Thursday, October 30, 2014

Inside Mary's Cluttered Mind

Well, I got roped into NaNoWriMo this year. Nevermind I have signed up for it before and failed each time. No matter how pumped I get, mid-month or in the case of last year, mid-week, I get swamped with real life stuff and that project falls to the wayside. Maybe this year will be different, though. For instance, I am writing with three friends who, even though I've only known for about a year, have already been the most encouraging friends I have ever had when it came to my writing and my creativity. This is probably because they're all writers too so they know the struggles.

Even though I'm trying to be optimistic, it is hard to not look behind me and see my collection of unfinished projects. I've always been a writer or at least always someone who had ideas for stories. I have an online friend who once said she envied how often I came up with ideas. That part was so hard for her. Well, when she came up with one she wrote it up and got it published.though.  And in the end, that is what matters.

Ever since I was a teenager, I would come up with ideas and begin to write them out to only hit a wall or come up with another idea that I am eager to write down as well. I have mentioned before, my mind is like a hoarder's house. It is cluttered and hard to walk through sometimes and I never find what I'm looking for but I will find something interesting nonetheless. I sometimes find it very hard to remain focused on one thing. It is extremely frustrating to me. But I just happen to be a person who finds a lot of different topics fascinating and interesting. I want to write about them ALL.

Like last year, I spent the entire month of October reading about World War I and the Weimar Republic purely for NaNoWriMo. The idea I came up with I expected to be a simple one which would make it easier for me to finish, or so I told myself. I named the novel Stefans Zeitgeist (hur hur, I am so clever) and it was about a German soldier who nearly died in the Battlefield in France to only wake up with the ability to see ghosts and other things. He kept on seeing his battle buddy around which made things very awkward when he took an interest in the friend's sister. I wanted the story to walk the fine line of "Can he really see ghosts?" or "is it really just PTSD out of control?" WWI was when people began to actively describe PTSD as a mental disorder so there was going to be a scene with that. Then, Stefan was going to go to Paris (because he is actually a talented artist). He sees a ghost and a Frenchman with a missing arm sees it too. They notice each other. The Frenchman says, "You see them too." End of Book.

I had a really good outline going. I wrote three pages. Maybe one day I will go back to it. I really like "vintage" settings. I also really like ghost stories as I said numerous times.

Even though I'm down on myself about finishing stuff, I did finish a rough draft of a novel (I'm in editing hell right now with it. I have to rewrite about three scenes in its entirety). That one, I made sure I wrote every night and it was at least 500 words. Sometimes, I wrote just the 500 words but other days I would write 5000. I finished it in two months and it clocked in at 90,000 words. However, I had another fuel that pushed me through -- grief. My brother had passed away and I put his teenage/young adult self as one of my main characters. I had to write it down because I wanted to preserve the memory. I know that may sound silly but that is what motivated me to do it.

I have done it before. There is no reason why I shouldn't be able to do NaNoWriMo. That is what I keep on trying to tell myself.

This year, I am revisiting an idea I came up with as a teenager. I had forgotten about it until my mom gave me a bunch of my journals I had full of unfinished ideas. And I remembered that one and thought maybe I could tackle it again. I call it Star Orphan even though that is a preliminary title. It is about an alien Hybrid who escapes the mothership and lands on earth to find his earth mother. He goes on a cross-country trip with a truck driver named Theo as the two run from government types and the aliens that want him back for the upcoming invasion. I intend for it to be a little silly but also a little heartbreaking. Making it a road trip, alien invasion, coming of age story.

Anyways, we'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What Are You Afraid Of?

Since this week is Halloween, I decided to ramble some of what actually frightens me.

As I mentioned before in my Weird New England post, scary stories have always been a large part of my life from a very young age. Part of it was also due to the fact that my brothers liked to try and scare me and tell me plots to the Stephen King novels or by telling local lore about a supposed haunted locale. I also lived in a house for a year that had a Historical Society plate on it saying it was built in 1717. The house had its creepiness about it as it did have a secret room and a secret passage. I had/have an overactive imagination so I always thought there were ghosts in that house.

I didn't always like this sort of thing, though. In fact, when I was about 6 or 7, I went through a phase in which everything scared me. But then, I grew out of it and began to actually read about what scared me to better understand it. When I understood it better, I found myself less afraid. It is also why I know a ridiculous amount about ghosts and ghostly folklore. I read everything I could about it. If ghosts are real or not, at least I knew what I was up against.

Pull off the sheet and run

That is advice I apply to non-supernatural/horror related problems today. If something scares you or worries you, do your research and suddenly it is not as overwhelming.

Even with that advice, there are still some paranormal things that scare the crap out of me. One of them is demons. I blame purely Unsolved Mysteries for this one although I do remember one of my brothers telling me the real story about the Exorcist and that scared me shitless. I don't think I ever saw the Exorcist because of that. Or maybe I did and just blocked it from my memory.

The theme song is now stuck in your head -- your welcome!

Anyways, Unsolved Mysteries. Back when I was little, my family only had one small TV and we all had to share it. I often lost out. My brothers and my mom loved Unsolved Mysteries and America's Most Wanted and with both the theme music alone scared me. Unsolved Mysteries -- while it mostly dealt with missing persons -- often went into the paranormal. There were a few episodes involving demonic possession. And there was one in which a demon haunted a playground that would bother the children who went there with nightmares. I remember that episode very clearly because I thought, "They're kids and I'm a kid!"

I asked my brothers about this and they told me a few stories. I think what terrified me the most about demons was demonic possession. Just the thought that something could invade my body and use it without my say seemed ultimately frightening. I don't like the idea of being under something else's control.

I started to look at demonic possession pictures but it frightened me so here's an exorcist cat instead

The thought of it still frightens me but it didn't stop me from reading more and more about it. And heck, the novel project I'm working on right now deals with demons and demonic possession. I did so much reading about it, I came up with a story idea about it. Still, give me a movie with a demonic possession storyline, I will have nightmares for weeks.

Whether demons are real or not, from all the reading I did, I must say I still learned a few lessons. For one, be careful who you invite in. That should go without saying. The second is, if something is trying to frighten you, don't draw attention to them. It gives them more power. I feel both those piece of advice work outside demonology.

There is another thing that also frightens me incredibly and is part of the reason why I really like Sci-Fi Horror because it will guarantee to scare the living daylights out of me. I think part of the reason why Sci-Fi Horror frightens me so much is simply because space itself is so vast and apparently empty. There is so much we don't know and what is out there must be so alien, we couldn't even begin to understand. You know how I said the less we know about something, the scarier it seems to be? Yeah, Sci-Fi Horror uses this trope and bounces off the fact that civilization is so far away that there is no place safe to run to, leaving you completely vulnerable.

With all those galaxies, there is bound to be dickish aliens

That is terrifying for me because I am a very planned, rational person who needs to know what the plan is. I need to know what I'm up against. I need to prepare. So the idea of being in the vast emptiness of space and up against something completely alien is completely horrifying to me. It is a loss of control akin to demonic possession like I mentioned above.

Not all Sci-Fi Horror takes place in space, though. In fact, there is another sub-genre that also scares the crap out of me -- Alien Abduction. I'm not talking about Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy type of abduction. I'm talking about the kind in which aliens kidnap you like you were some animal in the wild and conduct experiments on you. Once again, this exploits my fears of a complete loss of agency. And also, the fact this could happen while your in bed trying to sleep. The place you should feel safest is invaded by something completely not of this earth that you can't even begin to understand.


I do find the lore regarding aliens and alien abductions fascinating. And I did begin a story revolving around that. Clearly, I like to write about the crap that scares me the most. But sometimes, when I can't sleep, I'll see someone's headlights bounce off the wall and for a split second, I'll scare myself about it. I know it's not true, but it still the idea of it frightens me.

I'm not afraid of serial killers or whatever. Those don't terrify me because when you're dead, you're dead. But just the idea of being up against something I don't understand or something I don't completely understand having control over my being while I'm aware of it will keep me up at night.

It is interesting because what we're afraid of does say a lot about our personalities. For me, it is definitely a control thing. I need to be in control. The thought of a situation in which I have none is my worst nightmare. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Episode 4: Jocelyn Keys's Day Off/Episode 5: The Devil's Advocate

I am rolling up two sessions into one. The first one was a one on one session I had with Joss's player because she was sick for the third session. She came over my apartment and we roleplayed while drinking hot cocoa. Her husband, Ash's player, played Super Smash Brothers in the other room and paid little attention (I think!) to the goings on.

The 5th episode took place last Sunday. This time, Brock's player was sick and Anna's player had some stuff to do. I ran the game with Alan, Joss, Ash, and Iggy. And I must say, things went rather... interestingly.

Now, onto the recap:

During the events that took place in the 3rd episode, Joss got ready for school when on her way there, Mateo stops her and produces two joints, grinning a roguish grin, and asks her to skip. Joss doesn't need to be told twice. So the pair ride off to the nearby ghost town and smoke up. They get onto the deep topic of speculating what exactly happened to them; like why can Joss suddenly talk to computers and why Mateo is super fast. At first, the conversation is silly before Mateo wonders, "What if it is a conspiracy? What if the company is behind it. I mean, do you even know what your parents really do?" Joss realizes Mateo is right.

The two then decide since Mateo's mother is the head of IT, that they should go to his house and see what they can dig up in Elena Rodriguez's special "mom space" protected by security codes. After Joss hacks in, they find a high class computer room and immediately Joss links in. What they discover is an executive chat room with user names like Tide Trout and Iron Fox and Wind Mouse. In it, they discussed experiments they are choosing for the infiltration group and about the Upcoming Age. They also talk about experiment 0001 and her current location (which they practiced good OPSEC on) before Tide Trout realized they were being infiltrated. Mateo and Joss immediately disconnect and try to eliminate any signs that they were in there.

They panic and run away to the ghost town again and try to recuperate and process what they just saw. Nothing kills a buzz faster than fresh truth. Mateo speculates two of the user names belong to his parents as he does live on Galileo Street. They don't have a clue as to anyone else. But now they got the taste of the truth -- that they may be the experiment this entire company is built around -- Joss wanted more. She used her cellphone to find a back door into the security system to find that the whole town was under tight surveillance. She could spy into anyone's house but could not crack the code to get into the actual facility.

Things just got weirder and weirder.

Joss decides that maybe they could break into one of the houses on Galileo Street and decides on the Zanjani Household -- after all, he's head of Science Research. She and Mateo make fun of Shirin's bedroom before trying to hack into one of Dr. Zanjani's computers. Most of his files were in Farsi. She does find a video of a nervous Dr. Zanjani saying a confession. He did not feel right about what the company did and he worried if he was in too deep. But even if it cost his own life, he had to blow the whole lid off this whole thing.

That spooked Mateo and Joss and since it was time for school to be over, they quickly left the premise and hid at Joss's house. Mateo decides to sleep over, using the excuse that he doesn't even know his parents anymore.

Ash comes over to Joss's late at night, tying together the two episodes. After being glad to see Joss safe, Ash exclaimed, "The weirdest thing happened today! I had hot cocoa. Twice."

Joss retorts, "Do you want to make it a third time?"

End of Episode.

This game is known for destroying things and hot cocoa


The 5th Episode began with Iggy tying up the Cowboy he tased in the last episode. The Cowboy is forthright with information. He explains that Iggy's mother uncovered a lot of evidence of unethical scientific research and reached out to the FBI to help. The Cowboy was brought into the case and from there, he used her as a source to gather information to build the case so he could get a warrant and bust in. However, there were some indiscretions as the Cowboy and Iggy's mother got a little cozy and then it got weird. But she tried to follow through and she was on her way to deliver papers to the Cowboy before she was killed in a car accident.

The Cowboy tried to make his case to his leadership but "they" had already infiltrated. They destroyed his reputation by using his relationship with Iggy's mother as collateral. The Cowboy never forgave himself for what happened to Iggy's mother and wanted to bust open the company once and for all. So he hung around and tried to recruit sources while keeping an eye on Iggy. He claims he got one rather high up on the inside. But he also wanted to see if he could gather some of the experiments to fight for their freedom -- if Iggy was interested.

After punching the Cowboy -- whose name is Cortland Blair -- Iggy agrees to meet him the next day at the ghost town so they can plan from there.

The next day at school, Brock and Anna do not show up. Alan does and Iggy, Ash, and Joss meet somewhere quiet to exchange what they knew. Joss tells everyone about her little adventure with Mateo and Iggy talks about Blair. The four generally agree things are really messed up. How could they have not noticed all this all this time?

The four of them decide to go to school. At lunch time, Shirin comes up to Ash and tells her that she knows something bad will happen tonight at her house and she doesn't think she can stop it. She hands off a thumb drive to Ash and tells her to keep it safe and not tell any grown up about it.

It was totally like this except it wasn't in 8-bit and Ash didn't really go anywhere and oh yeah the sword was a thumb drive

Ash feels conflicted about this. Shirin is in trouble and going to a ghost town! Both of them sound very important. Unable to make the decision, she goes to Dr. Selnik on the advice of Alan. Ash tells Mrs. Selnik everything she heard from the morning and asks the guidance counselor if she should go to the ghost town or Shirin's. Dr. Selnik says ghost town. Ash steals some donuts and leaves. She happily tells Joss what happened.

Joss tells Ash what she did was stupid and Ash ends up leaving very sad. Joss tells Iggy to tell the Cowboy the location was compromised and they agree to meet at a different location, a truck stop just outside town. But before that, Iggy asks Joss to hack into the personnel files again to find information about his mother. Joss finds out about a program called Purple Coat which seeks to "eliminate" leakers. Iggy is now a man with a mission. The Company killed his mother because she had a conscience.

Purple Coats Are Deadly -- or I am just crap at making up names

Ash is crestfallen about what Joss said to her and Alan immediately steps in and invites her over for dinner when he finds out all she has is frozen fish sticks. His parents are home for once and are cordial as long as Ash is there. What happens behind closed doors in the Powers Household is anyone's guess.

Ash decides to forgo the ghost town which is now a truck stop anyway and goes to see if she could help Shirin. After no answer at the door and no answer to ask if it is okay for her to break the window in, Ash enters Shirin's room to find it in a disarray. In the rest of the house, particularly the master bed room, thing was tossed about and there were broken pictures and also a blood stained bathroom floor that looked like someone was in the process of cleaning up but were interrupted.

Meanwhile, at the truck stop, Blair tells Iggy, Alan, and Joss that what he can put together so far is that the company is a front for people who want to organize a coup. They need to break the place wide open. And his inside source -- who is Dr. Zanjani -- happened to be getting him that information as they speak.

Joss remembers what Ash said about Shirin and immediately searched the network for call records to and from the Zanjani household only to find out 911 was being in use right then and there.

Cut back to Ash who called the number to only be told the situation there was taken care of. Joss called the phone a few times before Ash picked up and she told her to wait for and meet Joss at the end of the road.

As Ash is waiting, Dr. Selnik rolls up and tries to offer Ash a ride. Ash said she's waiting for Joss. Dr. Selnik points out the sun is setting and it will get cold. Why doesn't she wait in the car.

Ash considers this, then hops in. The door closes.

Fade to Black


I feel proud of both these sessions. I didn't think Joss and Mateo would last so long but Joss kept on rolling well and like all teenagers, she tried to see just how far she could go. Mateo is also good at egging her on.

The second session, I actually decided to switch systems. After confiding in a friend, he pointed out that I may have more freedom in Marvel Heroic. I felt constrained by Cortex Dramatic -- even though I really like the idea of the system. But because I had a hard time abandoning what I knew about other systems, I just couldn't get the flow going.

My friend and I rewrote the character sheets (although giving options for distinctions and keeping milestones blank). I felt this whole change was probably why episode 5 went extremely well. The more I think about it, the more I realize how it really was a good session. Everyone was engaged and eager to figure out what was going on. They felt their characters were engaged and each character had something to do. Additionally, I put one of the veteran gamers in the group in two very difficult situations that he had to think out of while thinking in character. In fact, everyone had to make some tough decisions.  And it also worked back against me. My players made decisions in which I had to think on my toes to continue to make the story engaging. It was a give and take session and I really liked it.

I hate praising myself like that. I already deleted those last few sentences twice and rewrote them but no. I think it is one of my top 5 sessions if not top 10. And it is weird because when I ended with Ash getting into Dr. Selnik's car, I felt like nothing happened and this was because we did not roll a lot of dice. My friend had to remind me that this is ROLEplaying not ROLLplaying. The characters still did actions and received consequences but I just did not find dice were needed. My players roleplayed extremely well with each other. There were also misunderstandings and personal conflict. You didn't need the dice for that.

When I said I didn't feel like much happened, my players gave me the look. "Are you kidding? So much happened!" one even said.

I guess I am my own worst critic.


NPC of the Session

The part of Dr. Selnik will be played by Tina Fey
 Name: Dr. Anita Alice Selnik nee Abrams

Place of Birth: Chicago, Illinois

Family: Nathan Selnik, husband, Head of Finance, a mousy looking sort of fellow but is quite active in neighborhood activities. Really good with names
Rhea Selnik, eldest daughter, college student, an incredible type-A personality
Tatiana Selnik, middle daughter, senior in high school, a huge gossip and active in student government
Cody Selnik, youngest son, freshmen in high school, into video games and computers, kind of a smart ass

Public Information: The Selniks have been in Apache Springs for decades. Rumors are that Anita herself was one of the CEO's proteges but no one knows for certain. She has many degrees and holds two doctorates in Psychology and Neuroscience which she got at a young age. She worked for the company before she was the guidance counselor at the school but no one ever knew what she did. Some people speculate that she developed some face cream to make her look younger than she is.

Quotes of the Session

"I hacked into the system to find out they're watching us. It's insidious." "That's unbelievable! ... You know the word insidious!" -- Joss, Alan

"Brock always mentions how hard it is to 'tap that'." - Ash

"*smack* That's for sleeping with my mom!" "I deserved that!" - Iggy, Cortland

"Tomorrow, I'll just go to my last period. Twice!" -Ash

"I think Shirin is dead!" "Okay, good." - Ash, Joss 

Monday, October 13, 2014

This Too Shall Pass

I am one of five people who actually enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII and liked about 95% of Final Fantasy XIII-2. I completely understand when people say it didn't feel like a Final Fantasy game and in many ways, it wasn't. But I could not help but fall in love with the world and the world's rules. How the angelic figures were actually very robotic in nature -- inhuman. And I loved Gran Pulse when you finally could explore it in the sequel.

So beautiful -- So creepy -- So deadly

What I loved most about Gran Pulse was it was an entire world made up of abandoned cities and ruins. Part of what you had to figure out was what did this particular city mean? What happened there? And why was it abandoned? I felt particularly intrigued by the city of seers. In the past , the high seer saw the destruction of the world and from there, the city of seers split into two factions. One wanted to keep to their bylaws and just let fate carry itself out. The other wanted to stop the fate. They now knew what would happen so why couldn't they use that knowledge to prevent the world's destruction? The two factions warred over this and eventually destroyed each other.

Actually, it is that story in Final Fantasy XIII-2 that I felt best described Final Fantasy in general. There is a grim fate in store for the world. Do you just march to your end or do you stop it?

There is another part of FFXIII-2 that really kind of brought this idea home. It is a level called the Dying World. Everything is dark and the sun that warmed the world is giving out less and less energy. The world is empty and practically dust. This level made me feel very unsettled. Uncomfortable. Depressed. Because it was the extreme. There was nothing but darkness and monsters. Even the NPCs seemed distant. I knew this feeling and here I was playing a video game about it.

It was darker on my tv screen

Outside the video gaming world, I also have an odd fascination with ghost towns and abandoned places. I read every entry about ghost towns on wikipedia once. I'm a dork like that. But I think it is because, like how I grew fascinated by the city of the seers and the Dying World level of FFXIII-2, I wanted to know more about that abandoned place's hay day. Why did the people come? Why did the people flourish? Why did they move on/died? 

I like to think the reason why this draws me in is because I love history. I love to know what happened. I like to know how we got here so I can figure out and analyze where I'm going or we're going. But maybe, it is a bit more complex than that.

To pull out a cliche (sorry for the pretentiousness):

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

Perhaps my fascination has more to do with the fact that it is a reminder that nothing is permanent. Yeah, it does mean that even good times come to an end. But if the good times can end, so can the bad times. The bad times may seem neverending at the time but like all things, they will pass and soon will be a foundation or a weathered statue.
True, I say this now but I am sure when the black hole appears again, I will look at this entry and scoff. Maybe the logical part of myself will remind me this is just temporary but the emotional part will be in the Dying World. "Don't you see? The sun is dead. Everything is dust. Monsters are everywhere. The people I love are far away and unreachable!"

But things will get better because I have fought it off before and nothing lasts forever.

But like Sin from FFX and History, sometimes depression can inevitably repeat itself

**Note: This post was in no way to say I speak for all those who suffer from depression or that I even had a cure but these were just some free-flowing ideas -- some of which I intended to write about at some time using a different framing device. I also haven't slept in four days which may be the reason this jumps around a bit. Anyway, I did not mean for any offense or anything! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Game Recap Episode 3 -- On the Fly

It has been a month since I last ran my game  (I am glad my friend convinced me to run every other week as opposed to monthly. It is good to have a steady flow of story) and I knew it would be difficult to get back into it again. Not only that but last week was a difficult week. Work had me running around, working on several tasks at once. I had difficulty falling asleep because I could not get my spun up mind spun back down. I know I had a month to work on this session but I kept on procrastinating. But when it came down to the crunch, I just couldn't focus enough to plan this session. Then I thought I can work on it Saturday but after the week from hell, my mind officially shut down to the point all I could do was play Diablo III and watch Disney movies.

Before the fall, my wizard was a blitzball champion

Since I went into this game On the Fly, I decided call this episode that. In fact, I felt the title very much summed up the actions of the characters this session. I felt unprepared but my players are such a lovely bunch, it really didn't matter. They continue to dazzle me with their creativity and make me laugh with their jokes. The story moved forward -- maybe a little quicker than I intended to --but overall, I think my players had fun. And I think the story is moving in a way that it is still surprising.

 Now, onto the summary!

This episode opened up with a flashback to know where Anna has been all this time. After she touched her brother Tim, he passed out and she discovered she could move things with her mind. But before she could investigate that ability further, she called 911 to figure out why her brother wouldn't respond. He was taken to the hospital in which people in lab coats quickly surrounded him to take him away. Just as he was about to be taken out of sight, Tim opened his eyes and looked at his sister and mumbled out her name.

  Anna relayed what happened to Alan and Alan told her about the crazy weekend and how everyone developed powers. Anna had no idea why she did not have telekinesis anymore. She theorized that maybe everyone should sleep it off.

Tuesday came and school resumed from a three day weekend. Things seemed to be going back to normal despite the news of the dead teacher, rumors about the casino going up in flames, and Selena Gomez/Ariana Grande showing up in town. That is, at least for half the day.

Out of game, a friend who is about to move out of the country came to game so I allowed him to quickly roll up a character. He created a dumb jock named Josh. I started the day off with him. Josh was hanging out with Declan McGowan, the head jock, who also had a battle of the bands entry at the casino. Declan wanted to get the gang to confront Brock for ruining the night after school -- which didn't come how Declan hoped. Instead, Josh ended up going up to Brock because Brock had herbal refreshments he wanted and got involved in the shenanigans that followed.

But before that happened, Brock took an interest in two men in black suits that stood at the entrance of the school. One of them, a red-head named Wilson, was amicable with the students and seemed incredibly non-threatening.

The part of "Wilson" was played by Alan Tudyk in this episode

The other, a brunette named Flick, was a bit more serious and business-like who often chastised Wilson for being so friendly.

The part of "Flick" was played by Eric Bana in this episode

Using Ash as a distraction (who put a sheet over her head), Brock managed to steal Flick's phone. He handed it off to Alan who worked his geek magic to discover there wasn't much on it other than coded contacts, a stupid message from Wilson, and about 100 Corgi pictures.

Now I am just distracting you with cuteness

Just as Alan was about to leave the phone in the bathroom, Brock worked on his next distraction to get the other phone. He convinced Josh to shove Alan, which Josh gladly did. Josh's ability is gravity control so he used it to make Alan light. Alan -- who doesn't like the jocks so much to begin with -- made himself super dense. The result happened to be dense Alan shooting through the wall to outside, like a bullet. He got a concussion and was sent to the hospital as the school got locked down and Flick and Wilson went from classroom to classroom with some sort of device.

Brock, Anna, Ash, and Josh went to visit Alan in the hospital in which he got diagnosed with a concussion. While there, Anna asked about Tim to only find out there was no record of him being at the hospital. Our team was suspicious and began to explore but didn't get very far. Alan then got himself admitted for observation deciding to explore when most of the hospital was asleep.

But before that, the team -- of which Iggy joined after school was let out early because there was a hole in the wall -- decided Tim had to be in the same place They took Tony. Alan pointed out that they failed to get in last time but was quickly corrected that they didn't have powers then. The team then formulated a plan on how they would infiltrate and went for it that evening after Alan slipped out using his phasing ability.

They spotted what they thought was a blind spot in security and proceeded to try to sneak in that way. Josh would use his gravity abilities to toss people over and got into a confrontation with Alan when he tried to toss the nerd first. Alan punched Josh making his fist dense and just phased through the fence. However, the "blind spot" wasn't a blind spot and it triggered the intruder alert. Instead of running, Brock cast an illusion of about a dozen Ariana Grandes running away as the rest tried to make it over.

While this went on, Ash broke away from the group and walked up like a boss to the front and asked to see her dad as she hadn't seen him in days. Ash has the distinction "Underage" which makes her appear much younger than she is. We rolled for it and it turned out the guards happened to be those who knew and were fond of Ash. Ash's dad took her often to work. They let her in and because there was an intruder alert, they plopped her down in the guard shack and gave her hot cocoa. Ash snuffed out the light in the room and wandered out to let the gang into the cafeteria. Brock and Josh decided to get coffee while Ash, Anna, Alan, and Iggy headed to Ash's father's office.

Ash is clearly queen of On The Fly -- she just doesn't even realize it

The only thing was they got stopped again in the hallway. Ash worked her wide-eyed innocent little girl routine explaining Anna and Iggy were her friends and they needed to see her father as it was an emergency. Alan decided to use the distraction to phase through the wall. He did so into the bathroom (no luck with bathrooms!) and managed to escape that guard by phasing through the wall again into the arms of another. Alan was captured. The intruder captured and the lights returned to normal.

The guard Ash spoke to managed believe Ash's story and brought Ash, Anna, and Iggy to Ash's father's office. Josh and Brock ask the guards where everyone went and they ended up detained.

Meanwhile, Ash, Anna, and Iggy find Ash's father asleep -- which happened a lot as he would not sleep for days and just crash. The three began to snoop and uncovered quite a bit of information in Ash's father's messy desk and unsecured computer. Anna discovered Project Y which talked about unlocking the human genome to unleash powers from within. The project listed its goals which was to create a military and launch Operation Coup. She also uncovered other secrets, including that each one of them is assigned an experiment number.

Ash's father's boss, Dr. Zanjani came into the room obviously surprised. He seemed distracted and agitated but gave them a ride home stopping for waffles on the way.

Victory Waffles to those who followed Ash.

The tag scenes went like this: Ash went to knock on Joss's door only to realize she wasn't missing, just skipped school (Joss's player was sick). Brock was in a cell and my mind escapes me with what happened. Alan assessed his values as he lay sedated. Anna's slipped my mind. Iggy met the cowboy again and tased him. And Josh broke out of prison after going crazy (Anna discovered the abilities aren't always stable). Players please help me with your tag scenes. I can't believe I forgot (I blame 7 Wonders somehow)


As I said, this game was very on the fly and as I wrote out a summary of this I can see it shows a little. The game still was a lot of fun and my players still manage to surprise me. Ash just going right up to the guards and playing innocent girl still gets me. Or a dozen Ariana Grandes running away For Reasons. I also really enjoy how well Anna's player is playing the Head archetype, especially since she was initially shaky about it.

 I still feel shaky about the system. I meant to reread the rules again but like I mentioned -- Diablo III and Disney. I do find it interesting that every session, it is always Alan who is challenging his values and relationships. I think it is because Alan's player created him to be at odds with himself which sometimes translates to others (I feel this is one of Alan's player's strength -- he is not afraid to play a character who has ideas that differ from the other player characters). This is perfect for Cortex Plus Dramatic. I feel like his character has grown the most in three sessions. Not saying the other characters haven't. There is growth in the other characters but Alan has made the biggest strides. He has rewritten a value statement and a character relationship statement.  Joss comes next as she rewrote her relationship statement with Alan.

And while I get stuck in the frame of thought of typical rpg (I'm really trying to break out of it), I really really like this aspect of the game. It shows the progression of the characters and how they continue to grow. And I love that so much.

Regardless of how much I follow the rules to Cortex Plus Dramatic, I do feel we have a great story going. And that is the most important aspect of roleplaying.


NPC Of The Session

The Role of Dr. Zanjani is played by Shaun Toub

Name: Dr. Parviz Zanjani

Place of Birth: Tehran, Iran

Children: Naveed, 19, a student at MIT
Shirin, 17, senior in High School

Public Information: The Zanjanis arrived in town about 15 years ago and started life in the middle of the road. But Dr. Zanjani became a rising star within the company and quickly rose up the ladder, making it to Galileo Street about 5 years ago after the previous head of the department head of Science Research left suddenly. Ash and Alan's parents both work under him.

He is friendly but closed off about what happened to his wife -- which there are still pictures around the house of her. He invites everyone under him to the two Eids where he and his children cook a massive feast and what is not eaten, they give to homeless shelters in Tuscon.


Quotes of the Session

I didn't take as many this time, mostly because I forgot. Players are more than welcome to contribute.

"The nicer the suit, the blacker the heart" - Brock to Alan

"You're small and creepy. You can follow them" - Brock to Ash

"He pushed you through the wall, so he is part of the group now." -Ash about the wall busting incident

"It's an Ariana 'GRANDE' Latte! HA! HA! I can be funny!" - Anna

"Being an asshole. Not a superpower" - Alan about Josh