previous games, Richard Kreutz-Landry, who is the Project Lead and Co-Designer on Descent into Midnight, can’t make it today because of work obligations. He was playing our Specialist, Même, but he and I have chatted about Même’s role today so we will find out, we will play to find out what happens, because it’s PbtA and you have to put that in their trademark somewhere.

KAT: Mm-hmm.

DEVON: Spooky.

RICH: Anyway. Let’s go over a little bit what happened last time, both for our listeners and for us. Last session our rebellious Cultivator, known as Many Homes, uncovered pieces of her friend Polyp 39’s missing memory. Polyp 39, a former member of the 100 series Infiltrators had been created by a private military research facility to undermine external threats to the city long before they became actual threats. When Même, a colonial being from another dimension, manifested into this world from The Echo, they duplicated the body of the first sapient creature they found, in this case Polyp 39. This psychic bond accidentally introduced the concept of freedom into 39’s programming and inadvertently to the entire 100 series. The 100 series was then quote unquote “retired” by their creators for this fatal flaw with 39 being one of the only known survivors.

Many Homes’s research into her friend’s missing memory uncovered a broken recording revealing that Polyp 39 had once been sent on an assassination assignment, not outside the city but aimed at one of its citizens. To get this information, Many Homes needed to tap into the enigmatic energy of an extradimensional plant in her garden, dubbed the Leo Venus plants, but doing so left her sick and her technically advanced, bioengineered garden suffering. Many Homes, Même, 39, and their Transcendent friend Traveler made a plan to infiltrate the private military research facility to, one, recover 39’s missing memory, two, revive Many Homes’s garden by exposing her unique species of Leo Venus plant to more of its kind, and three, find a way to help Vista, the last of a species suspected of being the ancestor of the beings known as the Transcendents, which DC is playing today.

When we last left our protagonists they had been discovered outside the former mansion/castle of one of the city’s most prominent families, a building now abandoned by said family, as it has been engulfed in a forest of Leo Venus plants and surrounded by hundreds of private and public research and tech facilities. Many Homes communed with the alien plants in order to find a way into the structure but awoke from her painful psychic connection to find herself face-to-face with her old mentor and four members of the new and improved 1000 series Infiltrators.

So, before we get going, one of the things that we didn’t talk about in this particular game at the beginning that we often do in Descent into Midnight games is the Corruption. Take a look at the back of your playbooks and you’ll see two tracks; there’s a Harmony track and a Corruption track. Harmony is what you mark when you roll a 6 or less or when a move directs you to, and it’s how you advance in the game. I’d like each of you to please mark 3 Harmony in addition to any Harmony you’ve gotten so far in the game. When the Harmony track fills, you clear the Harmony track and you can pick a new advancement, like a new move or something else, or you can also choose to pick an advancement for your community with your Harmony as well.

The Corruption track works in a similar way. When you mark your last box of Corruption the Corruption starts to work through you. You clear the track, you place a Corruption marker on one of the established elements in your community, and you pick one of the Corruption moves on your playbook. Each playbook has three unique Corruption moves to that playbook and there are two additional moves that are shared by every playbook, so you have five to choose from. Each move can be chosen and triggered only once, though, and one of those five helps you end the game in a dramatic way for your character if you choose it.

As a condition of their creation, Polyp 39 is currently sitting at 4 Corruption. The breakdown of the Leo Venus plant inside her shell means that Many Homes is actually sitting at 3 Corruption. Traveler picked up 1 Corruption in an earlier game that I marked down myself due to a scene that we may explain a little bit later.

So, Many Homes, tell me about your last interaction with this former mentor who you have named Definite In Perpetuum. Everyone can chime in ideas as well, but I want to hear a little bit about them. Many Homes, you left working with this mentor after discovering things like Vista and Polyp 39, right?

DEVON: Yeah. I left the place because of a reveal of In Perpetuum being involved in things that were bad, like sending genetically engineered people out to kill other people. I think that the last time Many Homes interacted with In Perpetuum would be honestly before she found out what was going on, I don’t think that there’s been any kind of discussion after it came out to the public. I don’t think there was any chance for her to get any kind of closure. There’s a lot of unresolved worrying on her part there.

RICH: Gotcha. In addition to In Perpetuum being there, In Perpetuum was talking to another Transcendent, they were traveling on the back of what looks like a giant turtle with a fairly flat shell and multiple fins coming out the side of it almost like the oars on a longboat, and they were traveling surrounded by four of this 1000 series Infiltrators. Many Homes had communed with the many Leo Venus plants that are around the area and they revealed to her a trail through a back area or entrance potentially of this Leo Venus covered mansion. She opened her eyes, many, many eyes-How many eyes now, 50,000 eyes? I can’t remember how many eyes. It just keeps getting more and more.

DEVON: I think I originally said seven, but the numbers have gone up to like 37 or something now.

RICH: I see. Okay. So there’s a lot of eyes. Opened up at least one of those many eyes and saw In Perpetuum there who was locking eyes with Many Homes, but in addition to that one of these Infiltrators had split off from the group, maybe potentially sensing something, and heading straight toward you as a collection, and Polyp 39 and this 1000 series Polyp were locked in a… What’s that move that you have? Find Weakness? Sense Weakness?

KAT: Yeah.

RICH: You guys are both analyzing each other. [laughs] I think the last statement you made was, basically, I think we have to be ready for combat or something to that effect. In Perpetuum sees the Infiltrator heading in that direction and one of the others starts to peel off when In Perpetuum calls out to them psychically and puts a hold on them.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): Stop! Stop!

RICH: It taps the back of the turtle that it’s riding on that also has clamshell crates that are held onto the back of the turtle and the turtle changes direction and starts heading toward you.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): Is that Maybe Many Homes?

DEVON (as Many Homes): This was a bad idea.

RICH: [laughs]

DEVON (as Many Homes): I lied. This was a bad idea… We could run. That’s a choice. We’ll run, we’ll find somewhere to hide, they won’t find us…

DEVON: …and very obviously we’ll just start backtracking very quickly along the ground with little legs going in reverse.

KAT: [laughs]

RICH: Okay, 39 and Traveler, what are you doing?

KAT: I turn to where Maybe Many Homes is starting to slowly back off.

RICH: Where she was, you mean?

KAT: [laughing] Yeah.

KAT (as Polyp 39): I may need you to restrain me, from combat. I-Oh. Oh, where is sh-Oh.

KAT: Then I turn to Traveler.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Well, I do not want to fight.

DC (as Traveler): I’m not particularly interested in fighting, especially since you are quite powerful and there are four somewhat like you. Are they stronger than you?

KAT (as Polyp 39): No. No, but that is irrelevant. No, no, of course they are not stronger. No. The point is that I don’t want to fight, so if it comes to that please hold me back. Don’t let me fight. That’s the point. I’m asking you to-It’s irrelevant who’s stronger, you understand? I’ve sized up their weaknesses… They don’t have any weaknesses. I don’t have any weaknesses. I don’t want to fight them, so in some ways I’m stronger than them, because I’m sure they don’t want to fight me… or, they do want to fight me, I don’t want to fight them.

DC (as Traveler): I just want to say that I am extremely interested in the result of whatever combat may happen between you and the four, but because you’ve asked I will-

KAT (as Polyp 39): I do not want to fight them!

DC (as Traveler): My interest is purely, well, the interest of the universe itself, but-

KAT (as Polyp 39): Where is Maybe Many Homes?!

[laughter]

DEVON: Alright, I have something.

RICH: Just one second. Même is watching everything that’s happening, and Many Homes is almost completely out of sight, like behind giant Leo Venus plants. Même discorporates into the little pieces of themselves, and just like before where they helped you put on disguises-

KAT: Oh! Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah!

RICH: They actually separate themselves into three clouds and collectively move toward each of you and manifest themselves on your body somewhere that allows you, when Polyp 39 says where’s Many Homes, you now feel a psychic link between the three of you manifested by Même, so you can now communicate and share visions and emotions through Même between the three of you no matter where you are.

KAT: Huh.

RICH: So, Many Homes? You said you had something?

DEVON: Oh, well first, she psychically goes:

DEVON (as Many Homes): Oh, well that’s useful. Huh.

RICH: You feel Même’s happiness at your happiness.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Uh… I’m gonna do something, maybe stupid, and then you should probably come find me while they’re not looking. So…

RICH: [laughing] This turtle is still heading right over to where you guys are.

DEVON: Yeah, I know. I want to make a-Okay. Here’s my thing. I’m looking at my moves. I’m not sure which would be more applicable. I have It Plugs In Where and I have The Reef Protects Its Own. I know one of them is defend, but I think one of them very specifically, It Plugs In Where I believe, is kind of the…

RICH: It Plugs In Where is kind of the MacGyver maneuver…

DEVON: That’s what I want to do.

RICH: …and Iron Man maneuver, where you can either create or manifest or say you have access to a piece of equipment that’s helpful in the situation that you’re in. The Reef Defends Its Own is something that can work through a whole scene where you either take control of or manifest pieces of your garden in an area that works to defend your allies.

DEVON: Oh no…

RICH: And there’s a lot of Leo Venus plants here…

DEVON: I know! Okay, so…

RICH: …that clearly, clearly love spending time with you.

DEVON: Oh god. I have two thoughts, and you guys can tell me which one sounds cooler. I can do a bioluminescent flash grenade?

RICH: Like flares?

DEVON: Yeah, like a flare, so they can’t see you so you just disappear and we’re gone. They know we’re here and they’re after us, but… Then the other thing is I could manifest part of my garden around where you are so they stop and are like “where are they” and then the garden might do something bad? Those are my thoughts. Which sounds like a worse idea.

DC: Flash grenade sounds like something that would be a combat move to one of the Polyps in which case they’d probably respond with “oh, it’s time to go chase something that is trying to escape,” but also ending up… I mean, a part of the garden sounds really cool and then something possibly really bad happening sounds also very cool. I would actually be down with either, because in character you all feel-

KAT: [laughs] Traveler’s just here for fun!

DC: –a very deep interest as to who is stronger.

RICH: Traveler’s here to participate. Traveler’s here to experience things.

DEVON: Traveler is a force of chaos.

DC: Traveler will definitely take things into consideration.

RICH: Traveler sounds like they’re just being supportive to me.

DEVON: Let me double-check my move, but I think it would be more fun to manifest… unless you guys have something you want to do.

KAT: I’m ready to step in, but I’m trying to not act first.

DEVON: I don’t wanna like, if you guys have a plan I don’t want to take…

KAT: No, no-no-no.

DC: I don’t really have anything helpful other than the ability to help you do whatever you’re doing.

DEVON: Heh. Alright, I think in that case I’d probably Protect Its Own. [mumbles] …activation, rapidly create a garden in the surrounding area, so it’s not my garden, it’s a garden.

RICH: Well, you just define it however you want. At this point, it’s the Leo Venus plants, so maybe it’s bonding with the Leo Venus plants that are already around you.

DEVON: Okay. I have an idea if it goes not amazingly. Heh.

RICH: Okay. You tell me what you would like. This is all happening fairly instantaneously as you’re translating information.

DEVON: Mm-hmm. It just happens, and I have a +1 ongoing to defend another within the affected area. Any ally you successfully defend takes a +1 forward as the living world continues to aid them.

RICH: So, describe to me what happens with all of these Leo Venus plants. How do you bond in with them?

DEVON: I’m just gonna go ahead and do the kind of not amazing outcome for me but the cooler outcome visually. What I think it is, I just try to tap in regularly and create the plants or make them grow extra big over in this direction, but the Leo Venus plants that are in my garden right now are…

RICH: Uh-huh? And your garden is inside this pocket dimension inside your shell, to remind listeners.

DEVON: Yes. What happens is, I think they go crazy and they grow and now my garden inside my shell is only Leo Venus plants, and they start coming out of the shell, like the seams are bursting of the pocket space, and then just (shoop), and are very big and all of a sudden everyone is in a jungle.

KAT: Whoa.

DC: They filled up an entire pocket dimension.

DEVON: Yeah.

RICH: So, you plant growth this huge forest full of Leo Venus plants.

DEVON: Yes. I wasn’t entirely trying to do that, but there are now Leo Venus plants everywhere. You can’t see in front of you, but since we all have the mind thing…

RICH: Psychic link.

DEVON: Yeah. I would assume that we’d…

RICH: You know where each other are, generally.

DEVON: Yeah. Warmer, colder, cooler, yeah.

RICH: Right. You have a general idea of direction and distance.

DC: You feel this spike of interest as Traveler goes:

DC (as Traveler): Ooh. This is very good.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Thank you. It was an accident. Um, I’m over here.

DEVON: Heh. I’m waving, mentally.

RICH: This turtle has come over and a shadow is coming over Traveler and 39, and this happens fairly quickly even though the discussion happened for a bit.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): Many Homes? Many Homes?

RICH: He turns to the Transcendent that’s next to him.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): That was my former assistant, I think. I’m not sure what she’s doing here. Nice to see her.

RICH: He looks around and sees the 1000 series Infiltrator come back and there’s some communication going on. There is a roil across the skin of In Perpetuum’s body, and that is an indicator of stress and concern.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): I’m sorry, there’s a what?

KAT: Yeah. I’m restraining from doing stress roiling, but I’m talking to Même in the connection really, really rapidly.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Okay. Même, we’ve talked about this, many times, and you’re the one who said that nonviolent action is the best way to move forward, and I, oh boy, I think that you’re right, and, um, but, I haven’t really been tested, so I just, I could use some help at the moment, and if you could remind me about what, and how, and um, maybe you should be the one who takes care of this and if you could connect up with that person this time, just do the same thing that you did before.

KAT: I’m going to use one of my Heart of Violence moves, Storm Front. When I appeal to one of my allies to help restrain me from rash or violent action, I ask my friend to hold me back. If they do, soothe my violent nature and clear 1 Corruption, and if they don’t I gain +1 ongoing in the ensuing conflict.

RICH: Même connects everyone together, immediately, to have this same… basically you are allowed to feel the emotional support from the people who care about you, and that they are there for you, that they believe in you, and that they also believe that violence may not be the solution to this problem, and that, you know, there’s a history of perhaps violence not being a solution to many problems. So you get to clear a Corruption.

In Perpetuum sees this, all of a sudden there’s this garden growing up, the Leo Venus plants are growing wild and quickly, and In Perpetuum starts calling out.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): Many Homes? Many Homes! We need to… Many Homes, is that you?

RICH: Their shell-they’re one of the few that have a shell as well-the shell begins to open up and you see spores pour out through the bottom of its shell and coming out and going into and around. You’ve seen these spores act before. They’re basically scanners. They go out and they are collecting information and going through this forest looking for you, but also looking for what it is that’s happening and taking data and information about what’s happening around. Traveler, you also hear, the other Transcendent has been very calm, floating, holding onto this turtle and going with what In Perpetuum is doing. I picture Transcendents are not normally chatty unless they are designed to be that way in some way. This Transcendent then sends out a psychic signal that you can hear the echo of to the four 1000 series which is an order for them to go into this forest and locate who’s here, and they take off. In Perpetuum had given the order for them to halt earlier, but is now likely psychically linked to all these probes and lost in his own thoughts scanning this area.

DC: Oh… That sounds very interesting, but I was asked for an assistance in keeping combat from happening, and I do have choice as a being. Oh, if I must.

KAT: [laughs]

DC: I want to send out a powerful psychic resonance, like I want to pop up, rise out from-

RICH: Out of the forest? Yep.

DC: And then send out a huge wave of, just like, “HALT!” like at everything in front of me.

RICH: Oh my. It sounds like you redirecting the current, which is when you act to remove an obstacle in your path, which is a roll +Calm.

DC: From the last game I think I had a +1 forward, and I have a -1 to Calm. Great. So, 9.

RICH: Oh, a 9, very nice. On a hit you succeed at your task and avoid trouble. On a 7 to 9 the Guide will give you a hard choice, introduce an instability, or enact a cost. So, you send out this psychic wave of “HALT!” The four 1000 series actually pull up, they were kind of dive-bombing down into the forest, and they pull up at the psychic wave which has a very similar resonance to them, or tone, accent, however you want to put it, as the one that gave them the order. They pull up and they see you, because you are now floating above and it’s another Transcendent. The Transcendent that is on the back of the turtle sees you and reaches out, psychically, to link.

RICH (as Transcendent): Hmm. Friend, why is it that you are hiding here?

RICH: It’s less of a casual question and more like it’s crawling into your head. I would actually like you to Resist Corruption.

DC: Let’s do it.

RICH: You’re gonna roll 2d6 plus the amount of Corruption that you currently have.

DC: Which is 1.

DEVON: I’m guessing my defend only works physically?

RICH: This is a world full of lots of things. In this particular case it’s a cost… so I’m gonna say that it doesn’t necessarily work here. They also came up above the jungle which I can kind of roll with, but for this particular case I think I’m gonna have it…

DEVON: Yeah. I didn’t quite, but I thought I’d just check just in case.

RICH: Of course. Yeah. The physical world, the emotional and psychic world are very similar, so they interact all the time. How did that roll go, DC?

DC: With the +1, I got a 6.

RICH: Oh, that’s actually good. Like with Endure or other things, you want to roll low, so the more Corruption you have, the higher the roll, the harder it gets for you. You actually did quite well. On a 6 you mark Harmony as normal, because you rolled a 6 or less, and you hold onto your true self. You keep the Corruption at bay and you reduce your Corruption score by 1.

DC: Yes.

RICH: What you do get is this with a 6 roll. There’s something off about this Transcendent. This Transcendent manifested here, like you and the other Transcendents, manifested in this world with a purpose. As you had mentioned earlier, this idea of the Transcendents being the will of the universe kind of thing, they’re manifested for a purpose, to keep balance, or to support, or in your case to learn and observe. This one manifested with something that is not in balance. It has manifested with a purpose that is not aligned with what you have run into in the past.

DC: Oh dang. That’s probably the weirdest possible thing that I’ve encountered in my entire hundreds of years of life. [laughs]

RICH: Yes.

RICH (as Transcendent): Why are you hiding, friend? Come speak with us.

DC: Traveler slowly moves forward, and when the other Transcendent says why are you hiding I think Traveler then gets the little “oh, what are you doing” sort of thing, and goes:

DC (as Traveler): What are You hiding?

DC: But only between the two of them.

RICH: Oh, interesting.

RICH (as Transcendent): Why don’t you come and have a discussion with me?

RICH: Polyp 39, the other Polyps did stop, they’re kind of confused now, they’re waiting for orders basically and trying to figure out what to do. Polyp 39, there are definitely these scanning things going through there, and also Many Homes, you know these scanners are moving through this forest, but Polyp 39, you see an interaction with Traveler. What do you do? Spotlight’s on you.

KAT: There are multiple Polyps you said?

RICH: There are four Polyp 1000s and there are hundreds of little spores, little glowing, bioluminescent spores that are basically little scanner balls that are going through, scanning the forest to see what’s happening with this sudden growth, probably looking for you and other information. That’s what’s happening there.

KAT: Have I encountered this before or is this a new technology to me?

RICH: I’d say you’ve seen this in the past.

KAT: Is this something that I can interface with, or is this just a plant spore sort of thing?

RICH: Oh, it’s biotechnology. What would you like to do?

KAT: Well, I’m not sure if I want to do anything with it, I’m trying to prioritize. I’m figuring out marching orders here.

RICH: Unless you do something in particular, they will find you, know what you are and where you are, and translate that information to In Perpetuum.

KAT: To In Perpetuum and not to In Perpetuum’s generals or anything.

RICH: No, this is personal, he’s basically looking at a tricorder.

KAT: Gotcha. Okay. That’s what that does. Then, the Polyps, are they moving or stable?

RICH: They were diving directly into the forest at the order of the other Transcendent, but then when Traveler gave their announcement they pulled up and they are now simply hovering above the forest waiting for further orders.

KAT: Ah! So they are dealing with the Transcendent not with this person.

RICH: Well, they’ve gotten orders from both and now they’re confused.

KAT: Yup. Cool.

RICH: You can tell by their actions, you know from the memory of what you use to feel like, you don’t do much of anything without orders and then when you do you do it…

KAT: Completely. Yeah.

RICH: …yeah, and they’ve gotten a bunch of conflicting orders right now, so they’re just confused. Not confused, that’s the wrong word, they’re just waiting. They’re stalled, they’re processing.

KAT: Just for Kat’s memory, have I been told that I was supposed to assassinate somebody?

RICH: I do not think that happened.

KAT: Okay. Cool. I see this thing happening with Traveler. Maybe Many Homes, where are you?

DEVON: I imagine if this is a big cavern then I’m off along one of the sides in a very thick patch of where the forest is, or where the garden is, but I definitely think ever since the garden has gone up she started to creep over, not quickly but like “oh gosh, are they alive, did I screw it up,” because that didn’t go the way I thought it would. I mean, she knows they’re alive because of the psychic link, but she knows there’s something going on, and she’s kind of creeping, but there’s a lot of fear I think in the psychic bond; a lot of weakness, a lot of fear, easy to kill.

KAT: No… [whines] No! [laughs]

DEVON: If you want to have a talk, there’s a team move that says Fearless Together.

RICH: There’s two team moves per playbook, and you automatically have access to those team moves.

DEVON: That’s rad, because then I will use my level up for something else.

RICH: That was something that was mentioned a little earlier, is that Devon’s character Many Homes, with the Harmony we marked, filled the track.

DEVON: I did.

RICH: So, your track emptied, and you’re still contemplating an advancement?

DEVON: I think I know what I’m going to choose, but I was gonna hold onto it until when I thought it appropriate.

RICH: Perfect. I love it.

DC: You gained a power in a time of stress.

RICH: That’s right.

DEVON: yeah.

KAT: Cool! Since you have a cool group thing for us to do and you’re kind of in an “am I running, am I staying” sort of thing, and also-whether or not Traveler knows this-Traveler’s in a tight spot. [laughs]

DC: Oh yeah, they know. [laughs] They’re in their element.

RICH: And I’m gonna reiterate, in other Descent into Midnight games when players create their group they’re already a group of Guardians that have this psychic link. Richard decided that this is the establishment of that psychic link for you.

KAT: Yeah, that’s cool, giving an origin story.

RICH: The way the “mechanics” of this work is basically you get to choose what you share, when you share it. There’s never really a question of “do you know what I’m seeing or hearing.” If you ask me that I’m just gonna say I don’t know, do you want them to know? So, Traveler can express or translate or whatever as much or as little of this interaction they’re having as they want. That’s up to you guys.

DC: I’m telling everyone everything. There’s no reason not to.

KAT: Cool!

RICH: Then I’m gonna say you guys emotionally felt that… Traveler does not get put off by anything, and Traveler is like “I do not understand,” and that is an uncomfortable feeling for all of you.

KAT: Yeah. That comes through the link, then basically the “mind palace” of Polyp 39 at any given moment is like a stat readout of people.

RICH: Got a HUD?

KAT: The HUD, yes. The HUD is like attack points, and figuring out like, the spores lead back to that device so they’re not an immediate concern unless In Perpetuum is the boss, but right now there’s a “who is the boss,” the boss seems to be the other Transcendent, that’s probable, that’s the working theory, the other Transcendent is definitely the dangerous person, so is Maybe Many Homes in danger… possibly, but it seems like Traveler is the one that we need to worry about so there’s a spark coming through that. Then, Polyp 39 speeds and goes really, really, really fast. I don’t think any of you have ever seen Polyp 39 book it before, and appears right between their faces. They were kind of close together and then Polyp 39 is there, and activates-

RICH: Between Traveler and the Transcendent?

KAT: Yes.

DC: Oh my god. [laughs]

KAT: Yeah, just there, just this tiny little Polyp thing. They softly start to glow, they have these blue rings on their body that start to light up with this neon blue.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Hello. I have some questions for you.

KAT: And they activate One to One. When you grapple with an opponent ask if they yield. If they do, roll +Calm, blah-blah-blah, and if they do not there are other things. So…

KAT (as Polyp 39): I have some questions for you. I would prefer not to fight at the moment, so if you would not like to fight with me please say so now. However, if you do, I suppose there will be consequences.

RICH: Nice. The One to One move, when we say grapple, of course that can be interpreted like a lot of PbtA games a lot of ways. It could be a psychic, verbal, social, physical grapple, and this seems like you’re using it in a really interesting way. The Transcendent answers you.

RICH (as Transcendent): You speak independently.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Like that’s hard?

RICH (as Transcendent): For some of you, yes. I don’t wish to fight with anyone.

RICH: Traveler, you sense one of those little communication pulses again, and the other four Polyps begin returning slowly, well, quickly but not as quickly as Polyp just moved back toward the turtle.

RICH (as Transcendent): I do not wish to fight with anyone.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Excellent!

KAT: So, they yield. I get to do a Calm. Let’s make sure the mechanics are ready and then we can break into… So, a 6. Oh no, I don’t get to do any of them!

RICH: Oh no. You rolled a 6? Okay.

KAT: Yeah. We just get to have a fine conversation.

RICH: Here’s a thing, if I remember correctly you each have 1 Maneuver.

KAT: Oh, hold on. I rolled +Calm, so let me see my Calm. Oh! It’s an 8 actually.

RICH: The Redeemed is a Calm-based playbook, actually. Nothing phases the Redeemed. The Redeemed has seen everything and seen terrible things. There’s nothing that really off-puts them about most situations, and that’s why their Calm is so high. You rolled an 8? What do you get?

KAT: Yeah. I can either limit their movement and they hurt, speak my peace and they hear me, drive them away and they seek refuge, or create an opportunity for my allies. I think we should do one of the last two ones, and the one that I like the best is create an opportunity for my allies. What do you guys think?

DC: I think leaving is a good idea.

KAT: Yeah. It seemed like Maybe Many Homes wanted to flee, too. [laughs]

DEVON: Leaving would be a good idea. I will say that there’s always a chance that we can have to deal with them on the way out as well, and that might be fun as well.

KAT: Yeah. How about I’ll have a little talk while you all leave and we can have some info or have a little scuffle or whatever on the way out?

DEVON: Yeah.

DC: So, what’s going on in Traveler’s head right now is that if not fighting and the safety of everyone’s lives is a priority we are in the most dangerous place Traveler has ever been in their entire existence, and it’s like, we’re all leaving. Traveler wouldn’t leave you by yourself.

KAT: Aw.

DEVON: Yeah. Remember, we still have Vista. We still have them with us.

KAT: Oh yeah, that’s right, they’re in your shell.

DEVON: If we get caught here…

RICH: The probes are now moving farther into the forest and will find Many Homes.

DEVON: I’m going to… Ugh.

RICH: You can effectively defend another in this situation, being yourself, if you can tell me narratively how you use the forest to hide yourself from them you can make that roll.

DC: I can also give you super speed.

DEVON: That’s actually really fab.

DC: You could just dip.

KAT: [laughs]

RICH: Super handy. “Also, I could blow up the planet, I mean if you need to. I mean, it’s an option.”

DEVON: Little jets come out of her shell and she just jets away… I have two options here. It sounds like the best option, you guys want to run away, and that sounds like what we plan on doing. Okay, then I won’t reveal myself. I think I will, because also I am carrying precious cargo, and it would be rad to confront them later on, but if that doesn’t work I think I can still have a semi-closure thing, kind of, about the mentor. I have a team move that I think would still make something interesting. So yeah, can I roll to defend myself?

RICH: In this case, you sure can. Roll +Altruism plus an additional +1 on the roll because of your move.

DEVON: Defend Another, +1, +Altruism, and I have a lot of Altruism… Phew. I got a 7, we’re okay.

RICH: Okay. here’s what happens on a 7. This is what you’ve done. Your goal was to hide from the scanners. Is that correct, to not be detected by them?

DEVON: Mm-hmm.

RICH: You are not detected by them, but on a 7 to 9 there are some consequences. You have to choose one. You take the hit, so some other consequence happens basically, you end up in a bad spot, or you lash out at a friend.

DEVON: I’m gonna choose you end up in a bad spot.

RICH: Okay. Here’s what happens.

DEVON: I don’t think I’m quite in the right situation to lash out at a friend yet.

RICH: Yeah. You bury yourself, reflexively, just hide yourself in an overgrowth of these things, tight enough that you know these little tiny scanners can’t even get in there, and you’re one of the few people who knows how they work intimately because you’ve seen them used before.

DEVON: I grow a couple of the plants over me.

RICH: Yeah, a really tight ball. Unfortunately, you now start to understand a little more about the Leo Venus plants. These Leo Venus plants, this thing that you’ve been tapping into, is… How do I put this? Do you remember the feeling that Traveler had with this other Transcendent that something was part of the universe but almost out of phase, screechy with the universe?

DEVON: Oh no.

RICH: It’s not the plants themselves. There’s something inside the plants. The plants are interacting with this in a way, and maybe absorbing it, eating it, consuming it, holding it.

DEVON: There’s a virus.

RICH: Surrounding yourself with these plants is exposing yourself to that. You are not found by the scanners, but you do need to Resist Corruption, please.

DEVON: Watch me roll good for once in my life.

RICH: Really high. Roll a 12.

DEVON: Real high. Hell yeah.

RICH: No wait, don’t do that.

DEVON: You joke, but I have never really rolled well. This is why I spent a very long time of my life being the GM/DM. Okay, I have three, so I’m gonna roll that again… [huffs] It’s an 8.

RICH: Eight?

DEVON: Yes. I rolled, again, almost as low as you possibly could.

RICH: On a 7 to 9 you stave off the Corruption for now, but something inside of you is unsettled. Mark a Condition, and let us know what you mark and why.

DEVON: Let me see what I have for my options.

RICH: For the listeners, the Conditions are Despair, Selfish, Isolated, Angry, and Conflicted, and they’re the opposite of each of the stats.

DEVON: Right now, also, by the way, I still have Isolated marked.

RICH: Okay, so you can’t mark Isolated again, you already feel isolated.

DEVON: Which is still very apt and accurate. I think in this context despairing makes sense, because it’s like how do we fix this, I don’t know, there’s a lot of elements going bad right now and I think she’s very overwhelmed, so I think despairing is a good reaction to being like, oh wow, now these things I’ve dedicated myself to are also screwed up.

RICH: Mechanically, Despair and Isolated will put -2 on the rolls of the associated stat, so with Despair it’s the opposite of Hope, ad Isolated is the opposite of Community, so if you make any rolls with those stats they’ll be at -2. The upside is you now understand a little more about the plants. Isn’t that nice?

DEVON: Yeah… Sure is nice.

RICH: Okay. You guys know that Many Homes is protected and not going to be detected by these scanning device things, but you also sense what she senses about the plants. There’s something more about them than at first you thought. So, Polyp 39 has created an “opportunity for your allies.” What is that opportunity, and how are you going to take advantage of that?

KAT: I think that the Transcendent is curious and that curiosity is diverting resources. I’m creating a diversion. Perhaps it’s creating minor turmoil even because it seems like there is, as we’ve already seen, a split between the Transcendent and Definite In Perpetuum, that they have different objectives. So, they can escape while I’m chatting it up here and trying to get some info.

RICH: Yeah. I think the four 1000 series are almost shark-like, slowly circling around this turtle, far enough not to be an immediate threat, but Polyp 39 you know exactly how quickly they can get from point A to point B if they need to. Also, you have a move, Polyp 39, the Sense Weakness. Can you read that out?

KAT: Sense Weakness: You identify weak points in everyone, friend or foe. When you first encounter a new ally, predator, or other notable creature you may ask the Guide one question about them. They must answer truthfully.

RICH: You can do that with both the Transcendent and In Perpetuum if you’d like, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be physical. It uses a lot of different senses including psychic senses, so you could ask a question of something that you think you’d be able to perceive in some way and I have to answer that question.

KAT: The question that I have about this Transcendent is a relational question, because from what I’ve gathered of Transcendents in general they show up here for purposes that most of the time seem to be generated by the planet, they’ve always been this frankly pretty mysterious thing but they’ve been benevolent.

RICH: There’s the word. They seem altruistic or community-driven in some way, usually.

KAT: Mm-hmm. This one’s spooky. [laughs] I wanted to know, can I get a sense if… Was this one summoned for evil?

RICH: Hmm… How to answer that question. Based on what you sense with your own personal sense and what you felt through Traveler, you know that this Transcendent manifested in a very similar way that Traveler did, but it manifested with a purpose that is counterintuitive or counterproductive to current society. It was not summoned, like from this side, it manifested naturally, or as naturally as you might think, from the other side, but since you don’t know why Transcendents get manifested, what the purpose is, what the drive is, or who brings them here or why, you’re not really sure about that, but this is definitely not brought here from this side. Something else brought it here.

KAT: And then this other being, In Perpetuum, is a Hermie?

RICH: Yep, like a hermit crab, this one with a shell, not all of them do.

KAT: Are they familiar to me? Is this the first time I’ve ever seen them?

RICH: Oh yes. No, not the first time you’ve ever seen them. Here’s what happens. You start to scan and analyze, your heads up display finally grabs them because he hasn’t been an immediate threat, and now you’re scanning him, and you are bringing up basically memory files that are hazy. Some of them have been broken. You had direct contact with this Hermie and you have gotten orders in the past from this Hermie. It’s more like an emotional memory of having interacted with this Hermie, but you have very few direct access memories with this Hermie. The one thing that I will offer to you that you do get from this Hermie, from your previous experience, is this Hermie is curious to an extreme, meaning curiosity and seeking knowledge will override almost any other feeling or need that he has.

KAT: Okay. My question is does this Hermie have a boss?

RICH: You don’t think so.

KAT: Okay, cool.

RICH: Traveler, there’s a distraction. Right now the 1000s are really more focused on 39 than anything else, 39 is up having a conversation with the Transcendent, and the Transcendent has kind of removed their attention on you toward 39 for what appears to be curiosity, deep, deep curiosity as well, toward how 39 is exhibiting such independence. So, you have an opportunity, and that opportunity can be to leave.

KAT: I broadcast the knowledge, obviously, that they have come to wreck society. [laughs] Or, they have a purpose counterintuitive to the purposes of modern society.

DC: Yeah. Oof. This is a really tough situation for Traveler. Ooh… How do I both escape, keep everyone safe, and ascertain more knowledge as to what this other Transcendent is meant here to do. I will leave a psychic note. I’ll put out a psychic wave again. I’m going to Redirect the Current with this opening. I want to get them interested in something. I want them to redirect their focus again, as if what Kat just did, like it’s basketball, and we just are gonna cross them up, trip them up for a second and then we can book. I am going to put out a wave that says:

DC (as Traveler): In time, this one will show you what they can do.

RICH: Meaning 39?

DC: Yes.

RICH: Okay. The Transcendent’s attention is drawn to you.

DC: And to the Transcendent, this is kind of a gamble…

DC (as Traveler): We’re getting close to the point where you’re not gonna kill us but those things are. We don’t want to fight, but if you have this curiosity as to why this one has independence you’ll have to let us go in order to see where that goes.

DC: That’s just a truth.

RICH: Interesting.

DC: So it’s like take the win now or get more later, because I’m coming back. We need to talk. [laughs]

RICH: So, you give this information to them and they’re processing that information when In Perpetuum returns.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): Is that a 100 series? That is a 100 series. What is that 100 series doing here? Is that a…?

RICH: The Transcendent… Describe to me again how the Transcendents typically manifest their look.

DC: They mostly just look kind of like the jellyfish from SpongeBob honestly, they’re pink but they’re very translucent, and some of them change form, some will be smaller and some will be bigger, some do come out in humanoid shapes, but it’s usually around the same. They all end up looking Transcendent and have lots of little jellyfish arms.

RICH: Little tentacles?

DC: Yeah.

RICH: This one holds up several tentacles between you and In Perpetuum.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): Wh-What?!

RICH (as Transcendent): You can go.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): What do you mean they can go?!

RICH: In Perpetuum starts getting indignant. Do you take that opportunity?

DC: I’m hitting the super speed on everybody and we’re getting the hell out of here. [laughs]

KAT: I stay a brief moment to stoke discord.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Clearly the more powerful entity says we can go.

KAT: And then I book.

[laughter]

DEVON: Zing!

RICH: Wow.

DC: Wakka-wakka.

RICH: I mark a Condition on the mentor. Wow. You can leave this particular area. Are you leaving the entirety of the central research facility, the most central sphere of the inside of this city? Are you moving out of the quarantine zone?

DEVON: I have a question if that’s the case. The only reason we were on the inside of this, because we had access to the mainframe before this right, because we were looking for info? Was two of our three.

RICH: Yeah. You wanted to come inside the quarantine zone area, which was the central neighborhood I guess, or central district of the city that used to be the aristocracy, meritocracy, people at high ranks, but now is full of research facilities, so you wanted to get more information. To get more information you needed to be inside the quarantine zone to hack into the security, but to help yourself with the Leo Venus plants and other things you needed to actually get into that castle.

DEVON: Yes. My follow up question is, do we still need to get into the upside down castle? Because where am I with my plants? They’re all Leo Venus now.

RICH: I will say that you have other plants in there, but the Leo Venus plants are now choking out with volume.

DEVON: Yeah. I used to have like two of them, and now I have like 30.

RICH: Yes, the same number of eyes that you have as they grow.

DEVON: Yes, exactly. One eye for every Leo Venus plant.

RICH: It’s a coincidence, I’m sure.

DEVON: I’m sure.

RICH: Now as you get more corrupted and you’re mutating people are like “did you have this many eyes last week?”

DEVON: Yeah, totally!

RICH: So, you’re not better. [laughs]

DEVON: Okay, so I still need to go in there.

KAT: Yeah. We need baby, and I want my memories. I don’t think we should leave.

DEVON: It sounds like everything we need to find is actually inside the upside down castle.

RICH: Mm-hmm.

DEVON: Alright. I will probably bolt along the path that I was shown last session, which is Episode 2, you can go listen to if you haven’t.

DC: That’s where we’re going.

RICH: They’re heading toward the castle. The turtle with all of them are moving toward the castle. They’re arguing currently, but that’s where they were going.

KAT: Oh. Can we just wait? Can we hide and loop and then follow them?

RICH: Mm-hmm, if you’d like.

DC: Lower our power levels and just hide.

KAT: Yeah. [laughs]

DEVON: My other thought was what if we went in and hit the fire button so they couldn’t get in, like the quarantine button, once we get in.

RICH: [breathes heavily] Is there a quarantine button?

DEVON: Of course there’s a quarantine button! We’re not heathens here in this lab!

[chuckling]

RICH: So, you worked in a lab that was nearby and you have been inside this castle/mansion, but you’ve only been in some of the outer rooms, because the place is just packed. You did not have access to the larger central core of this castle.

DEVON: Do we want to wait for them to be in or do we want to hit the quarantine button? Which one is the worst option you guys like?

DC: I think we should let them in and then trap them in here by hitting the quarantine button when we’re booking it. We go off-

DEVON: Oh…

RICH: On the way out?

DC: Yeah.

DEVON: That’s good.

DC: They’re gonna come after us. If we’re prepared we can just hit the button and they can’t immediately get out.

DEVON: At first I thought you were gonna do, like, “I’m not trapped in here with you, you’re trapped in here with me!”

[laughter]

DC: I have curiosity and I know people. Those are my skills. I cannot fight.

RICH: Just as a reminder, Même, the Specialist from the last game, on one of their rolls they gave you-what you were looking for is where you think it is, on their roll Get the Job Done, and your way out is uncompromised.

KAT: Oh!

RICH: So this sounds like how you’re uncompromised getting out.

KAT: Yeah, that rocks!

RICH: They did not choose, however, you and your friends don’t suffer long-term consequences, and they also did not choose no one knew you were coming, which is basically a little of what just happened.

DEVON: I feel like there’s a difference between you can get out and people tried to stop you.

RICH: Your way out is uncompromised means that you will be able to get out, but narratively it’s nice to describe what that is, and it sounds like you just did describe what that could be. If you get in, and you can find what you’re looking for, then you have a way to get out without having me block you in some way.

DEVON: In that case, I think we should do what DC mentioned which was wait for them to get in and then sneak in around them.

RICH: Okay. They do go in. This castle as we described is what we would think of as upside down, right, because this whole central area is a big sphere, almost like a space station out in space is circular. You can look up and see buildings and lakes and stuff because of the way gravity works. This castle is hanging upside down, pointed triangular upside down, but it is almost impossible to see any of the original architecture. It is covered in Leo Venus plants, but there are some areas that are opened, like hacked away. There were probably old supply things or “drawbridge” equivalents where there’s an opening, and the turtle continues to go after you see the Transcendent and In Perpetuum arguing extensively. They head to the castle. They get inside the castle. The way you were shown by the plants who were happy to commune with you, Many Homes, showed you a path through them around to the back which you expect was some kind of service entrance of some sort, you’re thinking. That’s the way you want to go?

DEVON: Yes. That’s where I would lead them unless anyone else would prefer going in the front. I prefer to go in the back so that there’s less chance of running into people we don’t want to run into, which I’m sure there will be a high chance of doing that anyway.

KAT: We’re not going in the front. [laughs]

RICH: Okay. You guys move through the forest around to the back side, along up the walls, upside down, at least Many Homes is chittering along upside down while the others are swimming. [laughs] You do get to an entrance, but you couldn’t see it at first. It’s actually covered in Leo Venus plants, but you are now able to almost transmit the visual memory of this sense that you had, and you’re pretty sure you’re where you need to be to get in, but there’s lots of Leo Venus plants all over the place. So, you need to find the entrance and/or get through these to get inside.

DC: [gasps] I have abilities for this. Like a Local: When you are introduced to an unfamiliar location or culture tell the table how you are aware of the location or culture and roll +Community. On a hit you are able to call for aid, comfort, information, or rest.

RICH: Excellent.

DC: On a 10+ you gain +1 forward, and on a 7 to 9, things happen.

RICH: Make that roll. You are familiar with how this aristocracy works.

DC: Alrighty. Let’s see how this goes.

DEVON: Heh. They’ve invited you to dinner.

RICH: How old is Traveler, 800 years or something?

DC: Yeah, somewhere around there.

RICH: Okay. I’m gonna say, depending on your roll, you’ve been to this before it was covered.

DC: I had dinner here once.

RICH: Yeah.

DC: I got a 7. I just barely made it.

RICH: On a hit you are able to call for aid, comfort, information, or rest. It sounds like information.

DC: Yes.

RICH: On a 7 to 9 choose one.

DC: Oh, there are two really good ones. You uncover something dangerous or threatening…

KAT: [laughs]

DC: …and an adversary, competitor, or rival makes their presence known.

KAT: [laughing] Oh no!

RICH: [smiling] There’s also your information is incomplete, and how you gained your knowledge involved an unsettling personal memory.

DEVON: How many do you have to choose?

RICH: Just one.

DEVON: Oh. I was gonna say, if you could choose two there are at least two really good ones in there.

RICH: Just one. So, you get the information you need, which is you’re like “I think the entrance was right around here,” and then you do actually find that entrance. As you get closer these Leo Venus plants respond to the presence of your Cultivator and seem to fall away, out of the way from this door, almost voluntarily disconnecting themselves from the wall and curling themselves up into little balls, almost like seeds as they come falling away. You’re not sure if that causes them to die or not, but they have moved out of the way.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Um… They don’t usually do that.

RICH: You’ve never seen one do that, and now like hundreds of them have done it.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Well, if we pass by anymore I guess I can do that now.

DEVON: She says uncomfortably.

RICH: Maybe. So, Traveler, which choice do you make?

DC: You uncover something dangerous or threatening.

RICH: Excellent. [laughs] You know exactly which way to go. Trust me.

DC: There’s that scene in Mad Max: Fury Road, I forget his name, but he’s one of the kids that are supposed to die and they love Valhalla and all that, and he’s driving in his little buggy, and he goes “What a great day! What an absolutely fantastic day!” That’s how Traveler feels right now, like everything is weird, I want to be here right now.

[laughter]

RICH: Fantastic. As all of the Leo Venus plants drop away revealing this entrance that you can swim and move through, you guys enter into this giant castle. You normally would have a Specialist, and your Specialist, Même, has an ability called Hack the World. I’m going to assume that the Specialist has used their ability to help you manipulate yourself through this cavernous area. The part of the castle that you enter into that Traveler kind of guided you in and through is all unused. It’s covered in Leo Venus plants to an extent, but it’s clear that no one goes back there. They must have put no security or no anything else there, because nobody could theoretically find the entrance to get in that side. You’re in a big, disused area of the castle as you’re moving through it. You get to where you think these plants should be, not that Many Homes has necessarily been there, but you know and have memory of how this space works and how the castle works. You know where you’ve been, you know where you were not allowed. How your unique species of these Leo Venus plants got into your garden you’re still not exactly sure, because they just love you I think is what it is. Isn’t that nice? So nice.

DEVON: Makes me feel so safe and comfortable.

RICH: I’m sure. It should.

DEVON: Agh…

RICH: You guys move through and you get to a much more trafficked area. Describe to me, when I say you’re in a much more trafficked area of this castle, and this castle is being researched on by researchers who are studying the plants and various other things, describe to me one thing that you’re seeing as you’re looking into an area that looks like it’s much more trafficked. Devon? What surprises you, maybe, about what you see?

DEVON: What surprises me? I guess the level of how deep they’re going to analyze what these are, and I imagine we pass… maybe “room” is a little too official for what it is, but an area that we can see through glass or transparent material that they have deconstructed a Leo Venus plant all the way down to almost its molecules, if that makes sense. It’s kind of floating up in the water, like an exploded view of the plant, but all the way down to some of its smallest parts.

RICH: Nice. I like it. The majority of the Leo Venus plants, actually all of the Leo Venus plants that you’ve ever seen all have this internal bioluminescent glow, but this one that’s been exploded out and is hovering there where they can look at it with this 3D view is not. It looks dark and not glowing. Kat, tell me something that is interesting or surprising about what you’re walking into.

KAT: I think now that we’ve seen the internal structure of this Leo Venus plant, and… this bioluminescence that we’ve seen, it’s not common but it’s familiar, and this substance that’s internal is not, but the way that it’s unfamiliar is almost protective camouflage, you know, if you weren’t looking at the skeleton of it you wouldn’t notice it because the bioluminescence masks. Now that you can see the skeleton of it, it’s just like, oh, I know what to look for, and now that I’m looking at the structure of the palace it’s like embedded in the framework here, not meaning that the Leo Venus plant is everywhere necessarily, but there are things utilizing technology or whatever this stuff is elsewhere.

RICH: I’m trying to follow. I’m not sure I follow. Can you explain that a little bit more? The picture I have of the Leo Venus plant exploded out is this idea that it’s blown out so that you could examine it and look at it with the bioluminescence. You’re saying there’s little rhizomes or something from the Leo Venus plants that are in the structure of the building or something like that?

KAT: Sort of. Based on what you were saying, I figured there was a skeletal structure to the plant just made out of some foreign material.

RICH: It does now, yeah.

KAT: And this foreign material is being used in the framework of the building, but not necessarily the building itself-could be, if you’d prefer-but I figured some of the building’s technologies.

RICH: Yes. They have been utilizing it. They have been utilizing what they are learning into other bioengineered devices around them; computer bank equivalents, basically Valve rooms, the Valve rooms that are covered in these bivalves or whatnot, but you can tell that the technology is different. There are smaller valves that have different patterns on them. something’s been incorporated into the technology directly from the Leo Venus plants.

KAT: Yeah, which feels like if it’s embedded in the building it means that this has been going on longer than at least I thought.

RICH: Yeah. DC?

DC: I think that the décor is beautiful.

RICH: It is. It really is.

DC: It was a castle. There was a lot of really beautiful… Well, because this is underwater I think we have something similar to our world where we have tapestries that slowly wiggle back and forth through the water, and some of them are a little torn or broken. The floor and the ceiling, to us, there’s probably some really cool, like, as you move forward the designs probably turn in a spiral so that any point whatever direction that your up is you’ll be looking at or you’ll be right next to a part of this pattern that doesn’t seem to have any frame of reference in it’s three-dimensional-ness.

RICH: [laughing] I love how Many Homes and 39 are like, Many Homes is kind of horrified by what’s happening here and what’s being seen, and 39 is all analytical about “ooh, they’re using it in the technology, that could be bad,” and Traveler’s like “it’s so nice in here!”

DC: [laughs] As long as things are interesting, I am onboard. And returning to this place having been here at some point, now there’s this frame of reference, so seeing how things have changed is probably a really big thing to Traveler. “Oh… I love that time passes. Things are different, and I can come to the same place and have a completely different experience.” So, they’re just soaking it in and contrasting it over the little bits that they do remember.

RICH: Speaking of that, Traveler, as you guys are moving through toward where Many Homes believes that the information she needs is contained, you see an area that you absolutely were at before. It’s the big dining area, the dining hall, you were here for dinner that one time. The hall itself is filled with researchers, but there is a wall or a door there that was not there before, an archway that has been very purposefully placed in one area of this hall that was absolutely not there before. There’s very little activity by that door, but you do see an Infiltrator standing guard, which 39 you’re already like that’s not a thing.

DC: Huh.

RICH: So, if they’re putting a 1000 series Infiltrator in front of a door, that’s like unnecessarily big guns.

DC (as Traveler): Well, we found our doorway… and a friend. Are you stronger than this person?

KAT: Uh… [laughs]

RICH: Didn’t we do that bit?

KAT: Did we?

DC: [laughs]

KAT (as Polyp 39): I can easily not rise to that, because I am very strong. So, let’s look for a back way into the room. Yes? I understand that it’s very interesting for you, would be, to watch me interact with them, but let’s just look for a back entrance.

DC (as Traveler): Oh. You don’t necessarily have to be in combat. I’m just interested in which, as we go across these different series, if you’re stronger than them. But, I think maybe, maybe it’s your independence and your ability to not enter combat.

KAT (as Polyp 39): The only interest that I have is possibly converting them like the others of my series, but I haven’t interacted with ones above my level yet, so I don’t know what stopgaps they’ve made.

DC (as Traveler): That is even more interesting.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Traveler, I think you’re comparing oysters and clams.

DC (as Traveler): That’s the best part.

DEVON (as Many Homes): But you can’t add them together, because they’re not the same. You can’t compare and contrast.

DC (as Traveler): That’s what makes this even better. Now you’re going to try and turn these oysters into clams. This is very good.

DEVON: Do I know that through this doorway is what we are looking for, or do I surmise?

RICH: There is something of importance behind that door. You think what you’re looking for, as far as the computer interface for the memories and perhaps data and information to help with the history of Vista, is in another area. You can access that from another area. As far as your plants are concerned, it’s possible they’re held up in this special area that’s being heavily protected.

Now, as you guys are discussing the various merits of clams and oysters, the Transcendent that you saw earlier floats toward that door. The door molds out of the way, it and of itself is a living creature, the bioengineering kind of morphs and clay moves out of the way, and it moves through that space.

Polyp 39, as soon as that door opens up, your senses pick up all kinds of information. There is a living thing in there that is in an almost incomprehensible amount of distress, pain, and angst. You can sense it, that Sense Weakness you have, you can sense it coming through the water; the pheromones, waste products, things like that are coming out and you immediately sense this, and then the door closes, molds closed.

KAT: Hmm…

RICH: And as always, you can share as much or as little of that information immediately with the group as you wish. They could all know it just the same time you do if you want.

KAT: No, I’m not telling them that. Instead, I say through the connection:

KAT (as Polyp 39): Are we very sure that the plants are there?

DEVON (as Many Homes): Uh, it’s a possibility. I don’t actually know exactly where the center is, actually. I’ve never been there, but it could be. This could be it.

KAT (as Polyp 39): It could just as likely be a trap.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Yes.

KAT (as Polyp 39): We should act with self-preservation.

RICH: She says in the middle of the giant castle filled with antagonists.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Or we trigger the trap on the way out.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Yes.

DC (as Traveler): I like that plan as well.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Perhaps we should get your baby seen to.

DEVON (as Many Homes): And your memories, don’t forget.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Hmm.

DEVON (as Many Homes): It’s a two-pronged assault. Two fish with one stone.

DC (as Traveler): I would prefer that both of these things happen.

RICH: [laughs] Of course you would. As Many Homes says “and your memories,” Polyp 39, I would like you to roll an Endure, please.

KAT: Sure, gladly. A 7.

RICH: On a 7 to 9 you will choose one. This is what happens. She says “and your memories,” and you have immediate recall of the inside of that room. That is just after you awoke. You spent time in this room witnessing other members of the 100 series being created. There was something else in that room that you were kept away from that you did not visually see, and just like you smell chocolate chip cookies and have a memory of your childhood, the sensory information that you got as that door opened is now triggering a fall of memories from this space. So, as an Endure, on a 7 to 9 you choose one. The trauma unsettles you, the trauma of the memory, mark a Condition. The trauma impairs your physical, emotional, or psychic defenses, mark a Corruption. Your attempt to defend yourself goes wrong, and expose an ally to danger.

KAT: I think I’ll… Hmm. I’ll take the trauma impairs me and I’ll mark a Condition.

RICH: Okay. What Condition do you mark?

KAT: I’ll take Selfish here.

RICH: Interesting. Why that?

KAT: Because what I was moving away from, here, the instinct… I noticed on my stats pretty early that the thing that the Redeemed doesn’t have is Altruism, that they have a high sense of self-preservation, so with this happening their first instinct here is to retreat in, go away, to protect this group… so they’re going into a very selfish place away from this scary thing.

RICH: Do you share this, any parts of this?

KAT: Yeah. I don’t know how much of the memory, but the emotions are all coming through.

DC: Ooh.

DEVON (as Many Homes): There’s something in pain in there?

KAT: Well, the knowledge of others’ pain is coming, but I don’t know that you’re getting how much of it being attached to memories and stuff. Does that make sense?

DEVON: Yeah.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Well, there’s something in pain in there. I am all for triggering a trap.

DC (as Traveler): This reminds me of Vista’s plight.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Yes.

DC (as Traveler): Although, I am having quite a good time, pain doesn’t seem to be a thing that most people like in my experience.

DEVON (as Many Homes): I’ve committed fish crime before, and I’m going to commit fish crime again.

DC (as Traveler): Crime is a very interesting thing to do.

DEVON (as Many Homes): And by that I mean I’m going to help someone out of a government facility.

RICH: [laughs] “Crime is fascinating!”

DC: [laughs] I need a t-shirt for Traveler that says “Crime is Fascinating.”

DEVON: I want one that says “I have committed fish crime.”

KAT: Polyp 39 has been very quiet and then looks up, concerned.

KAT (as Polyp 39): What? No, we should go.

DC (as Traveler): Yes, go inside. Yeah.

KAT (as Polyp 39): No. No, we should go. The Transcendent is in there.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Oh…

RICH: Yes, I’m not understanding what you’re saying. [laughs] You’re making my point for me. Let’s go.

DEVON (as Many Homes): I can get the one away from the door.

KAT (as Polyp 39): No, you cannot.

DEVON (as Many Homes): But I could.

KAT (as Polyp 39): You are… very, very weak.

DEVON (as Many Homes): No, I wouldn’t be doing it, but I could make them get away from the door.

DC (as Traveler): You’ve both shown yourselves to be extremely capable in all matters of deception, escape, crime-

DEVON (as Many Homes): Crime. Yeah.

DC (as Traveler): –not quite yet combat, but apparently we’re not going there.

DEVON (as Many Homes): 39, I don’t fight with my body, I fight with my mind, and I don’t think your radar says whether I am smart or not, unless I am mistaken.

DC (as Traveler): Does your radar say whether or not?

DEVON (as Many Homes): Yeah, actually that’s kind of interesting.

KAT (as Polyp 39): That room is a dangerous room.

DEVON (as Many Homes): [chuckles]

KAT (as Polyp 39): You’re laughing, but it is a dangerous room. We shouldn’t go there.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Yeah, we probably shouldn’t.

KAT (as Polyp 39): There are other rooms to go to. There are other rooms to go to. We should go to the other rooms.

DEVON (as Many Homes): And then go to this room, because there’s someone who’s… If I can repair something that I’ve screwed up, then I’m going to. I did the same thing with you, and I’m probably going to keep doing it.

DC (as Traveler): Are we gonna come back to this room later?

DEVON (as Many Homes): Aye.

KAT: Polyp 39 starts to {blup} off.

DC: [laughs]

DC (as Traveler): I’ll take that as a yes.

DC: And then I’ll just follow.

DEVON: I’m gonna go find an office.

RICH: Okay. You do find an office. You find an office and you manage to get into the office thanks to Même’s hacking skills, into an office and find a Valve bank.

DEVON: Do I need to roll something to get the info?

RICH: Just tell me what you want to do. You see an office with a very advanced Valve bank. It seems to have incorporated some of this technology, this newly designed technology, that loves you.

DEVON: Oof. Oh boy. I feel like… I don’t know. For some reason I always imagine, where it comes to those types of things, I imagine her like plugging into The Matrix almost, that’s what I’m seeing, like a physical almost.

RICH: Yep. I love it.

DEVON: Although, she does have Bioelectric Mainframe.

RICH: Yeah. At home you have a bioelectric mainframe, but also the Technopathy and the Bioelectric Mainframe, you can jack right into this thing, just have that new technology right there at your fingertips.

DEVON: Mm-hmm. Yes, but I want to say that I also would like to upload the information that I’m looking for, which is the file on… everything they have on Vista, and everything they have on 39. I’m also gonna have data slugs, I guess slugs but they’re literal slugs, that you eat I guess, and that’s how you get the info. I’m also gonna be transferring to those so I can get it to the others, basically USB drives.

RICH: USB drives that are actual, bioengineered memory slugs.

DEVON: Yeah. I don’t think I’m loading it into myself, I’m loading them into these thumb drives that are actually slugs.

RICH: Hmm, but to interact with this highly secure mainframe you’re going to have to use the technopathy and psychically jack in.

DEVON: Rad. Do I have to roll anything?

RICH: No, you just get to take a Corruption.

DEVON: Rad. Awesome. [smiling] I’ll take it. I am almost full.

RICH: Where are you at now, 4?

DEVON: Yes, I’m 4 out of 5. You only live once.

RICH: But you also get extra information, so you find what you’re looking for and you’re just quickly downloading data and information on Vista and on 39, and inadvertently basically a lot of the 100 series. You also get other information as you’re looking around, waiting for it to download. Here’s what you find for your Corruption that you took, because I’m not a monster.

After the old Guardians died there were lots of concerns about the safety and security of the city. We’ve talked about this in the past. The Infiltrator series was created to help protect the city before problems could happen. The thing is, before that, because the Infiltrator series is not as old as these plants, before that the instability that happened in the city started right here, in this building, in that room. The instability was because the aristocratic family that lived previously in this castle was exploring The Deep Echo and trying to recreate the deep and powerful psychic abilities of the Guardians for their own. There are many things in there that implied that they were doing it for the benefit of the city itself, but you know better.

There was a lot of personal power and status involved in this. They brought something over they shouldn’t have that caused the city to start to unravel, and in reaction to that these plants showed up and began feeding on the corruption that this family brought from somewhere else, feeding on and containing it. So, these plants feed on whatever this corruption is that you don’t have a lot of information on as of yet, and flourish in it, but they also contain it and keep it from spreading.

Just a short period of time ago, probably within the last year, a Transcendent manifested and came here, and said I’m here to help, but you are finding information that this Transcendent is not trying to help research and understand more about these plants, they’re trying to destroy them.

DEVON: I share this with everyone. I keep the open psychic link.

RICH: This Transcendent has manifested here on this plane basically as a harbinger of something and is trying to unplug the hole so that it can come through.

DC: This Transcendent is still a normal Transcendent, like it is from The Echo?

RICH: Mm-hmm, but you do also know that there are Transcendents who have said that they have manifested themselves or have memories from other realities that they have manifested into as well.

DC: This is conflicting.

KAT (as Polyp 39): I am resolved now. Let’s go talk to the entity, find out what it is, and see if we can send it home.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Or at least possibly discourage the thing trying to destroy the barricade, although the barricade seems to, in and of itself, be an issue.

DEVON: Says Many Homes, as there’s little plants coming out of her shell. Heh.

DEVON (as Many Homes): But I think that room is going to have to be the trap we trigger.

KAT (as Polyp 39): Probably the plants are hurting it. It is sad.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Maybe.

KAT: I share my full memories of what I have of them.

RICH: Okay. Your memories manifest themselves. You still had, at the time, when you first awakened, they have to fine-tune your programming, and before you get fine-tuned you have some semblance of freedom and awareness and emotions. You are afraid of whatever was happening to this thing, but it was in a room that’s adjacent to the room, out of sight, whatever it was it was out of sight in another side alcove corner that was being experimented on. You have an emotional memory of that fear of the unknown and the fear of what was happening there until they flipped off your emotion chip.

KAT: Yeah… Now I’m selfishly stomping down my foots. We’re gonna go help this friend. We’re gonna go free Willy. This isn’t fair.

DEVON: I am gonna give a slug that has Vista info to Traveler and then a slug that has 39’s memories to 39, and probably caution them that now is not the time to download that information.

KAT: Now is not appropriate! [laughs]

RICH: This looks delicious. Snacks before attacking?

DEVON: Now is not the time for snacks.

DC: Brain blast!

KAT: Last time that I had a memory there was no traumatic response at all!

DEVON: Yeah, I mean, you make your own choices, but snacks may not be the best decision at the moment especially brain snacks.

KAT: Well, thank you.

DEVON: But I think you should all be carrying the information you need.

RICH: Nice. You have now been in the castle long enough that the effects of the “Your friends do not have long-term consequences” from the roll from last game comes into effect, and I would like everyone to please roll Resist Corruption for being exposed to the constant amounts of corrupting radiation that’s in this area.

KAT: Ho! Oh no!

DEVON: Oh boy.

RICH: Oh yes.

DEVON: Of course I roll really well.

RICH: Devon, what did you roll?

DEVON: Twelve.

RICH: Nice! Twelve is, as you might suspect, a fantastic result.

DC: Oof.

DEVON: Did we all fail?!

DC: I rolled a 10.

RICH: On a 10+ the Corruption works its way deeper into your mind, body, and/or soul. Mark a Corruption.

DEVON: Alright. My track is full up.

RICH: Alright, so you clear your track. Normally what you would do, you have a community map, when you empty your track you would take a Corruption token and you put it on some area of the community that is important to you, and you can decide where that might be and how that might be affected, but as the Corruption moves forward it basically acts as our clock for various things to move forward. We’re not really using the map right now for a one-shot, so we’ll just keep that in mind. You clear your track, and then you pick one of the Corruption moves that you have. It’s a move that you hold, you pick it once and you can trigger it once at some point, and they let you do wonderful, amazing things that won’t hurt you. Kat, what did you roll?

KAT: Snake eyes.

RICH: Oh, you rolled 2. Very nice. Plus your Corruption that you had marked was 4, is a 6, right?

KAT: Yeah.

RICH: Okay, 6 or less, you are fine. You stave off the Corruption and you actually reduce your Corruption by 1.

KAT: Oh, okay. That’s not that bad.

RICH: No, that’s the best roll you can get, and considering you had 4, I’m surprised. DC?

DC: Yeah, I rolled a 10.

RICH: Nice. You had lost a Corruption from earlier, right?

DC: Yeah, I lost one, so I just have 1 now.

RICH: Perfect.

DC: Not too bad.

RICH: When you had previously come into this area to talk to a different Transcendent in that first session you were exposed to Corruption when you were here and it crept into your system, but you managed to clear that. Oh, also Kat, you mark a Harmony for that as well.

KAT: Oh wow.

RICH: Anytime you roll a 6 or less you gain a Harmony including on Endure and Resist Corruption.

KAT: Holy smokes.

DEVON: I took a really cool move. I don’t know if I’ll get to use it, but I actually love it.

KAT: I hope you get to.

DEVON: It’s cool!

RICH: The Corruption is here to help you.

DEVON: Uh-huh!

RICH: [laughs] Alright. Now you guys have decided that you are going to enter into this room to find out more. Alright. How do you want to do that, through the direct front route, or you had mention earlier trying to find some alternative route?

KAT: [sighs] Should probably try to convert that buddy in the front door.

DEVON: I can distract it, too.

KAT: That’s definitely the better plan.

DC: [gasps] What if-Oh no, that’s too risky, that’s too risky.

DEVON: No, say it, say it, say it!

DC: I was gonna say, this is really risky, but you could eat the slug and then psychically link with them and maybe that will shake them out of the thing.

DEVON: Or make them eat the slug?

DC: But then you don’t have the slug, and so this person…

KAT: …has all my memories.

DC: Right. To me, as both me and player and as Traveler, I’ve been watching you and I think that you are at a point-

KAT: “I WANNA DO IT. IT’ SO FUN.” [laughs]

DC: [laughs] You’re at a point where you’re the kind of person where your traumas are going to be the things that heal the people you’re trying to help.

KAT: yeah. That’s the way that… Basically Même gave me sensory overload, so this feels approximate. Let’s do it!

RICH: I love this.

DC: Also, I eat my slug.

[laughter]

DEVON: Just picture Many Homes in the background like [groaning] “oh my god, they’re all eating snacks.”

KAT: Chug a slug! Chug a slug!

DC: Slug chug! Slug chug!

DEVON: Slug! Slug! Slug!

[laughter]

KAT: I disguise myself and float on up into the thing and then reach out a tentacle, and… chug a slug, and yeah, try to psychically connect and then override.

RICH: [laughing] Hold up. One thing at a time. DC, Traveler consumed the slug that has all the data and information regarding Vista, correct?

DC: Yes. [laughs]

RICH: Okay.

DC: Something so bad that it has made a former Transcendent just go into a time loop.

RICH: Go into a, yes, a reflexive, defensive maneuver. That won’t at all have a problem. Roll an Endure and a Resist Corruption, please.

DEVON: You can eat it slowly. You can eat half at a time.

DC: Just nibble.

RICH: No, it’s all or nothing.

DEVON: It’s segmented so that you can eat a bit at a time. It’s like a gummy worm.

RICH: Segmented for your convenience.

DEVON: [giggles]

RICH: Yeah, actually, you know what, I’m not gonna have you Resist Corruption. Mark Corruption and then roll an Endure.

DC: I got a 5 on the Endure.

RICH: Wow. Mark another Harmony for all the times you keep enduring things.

DC: Oh, that’s full.

RICH: Okay, so you clear your Harmony track and you will be able to pick an advancement.

DEVON: Chug a slug!

RICH: DC’s contemplating, so we’ll go to Kat. So, 39, you consume this and you get an influx, basically a download of all of your memories and experiences including after they tried to figure out what was wrong with you. One of the Hermies that worked in this facility couldn’t take it anymore and decided they were going to out what was happening here to the rest of the city, including the Infiltrator program. You were tasked with, and succeeded in, tracking them through the city and assassinating them. They are in basically the equivalent of… You had their memory wiped. What’s your power again?

KAT: Transferable Consciousness.

RICH: There you go. You’re basically able to absorb everything that they knew so that they did not know it anymore and left them in a state where they could work at a different job but never really recover. This means you also downloaded, inadvertently, everything that they knew, which is why they wiped all of your memory of the situation. The thing that’s in there is a member of the aristocratic family that they were trying to make into a superhero, that’s what’s in this city, that’s what opened the gateway and door to some other physical reality at the far end of The Far Echo, and they had been using that individual and the immortal jellyfish, Vista, as a channel of the Corruption, an active, living use of the Corruption that bound itself to a physical living body in order to make the Infiltrators, and it’s still in there.

DC: They’re trying to use the Corruption to power themselves.

RICH: They thought they found a power that would help them become new Guardians and it ended up being a corruption that caused a chain reaction of problems, and now our current scientists in this city are taking the Corruption from the plants, as they are absorbing it and trying to contain it, they are taking it and incorporating it into technology. You’ve got all those memories. You were going to try to memory transfer into this other person?

KAT: Yeah. I wanted to do that in tandem with doing Transferable Consciousness to shock them out.

RICH: Perfect. That sounds like you’re trying to Do Something Wondrous, which is using your powers in an exciting and interesting way. Using your gifts in a spectacular way, you’re gonna roll +Drive.

KAT: That’s an 8.

RICH: Great. On a hit you describe how you accomplish your goal, but on a 7 to 9 you’re gonna choose one; you suffer a backlash, you lose control at the worst time, or you put someone else in danger.

KAT: Oh… I’m just trying to think what’s the most fun.

RICH: The most narratively interesting?

KAT: Yeah.

RICH: Of course.

KAT: I guess I lose control at the worst time.

RICH: Alright. We’ll talk about that in a bit. Tell me how it works. What happens with this other Polyp?

KAT: They’re doing their holding pattern, because I’m not a perceived threat until the moment that I touch them and then it’s too late, then they’re just getting a complete overload of information. Once they’re short-circuited they’re like off the grid, and I think that… they’re probably just hyperventilating and trying to process stuff, you know?

RICH: How does a Dumbo octopus hyperventilate? So, this is what I picture happens, too, if you don’t mind me adding to it a little bit. It tries to defend itself, because it has a similar power, so you guys are wrestling back and forth, like “whoa, wait a minute, what?” because you don’t usually attack each other, so you’re trying to shove memories into it and it’s trying to push memories back into you, and you’re going back and forth until you clearly win. Then, you dump all your knowledge and memory, and also the concept of freedom, into their mind which causes it basically just to lock up. It doesn’t know what to do. It has too much to process. It’s conscious, it’s alive, but it’s semi-conscious and it’s floating, it’s just kind of floating in the current now as it’s clearly, like, its head is twitching as it’s trying to process all this new information that’s going on in its head, but it’s not a threat.

KAT: Yeah. Bounce back, bounce back.

RICH: [chuckles] Do you guys want to get in the door? Même could open it for you.

DEVON: Sure. Is 39 gonna follow or does 39 look spaced out?

KAT: I’m probably a little spaced out.

RICH: Mm-hmm, but you’re okay, you didn’t take a backlash.

KAT: So I’m gonna lose control later?

RICH: I will tell you what happens with the lose control in a little bit. Right now you feel fine.

DEVON: I don’t know this, so I’ll probably hook one of 39’s legs so I can drag them and keep them close so that I can protect them.

RICH: Même hacks the door so the door can open, whenever you’re ready you can just give them the signal.

KAT: Yeah, then I’m okay. I’m a little spaced, but I’m okay.

DC: I walk forward and look over at Polyp.

DC (as Traveler): Whoa!

KAT (as Polyp 39): Whoa… Eh…

DC (as Traveler): Woo!

[laughter]

RICH: “That was a rush. I know kung fu.”

DC: I did learn something new.

DEVON: Thirteen of 39’s legs do a face palm, but there’s no face, it’s just eyes.

RICH: Does an eyepalm?

DEVON: Eyepalm. Yeah, no…

DEVON (as Many Homes): That was dangerous. Please use my gadgets responsibly. I might start putting that on them now. Même? Même, we don’t have a lot of time.

RICH: Même acknowledges and then the door opens up. Basically Même has become like Jarvis.

DEVON: Même is my co-pilot.

KAT: Aw.

RICH: Même is my co-pilot. [laughs]

DEVON: I want that on a sticker on my shell.

RICH: The door opens up and you guys go in. you see the Transcendent there. This is a very involved research area. There are some tubes, think Winter Soldier tubes, that are there. Some have Polyps in them, some of them are empty. You can immediately sense through 39 all of the uncomfortable pheromones and things that are floating around in this water, you’re now getting a very direct sense of what it is that 39 was experiencing. The Transcendent is not in this room, but you see that there is an archway that goes into the next room, which from 39’s memories you know is where they’re keeping this former member of this aristocratic family. You don’t see any other exit from here except for where you came in.

also in the room is In Perpetuum. In Perpetuum’s back is to you, or shell is to you I guess, and they are along a very involved Valve bank. It’s all glowing with this bioluminescent white-purple glow that is clearly part of the technology that they’re incorporating in, using the Corruption to power things in different ways, there’s something going on with what they’re pulling from this other dimension that they’re using to now power other objects that are not overloading another kind of living organism, and they’ve been studying this for 50 years now.

DEVON: I think over the psychic link, very quickly before In Perpetuum has a chance to turn around or even notice, Many Homes goes…

DEVON (as Many Homes): Oh no! …

DEVON: …and then psyches herself up and goes…

DEVON (as Many Homes): I ran away before, and it was because I was afraid that he was gonna say something that… I was afraid he is going to say something, and I’m going to believe him, and I’m going to do what I did before and go back to not seeing how horrible this is. I need to know that you won’t let me go back.

RICH: Who are you talking to?

DEVON: Anyone. I’m making a move. I haven’t said the name of it yet.

KAT: Is that the creator of the program?

RICH: He’s one of the highest ranking if not the highest ranking member of this individual private military firm. He’s the head researcher of many researchers. So, Many Homes is asking for help?

DEVON: Yep, I’m doing Fearless Together. When you tell a friend about a fear you hold ask them how they would help you face it. If they have a plan, you hold 1 maneuver, if they hesitate, mark Harmony and Resist Corruption.

KAT: I {blup} around.

KAT (as Polyp 39): No, he is horrible. You don’t need to listen to him. You are great.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Thank you. … You! Get out of our way! Move!

[giggling]

RICH: You guys come in. you’re around a corner just a little bit. You have this psychic conversation translated by Même, which again goes very quickly because it’s really transferring feelings and ideas fairly quickly, faster than a conversation. You see a bunch of eyes come up over the shell and look backwards, because the door opens. He’s just looking to see who’s there, and you’re all there. He turns around.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): [gasps] Many Homes! It was you.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Move out of the way. We’re going through.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): What? Going through to where?

DEVON (as Many Homes): To whatever is in that other room.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): Oh, you don’t want to go in there. You’ve never wanted to go in there… That’s not a place to go.

RICH: He starts moving forward toward you.

DEVON (as Many Homes): But it holds the truth. It does. It’s the source, and I think I can go see the truth. Thank you. Thank you, In Perpetuum. I think I can. Right? I can.

RICH: [laughing] It looks like you’re looking to everyone else.

DEVON (as Many Homes): [laughing] yeah, like I can, right? I can go see the truth.

DC: I’m like, yeah, you can do it.

RICH: “You can’t handle the truth!” I had to. Anyway.

KAT: Through the connection you feel “yeah, you got it, you’re fine.”

DEVON (as Many Homes): Yes. Move out of the way.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): Well, I could, but I have questions. Did you make the forest grow?

DEVON (as Many Homes): Yes, and if you don’t get out of the way I can do it again.

RICH (as In Perpetuum): Will you please? That’s amazing. Do you have any idea of how important this would be for our research to be able to have more?

RICH: He keeps going.

DEVON: Can I make the forest, the Leo Venus plants grow down and then just scoop him up and bring them back up?

RICH: Can you?

DEVON: I don’t know. Can I?

RICH: Sounds like you’re doing something wondrous to me, so I think you should roll with that. Roll +Drive.

DEVON: Okay. I’m just gonna get him out of the way.

RICH: And your move allowed you each to hold a Maneuver. Is that correct?

DEVON: Mm-hmm.

RICH: Okay, so you and 39 both have an extra Maneuver, and you each started with 1 Maneuver at the beginning of this as well.

DEVON: Oh-[into hands] I rolled a 1 and a 2, and then I added 1 for my Drive, so…

RICH: If other people want to describe how you help move this Hermie out of the way and help Many Homes with this, you can each spend a Maneuver, including Même, which would add 3, and that would make it a 7.

DC: I can do that, and then also I can use More Experience Than Luck to double the bonus.

RICH: Excellent. Tell me how this works for you.

DC: You start moving the plants, I’m gonna use my Matter Manipulation to make it so that instead of them just having plant things they have tentacles that can grab so it’s a bit easier for it to actually hoist, so if they try and move away or resist or something it’s actually being held much more securely. And, I have to roll to see if my bonus is more. I got 10.

RICH: Nice. This is the way that I see this happening. This is a lot about Many Homes’s confidence in herself, right, and I see this conversation that you guys had where she was like “please tell me this won’t happen again, please tell me I won’t become this person that I accidentally became and I’m trying not to be,” and 39 helped encourage her to do that. I see that as an opportunity for Traveler to have been sharing some life experience at the time.

DC: Okay. I’ll drop some life experience. We’ll have a time slowdown where we enter the Dumbledore realm or whatever.

[laughter]

DC (as Traveler): Many Homes, I’ve traveled very far, seen a lot of people, a lot of civilizations, and one thing that remains true about people and their fears is that they become what they choose to become. You made the choice to become strong, and now you are strong.

RICH: Bam, +2.

DEVON: Hell yeah.

DC: And I disappear. [laughs]

RICH: For the last one, to make it a 7, either 39 can participate or Même has some things that Même can do as well.

KAT: I don’t have to physically do something? I can work with mental support?

RICH: It could be mental support, it could be actual physical support, helping someone with something. You describe how you work together as a team in some way to help them succeed at their goal and spend a Maneuver to increase their roll by 1.

KAT: I would love to just talk her up… The first thing that I do is really figure out a new aspect of our Même connection where I’m like, huh, she’s not making the best use of her new ability, and I just shoot over my HUD so that she can better use the plants.

RICH: [laughs]

DC: Use the Force.

KAT: Yeah. “Just grab him here. Why aren’t you grabbing him here?” And then she can, and use a load-bearing vine.

RICH: Seeing all the weak points or the easiest places to grab and lift up In Perpetuum.

KAT: Mm-hmm. We start to become a superhero team.

RICH: How does the fact that she has 37 eyes affect the look of the HUD?

KAT: Ohh…

DEVON: More data. I can process more data.

KAT: Yeah! It probably becomes really efficient!

DC: Ultra HUD!

RICH: [laughs]

DEVON: There’s like one data stream per eye, so it’s like 37 data streams.

KAT: Yeah, you can categorize.

DEVON: It’s 37 different scouter readouts, but all overlaid.

KAT: And then I tell you all of these catty things that he did from my memories.

KAT (as Polyp 39): This one time he said that Polyp 32 was a little stumpy, and…

DEVON (as Many Homes): That’s really mean!

KAT (as Polyp 39): It was really mean, and nobody liked it.

DEVON (as Many Homes): Oh no…

KAT (as Polyp 39): So, he wasn’t as nice as you thought he was. He wasn’t as nice.

[laughter]

RICH: You’ve made it as a team and discovered new things about yourselves. I love it. You have successfully gotten a 7. On a 7 to 9 you succeed at your goal, you pull him and move him out of the way, but you do need to choose one; you suffer a backlash, you lose control at the worst time, or you put others in danger.

DEVON: [groans]

RICH: I have an idea if you would like. You move straight past him into where that space is. You see a Grimp. The Grimp is on the older side. It also looks drained. It’s floating in an area like an orb that’s got it restrained and held, and inside the orb are little chitinous looking little arms that periodically go off and draw samples from them and transfer it into this other series of tubes and things that are being transmitted out. You see a large growth area of plants, of Leo Venus plants, that are the rare species that you were looking for, and the Transcendent is there. The Transcendent turns, and floats-actually doesn’t turn, because they have eye spots all around their body with a neural network inside, turns their attention, maybe I should say, towards you.

As you come into the room, you see what’s happening, and then you hear behind you a vibration, a scream. You turn around and the 1000 series that Kat reprogrammed is now awake. They’ve come into the room and they are in an absolute rage. This is 39’s losing control of their powers in a way. They shoot directly toward In Perpetuum who is restrained on the ceiling and unable to defend themselves, and this thing piles straight into him and grabs onto them with all of its tentacles, and Kat, you know that it is doing all kinds of aggressive, assertive, memory manipulation on this thing in anger. It can’t do anything much to defend itself at the moment because of the restraints that are on it right now. Many Homes, how does this make you feel?

DEVON: Bad.

RICH: This is the backlash. I’m gonna have you roll an Endure.

DEVON: Okay. Nine.

RICH: You’re gonna choose one. You can mark a Condition, you can mark a Corruption, and the other thing is the trauma damages you in some way. You can take -1 ongoing and remain in pain, distressed, or distracted until you receive help as defined by the narrative.

DEVON: Ooh. That’s upsetting. I think I might go for… I feel like if I was to do Corruption she would have a very, oh no, I feel bad, but also be kind of cruel about it, so I don’t want to do that.

RICH: Hmm, if you take the Corruption? I see the definition of that, yeah.

DEVON: Yeah. I don’t wanna-I think that’s where I would go if I was to choose that, but I think in that context I’m not a fan of that. Oh, I have so many Conditions. Ugh. Angry makes sense. Yeah, angry does make sense. Never mind. I’m just going to take -2 to everything and I will be angry.

RICH: Excellent. You’re gonna mark a Condition, Angry?

DEVON: Yes.

RICH: Okay. Alright. Kat, you also see the results of this as well, 39 does.

KAT: Yeah…

RICH: This isn’t necessarily you suffering backlash, this is just what’s happening, something that 39 might need to process at some point.

KAT: Yeah. It makes sense, honestly. If that person had been around me when I had gone through that I might have done something similar. I see that now. If we had time I might go try to stop them and explain to them that they’ll probably be sad about it later. I don’t think we do have the time.

RICH: You don’t, and you don’t because Traveler now sees what’s going on in the room with the other Transcendent, and that is, you notice that this Transcendent, this group of plants that it has gathered, it makes a psychic connection with the bank of valves and you see the plants start to dissolve…

DC: Oh shit.

RICH: …and you see this bioluminescent glow release into the world, uncontrolled, and it hits a few more things, and more of these plants are now starting to break down at a cellular level and releasing the thing that they are holding, and it is being drawn up into a small ball, it’s being drawn to itself, and it is holding it in a container. You see that it has figured out how to break these plants down at a cellular level without destroying the Corruption that they are holding.

DC: So they have a collection of it?

RICH: They do now.

DC: [sighs] Alright.

RICH (as Transcendent): My friend, you’ve arrived in time. It’s time to change the world. What’s more interesting than that?

DC (as Traveler): That’s a really compelling argument.

RICH: [laughs]

DC (as Traveler): But, you know, one of the most interesting things about being Transcendent is that our will is the will of the universe, so even though you’re choosing to do that and it’s just as much happening as me choosing to do this…

DC: I put out a tentacle, and I want to use Matter Manipulation, and I want to destroy the machine that’s making this happen.

RICH: Okay. I have no issue with that. Actually, I was gonna say it’s Unleash, but it’s not. I think it’s really Doing Something Wondrous, so let’s roll +Drive. I wanna see what happens there.

DC: Nine.

RICH: Ooh, interesting.

DC: Is there any way I could get one more?

DEVON: Yeah. Do you want a 10?

DC: Yes?!

RICH: Yes, yes they do.

DEVON: Okay. You have been around when I build similar things… This is where I learned how to do it, so you have that knowledge.

RICH: I love it. You get a 10. Describe to me how this thing tears apart.

DC: I think when I reach out initially I’m just about to destroy everything and then this knowledge of all of the, like, these things need to go sort of thing happens, it becomes this very precise thing, and it’s just like these black holes almost where (it pulses and fires) but in an array and they happen all at once. It just starts breaking down this whole area. There’s no anger or emotion going on, it’s just this is a thing that needs to happen. While it’s happening, Traveler is just looking directly at the other Transcendent.

DC (as Traveler): Now the will of the universe is having an argument. Let’s see what happens.

RICH: Nice. Since you rolled a 10+ there’s basically no personal consequence to that. You can feel anger coming off of this Transcendent. You feel pain and frustration. You feel things that you have never felt off of a Transcendent before. It moves forward towards you like it’s going to physically attack you, but then it stops. You can kind of sense it’s scanning the room and sensing what’s going on around the room, seeing the three of you there, seeing from behind the three of you this 1000 series now come from behind you guys, up and hovering over you with anger and violence in its… eyes? Yeah, they have eyes. It calms itself and says:

RICH (as Transcendent): The universe doesn’t argue with itself. We can argue with it. You are choosing to argue with the inevitable. We will see how that argument ends.

RICH: You feel a rip in reality as it pulls itself, what looks like, directly into and through The Echo and disappears.

DC: While it’s doing that can I use a move?

RICH: Sure.

DC: I want to use my new move.

RICH: What’s the new move?! Do it.

DC: Truth Seeker. I want to look into his future. [laughs]

RICH: Whoa. Tell us about that.

DC: Your instincts are honed through experience and survival allowing you to read the flow of The Echo around creatures and objects. When you examine an important object or creature roll +Hope. On a hit you may ask the Guide a question about the past, present, or potential future of the target and the Guide must answer truthfully. On a 10+ you gain +1 ongoing in regard to the revealed information.

RICH: Okay. Make that roll.

DC: I wanna read this thing’s future. [laughs]

KAT: Yeah!

RICH: Do it. Great way to wrap up. Amazing.

DC: I get a +1 to this one… which is exactly a 7. I got a 4 and a 2.

RICH: Nice. That’s okay, 7 is a success. What do you get with a 7? You just don’t get the +1 ongoing? Perfect. What’s the question?

DC: Is it aiming to destroy what’s here?

RICH: You have a vision of a future, a potential future, you know it’s a potential future, probably fed by this thing’s desires for the future, the image in vision that it has of the future. You see it envisioning this world engulfed and changed and manipulated into something else that will allow life that is not currently here to now live here in this reality.

DC: That don’t sound right.

RICH: That is its overall goal.

DEVON: It’s a terraformer.

RICH: You also see hundreds and hundreds of Transcendents like it in its vision… and then it disappears through that hole in The Echo. I think we are going to say… Welcome to Midnight.

DC: [laughs] This is the best and worst day of my life!

RICH: Fantastic.

DC: Oh no…

RICH: Congratulations. You got all the information and data that you needed. You stopped what this Transcendent was doing. You found out what it’s going to do in the future. I’m sure it will all be fine.

KAT: [laughs and groans]

DEVON: Nothing bad could happen.

RICH: Under normal circumstances what we would do is you guys got your connection, which is very cool, but if we were going to continue this in a campaign what I would do is also get you guys what’s called a Sanctuary. The Guardians use a Sanctuary which is a physical space within the city but also has a reflection within The Echo. What we’d do with that is we’d open up and close each game with you guys reflecting on how this Sanctuary that you use as a base of operations, it could literally be like a superhero base or a rescue facility or just a home that you guys live in-

DEVON: Or an apartment with too many people.

RICH: Or an apartment with too many people. The echoic reflection of the emotions and what not of the people there also get reflected there, so at the end of the game we would do a little meditation on how that echo or spiritual psychic landscape changes with how you guys have changed as the game goes on, and each session we would visit that and see how that evolves over time with your characters.

And that’s it. Thanks so much for joining me, guys. Well done. I would love it if we could go around again and just remind people who you are and where they can find you, and if you wouldn’t mind just telling us something that you enjoyed about the game. We’ll go backwards this time, I’ll be last, so we will go with Kat.

KAT: Thank you so much for having me on, Rich. This was wonderful.

RICH: Of course. It’s my honor. You know how much I love you.

KAT: I love you very much, too. I’m Kat Kuhl. You can find me online most directly on Twitter at @Kat_Kuhl_. I also do the Autonomic podcast which is a family friendly actual play fantasy podcast, and you can find that at AutonomicPodcast.com. That’s me.

RICH: Fantastic. Can you tell us something you enjoyed about the game that we played?

KAT: Yeah! I enjoyed so much. There were two phases, so there’s world-building-and I really love world building-so it was cool how much of this was just that and always meant to be that, for me, because not every game is just like, nah, we’re gonna world build and you have to. It is inextricably a part of the thing, so that was a real blast. The second half of that was pulling together our puzzle pieces to bolster each other. It feels good. It was good, man. That’s what was nice to me about playing this game with all of you. [laughs]

RICH: [laughs] Fantastic. Thanks so much for joining us, Kat. DC?

DC: Hi. I’m DC. All the stuff, you can find me at Dungeon Commandr on Twitter, on Itch.io. I made a game. Is it not as cool as this? I feel like it’s not as cool as this one. [laughter] I’m gonna say, my game is really, really good, but this game is ridiculous.

RICH: Ah, DC, that’s so kind of you. Please.

DC: That truth just hit me. I was like damn, actually, maybe I like this more than {mine}. I’m not saying mine’s bad, I love it to death.

RICH: What?! [laughs] Your game is amazing.

DC: This is really good. Yeah, find me on all the stuffs. The thing that I love about this game the most is that it’s… fish, big fish.

[laughter]

RICH: Fish crime.

DC: It’s really, really interesting to, instead of finding the relation-this is why I say I kind of like it more than my game, my game takes mutation and says this is how you can demonstrate your humanity but it’s still tied to human as a base core. In this game, when you become a fish, which is right at the beginning, your world changes in ways where… I fill in things, you know what a city is, yada-yada, in this game it’s like wait, what is a city when you’re a fish? All of the things that you think you know about the world completely shift, so the world building ends up happening on this level of continuous surprise. Oh, I go through this door, wait a second, what would a door be like if I was a fish? Wait, up-down, left-right, all these things start to change and it continuously does that process over and over, so I don’t think it ever could get boring as long as you keep running into those things in life where you’re like, well, this would work differently. There’s a lot of other stuff, but that’s definitely my favorite.

RICH: That’s awesome. Thank you so much. Devon?

DEVON: Hi! I’m Devon George. I’m an artist and a storyteller. You can find me on my website at DevonGeorgeStudios.com, Devon like the place in England, George like the monkey. [giggles] You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram at @DGeorgeStudios, and also find all my art there as well. Both Kat and DC took the stuff I was gonna talk about. I love world building. I feel like if you talk to me for a hot second you know that’s all I do. I enjoy world building. I love the fact that it’s not humans, because humans get boring sometimes. Yeah, just reiterating what you said. I think to take it further… Those are my top two, and then this is my third. I like how spiritual this is. It’s very spiritual and very emotional, and yet you’re playing things that don’t resemble you at all, and I think that’s very fascinating and a good exercise in empathy, because I don’t think we get that enough with the classic games. You don’t get to inhabit something totally different than what you are and learn to build up that empathy with something… out of this world.

RICH: [laughs] Thanks so much, Devon. I appreciate that, and thanks guys, so much. My name is Rich. I have been your Guide. I am one of the Co-Designers and the Concept Lead for Descent into Midnight. Thanks everybody for joining us for this amazing world that these players created and this adventure that basically I just led them through that they also created. I appreciate everybody’s time joining us for the game, and Welcome to Midnight.

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