Playing the New Protocol Series

There are 15 more protocols coming, if you’ve been paying attention to my facebook feed.

About six of them are done.

Last night we played two of the new ones: Dead Things in the Walls and the Doom King (a favorite of mine).

43 dead thingsFirst was “Dead Things in the Walls” a game reminiscent of Hellraiser and the Grudge. We were a team of psychic investigators full of our own self-delusional bullshit. Jamie was the believer and tech. He was 60+ years old. Diana played his wife, who was ‘touched’ by visions of the supernatural. And I was a priest from a Louisiana Snake cult. I’d been bitten more than a few times over the years and drank venom mixed with wine in order to bless myself.

The house in question was in Virginia and over 150 years old. It hadn’t been lived in in a while and it was rumored to be haunted by ‘the Others’. A few years ago, a serial killer left a body in the house in a gruesome manner. It had been long enough empty and we were brought in to determine the problem.

Also note. Some of the world building questions indicated that I could not leave, the house fed on wrath, and it made sure we felt comfortable in certain rooms.

The game opened with the caretaker letting us into the haunted house, handing Jamie the keys and Jamie getting a flash of the future or possible horror inside the house. We had a few short scenes and then two long ensembles where everyone was making up nonsense about where they felt the energies, how the shadows formed, and that the house felt lonely.

Diana was cranky at the beginning of the night, so her character wanted out of the house almost immediately. Jamie was playing the understanding and loving husband who wanted to understand, but also placate his wife. And I was possessed by more than one calling, including a weird fascination with Diana, which Jamie never seemed to notice.

A noise upstairs brought Jamie and Diana to investigate a room reminiscent of Hellraiser. Empty. Broken floor. A strange smell. Then some visions of Jamie’s head being split open and the lights going out, drove everyone outside. We found grave markers in the backyard. Lots of people dying in the same year. Lots of children.

Anyone with a brain would have left now, but we proceeded to have a conversation about blessing ourselves, and having a seance in the living room.

At this point, I’m reminded of this SNL sketch.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/705074#i1,p6,d1

Once inside, we’d reached the half-way point of the story. Dead Things in the Walls has a special rule about the half-way point, where an ensemble about questions arises. Diana had herself doubting everyone, with a short interrogation inside her head, followed by the group having an argument about leaving. Jamie tried to collect his equipment and I grabbed a box and threw it down. Then I began speaking in tongues and all the lights went out.

More arguments ensued and eventually I knocked Jamie unconscious, broke his leg (so he couldn’t run), and dragged Diana upstairs.

At this point it got weird. The card draw kept us in interludes and vignettes for a while. So Diana and Jamie found themselves in a room with a staircase from Jamie’s dreams (pre-game prep information). When they got to the top, something from the darkness came at them. After that, there was a scene of me eating raw meat in the foyer.

The final scene of the regular game was us entering the house again… for the first time, aware of what the future would hold. And yet, unable to stop it. Jamie now walked with an inexplicable limp.

The epilogue involved us trying to get away, but the house haunting us and trying to bring us back.. The game ended with me in a motel staring at a TV screen filled with static.

Game two was the Doom King.

26 doomkingWe’d played this before, with mixed results, mostly because of a strange ending.

This game had a lot of adult themes in it, simply because of how we interpreted the results. We all know each other well, so there was no worry about offending anyone. The King was dying, suffering from catatonia (which he was in and out of) and a number of delusions, including sexual perversions. I won’t go into details.

The Queen, played by Diana, was barely holding things together, thanks to me (the Seneschal). Jamie was the bishop, completely devoid of morality. An important NPC that made an appearance in the story was Elderman Yohann, who supported the Queen becoming regent in the King’s stead, in exchange for some land and a title.

A special rule of the Doom King is that players must determine their relationship to the King once everything is established. The Queen’s relationship was perfunctory, the bishop was his cousin, and I had a romantic relationship with the king, who I was very loyal to. But I also had to manage the affairs of the kingdom and I couldn’t let my feelings sway me from my duty. Also, watching the king waste away was not easy.

The game grew dark and grim quickly. The doctor has been arrested for causing the King’s illness to worsen. But the Queen blamed me for the King’s debauchery. There was a scene where we were both blaming each other (in private of course) and the bishop just sat and watched. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I agreed to release the doctor, under the proviso that the queen admonish me publicly for the act. Otherwise my actions would be judged by the aldermen, who wanted the doctor there in the first place.

A few scenes later, we were trying to convince the bishop to approve the Queen as figurehead ruler or at least as regent. Without the bishop, the kingdom would suffer, so long as the king was ill. This was among the longest scenes in the game, with a lot of arguing and principled debate about the word of god. My character did not appreciate the hypocrisy of bishop and called him on it. Half-way through the scene, a messenger told us of a riot outside the walls. The people were burning an effigy of the king, and while it would be easy enough for soldiers to squash there was a better way.

I ran to the balcony and made an impassioned (and high-pitched) cry to the people to desist before the queen stepped out and told the people that she was taking over.

A ballsy move.

But it wouldn’t last. While the aldermen jockeyed for power with the new queen, the debauched antics of the bishop caught up with him. Gossip filled the castle and it was clear the bishop’s status and soul were stained. He would have to be removed. Or worse, publicly executed for his crimes/sins.

The Queen’s inaction would prove her undoing. Rebels seized the castle a few scenes later and made the queen a puppet figure. The rebel captain (Havard) granted himself a new title and had the queen honor all the king’s favors, all of which weakened the kingdom. The bishop was either thrown from the castle top or he committed suicide. It is unclear.

Before it all ended, I made sure Johann received useless marshland from the kingdom, to go with his misspelled title.

The King was beheaded, I was flayed publicly, and the queen was allowed to stay on because the people liked her.

This game had a lot of nuanced scenes that are hard to translate to an online post, but it was a great session nonetheless. The amazing part was how different it was the second time around. Merely selecting new roles and answering different questions makes all the difference. I can see playing this about two or three more times, easily.

Not bad for a $4 game.

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