[Big Maul] Table Chatter / Out-Of-Character

edited May 2014 in Big Maul
Hi there, welcome to the Basic Game Info for the Apocalypse World play-by-post game discussed on the Story Games forum in April 2014. I'm Rich, the MC for this campaign.

Rich's Rules, Tips and Tricks for PBP for this game:

Where do I put my Character?
I've taken the liberty of setting up a wiki here for the game with a working title. I also created mock-up pages for each of the six PCs with a general format for your character. However, it's your own space, spruce it up how ya like. If you don't know how, check out the PC threads from the Snowpoc game , use the "edit" feature to see the code behind it and STEAL, STEAL, STEAL.

Who talks for NPCs?
For most situations, I prefer to role-play or portray NPC's in the fiction. I'm okay if you describe some flavor of their reaction in a post for your PC, perhaps a look, or a gesture, something that just gives focus to your actions / intentions. However, I would rather handle the rest. I like writing characters and dialog, I like expressing my thoughts on the world and our setting through them. This is a big part of my fun. Please don't take that away from me. If you feel strongly about this, let me know privately and we can talk about it.

The exception to this is NPCs that are "bought and paid for", meaning your gang, your crew, your helpers, NPCs that come from a Move or an Advance. Those I am more comfy giving leeway. They're somewhat an extension of your PC, so some light conversation or reaction from them will be cues to me for how you see them in your "penumbra", so to speak.

Who starts scenes?
The MC (me) starts scenes. I will open new threads for scenes. I like how in other games that the scene thread lists the characters and what session/scene they're in. I will replicate that for this game, plus add in tags for the PCs involved. Scenes will have your PC's first initial in the suffix as well as the session and scene number. I often go with memorable or silly scene titles, they're just a shorthand to help me keep them straight.

For example, if I kick off a scene in the infirmary where Navarre and Tris are in her infirmary for first scene, it might be titled:
[DVFP] Better Get that Looked At (N 1.1, T 1.1)

What if I want a specific scene?
Any player can ask for a scene at any time. This is actually a good idea for times when player activity is out of sync and you want to keep going (as long as I can keep up). Ask for it in the Table Chatter (out-of-character) thread and I'll start up a scene with a new thread.

How do we help each other?
I'm going to allow players to Help AFTER the roll here. Players can ask before they hit the dice, if they wish.

What if I'm not in a scene, but I have a cool idea for something to happen? Or, what if I am in a scene and I have a cool idea for something for the MC to do to another Player Character that my character wouldn't do?
First of all, both situations are great! I welcome input and collaboration. Please post the ideas/suggestions in the Table Chatter thread here. I may ask questions, I may throw it into the In-Game thread whole cloth, I may modify it. But I love the feedback and I will do my best to foster collaboration because this is *our* game, not *my* game.

When does a "game session" end?
This is important because Apocalypse World has mechanics for session ends. I will call end of session based on feel, taking into account how much real-life time has passed, how much game time has passed and how many events have occurred. If you feel a session has come to a natural end, please say so on the OOC thread, I will take it into account. I've found that six or more scenes per PC is about right normally.

How often do we play?
The game is basically always live, which is for good or ill. I post with relative frequency (a couple posts a day per PC), but without much consistency (meaning sometimes during weekdays if work is light, sometimes at night unless I have offline fun/responsibilities happening). My weekends are primarily for my family, so expect light posting then. If I am going to be offline for more than two days, I will note it in the Table Chatter thread.

What if I will be away for a couple days?
Note it in the Table Chatter thread here if you'll be away for more than a couple days. If you don't note it and a day has passed and we're holding up for you, I reserve the right to move on and let your character fall into NPC status until you pick it up. NPC status means I will play your character based on my interpretation of how the character sheet reads plus anything I see you have done in the game (that I can remember). You won't get XP, you won't help other PCs, you won't use Moves. I won't do this lightly. I don't *want* to play your character for you, it increases my workload and steals some of our collaborative efforts. I have two primary goals for taking this action, if I choose to do so: 1) I don't want to keep the majority of the players waiting in limbo 2) I don't want the game to die on the vine: I really want to play this story to its completion.

How long will this go on?
I plan on running this for three months. It's early April as we begin. We're shooting to be "done" by end of July. If at end of July, we (or merely some of "we") want to continue, we'll discuss it then. I find that "full" campaigns of AW on PBP run for about 7-9 game "sessions" and "sessions" often last a month, so we could be only halfway there as far as fiction, but I don't want to ask for more than 3 months from each of you.


  • I will be out of town and at least mostly offline 18-21 (and maybe 22) April.
  • Cool, Chris. Hey, got any setting ideas?

    Re-posting this, which I would like to be the hardhold for the game. Or A hardhold:
  • Ooh. What if the Maul *hasn't forgotten* what it used to be? Maybe the Maelstrom sounds like Muzak and really wants you to be an alpha consumer?
  • hey Paul, welcome to the site! Glad you made it.

    That's pretty wild, maelstrom as Muzak. I've previously played the psychic maelstrom as sort of an individual thing, but unifying it might be interesting.
  • Apropos of Malls, I liked the Mall from Silent Hill 3 -Grey, uniform, and empty, full of broken artifacts and half-finished construction. I never found the malls in the Dead Rising games to be very scary or interesting- they were full of life, even if the life happened to be bloodthirsty walking corpses.
    Making an object scary is mostly about perverting its original function. A chainsaw scares people because it's a tool, and when you use it on a person you re-contextualize them as wood, something to be chopped and cleaved. Similarly, an empty mall is inherently disturbing because malls are supposed to be filled with people and goods. Removing those things is (in the case of removing the goods) an existential threat to the modern person (think about how you felt when you last saw a grocery store shelf that was almost bare of items).

    Apropos of Playbooks, I was leaning towards a nonstandard playbook, but reconsidered because I do want to stick closer to the trodden path in my first 'real' AW game. A Quarantine would be interesting if this ends up being set in a mall - A man from the past comes back to a landmark near the place he used to call home, his last-ditch effort to see if the world he used to inhabit has endured. Instead, he finds Big Maul, and that's the moment he knows that his world ended a long time ago. He's never getting back there.
  • Given the size of a Hardhold, I think one of these full-blown malls is basically too large. Like, you could have a dozen holds in there, right? So what if the the mall is the entire world for some reason? I don't know if that's a good idea but it's something I was thinking while looking through those pictures.

    And of course, because it's almost a cliche, I think of zombies when I think of malls and the apocalypse. And while I don't normally want to play zombie games, I could get into doing it right (rather than just coming up with some random idea and throwing zombies in).

    I don't really have any coherent setting thoughts of my own -- nothing I've been dying to implement or whatever. But I'm sure I'll inject stuff as we go. I guess I'm generall interested in playing in a world with Weird dialed up pretty high.

    Also, you should know that I grew up at one of the malls in that article. I guess it's called Crestwood mall now (that's what the article calls it) but when I moved to Missouri in 1979 it was Crestwood Plaza and changed names to (I shit you not) "The Ultramall" somewhere around 1986. I lived 3-4 blocks from it and know my way around all kinds of parts of it that I'm not supposed to. :)
  • Paul and Ben, if you get a moment, head over to the intro thread and say hey. A small but vibrant group of gamers on here.
  • Rich, which playbooks are you interested in having open to us?
  • RE: Playbooks. Good question!

    All the basics are open, of course!

    The Limited Editions are open, but I need some convincing on the Hoarder and the Maestro'D. UHm, except the Marmot and Space Marine Mammal, really not interested in those.

    Other, more esoteric playbooks... well, talk to me. I haven't been impressed with the few I've seen. Not saying there aren't cool ones out there, just saying most of them don't seem to want the same kinds of stories that I do. A few seem like direct a "fuck you" to the core of Apocalypse World, built for players who "have done it all before" and want "something new". I like the game as it stands, pretty much. I know. I'm boring that way.
  • That sounds like the Solace is in? I haven't been in a game with one and they seem to twist the game a little. I'm not exactly calling dibs -- I'd be happy with other playbooks (maybe any of them), but I'm interested.

    Also, I'm fascinated by your seemingly negative attitude toward the Maestro'D...what's up with that? (I get the weird animals and maybe sort of get thinking the Hoarder is weird.)
  • There are a few what I'd call "selfish" playbooks. When someone takes them, it sort of shifts the focus of the entire game around them. If the whole group is into it, it can be cool. If not, then it can suck. Imagine a Quarantine saying how the world ended when the other PCs already had their own ideas. Imagine a Solace fucking with the maelstrom when the rest of the group is sorta non-Weird.

    But to get to the Maestro'D. My experiences with two M'D PCs have been not great. They're their own island, and if you don't want to go eat at their happy restaurant (or whatever), then they don't play with others at all. I mean, they get their own cast of NPCs, lenders, regulars, a whole host of NPCs tied to them and their shit. If other PCs don't slide into it, then well, it's selfish. Plus, it's sort of static. I feel like it kills crosshairs if that restaurant is your big thang, you know?

    I'm not saying no. I am saying if there's a M'D, then you need to tie in another PC to your thing.

    Does that make sense?
  • Would you consider allowing...

    The Coot:

    If you don't like the old-timer idea, my second choice would be...

    The Synthetic:

    The Synthetic would require more work from you, it depends on your vision of the game world. Kinda like a Quarantine character, his makeup includes some sekert evul MC ideaz.

    If you don't like either of those playbooks, I will wait until everyone has made their choices, and then I'll be either an Angel or a Savyyhead, whichever isn't taken, because they're the most vital characters for campaigns IMHO.
  • edited April 2014
    I think I'd be most comfortable with the Savvyhead and least comfortable with the Skinner, so I'd like to take one of those if possible.

    Edited to add: This will be my first AW game, so I'm sticking with the basics.
  • Chris said: "you could have a dozen holds in there, right?"

    Technically yes, but without social constraints, laws, police, and legal documents holding people to their lease agreements, I think that wouldn't work out too well. I think if people moved in to every unit, the mall would shake out to be controlled by whomever could hold the whole place, either via tribute, protection rackets, or attrition. It eventually becomes one big Hardhold.

    Depends on the world of course. In my AW campaigns the population has usually dropped by 90 - 95% so there aren't even enough people around to completely fill a Mall. But even still, some people need their space, and there's plenty other unclaimed spaces out there.
  • Hey Tod, what is it that you like about The Coot?

    What interests you about the Synthetic? There are a bunch of sub-systems going on for the Synthetic, which worries me a little.
  • I was looking at playing a Quarantine, but I explicitly don't want to dictate how the world ended or went wrong - I'd much rather have the MC mostly own that idea. Also, even if the Quarantine knows how things ended... does it matter? Is this still the place he was when things ended? Could he be somewhere different, having fallen between the cracks of time and space?
  • The Coot? Pure character. I'm almost 51 years old myself and I live in the desert. :-)

    The Synthetic? I like the complex weirdness and rule tweaks. Made me think of Ash from the first ALIENS movie. But it MUST be an MC collab so I absolutely defer to you on that. If you don't have a good way to work it in, then it should NOT be worked in. Otherwise I think it runs a risk of turning into one of those "selfish" playbooks you mentioned.

    I still don't see any Angel here, so maybe that's the way I'm going instead.
  • Tod, not challenging you, but asking for understanding. Is the allure of "The Coot" that he's old? Because, that's something easily done with any playbook.

    TO ALL: There will, unless you object to it, be sex in this game. I tend towards R-rated across the board, but AW is sex positive in my brain, so there are sexy PCs and sexy NPCs and they do some sexy times. So I thought I should say that's my natural inclination. If it bothers you, let's chat about it.
  • edited April 2014
    I like everything about the Coot. I wouldn't mind it if he could get an erection, but his sexual impotence is something I can live with. I'm also a trained actor and I'm all about the Hx. It's just not gonna happen through sex for this character. It will happen via other means.

    I like the idea of a character who most everyone takes to be a harmless old loonie, but who is revealed to be a quick, crafty bastard who does *not* owe his survival to luck.

    From an MC perspective, I think one strategic concern might be more with his ability to discern the past of things; because in a campaign where a lot of cultural drift has occurred for ironic or thematic purposes, that could be a cockblocker.

    ETA: Then again, it's also a great expositional device.
  • I'm looking at Skinner, Operator, or Brainer. I'm gender-queer, so that'll be a factor.

    Skinner would be a performer, possible tattoo artist.

    Operator a hustler and dealer

    Brainer an experiment gone wrong.

    As far as the mall being the world, Mall of America has a fucking amusement park in it, 7 story car park, and an underground transit station. Over 5 million square feet.
  • Welcome, Niko! In past games, I have had many characters along the "spectrum" of gender and sexuality, so there are no concerns here. Your playbook choices are quite cool.

    I was hoping VALDIS would come along and join us, but let's continue to talk setting / playbooks.

    Sounds like a hardhold of a big mall seems to work for everyone, so let's go with Crestwood mall, and mine Chris Weeks idea.

    By the by, today is Chris Weeks's birthday!!!!
  • Woohoo; getting old, one year at a time!

    Rich, do you particularly care if there's a Hardholder in the game?

    So what's outside the mall? Why do we live here?
  • I do not require a hardholder, not at all. If there isn't a PC Hardholder, then the landscape will be quite fractious, maybe lots of little fiefs of gangs holed up in certain territories (neighborhoods).

    What's outside the mall? Great question! I'd imagine an external threat could be a reason - tornadoes, "zombies", radiation, acid rain, giant predatory animals, frickin kaiju...

    Thoughts from all?
  • edited April 2014
    I'm trying to imagine what it is about a mall that makes it a good place to survive. I can imagine it barricaded more or less permanently and effectively against zombies. But none of those other things. What if it's something more subtle. The Breeze. Something like when the wind picks up a little, people do [insert unpleasant thing here]. Maybe they kill themselves as in The Happening. Or just go comatose. Or become aggressive (playing on the wider zombie trope). Or whatever.

    That's creepy because, you know, a breeze is nice and we're turning that around. And also, any building stops breeze effectively so crazy hermit folk might be living out there in houses and paint shops and Denny's and stuff, but in order to have a community you need something like a mall or college or office building or something. It's a good justification for the mall. It also seems like it is easy to work into the psychic maelstrom.

    ETA: Oh! Or maybe not the breeze, maybe instead, twisting the idea of maelstrom as muzak, the mall is still actually playing muzak 24/7 and that keeps the oppressive psychic maelstrom at bay. It's still always with us, at the edge of our perception, but not just dominating us the way it does out there.

    I dunno, just throwing things out to see what sticks.
  • I like the breeze and the muzak curing the maddening maelstrom is cool, too.
  • Actually, with all the tile in Crestwood, I'm getting a very Metro 2033 vibe. I'm campfires, shacks, mushroom gardens in the locker rooms. What are thoughts of a substantial re-wilding (Fifth World, Aeon Flux-style) of St. Louis? Nature's revenge, sort of thing. There's a lot of green space around the mall as it is. I'm seeing the forest taking back all around the mall. Likely some overgrowth pushing into places.

    So, I've only ever played an Angel as far as the vanilla playbooks go (I'm in a Tremulous pbem ATM). I'm curious about what folks have in mind re: brain relay and other Brainer gear. I'm honestly mostly split between the Skinner and the Brainer. The sacred whore and the wrong thing.
  • Man...a skinner who's art form is mannequin displays...
  • I'm starting to feel the Savvyhead pretty strongly.

    Her workshop's insane, full of old wind-up and battery-operated toys that she's "improved" to work HER way. The kids love it, but adults sometimes get the feeling that something's moving around in their blind spot, and she's been seen talking to that one tin robot more than once.
  • Chris, what were some of the shops in the old mall? Do you remember? I'd love to have remnants of that present in the Big Maul.
  • I like Chris and Niko's ideas - Numerous scavenger/industrious survivalist communities holed up inside a mall, as protection against The Breeze. Of course, there is never enough space, water, or light to go around... So there are the downtrodden underclasses, living in the periphery of Big Maul, closer to the open air and the Killing Sky. The richer you are, the further towards the center or the underground you live, and maybe there's a self-styled "Rat King of Big Maul" (Mallrat!) living in the subway system or transit tunnels under the center, his people inhabiting the old control rooms and security infrastructure.

    The Breeze is air, though... air gets everywhere. Sometimes, when the winds are high and the pressure is just right, it moves fast enough to get all the way inside Big Maul. It could sweep through an entire group of people before you know it, and change them.
    Maybe it's something like the petrophage microbe from Ill Wind - but instead of eating plastic or rubber, it fuses them to the skin. Maybe it fuses EVERYTHING to your skin, and makes it all elastic, like taffy.
  • I'm looking at the Wikipedia entry for Crestwood, MO, and just came across this flavorful bit:

    Adjacent to Whitecliff Park in the small city of Grantwood Village is the animal reserve owned by Anheuser-Busch called Grant's Farm, which is free and open to the public during the summer. Grant's Farm, now home to free-roaming buffalo, zebras, and deer among other animals, is located on property formerly owned by president Ulysses S. Grant in the period between the Mexican War and the Civil War.


    There's also a Wikipedia page for the mall itself:

  • Alright, restating what the group seems to like. If I misunderstand anything, speak up

    * Set in a broken down mall, probably Crestwood in Missouri
    * External threat of either The Breeze or the psychic maelstrom itself (if maelstrom, then the mall's every-present muzak keeps it at bay)
    * no single "hardholder", the large space is divvied up among numerous small bands or gangs

    Possible playbooks:
    Chris (clweeks ) - Solace?
    Tod (AsIf) - The Coot or Synthetic?
    Benjamin (SilentW) - Quarantine?
    Paul (WPTunes ) - Savvyhead (maybe Skinner)
    Niko (Niko) - Brainer or Skinner

    I think The Coot and Quaratine overlap a good deal. I'd rather only have one of them "from before", unless you guys think there's a compelling reason for both.

    Anything else?

    (Valis contacted me through Story Games this morning, but I still don't have his email, so I can't send him an invite. Hopefully, he'll share it with me soon and we can get him in here)
  • If Tod wants Coot I can go Chopper - Him and his gang leave the Mall through old subway tunnels and scavenge for supplies elsewhere, but they avoid the surface like the plague. He went out there once, and most of the fellahs didn't make it back.
  • Oooh, Chopper. I love chopper gangs! What do they ride?
  • Name List

    I like to use an aspect of the world we play in to generate my names list. First reason is that I've used the names list for AW a few times and some of the names are sort of "stuck" in my head as certain characters, which is hard for me to break ("All my Balls are the same", ha ha). Second is that a custom names list helps me see the world through new eyes.

    Does anyone have a problem with this? I was thinking of using brand names you'd see in a mall as the inspiration. So maybe we have NPCs named Abecrombie and Limited, or perhaps there's some gal named Dippin Dots. Is that cheesy for you or interesting?
  • I'm good with that. Should be interesting. I call "Hot Topic".
  • OOH! Man, you snagged a good one!
  • edited April 2014
    I can totally do something other than Solace if that's better for anyone. The mannequin skinner tickles me. I could be a hardholder, even though my main attraction to that is that I don't really know how to play one so it'd be a learning experience.

    The house I lived in from '79 to '89 was built on land that had been President Grant's property. As a kid, I would sometimes bike down past Whitecliff toward Grant's Farm because across the street is where the "world famous" Budweiser Clydesdales were stabled and I'd watch them fed and exercised and stuff.

    Crestwood Plaza had Dillards (previously Stix Baer & Fuller) on the far east side of the mall and Famous Barr (that turned to a Macy's just a few years ago) on the far west. Sears dominated the center. Those were the three anchors, but I don't know if they stayed until the end or changed more -- I haven't lived in STL for 25 years. There's this big area beneath the bottom floor of the broad parking garage that's sort of dug out where they kept piles of salt and gravel and a bulldozer and other heavy equipment. There's also the suit of offices that mall-management used beneath the Stix/Dillards building. And it obviously has all the normal mall stores. A few of which still open only to the outside parking lots rather than the inside mall.
  • Choppers and Drivers need to get outside. I have some other thoughts brewing that involve traveling outside. So how's this breeze work?

  • edited April 2014
    Right now my fave choices are...

    1. Coot who remembers the old days. If travel is possible he could be a wanderer who's been in every city within 200 miles. If travel is not possible then he probably knows this mall since his young days.

    2. Change Rich's impression of Maestro'D by playing one who is either:
    - a pimp with a bordello setup in Mattress Warehouse
    - a freaky ringleader with a bizarro cabaret/circus in the Cineplex

    3. Angel because sometimes you gotta be practical.
  • edited April 2014
    They wouldn't *have* to get outside. There's some heavy equipment and a fleet of electric golf-carts that mall security rode around in. And the mall is plenty wide for normal cars to drive around. Golf-cart chopper gang is hilarious, too. We, the kids who loitered there, referred to the security force as The Green-Coats -- that's a sweet gang name!
  • Here's a weird random thought for The Breeze that incorporates the Muzak. Maybe it causes dancing mania. Like, man, you're walking along and the Breeze picks up just a bit and suddenly your feets just go crazy. Sounds like no big deal, right, but get this... you CAN'T STOP. People literally die from exhaustion. Oh, and also, you start dancing and skipping TOWARD something. Always the same direction, no one knows what's there or how far. The Muzak helps. Apparently the anodyne tones tamp down the mania in some way. People in the Maul may start dancing when the Breeze blows through, but things stay pretty chill.
  • Ok I'm wondering about the outside because (a) my Coot may be a traveler, and (b) the Maestro Circus may travel as well. Caravan of talented freaks, on the move from town to town, they stay a year or two then move on kinda thing.

    In general I can usually be peer-pressured into playing a Driver or Chopper, but if we were 100% stuck inside and I drove a mallcart, I would not be so amenable to the idea. Sounds more like a parody of AW than AW. Maybe that's just me though.
  • edited April 2014
    I would say my gang rides Segways or golf-carts, but I don't think anyone would take them seriously if they did, some things are still ridiculous even in the post-apocalypse.

    They ride tricked-out BMX bikes with little scavenged lawn-mower engines for that extra boost of speed. They've all got grind pegs and know how to use them, and wire lassos or bolas that help with high-speed turns in close quarters, and make good improvised weapons.
    I'm not 100% sure about a name yet. Maybe they're the Combo Kings and all named after food items - Onion (because he cried once, so he gets branded forever), Pickles (He's got a really pinched and twisted face, like it got dunked in vinegar... it's actually a birth defect), Mustard (Violently blonde), Bacon (She's crunchy? No, it's ), Fry (The short one who uses the kiddie bike), Ranch (Never takes that dumb cowboy hat off), Rice (Borderline albino, great night vision) and Fizz (She has seizures... It's cruel, but how else do groups work?)
    Maybe that's not serious enough- these guy do provide an important community service when they aren't busy doing stupid bike tricks off of old BMX video tapes they found in the back of a 'skater couture' store.
  • I'm up to 90 names for Big Maul and some of them are amazeballs.

    I'd like to hold off on getting silly here. Golf cart gangs are a bit much. I like weird names, but mostly because they don't fit. If the names idea spins us into fuill on parody (ala Paranoia), then I'd rather drop it.
  • edited April 2014
    ooh, Benjamin, your gang could hang out at the Food Court! Turned S'Barro's into a garage or something. That is kinda awesome.

    EDIT - Maybe instead of BMX bikes they have dirt bikes from the sporting goods store? Might be more fearsome that way.

    Body Shop is a brothel. Because reasons.
  • edited April 2014
    Trying to answer some of my own questions. The breeze is tied to the maelstrom right? And that's from whence its hypnotic powers arise. So. Ways to defend against St Vitus's Dance might be something like:
    - wearing earplugs, wearing headphones without sound: little protection
    - wearing headphones or earbuds with music playing: better protection
    - being deaf: total protection
  • The uncontrolled dancing is a bit silly. Can we talk about other effects from The Breeze and shelf that one for a bit?

    Quick vote - The Breeze or The Sound? Which do you prefer and why?
  • edited April 2014
    AsIf, what if there was some way to provide immunity to whatever The Breeze does, but it's unreliable or temporary. (Batteries that run out, whatever...) I'd also prefer not to have the Maul be the WHOLE world for us, but I'd be cool with it being the whole world for most of the people that live there.

    EDIT: AsIf and I had similar thoughts.
  • The Breeze being tied to sound is cool, that makes music a sort of currency or safety net. Maybe they trade CDs and batteries as currency! Instead of needing air supply outside, like in Metro 2033, maybe they need earbuds, CDs, CD players and AA batteries.
    Earplugs don't work forever, there's always this faint whispering in the corner of your mind... you can just barely hear it. The longer your go without any competing sound, the more you start to understand what it's trying to say...
    It's like an auditory Basilisk - something that when you hear it, truly hear it, "crashes" the human brain like it was computer's operating system, overwrites your mind with something else from somewhere else...
    (stole shamelessly from David Langford's idea - http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/blit.htm)
  • Rich, the St. Vitus Dance thing was just to get some juices flowing. I'm not invested at all. My inclination is to prefer something that affects behavior rather than bodies, however.
  • edited April 2014
    Maybe not dancing, but uncontrollable muscle twitches. Ever had acid with too much strychnine in it? Gets uncomfortable. Makes your muscles need to move.

    And if you cannot resist it, you find yourself walking toward a distant unknown place - I do like that. The maelstrom is CALLING US ... like psychic lemmings or some shit...
  • Ok, I like that direction, guys. Muscle movement, not dancing.

    It was giving me flashbacks to the old Michael Jackson arcade game, that's all. :)
  • edited April 2014
    Some drugs could override it. I'm thinking mood stabilizers, etc.
    Other drugs might make it worse. Weed or booze might be literally very dangerous unless there's loud music around.

    ETA - which might tell us something about that freakshow circus. Loud entertainment is a quasi-magical thing: long, loud, heavily rhythmic music pushes back the psychic shitstorm and allows people to party almost as if it was 1999 again...?

    EATA - Soundtrack: NuMetal. Rammstein. Front 242.
  • So, it starts as a sense of anxiety like, "Man, I gotta BE somewhere."

    Then it gets worse. You start smacking your lips and moving your head for no reason, maybe making faces and even grunting.

    Your knees start to hurt unless you're on the move. Your feet and hands acquire a mind of their own. Everyone calls it "the Dance," but it's not a dance at all, is it? It's a fucking nightmare.

    Finally, you just start twitching and jerking your way north-east. Toward the Gateway Arch, maybe? That direction, anyway.
  • edited April 2014

    A) Sears has an exterior entrance in the basement, across the street from the bottom floor of the parking garage in what I recall as the toy department.
    B) Both covered floors of the garage include an elevator shaft that leads into Dillards. On the upper of those floors is an office complex for the mall.
    C) There is an escalator in the middle of the mall concourse that leads quite a ways down to a stairwell platform with a half-flight of stairs up and a half-flight down to the parking garage.
    D) This is the main level of the mall.
    E) This is elevated so that Macy's can be entered on the second floor (of three) directly.
    F) This is all parking garage with the top floor level with the mall's main floor and Dillard's first floor (of two or three). There are two level of parking garage below this deck and the underworld below that (but not below the whole thing -- maybe a tenth of it. There are two big spiral ramps that you can see connecting all three parking levels and that big depression in front of Dillard's was a rock garden with trees and a fountain but it looks from this image like it's gone...shrug.
    G) The two G's on the map are calling out a road that goes under the mall. When I was young the mall there was just this little skyway but they later built a movie theater on the north side and I guess shops on the south. But it's still a road.

    Also, on the eastern half of the mall, to the north is a light-industrial complex across a little stream. That might matter.

    ETA: Also of possible interest -- that Watson Road that you see in the image is historic Route 66 which is sort of iconic.
  • thank you so much for this, Chris!
  • edited April 2014
    The Coot - "Langford Mitchum", aka "Lang" (homage to David Langford). Whichever direction the breeze makes the dancers walk? He started out in the other direction. Comes from some city in the southwest. Maybe in Texas. Several times in his life he has been caught unable to protect himself from the siren call of the breeze, and wandered for days in a stupor, twitching, grimacing, grunting and wheezing, no one helping, until the wind died down or he lucked upon a place where loud noises overrode the persistent call. That's how he found himself here.

    The Maestro'D - "Jet", maestro of the AngelMetalCircus (originally the "JetBlackCircus" but renamed after opportunistically considering the huge initials "AMC" on the outside of the cinema complex). Though the circus started out in another town and may one day move on, this is a spot Jet fell in love with - a 10-theater complex with a central court and two snackbars (now used for decidedly different snacks, of course). The screens have been taken down and the stages are used for Jet's loud musical production pieces featuring members of his dangerously sexy troupe. Jet is a cross between Perry Farrell and Andy Warhol. The AngelMetal is known by people for miles around, they put on a good show, and it's a (relatively) safe place to catch a break from the breeze.
  • edited April 2014

    "Situated in the St. Louis suburb of Crestwood, Westfield Crestwood Mall has lots of stores to browse. This 48 acre mall is occupied by over 90 retail stores and eateries. Westfield Crestwood's hosts department stores Macy's and Sears; some of the other retail stores include Gap, Footlocker, The Limited, The Children's Place, Forever 21, Helzberg Diamonds, Pacific Sunwear and The Disney Store, just to name a few. Westfield Crestwood also offers great features for kids like Play Town and a fun arcade. For a break that the whole family will enjoy, stop for a movie at the AMC Crestwood 10 movie theater—your feet will appreciate the rest! When you've regained your energy, go take a look at the health club also located here. There are also 8 delicious eateries (sit down restaurants and some of your favorite mall food court stands) like Fletcher's Kitchen & Tap, The Pasta House Company and Cajun Café & Grill."

    "The Westfield Crestwood Mall is easily reached from Watson Road in St. Louis, Missouri. If you are coming from I- 270, take it to I- 44 and then to the Watson Road exit. Follow Watson Road until you reach the mall."

    Full List of Stores:
  • okay, Tod, that Maestro'D sounds fricking awesome
  • Right on. Jet Black it is! I'll start assembling the Circus.
    Maybe you can use the coot for an NPC. Exposition device, natch.
  • UPDATED, restating what the group seems to like. If I misunderstand anything, speak up

    * Set in a broken down mall, Crestwood in Missouri (we have maps and store lists and stuff!)
    * External threat of The Breeze, which carries auditory madness (like an Ear Basilisk) - the psychic maelstrom itself (the mall's every-present muzak keeps it at bay)
    * The Maul isn't the whole world for the PCs, but it is for many of the NPCs in it
    * Currency based on CDs and batteries, portable music to keep the effects of The Breeze at Bay
    * no single "hardholder", the large space is divvied up among numerous small bands or gangs
    * Custom Names list of Mall stuff

    Possible playbooks:
    Chris (clweeks ) - Solace?
    Tod (AsIf) - Maestro'D
    Benjamin (SilentW) - Chopper
    Paul (WPTunes ) - Savvyhead (maybe Skinner)
    Niko (Niko) - Brainer or Skinner
    VALIS13 (Alan Gaskell) - unknown
  • edited April 2014
    A Skinner (obviously) could be a performer in the AngelMetalCircus. A Savvyhead could be the stage technician, who (believe me) Jet will task with uncanny things like pyro effects, rearscreen projections and smoke bombs, and somehow this shit happens. A Brainer would probably find the Circus' rotating audience a good source for trippy mindplay and random information-gathering.

    Just brainstorming, you understand!
  • As it happens, I sing opera, so I spend a lot of time on- and backstage. If I wind up as a Savvyhead, I'd be totally in for working with AngelMetalCircus.
  • edited April 2014
    This is shaping up well!
    I wonder what Big Maul's age demographics are? Is this a community with an age mix like the modern day, or is it like medieval times in that it's skewed towards the young?

    Given that people lose their hearing as they age, maybe it's a community biased towards the old and infirm, or it will be soon. The local bigshots would be divided on how to handle those who are developing immunity to The Breeze based on hearing loss, if it were true.

    The smartest way for Big Maul's inhabitants to handle it would be like MegaCity does in Judge Dredd - Send them out of the community to take The Long Walk, freeing people from The Breeze until death overtakes them. Of course, would you send your own father on The Long Walk? There are definitely people who wouldn't want to do it, especially if they're community leaders or powerful...
  • edited April 2014
    Sounds like (a) truth be told, I need that Savvy more than they need me, and (b) my productions use a fair amount of power. And out there in the Maul, the muzak needs constant power too. So how do we get our power? Is there someone in charge of that? Windmills on the roof or something?
  • edited April 2014
    If that industrial park across the freeway has generators, there could be cables running through the tunnels to the Maul. If it's in the tunnels, my gang is responsible for keeping it safe... even though there are places we don't go and don't talk about Down Under There.

    (ETA - I'm really feeling the dark horror portion of this setting, let me know if I should back it off a little to keep things less STALKER/ Metro and more "No Monsters, Only Men")
  • The flipside of "immunity increases with old age" is "the young are particularly susceptible". The young may be something we have to worry about. Young walkers might need to be corralled constantly or they'd wander outside and never be seen again. Not that watching other peoples' babies is my concern, you understand. Just sayin'.
  • "You look tired, bully-boy. Really tired, like you haven't slept in a week. Why you so scared to sleep? Your friends left you, I heard, so nights around here are probably getting quiet. Really quiet. Maybe quiet enough that you could... hear something, yeah?"

    I think I know how people in the Maul refer to an assassination or a contract killing of some kind - "He went sleepwalking" or "Just sleepwalked out of here".
    Night-time is probably really scary for people in the Maul... waking up alone, in a silent room is probably the scariest thing anyone can imagine.
    Oh, and that's how you execute someone - You put them in The Quiet Room, and wait until they can hear it.... and then watch as they claw the walls with bloody fingers, trying to get out and follow the call of The Breeze. But of course, they're locked in, or chained up, and that's how they die.
  • This is great stuff , guys!

    HOWEVER... I want some cool stuff to arise in play, too. Let's stick a pin in the setting details for a bit and talk characters.

    Niko, Paul and Alan, do you have any further thoughts on playbooks?
  • Do I ever. Lush/Metro (PCS)/Cache was a Skinner, ze was an absolutely stunning silk dancer in the circus, and a harlot with a very specific client base. That is, until ze pissed off one of zirs clients. He blindfolded ze, drugged and blindfolded, with a pair of cheap headphones and a short tape with nothing but a copy of Comfortably Numb on a single side, and dump zir in the middle of the industrial park.

    It took time for ze to figure out how to get back, and ze had to constantly rewind the tape to keep the sound going. It was likely only the drugs that kept ze stable enough to get back to the Maul, and was only through the diligence of one of the sentries that ze got back inside at all.

    During zir time outside, the psychic maelstrom crashed fully into zir mind, shattering it, and leaving ze an open conduit to the storm. Ze, needless to say, is a Brainer now. Once lean, graceful, dancer's body twisted from the Dance. Ze is beset by inhuman muscle twitches, mostly when seen just in someone's peripheral vision, it seems. Ze has very little memory of what happened, and has no memory of who did it to zir. Ze mostly wanders the Maul, frequently humming and muttering Pink Floyd, especially one song in particular.
  • As for gear, the massage gloves vibrate at just the right frequency that they function as a perfect conduit for Brainer moves.

    What are thoughts on what would count as a brain relay, et al?
  • I'll throw some Hottopic down after a little sleepy time.
  • Holy grimdark! Ze is the Phantom of the Circus!

  • I know, right?
  • I had a Ray Stanz moment. Ze just sort of popped in there.
  • Ze is tres cool, Niko! Is zir name Cache?
  • That's what I think I'm going to go with. That or Lush, which would honestly be a pretty cruel joke.

    As far as the "inhuman twitches", I'm seeing general movement, etc. in the vein of the hyper-fast, insectile movement effect used a lot in the 90s. Prime examples include some of the movement in the Thirteen Ghosts remake, and especially Marilyn Manson's video for "The Beautiful People". Ze likely spends a lot of time around AMC.
  • edited April 2014
    STATS: Cool=0 Hard=0 Hot+2 Sharp+1 Weird=0
    LOOK: Transgressing Look + Vintage Wear + Expressive Face + Frank Eyes + Restless Body + Flexible Hands
    WEAPON: A wicked blade (double-bladed one-hand weapon) (2-harm hand)
    ARMOR: His clothing changes frequently but is always topped off with a long black leather trench, immaculately cut, with shoulderpads and plasti-rod ribbing (1-armor).
    MOVES: ● Fingers in every pie, ● Everybody eats, even that guy

    The AngelMetalCircus (AMC)
    An X-rated cross between Cirque de Soleil and a Rammstein concert. The Main Show happens once per night but there's always something happening on at least one of the stages in the AMC complex.
    Main attraction: Music
    Side attractions: Spectacle & Scene (see and be)
    Atmosphere: lights + acoustics + noise + dancing
    Regulars include: Smoothie King + Durex + Mastercard + Burlington + Fire Lane
    Best regular? Smoothie King
    Worst regular? Fire Lane
    These NPCs have an interest in the establishment: Beauty + Lifestyles + NoShoes.
    Who wants in on it? NoShoes
    Who do you owe for it? Lifestyles
    Who wants it gone? Beauty
    Cast & Crew:
    Silver + Smoky + Rose + Grave + Life + Julia + Jackbird + Francois + Esco + Boiardi + Mari + Nan + Rache + Proper + Fall
    ● Everybody’s packing: cast & crew are a gang (2-harm gang small 0-armor)
    ● A warren of dead-ends, hideaways & boltholes connecting to the various vents, maintenance halls, clerical offices, service elevator shafts, and rooftops of the mall
  • hey Tod, do you want to swap out the NPC names with names from the new Big Maul Names List?
  • edited April 2014
    Cast & Crew: I actually kinda like these names but if it's easier on you?
    ETA: Remember we didn't come from here. Well maybe some of us did, but not most.

    Other NPCS: I called Smoothie King + Durex + Mastercard + Burlington + Fire Lane + Beauty + Lifestyles + NoShoes.
  • edited April 2014
    Cache (remember, it's pronounced "cash")- Brainer
    STATS: Cool +2 Hard -1 Hot -1 Sharp 0 Weird +2
    LOOK: Ambiguous, Fetish wear (sort of. think Lisbeth Salandar. Left over from time at AMC), Scarred face, Ruined eyes, Awkward angular body (always in motion to one extent or another.) Clothes are leather and latex, but easy to move in. There are spikes, but not in awkward places. Ze once sported a glorious 12" mohawk, but shaved off all of zir hair after returning to the Maul.

    WEAPON: Hidden Knives (2-harm hand infinite)
    ARMOR: Leather jacket, covered in plates and spikes

    BRAINER GEAR: Implant Syringe, Deep Ear Plugs

    MOVES: Direct-brain Whisper Projection, Unnatural Lust Transfixion

    (Not entirely certain how Brainer gear would come about in the setting)

    For the ambiguity, this is a good example of the kind of easy androgyny Cache had "in life":
  • edited April 2014
    Jet has flashbacks of Cache's old show sometimes. "It burns me up inside, what they did to you..." He has made sure Cache knows all the secret passageways out of the AMC.
  • I'm here at last! There is a lot to read, bear with me!
  • Welcome, welcome, Alan! I've been updating as we go. Hopefully it isn't overwhelming. Let me know how I can help!
  • I'm pulling back from the Solace. I assume that's OK. It's a pretty weird character and I'm not really "feeling it" in this setting.

    Maybe Faceless or Battlebabe? Or Savvyhead if Paul takes Skinner? Or Angel? Sigh!
  • All of those playbooks sound keen to me, Chris! Which one jumps out at you?
  • The Faceless does. I'll work it up on the wiki.

  • Hey Chris, are you making Playboy in the wiki? You can follow the PC# examples and edit them, should save some time.
  • edited April 2014
    I copied and pasted the contents of PC_1 but I figured we'd have pages on the wiki named after our PCs instead of actually occupying a page called PC_1. Did I do it wrong? (And using your template was absolutely useful!)

    And Playboy is ready, more or less, until we're doing Hx. I took the liberty of creating a new entry for "brutal weapons" that you should look over and either approve or negotiate about. (poorly written)

    Faceless characters get a "brutal weapon" from a list. I made up a bullwhip along the same lines and gave it some stats. You should look it over and comment.
  • No, that's perfectly ok. Just wanted to make sure you had a template. No worries!

    I'll look at the brutal weapon entry.
  • Had one of those mornings where I actually had to talk to people and stuff. I'll work up something for Hottopic the Savvyhead in the next little bit.
  • Playboy is WOW.
  • Rich - I edited the PC2 page but don't know how to change the title. Go ahead and edit me!
  • Hey Tod, I set up links to a new page (still learning wiki-fu) here.
  • Evening all, sorry for my tardiness.

    This Breeze thing, is it from outside? Is there even an outside, or is there nothing at all?

    Is the Breeze the Maelstrom outside trying to get in?
  • Good questions, Alan. Still flexible, but what we've discussed so far is the The Breeze is an external threat. There is an "outside" the mall. If you go outside without protection (headphones, music, earplugs), then you are affected if The Breeze wafts your way. And I do think it's a physical manifestation of the psychic maelstrom.
  • I'll be a Hocus. Details to follow (it's late here -9pm- and my car broke down today, so I've only just got home).
  • How far does the "outside" stretch? Does anyone know? Has anyone been out there long enough?

    Is it the old world we know or has it changed? Are we still in the same dimension?

    Will all this be better off revealed during play?
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