ViewScream: Neural Webwork with Keith, Joseph, and ClarissaViewScream
is a varp (video-augmented role-playing game), a sorta-kinda larp designed for G+ Hangout play.
I ran a new version of the game last night. This was version 0.5, and I feel like it's pretty close to final. I replaced the percentile dice with choices -- each time someone asks for help, you choose from a list of successes and failures, and pick one. Most characters have two successes and two failures, so if someone asks for help, you pick one, then cross it off the list. There are three people who need help -- naturally, someone's not going to get help. And in this game, that means that one of those characters is going to die.
In addition, each character's got something going on -- one character's got a dirty secret, one's on the verge of a mental breakdown, and so on. Everybody's got an agenda (survive! help the others!), but everyone's also got a relationship to the other characters that's slightly different on the character sheet. For example, on the character sheet for Weapons, it says that the Bridge frequently needs help taking control of a situation, due to poor leadership skills. And the Bridge character sheet says, Weapons is always trying to assert dominance over you, and it's getting annoying. So fun inevitably ensues.
As for our situation --
Our ship, the Emma-Zero, was in trouble. Something horrific had torn most of our crew to pieces, and a vast lifeform -- something covered in slow-moving tentacles -- was nearing our hull. The four survivors (Bridge, Medical, Engineering, and Weapons) struggled to survive.
Engineering (Keith) cracked early and hard. He lost his damn mind and started speaking in a monotone. But through my laptop speakers, I could also hear him whispering pleas for help -- while he was talking to me about how everything was fine. It was quite disconcerting.
Medical (Clarissa) screwed us over from the beginning. The lifeform? Not a xenomorph. Not some dark god from beyond time and space, hailing from crepuscular aeons. No. Just a medical experiment gone wrong. One that she facilitated.
Joseph was the Weapons Officer. He and I fought in the war together, and he didn't want to leave me to die. My escape pod was damaged, and I was stranded on the ship's hull, watching as the tentacles slithered out from the infected portions of our ship. Joseph could have made it to an escape pod, but he stayed aboard the vessel, rather than leave a comrade behind.
So we all died. Except Engineering, who become one of Them.
I played the Bridge. I cursed them all with my last breath.
Here's Joseph's write-up:
ViewScream. I SAY AGAIN, VIEWSCREAM.
A lot of creepy drama packed into roughly an hour and a half. I (Joseph Le May) was Weapons, the overanalytical, pushy arrogant prick-type. Medical (Clarissa Baut Stetson)was a bit meek and not as competent as Weapons would have liked, and he kind of ran roughshod over her in a few scenes. Bridge (Raphael Chandler, the designer of the game) tried to assert his authority, and Weapons had to shut him down with reminders of their time in the war.
Engineering (Kieth Stetson) just went batshit crazy early on, and it turned out to be all Medical's fault in the end, but we didn't find that out for sure until after my favorite scene, more on which in a moment. In the end, the mechanical results had Engineering and Weapons both surviving, except Engineering had been absorbed by the hideous otherwordly biomass that had been gradually spreading itself throughout the ship like a sentient cancer, and Weapons decided he'd rather resign and die with his old soldier buddy, Bridge, than leave a fallen comrade!
There were some incredibly cheap, yet amazingly effective special effects, such as Clarissa's use of a ziploc bag's zipper to simulate video interference, and Kieth's creative use of aluminum foil (not to mention his incredible HAL 9000 monotone)!
So my favorite scene was an impromptu one:
Bridge is on with Medical and, mid-conversation, Bridge's connection to the G+ Hangout lags and disconnects. Weapons just jumps in and starts interrogating Medical on why she would use a retroviral pathogen sequencer (which sounds like some sort of exotic anti-pathogen) to knit Engineering's broken leg. He gets increasingly irritated as she stumbles over her answer, and when Bridge comes back online and tells Weapons to chill out a sec and let them figure it out, Bridge's player (Raphael) types into the chat "Totally don't chill out at all. GO BANANAS." Bananas indeed, sir.