Simon and I were passengers (he a naval architect, me an academic reader of literature) on a deep space liner that woke at 4am to discover that the ship was deserted and all but a handful of rooms looked as if they had never been slept in at all. We had been a’ space for 7 weeks of a 10 week voyage. This was an unsettling experience.
An intercomm was playing what sounded like pre-recorded canned laughter. When SImon investigated he received an electric shock (random event), which was completely unexpected and set he tone of fear. We found a book by a famous author open to page 136. We talked at some length about this author and what his work was about. At a dining room we found what appeared to be time-frozen humans in a macabre stage show. We found another book by a different author – one that the first author had roundly criticised – it was bookmaked to the same page. (We grabbed the Wizard of Oz books and opened them to these pages and found that they both had pictures on page 136. We returned to these images often to see if they could be interpreted.) Making our way to the armoury, because we were shitting ourselves by now, we discovered that half of the ship wasn’t even ‘real’ in the sense of functioning – there were lockers, but they could not open and the work surfaces looked as if they were ‘arranged’ to look natural.
We found a firing range where genuine androids were frozen in the act of firing guns. We extracted the guns but they could not fire live ammo and found that they were affixed to the floor panels. Under the floor panels we found another passenger who had hidden there (random event). By crikey – he had a very suspicious story. We made our way to the bridge in the hope of getting a signal off. By now we were working on Simon’s hypothesis that somehow we had been swept up into some bizarre museum exhibit, but the growing feeling of terror was that WE were not really human at all – we were somehow androids in this museum that had somehow become conscious.
In the bridge Simon sabotaged the controls (that was some random event that really got us thinking) rather than send a signal. This was because he was now terrified that he was not human at all, and he did not want to know that his wife and daughter were a figment of his imagination. The NPC spoke to him about his cousin who went to the Naval academy with Simon. This calmed him for a while, but then he began to doubt who we was again.
So the sabotaged controls turned everything off and we were plunged into darkness. The NPC vanished. Quaking with fear we became lost for a while, but found our way eventually back to our starting lounge. By now our terror had abated. Instead the ship was shown to be fake, not us, and this put us in an entirely different frame of mind. It was at this point we concluded that we were in a book. An immersive virtual reality device that uses the ‘readers’ experiences to create the plot in order to develop and reveal the author’s themes. We were in the ‘book’ we had found and the interpretations on pages 136 became understandable, and with imense relief we decided to quit reading and awoke in our cabins at precisely 4:01.
I had invited Simon into the book to show him around as he had never engaged in such activities before. He was in fact the person who he thought of as a friend at the Naval Academy. And on a 10 week voyage there is not much else to do…
We played 8 scenes and generated many random events just because we felt we needed them. The emotional intensity of the game was high. It was easily the most immersed I have been in a game in a very very long time, notwithstanding the fantastic experience playing Mythic with Greg last week.
Technically we used the CLassic Traveller rules as the base set, but never referred to them once. It did make me feel as if I had a comfort blanket there, though. ALthough we agreed that the tech level and society was equivalent to Firefly, it quickly became evident that the true tech level was centuries in advance of that.
The book business came about when we were describing what was on a bench. One of the objects was a book. And once we stared to ask, “Who is it by?” “what is it called?” and so on it grew in importance. By chance I had a boxed set of Oz books by Frank Baum on the table, so we used these to generate random names and events. When we asked what page was the book open to we turned to that page in Wizard of Oz and were greeted with an illustration. We spent ages trying to figure out what the picture was a metaphor for. Every hypothesis that we put up the chaos table smashed down. Only the book remained a solid idea because of the Oz prop. So by the three quarter mark of the game we knew that somehow it was all about this guy’s book. It all had to be connected around that point. Once we had that worked out we talked through the possibilities, added up the evidence and concluded that this must be the answer. And then we just knew that the adventure was over.
This represents two out of two for Mythic. More than that: it was better than just satisfactory, it makes all other role-playing games seem lame.