Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Here, at the end of all things

(Listening to: "Careful With That Axe, Eugene," Pink Floyd)

"We are just a voice, screaming in the darkness. It's up to you to listen."

So, it finally ended: last night, I ran "Funerals Are For The Living," the final episode in The Voice, the Vampire: The Requiem chronicle we began over a year ago. As much as I tried to avoid it, the conclusion did feel a little rushed -- and it wasn't the ending I had originally planned. After all, two of the players were no longer present. But last October, I put together a vague projection of where I wanted the chronicle to go...and no one is more shocked than me to discover that, more or less, it actually went there. I'm almost proud of myself.

And the ending? It was almost a happy ending. No, really -- Mr. Doesn't Have Hope in His Vocabulary actually managed to bring to a story to a mostly pleasant conclusion. Not all of it, of course -- there was the absolutely gut-wrenching scene where Benjamin and Alice destroyed Doll, a heinous, psychotic creature in the form of a seven-year-old girl, made from wood, glass, and (shudder) real organs from real dead children. Eww. (Big-ass props to the Antagonists book, by the way, which is where Doll came from.)

This chronicle was pretty weird. I mean, even weird compared to my other games. I said at the beginning that this would be a very different story indeed, and it was, especially at the end. See, it started a lot like my other games -- the stereotypical battle for political power was just reaching its peak when, unfortunately, the group sort of dissolved and the game fell apart. The worst part is that this was just before the game was to spin on its axis and reveal its extraordinarily strange dark side.

And it got strange, friends. A mage hiring Benjamin to steal uniform? Ravens becoming the winged black messaging service of the 21st century. Evil Asian street gangs acting very possessive about their motorcycles. Benjamin finally meets his long-lost daughter, Janice (or is it Irene?), only he doesn't tell her who he is and she thinks he's hitting on her. And then, of course, the parallel reality -- Ben finds a mystical artifact that sends he and Penelope into, yes, an alternate dimension, just like on Star Trek (as everyone says when Ben tell the story). And the body count was quite high, too -- a brief list of the dead:
  • Ashley
  • Vladimir
  • Doll (thankfully -- shudder)
  • The Weasel
  • Marguerite
  • The Angry Asian Man (aka, the Contingency Plan).
  • All of Dr. Farubis's mages (though that happened "off-camera")
  • The alternate Natasha
  • The alternate Sahra
  • The alternate Penelope
  • The alternate Wilkins
  • The real Wilkins (thrown from his window)
  • Albert Green (thrown from the same window)
  • Liam (thrown from -- yes -- the same window)
  • Willem
  • Preston
  • Claude
  • Probably more I can't remember...though I s'pose everyone in the alternate dimension died, technically

If I had the time, I'd write out a synopsis of the whole thing -- like I said, I'm actually pretty proud of the story. Especially the out-there second half. I managed to pull off some closure with a few bookends: Alice's arc started with "Alice's Restaurant," and it ended with it, too; Ben and Ashley met at the Four Winds bar, and had their final from-beyond-the-grave conversation there, too.

And Darrell made a joke. Darrell. Yeah.

It was fun. You shoulda been there.

Next, comes Mage. I only hope it can be as much fun as this one.

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