athornton: Angry.  Drunken.  BOFH. (Default)
[personal profile] athornton
This session began with the characters at the bottom of the Rabbit
Hole. In the middle distance, a small glass table. They trudged over
there to find, as expected, a tiny gold key, a glass bottle with a DRINK
ME label, a small door behind a curtain, and a tiny glass box with an
even tinier EAT ME cake.

Jana smelled that Melanie had gone -- here we "arbitrarily" picked an
orientation, which means I just did my Wonderland-As-Manhattan thing --
north, and they followed the scent. They lost the scent somewhere in
the woods, but Jana was able to use regular old Tracking to find hiking
boot prints. They followed those up to a clearing where they saw a few
houses with anthropomorphic playing cards doing gardening stuff out
front, and a palace.

They approached one of the cards--the Ten of Spades--who immediately
prostrated himself before the party. A little questioning revealed that
Melanie was a guest of the King, in the castle. So they went there and
found the way blocked by a scorpion-man guard. Theodore fast-talked him
into announcing him and his retinue, and they were shown into the
castle.

The King and Queen were on their thrones. The King looked pretty much
like Rudy Ray Moore in _Dolemite_, and the queen looked like Beyonce at
the Met. Although suspicious, the King admitted that Silverman was his
guest and that if she wanted to meet the party (since Venkman knew her),
she was free to do so; he dispatched a Snake-footman to inquire. The
Queen was eyeing Theodore appreciatively.

Melanie showed up, confirmed that she knew Venkman, and asked the King
for a little privacy, which he graciously granted; so the party repaired
to a circular curtained booth in a little alcove and got the infodump
from Melanie. She seemed healthy and not at all worried that she was
going insane; she reported that things had gotten a lot better for her
when she reached Wonderland and realized that she knew her way around
pretty well and that if it was a hallucination, at least it was a
detailed and consistent one. And now that Professor Venkman and his
friends were here, then it seemed that she wasn't even alone. She did
want to go home, and when offered Snowdrop, seemed ready to run away to
find a mirror to duck into Looking-Glass Land and then shake the kitten,
to get herself home. Theodore persuaded her out of this and she agreed
to travel with the party, if she got to hold the kitten once they were
in Looking-Glass World, and maybe they'd all get home. Melanie had been
through a mirror once, when she sneaked into the Diamond Palace. She'd
emerged in a scary dark wood, hadn't explored much, and had come back
through the mirror.

Someone wondered where the Aces were, which Melanie realized she'd never
thought to ask.

The party experimented with the idea that the world was a consensual
dream, and everyone thought of _The Hobbit_ really hard, and the door to
Bag End (with a slightly weathered G-Rune) appeared. They peeked in,
and it did appear to be an empty Bag End. The Cheshire Cat, who had
been following them for some time, was spotted, and after some
conversation (in which he said, among other things, that the Footmen
were as native as he was) he went in to explore Bag End.

The Knave of Spades (picture a very young Billy Dee Williams) made sure
that he had invited Jana to the Ball that evening, and asked the King
and Queen to provide dress clothing for the party; however they would
have to procure their own hats, and so it was off to find the Mad
Hatter. Venkman closed the door to Bag End, but the Cat scampered out
just before it swung to.

They traipsed through the woods, skirted the clearing with the Heart
Palace--noticing as they did that it was right next to no-shit-Grand
Central Station--and down a path where they met the Caterpillar.
Venkman and Luz both got super-high, and they had an irritating
conversation with the Caterpillar that resulted in him telling them
where to find the Hatter, that Grand Central Station was the Court, and
that one side makes you larger (maybe then Theodore would fit his name),
and one side makes you smaller. They took some mushroom bits and
continued on their way.

The Mad Tea Party was as described, but on discovering that they were
there for business, the Hatter led them through the woods to his shop,
and outfitted them with appropriate headgear: Luz got a Scribe's Hat
(halfway between a chef's hat and a mortarboard), Venkman got a Huggy
Bear hat in red, Theodore got a spectacular top hat, and Jana received a
plague doctor's mask with steampunk goggles. Theodore noticed that,
oddly, there were no mirrors in the shop. That was, the Hatter
explained, because the inhabitants of Wonderland didn't want Those
People, from The Other Side Of The Mirror, coming to Wonderland.

The Hatter did not appear particularly Mad, and under questioning
revealed that Carroll had indeed visited several times ... some time ago
(his watch hasn't run right since it got butter in the works and no one
was able to fix it). He thought that if the party were supposed to be
in Wonderland they'd have a badge of authority, which Carroll had had,
but he didn't know if it really belonged to him. Also, the Footmen were
as native as he himself, and that Carroll used to stay at the White
Rabbit's house -- which happened to be more or less on the way back to
the Spade Palace. More outside intruders had been coming to Wonderland,
and he was worried that this meant that the Red King was going to wake
up, or something. At any rate, it was going to be bad. The Queen of
Hearts had been getting steadily more paranoid as the traffic increased,
and it seemed like things were falling apart and he didn't know if
they'd last as long as they needed to. The Cheshire Cat confirmed. The
New York from which the players came was clearly referred to as
Upstairs, and there was a Downstairs, access to which had something to
do with the Aces, which were, the Cat and Hatter said, both monstrous
and not. There was also a way to get Downstairs in the Court, but it
was pretty much controlled by the Hearts.

The party walked a little while and found the White Rabbit's house. The
Rabbit's footperson Mary Ann (a Lion-woman) opened the door and promptly
fainted. The Rabbit came downstairs, revived her with sal volatile
(after Luz's attempt to render first aid got him nothing more than an
"unhand my chambermaid, sir!" from the Rabbit), and interrogation
commenced. The Rabbit demanded to see the Party's Badge, and Theodore
bluffed and charmed his way into convincing the Rabbit that the badge
was rightfully the party's and they needed it back. After some
rummaging and hemming and hawing, the Rabbit surrendered it, and Jana
*finally* understood that the Rabbit and Woody Allen were one and the
same (she'd been blowing Smell rolls right and left).

The Badge had belonged to Reverend Dodgson. He hadn't come around in a
long time, and had left it in his nightstand. The Rabbit had been using
it to lead an exciting double life by going Upstairs and enjoying the
amenities of New York. The White Rabbit was quite sad that he couldn't
have his Upstairs persona anymore, but being a nervous and neurotic
sort, he was quite willing to agree that things had been getting worse,
that the Red King was in some kind of trouble, and that the Queen would
have him executed if anyone ever found out any of this, and maybe it was
better if the party had it and could fix things only Please Don't Kill
Us All.

The Badge looked like an MI-6 Warrant Card to Theodore, and like a DOD
badge with scary endorsements to everyone else. The Rabbit said it had
a big red Zero on it when he looked at it, and he said he could get up
to Weird New York, and then Real New York, by saying "Ed" and pointing
up or down. He had never tried to use it to go farther Downstairs,
though. He had been to Looking-Glass Land and found it terrifying, so
he returned. He also said there were multiple Weird New Yorks. There
was the one they'd been through, there was a futuristic rocket-shippy
one, and there was a hot sandy mostly empty one, and he let slip that
Weird New York was some kind of testing grounds. Everyone was pretty
weirded out by the idea that somehow Wonderland and Looking-Glass Land
were supporting our reality and a good deal of Sanity was lost.

The Rabbit also confirms that the various Sumerian-ish animal-men are
"as native as I am." When asked how long he's been in Wonderland, he
says "since the beginning."

Eventually The Rabbit also revealed that he possessed a Looking-Glass,
and the party worked out a way that he could turn it to the wall but
they could drop twigs through it to signify that he needed to rotate it
to step through into his closet. The party here abandoned their plan to
go to The Ball and decided to just hop through the mirror. So they went
through into Looking-Glass Land, and Luz used the knowledge of the Badge
to tell him that they were in KN3. The party reasoned that if the
pieces were in their original places the king should be at K1, and so
they set off through the woods. KB2 was a Wood Where Things Have No
Names, which was creepy and sanity-batterering.

Eventually they came to the Garden of Live Flowers in front of
Looking-Glass House, and through experimentation realized that walking
backwards would get you to the door. They went in, floated up to the
study, and found out that yes indeed the mirror was traversable.

On the other side, they had their cellphones and guns again, but not
their wonderful hats. It was November 22, 2014 (as it should have
been). Venkman tried some reality-bending experiments with inconclusive
results, although Theodore, who had the Badge, reported that it heated
up when he did so. They called The Bureau after ascertaining that they
were on the outskirts of Oxford, and were instructed to go to a local
pub and wait for a man with a pink carnation, who arrived and whisked
them back to London.

There they were politely but firmly detained, congratulated for finding
Melanie Silverman, and debriefed at length. They did not mention the
badge. The Director, one David Carruthers, quickly realized he needed
experts, and on the second day, Will Brooker came and asked some very
pointed questions about the Caterpillar; he did not seem as surprised as
one might think, given the story. Carruthers said that a team had been
sent round to the house with the mirror, and that as far as they were
able to ascertain -- which should have been quite far indeed -- it was a
perfectly ordinary mirror.

Melanie is offered the choice between recruitement or a lifetime of
tranquilizers and secure confinement, and the Bureau has another junior
agent; she will not, however, be accompanying our heroes any further.

On the third day, the ancient scholar -- known to and by both Luz and
Venkman -- Morton Cohen (Professor Emeritus, CUNY) arrived for a more
thorough debrief. This turned into a deputizing: congratulations, the
party is now full-time on the Bureau's payroll, and they are its eyes
and hands on the ground in Wonderland and Looking-Glass Land. Too bad,
Cohen says, that they hadn't done this a decade earlier, because Martin
was much better at this than Cohen ever has been, but hey, you work with
what you've got. Cohen agrees that the Red King waking, or something
else trying to Dream in his place, would be very bad. Bang!
out-like-a-light bad? New York gets all gross and 1970s bad? Ancient
Sumerian Blood Gods awaken bad? Who knows? Let's not find out!

From him they arrive at more or less the conclusion that the Alice books
are mostly nonfiction, and that the natives are probably right that
Downstairs is very important. If they were to find the Red King they'd
probably find what Alice found: an unimpressive sleeping guy. Something
is trying to mess with the Red King's Dream, but it's unclear to
everyone which way the Ontological Onion goes: are they going deeper in
or farther out when going Downstairs? Which way is "realer" ? When
Venkman and Luz start talking about Reality Generators somewhere Far
Downstairs that are responsible for keeping everything going, Cohen
rather archly reminds them that we used to call that "God."

If there is another Dreamer, Cohen thinks, it's probably not going to be
someone in Looking-Glass Land -- although Alice came back by shaking the
Red Queen, who was the black kitten, so maybe she was dreaming Alice's
story, but not *everything*...but really, he doesn't have much of an
idea. Cohen seems shaken by meeting Snowdrop, but reminds everyone,
"One thing was certain, that the _white_ kitten had nothing to do with
it -- it was the black kitten's fault entirely."

The party experiments (after getting the Bureau to ensure that the house
in Oxfordshire is and will remain empty) and discovers that the mirror
works for them and that the Badge heats up when they go through; they
pull a flower back from the other side, and the corresponding one on
this side crumbles to nothingness.

A week of rest, relaxation, and therapy ensues during which everyone can
get Sanity points back, go shopping for out-for-a-stroll
English-toffs-in-the-country clothes, and check for skill improvement.
A black-powder gun and a hand crossbow are purchased; a pocket Sumerian
guide and a miniature edition of _The Annotated Alice_ are also
acquired. Luz studies some Sumerian and memorizes some glyphs and verbs
that he thinks might help (since, as Luz finally realizes, "Ed" is
Sumerian for "Ascend" or "Descend").

On December 1, 2014 they again assemble in front of the mirror in the
house in Oxfordshire in order to continue their mission to determine
what's wrong with the Red King's Dream and try and set things right.

End of session.

================

So that's the session recap.

The players took a much more direct route through Wonderland than I
expected. No one messed with the size-changing goodies, and they
haven't yet had to infiltrate a castle to get to the Downstairs. (They
still may; getting Downstairs in Looking-Glass Land could prove much
more daunting than just getting through a Palace or the Court in
Wonderland.)

I had no idea why Woody Allen was the White Rabbit until the Badge came
along. I knew there was going to be some sort of access token at some
point that enabled manipulation of at least some of the layers of the
Onion, and I knew that Woody Allen was the Rabbit, but it wasn't until
the players arrived at his house looking for the Badge that it all
crystallized and I realized that the White Rabbit had kept
Rev. Dodgson's Badge and had been abusing it ever since. I should learn
to trust my subconscious more. At least when writing RPGs, it knows
what it is doing.

I need to feed it whisky, fairy tales, and recreational mathematics in
the couple months I have before I run another session, so *it* knows
what's going on Downstairs, even if I don't.

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athornton: Angry.  Drunken.  BOFH. (Default)
athornton

July 2016

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