Monday, 30 September 2013

Friday, 27 September 2013

Creating a Fate Accelerated Fantasy Game

Having just completed GMing my first G+ online game (a mashup of GTA and the mythos christened Grand Theft Chtulhu, part 1 write-up here and part 2 write-up here) and given that it went quite well, all the players seemed to enjoy it and I certainly had great fun running it despite a few technical difficulties and it being a little challenging to sync all of our RL schedules together.

I always think that a good measure of how much the players have enjoyed a session is whether or not they are keen to come back and play again; given that we managed to organise the second session running only a few days after the first for our last game and that the players were already talking about what we could next, I would judge the endeavour a success thus far. But that did raise the question, what game do we run next?

Originally one of the suggestions for our first game had been to run something set in a fantasy world, but we didn't use that idea in end, however now we're potentially talking about doing a more long running campaign using the Google+ hangouts, I think that some sort of epic fantasy campaign could be just the thing we need; plus I am just finishing reading the Fate game 'Legends of Anglerre' and, whilst I don't think i'd run an Anglerre campaign as depicted in the book, it certainly has some great ideas in it that have fired my imagination for running some fantasy.

What sort of fantasy campaign should it be and what should be in it?

I've spoken at fairly great length both on this blog and my Youtube Channel about how I am a great fan of games (such as Dungeon World and FATE) that encourage a collaborative approach to world and campaign design, so it should come as no surprise that I want to get the players involved in the decision making from the ground up, nor do I want to restrict us entirely to the traditional westernised version of fantasy; as I put it to my players, "if you want magi-tech and mecha that's fine as well."

I'm looking forward to the conversation (which we're trying to organise on G+ for next week) and intend to post it to my Youtube channel using the Hangouts on Air feature; I might even attempt to use some sort of cutdown version of the yes/no list from Microscope.

I've been toying around with the idea of a Fate Accelerated game involving vampires for a few days; thought i'd post up what i've jotted down so far.

Please note: The notes below are in no way complete and will probably change considerably before I consider them finished.

*** Aspects ***

5 in total

1) High concept - May be whatever the player wishes.
2) Trouble - Is determined by the player.
3) Vampire - character must have a vampire aspect to be considered a kindred.
4) Clan - Pick one Aspect which determines a vampires clan.
5) May be whatever the player wishes.

*** Approaches ***

Vampire characters have the normal approaches (with the standard levels).

* Careful
* Clever
* Flashy
* Forceful
* Quick
* Sneaky

In addition they have the following approach (rated at Average (+1))

* Vampire

The vampire approach represents a vampire using it's innate powers of undeath and the raw power in it's blood to overcome an obstacle; as a vampire ages this Approach increases thusly:

+1 Average Neonate/recent embracee
+2 Fair
+3 Good
+4 Great Ancilla
+5 Superb
+6 Fantastic Elder
+7 Epic
+8 Legendary Methuselah

*** Disciplines ***

Disciplines are special type of Stunt purchasable only by vampire characters; a vampire may have a maximum number of discipline Stunts equal to 2 + their vampire Approach (3 at character gen).

I have not detailed vampire powers yet, however my current thoughts are that by spending blood points a vampire will be able to either add their Vampire Aspect to a roll or activate some other sort of Stunt-like effect.

*** Blood ***

In addition to Fate Points (which are used as normal), vampires also have a pool of Blood Points (recommend using red tokens to differentiate these); this blood tokens are used to power disciplines.

A character begins play each session with a number of blood points equal to their Vampire Approach +2 (three for starting vampires), the number can be raised above this level by feeding.

Blood tokens can also be used with the characters Vampire Aspect on almost any roll to gain a +2 or a re-roll (as with a fate point), however, when a player character does this they are calling on the innate power of their blood and exposing their vampiric nature; they gain the Aspect "Inhuman Creature of the Night" for the rest of the scene and the one following (this can be compelled as normal). PLEASE NOTE: Using a blood point to power a Discipline Stunt does not cause this effect, although using a discipline infront of mortals may cause its own problems.

When a vampire feeds on an individual during a scene they gain 1 Blood Point.

If a vampire is ever reduced to 0 blood points then he automatically gains the Aspects "Inhuman Creature of the Night" and "Frenzied Bloodlust" and is reduced to the level of an animal that just seeks to sate its bloodlust, these Aspects are lost only once the vampires BPs are raised through feeding.

*** Vampire Weaknesses ***

All vampires begin with the Aspect "Vulnerable to Sunlight" and they are actually attacked by Sunlight (using the normal attack roll method) whenever exposed; the modifier to the Sunlight's attack roll is the defending vampires Vampire Approach (representing that as vampires become more divorced from their humanity their curse affects them to a greater extent.

Each time a vampire raises their Vampire Approach they must take an additional vampiric weakness Aspect, a few examples are listed below:
  • Compulsive counter
  • Repelled by crosses
  • Unable to cross running water
  • Unable to enter holy ground

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Written summary of our second Grand Theft Cthulhu game

The original video for the second session can be found below:

Written Summary of Session

Trevor finds himself standing in an underwater city of strange spires and cobbled streets made from an odd black stone, the streets of this maddening city are covering with dead rust red sea creatures, and the ground seems to slope gently downwards; following the natural gradient, Trev arrives in a sort of town square that seems to be built around a large black hole or pit at the centre of it. Reaching down he picks up a stone and throws it into the hole, a few moments later there is a roaring sound and a dull red light shines from out from the bottom of the ravine; Trevor shudders as a cold sensation seems to play about the stump of his missing arm.

Looking around in panic for signs of help the settled dirt and silt seem to suggest no-one has been in the city for years but as he moves away from the pit Trevor spots a set of tracks, interspersed with other footprints, some barefoot, others almost skeletal, some modern shoe tracks; he is about to follow when he hears the roar again and a bright red light shines from behind him, a sensation of unhealthy warmth becomes noticable at his back. Screaming Trevor runs forward, risking a glance over his shoulder, he sees a huge amorphous black blob, with three pinpricks of red light, like three red eyes, shining out of it - the light from the eyes seems to bore into his very soul.

Deny is driving the three Whatley boys to a bolt hole of Horatios by the river when he is startled by Trevor waking up in the back of the car screaming about burning eyes; in shock his foot slips on the accelerator peddle and he plows the car into one of the metal supports by the side of the river, totalling it, and some of the barrier at the waters edge. Still covered in sweat from his nightmare Travor touches his arm and for a brief moment it feels chill and clammy as he relates the events of his horrible dream to the others; Horatio says that he thinks it's some sort of conspiracy and that perhaps the statue is covered in some sort of deadly hallucinogen, this illicits a sarcastic response from Deny who asks what drugs can make a body dissolve a puddle of green slime. Whilst they ponder the matter Deny disposes of car by pushing it into the river, with a loud splash it slides into the murky waters of the Arkham river; they take the statue (wrapped in multiple layers of material for safety) into the Horatio's small riverside hut, put it on a small table and sit down around it.

They eventually reach the conclusion that they've been double-crossed by Old Man Pierson and that they need some way to find out what's going on; as they are talking the top of the bag has fallen open revealing one of the rubies on the statue, this seems to affect Trevor who starts shouting about the eyes and asking the others to shut the bag, puzzled Deny covers it up. Trevor wants to know why they're carrying it and says it might have cameras in it so they can be tracked, Deny points out that they're keeping it because the others want it; remembering the precious stones on the statue Horatio tries to pry one of the rubies out using a knife but is unable to find a seam or join to prise it loose and the knife slips off, his hand narrowly avoids brushing one of the poisonous spikes. Deny says he thinks the statue, and the others desire for it, is the only ace they currently hold and it might be the only thing keeping them alive; he remembers that he has a business card from an old colleague Charlie Hartwell and, removing it from his pocket, asks for a phone so that he can ring the ex-university lecturer turned black market dealer.

Horatio apologises but says he can't help because he ate his simm card earlier to stop them getting tracked; initially Trevor is hesitant (thinking that the phones might be tapped) but eventually throws his phone to Deny just to get him to shut up; getting Charlie on the phone Deny is surprised to hear that they are all over the evening news for killing members of the ACPD and having a deserter from the army with them, but brushing that aside he asks asks Charlie about the statue. Surprised, Charlie tells them that he recently won an ancient manuscript in a poker game from another antiques dealer, apparently it once belonged to an ancient arabian tribe (from the middle ages) and he is in the process of translating it; the manuscript describes a religious idol that matches the description of the statue they possess. The translated part of the manuscript says that the spikes contain a reservoir of lethal poison, there is something about anointing it with water and apparently the tribe believed that it fell to earth from the sky, forming a huge crater that flooded. Deny arranges to meet up with Charlie the following morning to discuss potentially selling the profit, although Charlie wants a higher percentage than normal due to the danger of associating with known fugitives, Deny agrees to this and hangs up.

Listening to Denys recount of the phone conversation Trevor says it's probably a good idea that they didn't throw it in the river, Horatio is dismissive of all this "mumbo jumbo"; Trevor jokingly suggests tipping a glass of water on it, but when Horatio takes him seriously (bringing out a bottle of water from the back of the shack) both Deny and Trevor run outside. Horatio waits for a few minutes after tipping the water over the statue but nothing untoward seems to have happened, he shouts to the others that it's all mystical mumbo-jumbo and that their pursuers are after it because it contains precious stones.

As the water hits the statue, Trevor gets a strong feeling that someone is behind him staring at him, but when he looks he can't see anyone; from further down the riverbank Deny can hear a faint, womans voice calling his name and sets off in pursuit of it, a dreamy look coming over his face. Seeing Deny heading off, Trevor pursues him attempting to attract his attention but failing he shouts for the assistance of Horatio who is still stood inside the hut staring at the statue. The voice is now unmistakably Scarlett's and is coming from the river, Deny moves towards it whilst a befuddled Trevor (who can't hear the voice) runs after him; in the early morning light a mist hangs over the river and the setting moonlight gives the mist a strange ethereal glow, Deny can see a faint, human silhouette in the mist and for a moment sees a flash of red hair, a female hand with red nail polish reaches out of the mist towards. The voice of Scarlett beckons to him saying that they can be together.

Unable to see where the river starts because of the mist he moves forward, but realising that Scarlett is dead Deny snaps himself out of the trance that has gripped his mind just in time to see the huge, bloody, gaping hole where "Fat" Abbot's bullet ended her life, a tracery of green slime lingers about it; Scarlett tells Deny that the black city is waiting for him, all he needs to do is step into the water and they can be together forever. Shouting that she's not really Scarlett, a look of horror on his face, Deny pulls out his gun and fires wildly into the mist; although Horatio and Trev can't see the figure, after the gunshots die down the two of them hear something drop into the water as the body of Scarlett falls into the polluted water and disappears from view, Trev screams for Deny to get out the water.

Deny warns Horatio not to put more water on it, although as far as Horatio is concerned nothing has happened and he tells Deny that he's tripping; getting tired after the days exertions the boys return to the hut where Horatio locks the statue in a safe with the code 14/17/21 and they all drift off to sleep after checking all the doors and windows are locked.

As they dream, all three of the Whatley boys find themselves back in the black city of Trevor's previous nightmare, Horatio instinctively reaches for his gun but finds that in the dreamworld he does not have it, they try to talk, but no words escape their lips only bubbles of air; Trevor mimes to point the direction of the black hole from his previous dream and, following the directions, they arrive in the town square with the ominous black hole in the centre. Trevor picks up a loose rock and hands it to Horatio who skims it into the hole; Trev starts backing away from the hole, when suddenly a pale clammy hand grasps his shoulder from behind, he spins around to see the pasty figure of "Fat" Abbot Whatley, a large portion of his face still missing from where Horatio shot him. In a perfectly clear voice that sounds in their head Abbot tells Trev that he shouldnt have done that, Trev screams, panicked bubbles rushing out of his mouth.

Abbot claims to be part of a new order that is coming, a new family, and tells the Whatley boys that they could be part of it, riding high when it arrives; he tells them that Pierson set them up because they were supposed to be the sacrifice, but by accident it ended up being him, Scarlett and the others who are now part of the family. Horatio isn't bothered by these events because remains steadfastly sure that it's all a dream; as though hearing his thoughts Abbot dares him to step into the abyss and, despite Deny's bubbing protestations, Horatio steps into the hole still claiming that it is all a dream, and is swallowed entirely by the blackness. Abbot attempts to persuade Deny to join but is rebuffed, he tells Trevor that he came so close to being part of the family, and that he could still be an immortal god free of pain and fear. Shouting his defiance of Abbot both Deny and Trevor begin attempting to swim away from the area.

Deny wakes up to find out that the gurgling, thrashing that he was hearing wasn't Trevor swimming next to him, but infact it is the sleeping form of Horatio who is coughing and spluttering with river water gushing from his mouth, nose and ears, Deny slaps Horatio and eventually manages to wake him up, which seems to stem the flow of water. Deny wakes up, remembering stepping into the blackness and then being surrounded by the recently dead, all standing around him in the blackness applauding as he walked between them, like some sort of twisted ceremony or initiation; behind them was a large black, slug-like shape that had three burning red eyes approaching him - one of the eyes split open like a mouth, containing rows of spike-like teeth, it reached out towards him and that was when he woke up; he is confused that Deny and him shared the same dream. Deny wakes Trevor up and explains that they all appear to have had the same dream.

Whilst Deny and Trevor are talking Horatio notices a tapping sound on the outside of the shack, like something scraping or banging on the walls of the hut and peeks out of the shutters, he sees numerous silhouetted figures moving in the mist, slowly emerging from the waters of the river and approaching the small hut, he shouts "Boys, we have a situation."

Trevor wants to get rid of the statue whereas Deny thinks throwing it in the river would make it worse and says they should get some guns and bust their way out of their and escape; unfortunately Horatio doesn't have any of the bazookas that Trevor recommends for this situation but says that they should grab the statue, fight their way out and burn the shack down; Deny opens the safe, but he sees that the spikes of the statue appear to have grown and are bursting through the bag, Trevor shouts for Deny to get away from it, saying they should burn it and run however Deny refuses to leave the statue for the figures outside to take it. Trevor feels himself drawn towards the statue (as though a will other than his own is acting on him) but is able to resist the compulsion, he shouts for Horatio to get the door open so they can run.

Deny says they need to destroy the idol but setting it on fire isn't going to work, rooting around in the various gear lying around, he locates a net and a large metal case, using the net he drags the statue into the case and locks it. Deciding that the time is right to make a break for freedom Horatio boots open the door, preparing to go out all guns blazing, when skeletal hands grab hold of him and pull him into the thick mist; the others can hear Horatio's voice calling for help from deep within the mist and they see occasional flashes of weapon fire. Wasting no time Trevor runs out towards the flashes firing wildly with Deny behind him, they find Horatio up to his waist in the river water with numerous green encrusted skeletal arms pulling him down whilst he fires his gun erratically into the water. Deny pulls the net out of the case and throws it over Horatio, with himself and Trevor pulling it they are able to drag Horatio free from the sucking mud and water, he scrabbles back up the bank as shambling figures, dripping green ichor, begin to stumble out of the river after them.

Trevor runs away from the river, Horatio untangles himself and bolts whilst Deny grabs the case and makes a run for it after them; the figures part and the almost skeletal form of an old man who they recognise as Asaph Peabody emerges from the crowd and tells the Whatley boys that if they leave the statue they'll be allowed to go free, when the figure says the word 'statue' a darker more burbling undertone says 'Glaaki.' Trevor shouts for Deny to leave the statue, but he refuses saying that there's no guarantee the figures will keep their word, he curses and drops the case as suddenly the spikes from the statue burst through the metal of the case and Asaph says "Glaaki awakens."

Trevors runs for it as both Horatio and Deny snap off shots and follow suit; a few hours later finds the boys holed up in another of Horatio's emergency shelters on the outskirts of the city where they collapse from exhaustion into a fitful sleep.

The next morning they are woken up by a newspaper vendor shouting about mysterious disappearances; Horatio buys a copy of the newspaper and finds that the headline story is "ACPD baffled by disappear of 50 residents from the Riverside District of the city", the story cites that the only clue was an anomalous biological residue found in the houses of the residents, but that the police have yet to comment on this; with the sensationalism of the disappearances the police (and emergency services) seem to have forgotten all about the hunt for the Whatlet boys. Reading on they discover that the entirety of the Whatley family (besides themselves) are listed as amongst the missing but that there is no mention made of the statue under the section where it talks about the ACPD sweeping the river area.

As the months and weeks pass, with no-one to impede their progress Deny, Trevor and Horatio use their contacts to take over the underworld in Arkham City, and the memory of their experiences by the river fades until it seems like little more than a bad dream; however as the months stretch into years everytime they hear the river they can't help thinking about Abbot's new order and wonder whether or not this will be the day they'll finally feel his clammy hand on their shoulder for the last time.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Expanding and linking my channel

After Jacek Brzezowski commented on one of my videos on G+ about setting up an RSS feed it occurred to me that I had a number of different 'pages' spread across the internet to do with my blogging and Youtube channel; it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to consolidate them.

Below is the current list of 'pages' for my channel:

Monday, 23 September 2013

A Brief Summary of our Grand Theft Cthulhu Game

The video of the session can be found below:

However there follows a short summary of the game.

Main Characters

'Dirty' Deny Whatley : played by Afrodave
Horatio Whatley : played by Fozz
Trevor Whatley : played by Pigeon

Principle NPCs

'Fat' Abbot Whately : Mercilessly tough leg-breaker and rivil of Deny’s for the casino racket.
Juvan : Mechanic working in one of Trevor’s garages.
Louie Graves : Long time friend and contact of Deny's, works in the vice trade.
Old Man Pierson Whatley : Patriarch of the Whatley crime family
Sandra 'Scarlett' West : On/off girlfriend of Deny, works as a receptionist at Trev’s garage.

Plot Summary

Arkham City had one been ruled by the Whatley family from the shadows of the underworld, if anyone wanted to run business in Arkham they had to pay a cut to the Whatleys; this all changed about ten years ago when a previously unknown English crime family called the Peabodys moved across the water and, with an almost supernatural ability to avoid the ACPD and have their deals come up golden they took over as the leading crime family within a week, leaving the defeated Whatleys to slink into the shadows, nursing their wounds and their grudges

Recently Pierson Whatley has gathered together three of the upcoming members of his family, Deny, a well known rough nut and security consultant for the familys chain of Silver hawk casinos, Horatio, an AWOL member of the military that the family have been sheltering because his training is very useful to them and Trevor, who runs a successful (and dubious) chain of chop shops and respray joints for the Whatleys. Pierson tells them that Ashap Peabody, the ruler of the opposing cri8me family, is ill and not long for this world, he hasn't been seen in public for a couple of years and there aren't many Peabodys left in the USA; one of Pierson's inside men has told him that the Peabodys intend to bring in a shipment of weapons hidden in an oil tanker down the Masachussetts Highway at midnight. This could be the opportunity that the Whatleys have been waiting for, if they can seize the weapons then they both deny their enemies a valuable resource and can propel themselves back to the top of the heap in Arkham.

Heading to the Masachussetts Highway, the three members of the Whatley family concoct their plan; Horatio will station himself on one of the bridges with a rifle and shoot out the tyres of the tanker as it approaches, meanwhile Trev and Deny will be waiting in their armoured Patriot at the nearest on/off ramp (junction 32), once they hear the shots they'll drive up and force the tanker into the hard shoulder where Deny will deal with the driver and Trev will change the tyres so that they can drive the tanker away and get it off the highway (since the shots are sure to attract the ACPD and they're not known for their tolerance).

As the tanker rumbles towards the bridge Horatio stares down his scope and notes an odd glazed over expression on the drivers face; he is forced to fire a couple of shots as the wind whipping about him makes it very difficult to hit the target, but eventually he is rewarded with the sound of one of the tyres popping, through his radio link he shouts for the others to make their move. Roaring up the off-ramp in the souped up Patriot bumps into the side of the tanker where Trev is able, thanks to his superior driving skills, to force it onto the hard shoulder. Jumping out and running over to the cab, Deny throws open the cabin door of the tanker, he notes briefly the emaciated condition of the driver before grabbing his head and smashing it into the dashboard; expecting a bit of blood and unconsciousness, Deny is horrified with the skull of the driver cracks like an egg shell, revealing not brains and viscera but a pungent green slime that smells of stagnant water and death, he pulls his arm back (now coated with the goo), throws the corpse from the seat onto the road and begins hastily wiping his arm with his jacket shouting to the others.

Horatio has no rejoined them and pokes gingerly at the dissolving remains of the driver, but before they have a chance to ponder it any further Trev shouts that he's changed the wheel and they need to get going; not eager to get back into the cab of the tanker Deny volunteers to drive the Patriot whilst Horatio and Trev jump into the tanker and begin gunning the engine. As they roared off however the sound of suddenly approaching police car sirens filled the otherwise quiet night air, Horatio frowned, how the hell had the cops gotten to them this quickly? No-one was supposed to know about the tanker, unless they'd been double crossed?

Looking ahead they can see that the police have spread their cars out across the road, Trev looks around frantically for a way to escape and sees that the weak point of the cordon ahead of them appears to be a spot occupied by a single army truck; a man wearing khaki clothes is stood by it, the man seems to have noticed Horatio and is frantically shouting into a radio. A sudden bright white spotlight flickers on around the tanker as the sound of an ACPC police helicopter comes swooping in overhead; shouting for Trev to get them out of here Horatio leans out of the window but is unable to hit the spotlight with his rifle at the speed the tanker is moving. Deny tries to keep up with the tanker, driving and shooting but, distracted by pulling his weapon, clips the front of the tanker with the Patriot sending himself crashing into the side struts of the freeway, there is a sickening crunch and a shower of sparks as the side of the car scrapes against the metal side bars of the freeway but Deny manages to keep the car moving forwards somehow.

Smashing at full speed into the military vehicle, Trev grits his teeth as the tanker plows through it, throwing the soldier clear like a broken rag doll, skidding around crazily Deny manage to follow but a hail of bullets riddles the Patriot, some of it finding chinks in the armour and wounding Deny's leg. Pulling off the freeway the tanker and Patriot drive through little known backstreets, losing any pursuit in the chaos of the wrecked military vehicle, Trev rings ahead to one of his garages and tells his man Juvan to get ready to change some tanker number plates; a few minutes later they roll into the garage where the mechanic Juvan immediately begins changing the plates.

Back at the garage Horatio turns his attention to the contents of the tanker truck, using a large angle grinder to cut the lock off the entrance hatch to the back of the tanker, however, when entered he finds it empty besides a small, spikey, metal statue that looks like some kind of sea urchin or cross between a slug and a hedgehog with three tentacle like growths sculpted from it, each with a ruby eye set in them.

Deny’s phone rings and it’s one of his contacts Louie Graves who asks what the hell is going on and tells them that all the police are after them and that even the Whatly family themselves are pursuing them, saying that the three men have stolen something from the family; it would seem that Horatio’s suspicions were correct and then have been double crossed by someone within their own family, possibly Old Man Pierson himself. Graves tells Deny that his cousin Abbot Whatley has moved in on the Silver Hawk casinos saying that he’s going to be the new man in charge; Deny is protesting their innocence when Horatio and Trevor slap the phone out of his hand thinking it could be used to track them.

In order to slap the phone Horatio has put the statue down on a nearby crate, he hears a voice behind him swearing and turns round to see Juvan holding his hand, it seems as though he tried to move the statue and one of the spines broke off in his hand; an unhealthy looked green ooze lines the wound and thin green traceries seem to have spread out under Juvan’s skin from the wound. Whilst Trevor restrains him, Horatio plunges Juvan’s hand into boiling water in an attempt to leech out the poison and then attempts to make the injured man comfortable.

Deny has been looking around outside, however, he fails to spot the hulking figure of ‘Fat’ Abbot Whatley creeping up behind him, he only becomes aware of it when the cold metal of a gun barrel is pushed into the small of his back and the rough, threatening voice of Abbot begins to talk, admonishing Deny for stealing from the family and gloating about how all of Deny’s rackets will soon be his; unseen by either man the red haired figure of Sandra “Scarlett” West is arriving for the evening shift and, spotting her lover with a gun to him, runs inside in a panic, screaming for Horatio to do something.

Outside, Deny struggles to wrestle the gun off Abbot, unaware that Horatio and Trevor (followed by Scarlett despite Horatio telling her to remain inside) have burst out of the garage and are preparing to help him; the gun goes off, missing Horatio and Trevor, there is a muffled scream as the stray bullet hits Scarlett in the chest and she falls to the floor. Horatio’s gun barks out in response and Abbots face disappears in a crimson spray as Deny runs over to cradle the dying Scarlett who, through the gurgled gasps of a punctured lung, mutters something about a black underwater city; Deny frantically dials for an ambulance but, a moment after he finishes the call, Scarlett dies.

Juvan staggers out of the garage looking still quite ill, but seemingly wanting to help, his face suddenly goes slack and with superhuman strength he grabs Horatio’s neck with one hand and begins to squeeze the life out of him, lifting the gasping gunman off the ground; seeing green slime leaking from the minor wounds that Horatio’s struggling has inflicted on Juvan, Trev realises that his friend is gone and fires his shotgun at Juvan. Horatio falls to the floor gasping in lungfuls of air as he is released, the body of Juvan collapses and begins to rapidly decay into a fetid pool of green slime. Still spluttering and slightly blue in the face, Horatio tells everyone to get ready to leave; without thinking Trevor reaches over for the statue to throw it in the pimped out car that he’s prepared for their getaway when he feels one of the metal spikes pierce his skin.

A cold numbness begins to spread up his arm towards his elbow and green lines slowly start to spread from the wound under his skin; with only moments to think and not wanting to end up like Juvan, Trevor ties his belt around his elbow, pulls it tight with his teeth and picks up the nearby angle grinder. There is a spray of blood and a muffled scream and Trev drives the grinder down through his elbow, severing his arm, he reels back blood leaking from the wound despite his makeshift tourniquet, but at least it is red blood, whereas his severed arm begins to submit to the green decay as it lies festering on the floor. Outside there is the sound of the ambulance finally arriving as Horatio cauterises Trev’s wound; forcing the two paramedics inside he makes them dope Trev up on extra strength painkillers, but he spots one of the medics has signalled somebody using her radio, at gunpoint he gets her to reveal that she recognised the three men from the descriptions being put out over police dispatches and has radioed in her position.

Using the butt of his gun Horatio knocks out the paramedics and says that they need to get out of dodge, Trev is losing consciousness so he is chucked in the back of the car, Deny slides behind the drivers seat as Horatio grabs some thick welders gloves, wraps up the statue and throws it in the boot of the car. A few moments later they screech out of the garage and drive off into the night.

Friday, 20 September 2013

RPG game mashup - Grand Theft Cthulhu

For those of you who watch my Youtube channel you will probably be aware that soon i'm going to be running a G+ game for some of my friends and that it is going to combine elements of the computer game Grand Theft Auto with elements from the Cthulhu Mythos.

I have christened the game Grand Theft Cthulhu and you can see some of the material I have produced for the game below:

Cover Design
(based on a modified version of the GTA cover layouts)

Player handout
(based on the layout for a GTA V manual I found on the web)

My original video that I posted about mashing up games

Mashing up Games

In the video I discuss how it is very important to decide what is going to be the main structure of your game, which of the elements of the mashup is going to be most important and then build the game around that, flavoured with elements from the other genre or system; if you try and put equal parts of both games in then you can end up with a muddy mess that doesn't really capture the flavour of either of the inspirations.

So how do I choose which to focus on?

Think about what stories you want to tell with the game and the audience that you're telling the game for and then choose appropriately; in my Grand Theft Cthulhu game i'm running it for three people, once who has a lot of TT RPG experience like myself and is no doubt familiar with the mythos and two who have little/no tabletop experience but who both have played computer games either in the present or in the past.

The aims of my GTC game are as follows:

  • Give the less experiences players someone easily recognisable that can be used to give them easy entry into their first tabletop session.
  • Facilitate this with a rules system that is easy to pick up and understand.
  • Add some additional elements to make the game more interesting that a standard computer game and to show how versatile and imaginative tabletop roleplaying can be.
  • Run a game that is fast-paced and exciting so that it encourages the guys to come back for more.
  • Don't get bogged down in minutiae since this is our first attempt at a G+ online roleplaying game.

Looking at these aims it seems obvious that using GTA as the main inspiration and bedrock of the setting is the way to go, it's a game concept that all of us are familiar with and that will serve as a good foundation for me to expand on; although the players might not all be familiar with the mythos, but sprinkling some names, concepts and elements from the mythos into a setting that they are familiar with it is my hope that this will give them a taste of Cthulhu and will encourage them to get involved in more tabletop.

It is also my hope that if the G+ session goes will then both them and myself might participate in the wider world of G+ tabletop gaming.

"But doesn't everyone go insane in Cthulhu? Can't say i'm keen on that..."

Was the response from one of the potential players when the game concept was being bandied about, showing that there's not much point trying to draw him in using a 'purist' mythos campaign; so the game will focus on the high-octane, underworld focused style of GTA and won't be so much a game of cosmic horror but more a game of criminals and high-speed chases that liberally uses references to the Cthulhu mythos and such horror games.

Things that I want to include in the game

Looking on the wikipedia page for GTA (and from my memories of Vice City) I can see that the following concepts are central in GTA:

  • Underworld/criminal involvement
  • Trying to climb to the top of the heap
  • An unfortunate event (normally a betrayal) motivating the character to climb the criminal ladder
  • Fictional city (in this case I have named the city Arkham and am using a map from the Chaosium Cthulhu supplement of the same name)
  • Cars
  • Gangsters
  • Violence
  • Fixers
  • Crime families
So I intend to incorporate most of these elements into the game, however, I will also be dropping in some of the following concepts from the Cthulhu mythos:

  • Names and places.
  • Some of the more iconic mythos creatures.
  • Evil and mysterious cults.
  • Strange tomes and forbidden icons.
  • The Innsmouth Look.

It's my hope that by focussing on a handful of game aspects that I can meld them into something memorable and enjoyable for my players; my plan is (assuming no technical difficulties) to post the video of the session to Youtube after completion.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

God Machine Chronicle - The World According to Maggy Pike : Part Three

IC blog of third God Machine Chronicle Session
Written by Kelly Grimshaw
Reproduced with permission from the author.

The best part of being asleep is the half and half just before you wake. My mind wakes up but my eyes don’t want to open,  its cold outside of my many, many blankets, mostly knitted gifts from my mother who doesn’t understand why their only daughter doesn’t give up slumming it as she so delicately calls it and come home. It’s not pride as my father calls it, I am happy with who I am and where I am and currently so is Luna is in her favourite spot on my feet which suits me fine, I don’t have to crawl to the dreaded space called under the bed to find my hot water bottle. I turn over, find a comfy spot and pull the blankets, Luna grumbles slightly as I dislodge her and taking this as her queue she jumps down and wanders off. Something tells me it’s not so she can go for a walk, her dragging her blanket and hiding under the coffee table in the front room after our outing to the bus stop yesterday is giving me a hint and judging from the bright light trying to invade my dark little cocoon from the window tells me there is no let up from the Artic conditions outside so I don’t plan to get out of bed any time soon.

I really should have learned over the past two but eventful days that even lying in bed all day is too much to ask.

A shrill shriek of something I recognise but my brain is refusing to process splits the contented silence. 

Then suddenly I realise that it is not the alarm clock but the fire alarm.

Oh shit!

I disentangle myself from the bed, falling out in the process; grab my clothes off the back of the arm chair-another one of my little gifts from my mum. She hates waste and will gladly donate her useless crap to others knowing she has done her bit and now it falls on the luckless person to take it graciously and either dispose of it themselves or use it. Her conscious is clear.

Trying to pull on my clothes and fight my way to the living room is a gymnastic feet in its self and really I shouldn’t have to worry about cardio for the rest of the week.

Luna tries to hide as I grab her lead, something I hate and she is better off than on and as a rule if no one is around I don’t bother. But as she is a Staffy the other occupants feel safer. She is unceremoniously pulled out and the chain is slipped over her neck as I am still traveling to the door. Out of habit I grab my brolly, again something that I can do without but as the owners of the flats have forgotten how the heating works in the corridors I don’t fancy getting wet and cold just because some turnip tried to relieve the monotony by seeing if the fire system still works. Besides dredds take a lot of time and effort to dry properly.

As I step outside the sprinklers are dying off, must be frozen in the pipes and there is a slight crunch under my faithful old Docs telling me that the pitiful amount of water is icing up nicely on the industrial sized ceramic tiled floor. 

My phone rings. Now usually this is a part of everyday modern life, nothing to write home about I hear you say but since the snow started to fall it signal has been nothing at best and in all honesty I actually stand there for a moment trying to work out what the noise is.

Pulling it out of my pocket I see that Catia is calling. She I have time for.

"Alright love?"

"Actually no." Catia sounds flustered, but more so than usual, she had to drop out of nursing due to squeamishness and bless her it really doesn’t take much to make her flap.

What does she mean no? Come on woman your English even in the event of a bomb dropping on your home you say can’t complain or muss'nt grumble or the false safe yeah fine, what about you then gently ease into what is really bothering you.

She continues without pausing for me to respond or even breathe.

"there’s a riot at the pub, a kid got stuck in the middle, I got hit so set off the sprinklers to try to calm them down can you get hold of that guy, tall, dark hair, always wears a suit..."

"Yeah, Joe, I can try." 

Ok so I take back the bit about the turnip, seems that she just panicked and tried anything.

I go back into the flat, let Luna off her lead and while I am hanging up my coat and brolly I check the signal on my phone. One bar. I have to chance it, a lot of good things Catia is, her ability to keep a clear and level head is not one of them. I flick through my last call list and hit Joe's number.

After what seems the longest five seconds of my life so far a broken ringing tone can be heard.

"Yep" Joe answers, always the conversationalist.

I have no idea how long I have until I loose signal so I try to keep it quick.

"Catia just rang; apparently there is a riot at the residents meeting."

"Say again?" I can hear his confusion and to be fair I see his point, a few old ladies who usually come for a moan about the youth of today and all the free tea and biscuits they can eat rioting, it does seem a bit overkill.

"Riot at the residents meeting, Kid got stuck in the middle, Catia got hit..." I pause for effect, one of Joes rules is no women no kids so this should be sorted soon.


"Red Lion."

I hear a click as he hangs up. Well that’s my job done; Catia is now in the care of one of the people I trust so me going down as cavalry won’t do any good. 

I flick the boiler on; with all the adventures we seem to be having I have missed a couple of showers. Having almost a floors worth of plants growing around me doesn’t mean that I have to smell like a gardener’s armpit.

As soon as I flick off the shower the phone rings again. Twice in twenty minutes, must be my lucky day.

Drying off as quick as I can I see Joe wants a word.


"All sorted. Bring shovels." As I hear the click of him hanging up telling me that is all. I stand in the bathroom bring shovels, what the fuck has he done and why do I have to bring the disposal gear? I dig out some clean clothes out of my laundry bag and quickly look round the growing rooms believing I will find at least one shovel I damn know I don’t have and after grabbing a couple of trowels and the entire spoon section of my cutlery draw and stuffing them into a embroidered draw string rucksack that already has my emergency stash of papers, green and other rolling stuff I may not be a clairvoyant but I can see a lot more stress that I can deal with sober in the not so distant future. I check Luna is ok for food, water and comfort I drop the latch and pull the door shut behind me.

Bugger, bugger, buggeration. Ok the pitifully small amount of water spat out of the sprinkler system has now frozen. I believe I need say no more than Bambie on ice. Got the picture? Good, let’s move on then.

I pull out my phone to ring Catia when I walk into her. 

"Strange question, do you own a shovel?"

I can see the swelling and violent colours of a black eye appearing whether they meant to hit her or not they caught her a good one.

"Erm no."

"Come on then I shall explain on the way."

"Where are we going?"

"To the pub." I call over my shoulder.

Queue duet of Bambi on Ice. No its ok I can wait a minute.

Stepping through the remains of the double doors of the Red Lion we meet an obliterated room of kayos.

There is not a complete piece of bar room furniture left in the place. Glass is everywhere, pool cues snapped into matchstick sized shards, bits of cushion litter the floor. Oh no not even stuffed not so funny mascot survived.

Ron the ever fateful landlord is pushing the debris around with a broom. He looks done in. The way he occasionally jabs at the pile with the broom but doesn’t actually move it any wear shows just how defeated he is.

Reg looks up, terrified. He seems to relax when he sees me and Catia and leans on his brush.

"Sorry ladies can’t serve you right at this moment." He points to the rubbish with a haunted look that only a man watching his livelihood going down the swanny can achieve.

"No worries love, it’s Joe we came to see and I was a bar maid once." I try to sound cheerful.

"Oh well just serve yourselves and leave the money on the, on the..." he sighs and carries on.

Over to one side, at the end of the bar is Joe. Standing in his once immaculate suit, his not so highly polished shoes and the forever faithful Dell boy sheep skin coat. In his hand is a lit cigar, the first one stubbed out in a lonely ashtray that amazingly survived. On the remains of the bar are an empty bottle of scotch and half a bottle of Bourbon with a glass tumbler two thirds full and a pint of dark beer. Joe’s idea of a relaxing drink. 

I ignore the large heavy set and above all unconscious man laid out near to Joes feet and as I move round to perch myself on the pool table I also fail to mention the bean pole like figure of another who obviously choose to fight the wrong man today.

"I have trowels and spoons."

Joe looks at me with a distinct lack of patients over the glass of bourbon.

"We don’t own shovels." I explain as I pull out my emergency rolling kit and begin to build. Catia and Joe have a conversation that I will be honest, was not listening too until I hear Joe say "we can steal the digger."

"Do you fancy that" Catia says

"What?" hoping that I would get a bit more of an explanation.

"Fancy stealing a digger." Well that was stupid of me wasn’t it?"

Fuck it why not "Well I don’t have anything else planned today."

Sweet baby Jesus on roller skates it is cold. I am sure I mentioned in earlier musings that I thought the Arctic was trying to broaden its horizons, we I know now that it has succeeded.

After I really don’t know how long we almost hypodermic three break through the wall of snow and begin to walk westwards. 

I have no idea where our destination is so I follow Catia and Joe as the look as if they know where they are going. This cannot be the case however, after a few minutes we turn the corner and low and behold in front of us is the glamorous entrance of Spectro Vale. 

Catia is convinced that we got somehow lost in the snow, it is a fair point, visibility is practically zero. But Joe doesn’t seem to have the same unshakeable belief.

"Where's that bus stop." His voice is almost lost to the moan of the wind.

I shout out instructions and we trudge on.

Hahaha! Yes one to the stoner! We struggle through to the sign poking out just above the snow line into a void of snow.

"SEE, SEE TOLD YOU!" I couldn’t help doing a little happy dance but stopped when I met Joes stare.

He seemed thoughtful for a second then spoke.

"Stay here, it’s safe and warm. Stay here until I come back."

He builds a ramp to get over the wall and aft about ten steps he disappears into the blizzard like Scott of the Antarctic.

After about ten minutes the sound of snow being crushed underfoot is heard and Joe reappears with a perplexed bordering on angry look on his face.

Getting back to the cold but snow free shelter of the block we seem to be steered there by Joe to flat number thirteen on the first floor. It is easy to get into as the door is still missing and inside is completely unchanged. Off white paint all flats start with, the oval mirror draped in a dust sheet the sparse furniture also covered, hold on; there is something different. It is the flat we walked into yesterday. All furniture is in the proper place, not moved around as we left it. It seems strange that the janitor feels the need to tidy up but leave the door. Maybe they didn’t have one spare, what with no deliveries getting in and all.

As I am pondering the future of self-re-arranging furniture Catia has pulled off the sheet covering the mirror. She stairs into it, trying to find her own refection.

Deciding it will not appear; no matter how hard she looks Catia replaces the dust sheet and mutters "How is it connected?"

"Dunno, the snows not normal though."

"Where were you going?" Catia asks

"To the building site but came back to the flats then same thing happened at the bus stop. Like it was making me double back."

Joe explains that although he was tracing his steps so's as not to cross his own path he seems to have been looped back regardless and cannot leave the safety of the block or the bus stop. 

Ok so we seem to have some form of tampering only so far known in fairy tales so that the huntsman gets lost in his own forest for all time. Oh joy.

"Like a mirror reflection" Catia replies looking at the huge oval outline.

"Yeah." Joe answers following her gaze.

This is getting far too scary for me so while they are having this conversation I wander into the bedroom to look for more mirrors.

There is a familiar theme to the decor. Bare room and a space where a bed should be. There is one piece of furniture not covered by a sheet. A dressing table. 

Possibly no need for it being on its own in a sentience but don’t forget that a very humble wardrobe contained a whole other world.

On the dressing table was a small old hand mirror. Its mottled surface noticeably dull compared to its much bigger brother in the other room.

I pick it up as if it is about to explode and very carefully peer into the glass.

Nope no white rabbit, just me.

I sigh and with a small amount of confidence I brush the surface with my thumb. No ripple. 

I walk out of the room with it still in my hand and look at Catia.

"Is that one?"

"No, normal, well my hand doesn’t disappear." I say slightly manically

"Does it reflect?" She asks

"Yeah, look." I reply holding it up to her.

I go over to the mirror and I cave to the strange compulsion to put up the hand mirror to the other to see infinity.

While we are trying this little experiment Joe is repeatedly picking up the mirror moving it several feet, pushing his hand through and beginning again.

Catia positions it to show Joe. As he puts his hand into the mercury surface he disappears from the hand held mirror. We look at Joe, half expecting him not to be there and watching the actual him pull out his hand he reappears in the looking glass.

"I say we smash it." He says biting his thumb and indicating to the domineering oval.

"It wouldn’t smash" I reply.

"What about smashing the frame?" He replies.

"I want to put Miles in front of it."

"What? Go into his house and hold it in front of him like Nosferatu?" 

Before I have time to reply to Joe he takes the mirror out of my hand and pushes it through the silvery doorway followed by his head.

"This doesn’t reflect in the mirror world, it goes black." 

"How many mirrors are there?" Catia asks with a look of quiet desperation.

"That we know of, four ish." Joe replies calmly.

"I want to put them into each other." Catia whispers.

"Welcome to the end of the world." Joe mutters.

The shrill sound of a ring tone cuts through the silence. Joe pulls out his phone and looks at the screen. He swipes over the answer key.

"Morning Brian". Believe it or not it is only half past nine in the morning.

"A riot."

"Err yeah, downstairs."



"Mirrors. Hold on."

With the phone still to his ear Joe sticks his head through the portal. Pulls his head back out and for a moment the cool, calm, murderous exterior slips. He looks extremely flustered.

"Morning." Brian’s northern tone comes from behind us.

"Come in I’ve got a job for you."

Brian looks us up and down. For saying it is still early we are all looking a little worse for wear.

"What's been going on? 

"Tried to leave and came back on ourselves."

Brian, with a slight look of confusion waits for an explanation that makes sense.

"Try walking to the bus stop." I add.

"We tried to walk from the block to the building site across the road and ended walking back to the front doors. Then we tried to go from the bus stop to the building site and the same thing happened again." Joe explains further.

"You’re pulling me leg!" Brian says raising his voice.

"Yeah Brian, its all fun and games." Joe answers dripping with sarcasm.

I have had enough of this. Why would we be making all this shit up as the boys continue I grab my bag and start rolling?

Catia flops down onto the sofa. She sighs loudly; it appears that all this is getting too much for the poor girl.

I finish rolling something Bob Marley would be proud of, plonk myself next to Catia and offer her first dibs.

"Go back into the mirror; go up to Miles's flat." I hear Joe say to Brian. 

"Ooh, phone, take it with him." I say exhaling while I speak. 

"No, doesn't work, when I stuck my head through I got a well-spoken voice saying "what has risen may fall and what has fallen will rise again." Oh so now I know why he looked shaken after pulling his head back out.

"What do you mean, like a PA?" I ask

"No, through the phone as in speaking to you." Joe explains.

Brian makes some sort of Star Trek reference, I can’t really remember what it was, I am a Dr Who girl meself and steps through.

It took about fifteen minutes for Brian to go his work and as I was stubbing the nub out on the sole of my boot he re-appears.

"Well that’s a bit of a bugger." He remarks.

"What did you find?" Joe asks.

"Miles room has been swopped over."

"What?" Joe questions

"Well, you know I said before that in the reflection everything was like props on a set? All cardboard and no substance yeah? Well Miles flat wasn’t like that. It was all real, tins were proper tins and the sofa was well a sofa. And it was the shit tip that we left two nights ago, complete with blueprints. But all the writing was in reverse, like when you hold writing up to a mirror," Brian pauses for us to speak, or take a breath, he was getting quite flustered over the next bit of information.

"I remembered what you said about your phone not working properly so I tried ringing you. But what I actually got was the sound of static and a faint voice saying:


"Go back and find a mirror. Take this, it will turn black." instructs Joe, handing him the seemingly innocent hand mirror.

"Aint the strangest thing that’s happened." Brian replies. As he reached out to take the mirror, it must have brushed over where he had been bitten because he began to poke at his hand.

"Doesn't feel right."

Catia, with her nurses’ instinct reaches out to Brian and pulls his hand towards her.

"Where the bloody thing bit me." He continues looking at Joe.

"What bit you?" Catia asks in the calm, careful tone of nurses training.

"Yesterday, clockwork things." I think Brian has possibly lost a small amount of his power of speech. I noticed that where two puncture wounds should have been but was now just a patch of dry flaky skin but I didn’t say anything, we had enough to worry about.

"Something creepy." Catia shudders.

"Check your room too." Joe orders.

"Sacrificial lamb here." Brian replies before vanishing again.

Joe pulled out a map and began to cross reference the numbers. 1 13 corresponded with the flat we were currently standing in but as that was the only match it was put down to coincidence.

As we had nothing else to do until Brian came back we began to come up with ideas for the numbers. Some of the less elaborate were for how many were either in control or not on each floor. How many mirrors were on each floor? How many people were in the building?

While we were discussing the infinite number of possibilities a horrible feeling began to creep up on me. The kind of feeling that starts as a shock in your stomach and falls down your legs making you cold as it goes.

"Has anyone checked their own mirrors?" I hesitate, I am not totally sure I want to know the answer.

"I don’t have any." Joe shrugs.

"I am just going home for a moment." I say as I back out of the door.

As I turn the corner onto my floor I see a hooded figure at my door. I hang back for a moment; I think they may have come to get me.

The hood moves, indicating that the figure has just checked to see if anyone is around, then begins to knock frantically. Personally I don’t see the clockwork men knocking.

"Can I help you luv?" I step out of the shadow of the stair well I can see one of the local ASBO crew.

He pulls down his hood to reveal a sweating, pasty looking, shaking mess of a lad not too much younger than me. I sigh inwardly I really don’t like seeing a body beginning cold turkey; it just shows how sad people let their lives get.

"Yeah. Erm me mate said." He can hardly get his words out he's got the shakes so bad. He thrusts his hand into his pocket and pulls out a handful of notes. He would gladly give me everything he owns at this point for a fix.

"Look, can we go inside. I don’t really want to do this out here." I am surprised, most would gladly swop cash in a police station the state he's in. I am hesitant though, the last couple of days have made me question everything.

I look him up and down, if the clockwork men can do such a bang up job of copying this wreck then we're all doomed, we just don’t know it yet.

"Come on in." I unlock the door and walk in. Luna goes crazy at my return but she quickly goes to her bed after a bit of fuss.

The lad sits down but he can’t sit still. I pull out a shoe box from under the table and look for my medical strength, this lad needs calming down. I roll a blunt and offer it to him. He takes it great fully and after a few drags it seems to help a little. 

"What can you get?"

"Just weed luv." I reply taking the smoke.

"Don’t you do owt harder?" He looks crestfallen.

"No I just do weed."

"Look, please, can’t you ask someone. Because of the snow no one has anything. We are getting really desperate. Please."

"There is someone I can try. Do ya want a brew?"

I go to the kitchen and check my phone. Well will wonders never cease? Still one bar but it keeps disappearing. Ah well you never know.

"Yeah." I hear Joe say.

"Don’t suppose you have anything stronger than weed on you?" There is no point saying hi its Maggie to this man, he really doesn’t do phone calls and the last time I said it his reply was yeah I know, the display screen told me. I took the hint after that.

"Not much, few sample bags; why?" 

"I've got a lad here with the shakes so bad I think he would give anyone with a fix everything he owned right now."

"I'll take it." Joe replies without skipping a beat, a business man to the end.

"Well knowing where you are I can’t really send him to you."

"Find out his address and I'll drop by later."

"Ok cool, listen, he says there are a few of his mates looking around too, there is almost nothing left because of the snow."

"Yeah, yeah I'll sort it." And Joe hangs up.

"What’s your flat number luv? The lad I just spoke to is a bit busy right now but he can come round later." I shout through to the front room as I finish making the tea.

"Second floor flat eighty one." He answers relief dripping off his words like syrup.

I grab my phone and quickly text the address to Joe. My memory is worse than a rusty sieve.

"Thank you, thanks. Nice one, thanks." 

I look up and he is closing the door behind him, well the state he was in at least he said thank you before he left. I pause; I know I came here to do something. I look round Oh yeah, mirrors.

It doesn’t take me long to dig out all the mirrors I own I am not the kind of gall that when asked if she is ready shouts back I said I would be ready in five minutes, stop asking every half hour! And it’s not like you need one to wash your face or brush your teeth.

I fight to push the window open. Eventually after I managed to shift enough snow and ice to home a penguin from around the frame I have a gap large enough to throw through and waste no time in doing so. On the last mirror though I something horrible. As it spun end over end I saw a pair of eyes that were most defiantly not mine staring back at me. No I agree it is not as horrible as some of us have seen (Brian) but when that happens to someone when they are not expecting it, it can throw you off.

It was only a brief glimpse, but to be honest that was enough before it was lost to the fog. I heard the smash then quickly shut the window, just in case. That and I was rapidly losing heat.

I grab the medical strength off the table and role another blunt. It is a bloody good job I am harvesting soon; with all the drama of the last few days I am going to be smoking my profit soon.

Slightly unsteadily I go back down the first floor, fault thirteen; I am not staying on my own for the foreseeable future.

"Oh Fuck! Oh Fuck! Oh Fuck!" Is just about all I can manage about now.

As I explain what happened to Joe, Catia is checking around behind me through her mirror compact. An action which is defiantly not helping my mood right now.

"Was it your reflection?" Joe askes without a trace of humour. Second straw braking.

"Look, I may grow strong shit but apart from today I have never touched it. And that was not me." I say quietly through gritted teeth.

"I hate this building!" Joe says throwing his arms out wide.

"I want to burn it down? Why don’t we burn it down? In fact fuck it! Let’s burn it down." Joe's crusty exterior slips slightly again as he has a conversation all on his own, then suddenly, as if he realised what was going on it was back up.

"It isn’t snowing outside." He said to me. 

Ooookay it isn’t back up it has totally cracked.

"Yes it is I got a face full of it when I was generating around." I pause and do some rough maths work with the aid of my fingers. "Twenty eight years bad luck." Shit, really that much?

"No, I rang the boys up earlier and outside this building as in the streets around the area are all clear. It is not snowing.

"Yes it is." I say slowly and carefully, as not to excite him.

"Yes, here it is but not everywhere else it is not."

"Well why not? What with everything else happing around here." I concede. 

"Now I don’t know what usually happens, I'm not a Sy fi fan."

Ah ha just my field.

"Well what usually happens is Dr Who turns up and saves the day." I answer confidently.

"I don’t know who the hell you’re talking about but he had better hurry the fuck up."

As we study the mirror again, willing it to show us something we hear a cough behind us.

Brian is in the doorway.

"Not disturbing you am I? Have I been through some shit today?"

"Really?" I ask a little manically.

"Really, really." Brian answers mockingly.

I open my mouth to rip him a new one when he pulls aside his coat to reveal a mass of blood and bandages.

I shut my mouth again.

"You have, he has. Maybe it will make sense if we..."

I shush Joe into silence, a risky manoeuvre I know but it is worth it.

Sqeeek, sqeeek. Slurp splat.

Shit it’s the only understands English when it suits him cleaner.

Without a word we all come to the conclusion to leave the flat in the opposite direction, handily which is towards the Red Lion.

Which now sadly looks like a bad day in Bosnia, Sat at the end of the bar is Reg. Very drunk with a shot glass and an almost empty bottle.

Reg slides the bottle over to us and after fishing out some un-unbroken glasses and join him in a drink to mourn the passing of his livelihood 

“What a day.” Reg says to himself. He pours another drink for the group and in silence we drink our drinks.

Brian chooses this to be the perfect time to show is what he saw in mirror world.

Brian shows us all the picture of inside his flat, his own apartment; it seems, like almost every other reflection version of a place that I have heard him describe, as an imperfect reflection of his apartment. Brian explains he is about to leave when he hears a low snoring sound emanating from his room. Warily venturing in the sound appears to be coming from a pile of covers on the mirror-version of his bed, he pulled them back carefully he exposed a hessian sack made into a horrific likeness of a head with two large round button eyes and thick black stitching making a straight line for a mouth, the snoring appears to be coming from inside the sack and it looked like the scarecrow figure is wearing Brian's pajamas. Drawing back in horror, he caught the the covers with his foot exposing the arm of the scarecrow, he nnoticed with terror, there was fear in his voice. That there is a small patch of perfect human skin on the right hand of the creature, corresponding with the number patch on his own hand.

There was the same scarecrow copy of Brartek sitting in Barteks flat which was disturbing enough but the video clip of the thing moving only its head when he says his name backwards was worse. 

After he had managed to jimmie the door open and walk inside, he can just make out a barely visible figure sits with its back to him in Bartek's high backed chair, as he circles round the chair warily he saw another scarecrow like figure, this one clad in the same charcoal grey suit that he last saw Bartek wearing; he attemps to talk to the figure but got no response until he tried speaking backwards. The head begins to move on the screen, following him around the room, soulless black button eyes staring blankly at him. Even though Brian is not in the picture it is easy to hear him trying to breathe slowly clearly uunnerved by it. He writes 'who are you and what do you want?' backwards on a piece of paper and tthrew it onto the lap of the scarecrow; it reachedd up slowly with its other arm to retrieve the note. There is a sharp intake of breath and the picture zooms on to its right arm. It is almost entirely human. Again Brian attempts to speak to it backwards saying "Who are you and what is this place?"

The screen goes blank.

"At this point my phone rings. When I answer it over the crackling staticy noise he hears a voice that sounds like Barteks but only speaking backwards. He says wwhat are you doing in my home? I thought that you would have bought you friends again. Realizing that I am speaking to the scarecrow and that it seems to have Bartek's memories. I drag the downward facing mirror that was being used a table in the apartment upright and points it at the scarecrow, when he looks into it he sees the real world apartment and the real Bartek sat on his chair, he looks pale and very unwell, he is rubbing his right arm with a pain expression on his face. Which was a bloody shock; I say a bloody shock I can tell you. I then step into the large mirror, and emerges under the table in Barteks apartment, when I crawl out and attempts to speak to Bartek, the old man fires an antique pistol from beneath his blanket, hitting me square in the shoulder, the old gangster then shouts at me Which one are you? I'm the real one I reply, showing the blood from the hole in his shoulder, this seems to mollify Bartek somewhat who then directs me to some appropriate tools to remove the bullet and cauterize the wound, clean meself up like, in his bathroom cabinet. When I returns, having cleaned meself up, Bartek (after some small prompting) explains that he originally used to live on the tenth floor of the building, but after he noticed some strange goings on and that they seemed to focus around the thirteenth floor he bribed his way into possession of his current apartment; it was when he moved in he found the mirror and realized that it was potentially a gate to somewhere else, unwilling to go through but not wanting to dispose of it unless someone else was tempted by it Bartek pointed it at the floor and disguised it as a simple table. Bartek asks me whether he has seen the original blueprints of the Specto Vale block and, when I look at him blankly, he explains that there was no thirteenth floor listed on the original blueprints but there is one on the revised blueprints made available to the public; he also mentions to me that no-one in the flat seems to remember exactly when the storm began or how long they've been trapped here, most people don't seem to want to know. Well you can imagine my surprise when I can't remember the exact dates or times either; I then attempts to show Bartek some photos on his phone but Bartek tells me not to use a phone saying that people in the block only get a single when 'they' want to listen in on us. 

Brian shakily tries to explain to Bartek about the scarecrows and that he believes both himself and Bartek are having their life drained away into their duplicates, as represented by the slowly spreading numbness in his hand and Bartek's useless right arm. When I wait for him to reply I realise that Bartek has not moved or said anything for several minutes, I leans over to check his pulse and I finds that the old man has died quietly. He took a deep breath and drank from the glass in front of him. Then he dipped into his pocket and dropped the bullet onto the wooden surface with a final thump.  

Brian, if you do ever read my diary then I am truly sorry. I was as high as a Hindu cow and obviously did not know what I was saying.

I am not one to blame the weed for people's reactions. Usually I would say that whatever was said or done while high was what needed to be said or done anyway. However I may have to re label this particular stem of medical strength marijuana as I have absolutely no idea why I said what I said next.

"Well did you have someone elses reflection staring at you through your own mirror in your own home?"

Clearly Brian took a dim view on my attitude and we spent the next ten minutes arguing about how I could have been hallucinating and him not taking me seriously.

“Enough!” Joe shouts in his dad voice. We stop dead and Brian turns to Reg as if nothing has happened.

“When did it start snowing?”

“What?” Reg slurs.

“When did it start snowing lad?”

“I dunno.”

“Oh c’mon Reg, you must know.”

“I dunno why?” 

“Well Reg, you have to keep the bar and cellar stocked. It must be running low as no deliveries can come in.”

“We’re pretty well stocked. Ha well we were.” Reg 

"So if it's pretty well stocked, as you say then you should have had a delivery quiet recently. So Reg, when did it start snowing?"

"Look I don’t see how this is going to help get my pub back to the way it was." Reg starts getting very irritated about this line of questioning. Just like Brian said.

He storms off and possibly raids his personal stash of black label Vodka as he comes back with a full one in one hand and as he walks past the row of pint glasses he plucks one out and in one swift movement has filled it up four fingers from the rim. Skilfully done. As I am not much of a spirit drinker I feel it is time to roll another.

Brian is saying something about not wanting to go back to his flat, I don’t blood blame him. 

"I'd rather sleep in the cab and freeze to death than go back there tonight." He says to Joe.

"Crash on my sofa and shut up." I reply licking the paper and running my finger over it. 

He looks at his spaz hands as he called them and carried on the conversation with Joe.

I now give up.

However Joe does not.

"...there are none in her flat; she just chucked them all out the window. Brian that is not a good idea"

"I plan to take out my sack" I cannot help but to snigger slightly at this innocent remark "What was your plan to save my life?" Brian askes.

"Cut your arm off." Joe says. Did I mention his people skills are epic?

I look to Catia f or a bit of female solidarity but the whole day plus a couple more smokes she is used to had all become too much for her because she is fast asleep curled up on the pool table. Letting the conversation roll over me my brain tries to grab my attention. What I have been hearing is a hissing sound coming from the speakers rigged up on the wall. Proper huge tatty 80's jobs that probably fell off the back of the lorry but from the state of them weren’t caught in time.



"Are those speakers on?"

"Yeah, their plugged in but the mic's off behind the bar."

"Boys? The speakers just started hissing."

"I am off to my bed" Brian announces, casually. 

He then writes down on his note pad Bartek said that the more you notice them, the more they notice you.

"Well I aint going with you." Joe answers nodding his head. "Let’s have a chat outside."

Joe picks up sleeping beauty and slings her over his shoulder. 

"Take her back to my flat for now."

"Then I am going to smash the mirror" He calls over Catia.

Suddenly all four of our mobiles. Unknown number is flashing on the screens.

Joe sends it to answer phone while I and Brian press the answer button.

I try to ignore the feeling that I am about be sucked into the phone line.