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Unfathomable! Interlude: Brother Ded's Vacation

 When a player was out for several weeks, we wrote a little play about his time away.

Brother Ded's player was out for several weeks. Normally, missing players' characters simply become uncollapsed quantum wavefronts for the duration of the absence. Bother Ded's player wanted to tie his absence into his secret backstory. 

I asked him to write a brief outline of what he thought happened to him. From this, I wrote the scene below, and then we performed it as a little play at the beginning of a session. I had extra copies of the script, and was able to assign roles to other players around the table. 

I have approximated Brother Ded's lines below, but the script left them blank. Making him improvise his lines kept his voice consistent with typical contributions during play.

The Harrowing of Brother Ded

Narrator: Brother Ded is falling through the earth, past the pillars of the Underworld, through the magma seas of Hell, down, down into the seething Abyss. He would scream, but there is no air. He would flail, but he is held tight by the pincers of his captor, the Devil-Mantis Kilifrex.

Narrator: They wait in an ante-room shaped like a dog’s mouth. Brother Ded kicks, petulantly, at Kilifrex, which earns him a thrashing. 

Brother Ded: Tell that lady I've got her money!

Narrator: Kilifrex clicks its mouth with bored disdain.

Narrator: They are in an amphitheater of bronze and embers, and they buckle under the pressure of a third presence—Xorannox the Overmind hovers here, wreathed in amber eyes. Kilifrex skitters away from the Overmind’s crushing regard, but Brother Ded is held fast. He knows what comes next: the painful peeling back of memory after memory, a vivisection of his spirit. He can’t do it, but he must—he must protect his most secret thoughts. The pills, the unexpected reprieve, the feeling of being…

Brother Ded: no no no no no... 

Xorannox: It reeks of humanity. Even more so than before.

Narrator: Another presence! Vaster, crueler, more pointed. A broiling iceberg of hate. Xorannox averts his many eyes. Kilifrex cowers. Brother Ded is beyond reaction, a speck of flyshit, frozen in awe and terror. Algedonica! The Lady of Tears!

Xorannox: It would play theater with its mind.

The Lady of Tears: No matter. The mission?

Xorannox: Failure, of course. Lich society does not notice the bite of a single flea. But. There is this.

Narrator: The events of recent days are unwound from Brother Ded’s soul and spilled onto the ground.

Xorannox: Shaggath-Ka is weakened, O Madonna of Thorns. Vulnerable. Pretenders are circling, but there is time for us to make a move.

The Lady of Tears: With this as Our agent?

Xorannox: I could replace most of its organs with transdimensional explosives. Force it to trigger in the Worm Sultan’s presence.

The Lady of Tears: A fine plan. This one would find a way to foul it.

Xorannox: What should I do with it, then?

The Lady of Tears: Send it back. We shall see what it sees. But first, it must be taught its place. Again. Excruciation. Tear its flesh. Leave it scars to remember the lesson.

Brother Ded: I hate you fucking people!  

Back in the Underworld

Narrator: BAM! In a cloud of sulfur, the devil-mantis appears among you and drops a bloody, haggard Brother Ded at your feet. Runes and lines, cut into his skin, ooze sluggishly. 

Narrator: The devil-mantis looks at you, gives you a curt nod, and disappears again.

Brother Ded: Hey guys... 



Brother Ded denied any knowledge or memory of his time away, but now the rest of the party is clued into the general nature of his deal.

Xorannox the Overmind is taken from MCDM's Flee, Mortals!

Little scripted asides like this can be a nice way to spotlight a particular character, especially when dealing with flashbacks. But they should be deployed sparingly. They go against the spirit of a social game based on player choices. And if there's one major glaring pitfall that all role-players must avoid, it's auteur thinking.

But once in a rare while, they can be very satisfying.


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