My Games

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Heaven's Gate Academy: An Interodelic Adventure

Followup to Into Interodelia: A Probiotic Drug Cocktail Adventure [Campaign Setup]. If you see something with a *, it's a reference to the first post.

Thanks to Dan of Lacrimis Draconis for proofreading and moral support.


Heaven's Gate Academy
Everyone knows that life is suffering and the world is broken. It's just that you're a little more broken than the rest of the world. Or, that's what the world is telling you. The mission statement is that they're going to fix you, but nobody really maintains the pretense on the inside.

Bad things happen inside the Academy, seriously. Violence, dehumanization, indoctrination, forced biochemical and body mutilation. It's some real dark shit. You've been warned.

Even so, some people are actually happy here, or better off at the very least. I don't know what to tell you, you'll just have to roll with the messiness of it all. At least it's campy too. Just wait until you see Mr. Doctor Priest's Enochian Cyber-Cock.


The Academics of Movement
You are always being monitored inside the Academy, except when you're not. During the day you will have two supervisors, and at night just one, and you can only go where they let you go. You'll spend most of the time in The Dorms.

Fortunately, space and time are relative, and therefore so is movement. You can always escape inside yourself in the Positive Plane*, or dissociate into your own holographic rainbow shadow, the Negative Plane*.

Where there is uncertainty or contradiction, you may find respite. But you have to be willing to sit with the discomfort of the unknown, like balancing on a bench of arrowheads.


The Teleology of Interodelia
Remember, this is all magic. Which is to say, a drug trip of misremembered memories. And only some of those memories are your own.

The goal is to escape, and this is agreed upon, including by Heaven's Gate Academy, although they won't just let you do it, what would be the point in that?

But anyway, when the trip ends and the magic's gone, you will escape. You were always going to escape. It's really more in how you do it.


The Dorms
In addition to yourselves, other dormmates include Carolina*, Del*, and Rabid Dog. Jakky* will come and go as he pleases. There are other dorms as well, but this one is yours.

The Dorm is a small nondescript living room, a couch and tv, a narrow hallway, and a few rooms of bunk beds, each with their own bathroom. They're not so bad, but there's only so much to say about them. Which is unfortunate, because you'll be spending a lot of time here.

The PCs' and NPCs' room assignments should all be mixed. I know that might seem inconvenient, but sometimes that's just how it goes.


If you room with Del, keep in mind, he's generally a decent guy, but sometimes he can be mean, or want to roughhouse, sometimes a little too rough. Del isn't violent by nature, no more so than anyone else, that's just what the trauma did to him. And once Del gets riled up, then Jakky follows shortly afterwards, and then it's a real problem because Jakky's a fucking ghost tiger who thinks he's people.


If you room with Carolina, she really is kind and sharing. You can see how the world would chew her up. It's not that she can't defend herself, she's actually tougher than you'd think physically, you'll find out for yourself if she ever gets her hands on any drugs, it's more a personality thing. She's also smarter than people think. People treat her like she's stupid but she's not, she just doesn't show it the way other people do.

There is one and only one true fail state in this game, and that is if you help Carolina escape. Incidental* will remind you of this fact in case you forget, or get any ideas. Worse, even just helping her, or showing her true kindness, could cause a Calamity*. You were a bad friend, and even in this magically misremembered memory, this failure must be relived.


Not long after you arrive comes Rabid Dog. Never before have you seen such eyes. They’re too-human eyes, full of cold intelligent violence, modern and primal. And should you ever find yourselves unsupervised in the Dorms, and should it seem that a physical altercation might ensue between yourselves and another, then Rabid Dog will intervene to break up the fight, and you will see those hyper-human eyes differently, because then you will see a love purer than you could have imagined, and you will feel joyous enlightenment, and also something like the shame of post-nut clarity, and you won't want to fight anymore, you won't even understand why you wanted to fight in the first place, you might even want to cry. Please, if you would resent a game telling you what your character should feel, just listen to your character, that's all I ask.


If Rabid Dog is ever in The Stables and the only supervisor is Zombie, he will grab a wooden 2x4 and he will bludgeon Zombie until his skull fractures and his spinal cord snaps and then Rabid Dog will run, and he will be captured, and taken somewhere else, somewhere worse, and you will never see him again. But you'll remember his hyper-human eyes.


One of the daytime supervisors is Jesus. He's more rotund than the usual White Jesus, and he's a ginger. Frankly, he's as broken as any of the students are purported to be, and has problematic views towards women, I mean really he's a misogynist, and he's deep into conspiracy theories. I know this all makes him sound unlikeable, but he leaves an impression, he's intelligent and convincing in his own way. He'd start a death cult of his own if he could but he doesn't quite have the charisma for it. But every once in a while he hooks a student into his madness, and even though he has the best of intentions, it doesn't usually end well for them.


The other daytime supervisor is Markov. He's small, wiry, a little past middle aged, bald and goateed, with rough skin, and he always wears sunglasses. He doesn't look that tough, but the students know that if you fuck with him, he will fuck with you back, and you just know you're not gonna win that fight, even if you think you can take him. But usually that's not a problem, because the students love him, he's the Cool Dad who lets you break some of the rules if it means you won't break the important ones. If Corporate ever had a clue they'd have fired him a long time ago, and that would be a shame, but that doesn't happen until after the drug trip ends, so you don't have to worry about it. He'll take a smoke break and mock you when you're jonesing, but it's all in good fun and when he comes back he'll let you sniff the nicotine off his fingers.


The nighttime supervisor is Mountain Dew. He's chill, nondescript. No ambitions, but not too bothered by it. He got his name because he drinks a lot of Mountain Dew and plays videogames all night, or reads comics, or watches hentai. Obviously none of this is allowed, but he does it anyway, and sometimes lets the students join him. If the drug trip would be coming to an end during the night shift, he'll give you drugs and a real fucked up indie comic book, and then you get to have one more wild adventure, recursing through both trips and eventually back up into what we erroneously call the real world.


The Stables
Do you ever wonder if they're called Stables because they provide stability? I don't want to look it up, it's better to wonder.


The Stables hold Majestic Beasts, and you get to take care of them, and learn to ride them. The Majestic Beasts are all large, at least as large as horses, and strong, because if they were small, or weak, someone would abuse them, they'd find a way, so you don't get to have something like a dog, even though that would be nice. I wonder if the Academy learned this the hard way.

The primary supervisor of The Stables is Zombie. He was supposed to go to Heaven, but due to bureaucratic error he's stuck in this broken world a little longer, and they didn't know what to do with him, so he's here. He is intellectually divergent and is legally not culpable for his actions, he has a legal guardian, but anyway they let him supervise The Stables, and he can do that just fine. He comes from a red state and has some regressive beliefs, but if he finds out that one of the students is "a queer" and he otherwise likes them, he'll find a way to rationalize it to himself.

Fat Tony is a student from another dorm, and he has the most experience of the students in running The Stables, and is often allowed to assist Zombie. He's a bully, a huge asshole, and remarkably ugly in an understated way, like he's actually uncomfortable to look at, but it's not from a disfiguring scar or deformity or anything, I mean he does have a disfiguring scar, but that's not what this is about, that's just a coincidence. He just exudes ugliness. Or maybe it's more like extrudes, because it's greasy. If you're the forgiving type you might indulge the question of how such a person came to work The Stables.


The Corrections Facility
At Heaven's Gate Academy sex is forbidden, because sex is life, which means sex is also suffering, and violence.

Every student at Heaven's Gate Academy is forced to take medications that halt their sex drive. And there's a three strike rule; if you get caught engaging in even the most innocent and playful of flirtations, that's a strike, and after three strikes, they use chemicals and instruments to tame you, and then there's no coming back from that.

But you know what? As monstrous as that sounds, some of the students really like it. No longer to be made an object of, no longer to fear that kind of violence, or the implication of it. And likewise, to be free from those urges, to no longer feel enslaved by them, or want to enslave others by them.


The Corrections Facility is managed by Mr. Doctor Priest, who prefers to go by Dr. Priest. He has an Enochian Cyber-Cock that he's really proud of, and always finds "subtle" ways to bring it up or wave it around. What Mr. Doctor Priest doesn't know about his Enochian Cyber-Cock, is that it's very easy to hack with a SQL Injection, because he doesn't actually know how to code Enochian, or really how to code in general, he just kind of muddles his way through it, like many do with life. Even though he's not a licensed therapist, they let him run the mandatory therapy sessions. Many students who would have benefited from real therapy will never get it, because he gave them the wrong idea of what it's about and so they'll wash their hands of it forever, and that's a real shame.


The Dining Hall
The food comes in plastic containers or bins of things made from powder and water, everything wet and greasy and white. There is a notable lack of scent, flavor, and nutrition. It’s filling and makes you tired and accomplishes very little else, but The Lunchlady really does care, and somehow that makes it worse, because you’ll hurt her feelings if you complain about it.

Occasionally The CEO will eat at The Dining Hall (and on those days the food is notably improved), and he’ll talk with the students. It's always a one on one conversation, and he's a very good listener, curious, and thoughtful. He has a clean and unthreatening handsomeness, like a diet Mitt Romney.


The Glassed Desert
Heaven's Gate Academy is located in the middle of a Glassed Desert, Shevet* knows where. The Nuclear God Shevet detonated here long ago, and it's never really been the same since. There's a tragic beauty in this desert in the middle of nowhere, mountains off in the distance. Serene and empty. You misremember it once being quite naturally beautiful, without all the weird baggage and feelings. Now it's all glass and charred vantablack trees, cauterized branch-collars like eyes that see into η„‘, the contradictory negative space contained within the cycle of being and becoming of existence, and maybe if the circumstances were different, there'd be a beauty in that too. You realize you too can stare into η„‘ if you follow the line of their sight.

There are also monsters in this Glassed Desert, but it's the people you really need to watch out for. They used to be a family, but after the war, after everything they did and everything they didn't do, there's not much left of them except their failed humanity laid bare, and even still they cling to it, they've learned nothing, and will continue to learn nothing, and that nothingness radiates and destroys everything it touches.


The Threats We Face
Whether on the run or sleepwalking through the day, we face obstacles in our path, inevitable conflicts, and lurking threats.

The Victims: No, they are not survivors, although maybe one day they will be. These are the victims of circumstance. Those circumstances can be anything; sometimes it's a demon in the head. It's not that they don't deserve sympathy or help, it's often the lack of either that got them here, but all the same, they've lost their fucking minds and so you don't know at any time whether or not they will hurt you, or hurt anything weaker than themselves, because that's all they have left to do.

The Inmates Who Run the Asylum: The supervisors are not so different from the students they manage, but they have the power and the students don't, and so even the weakest and stupidest of them is a threat.

Monsters: Because of course there are monsters.

The Outside: The system is designed to keep you inside. Whether on a supervised excursion into town, or escaping into The Glassed Desert, everything is out to get you. The failed humanity of The Glassed Desert despise you the way they despise everything that is not themselves (and also themselves in a different way), the people in town fear you, or they fear what would happen to their town if The Academy fails, or they think nothing of you, just that you aren't supposed to be here and that's enough.

Time: Time is not on your side. The longer you stay in The Academy, the more likely it is that they break you further, or fix you, which may be even worse. The part of you that is a student of The Academy becomes a greater part of your identity, it defines you until you are nothing but a student in this place. Time distorts your personal reality from the inside out like a microwave, like sickness and neurochemical imbalances in the Positive Plane, and rumination spirals and distorted perceptions in the Negative Plane.

Yourself: You are, perhaps, your own greatest threat, whether you can admit it or not.


Wrote the original draft as early as March 2024 (maybe earlier?), made a lot of progress on it for a month or so, then fell off. I had originally intended to gamify it up a bit more, maybe I'll finally do that in some hypothetical future third post.

I was very worried if this post was a little "much", again thank you Dan for advice and encouragement!

2 comments:

  1. I was happy to help with this; I think it's a really intriguing scenario and I would love to play through it as player or ref, though I'd be worried about doing it justice if I was running it. It's unique - I don't think I've ever seen anything else quite like this. I feel like it would be the kind of thing I'd want total buy-in on. No stupid jokes (as much as I love them). Not that there can't be any humor, but what humor there is should develop naturally. I think that might be difficult; typically when people start to get uncomfortable they will try to do something to break the tension, but this should be played totally straight, and if it were, I think it could honestly be an important experience for those involved.

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    1. I mean there's a character called Mr. Doctor Priest with an Enochian Cyber-Cock so I don't know if it needs to be played too straight lol, but also ya there's a lot of weird, intense, probably uncomfortable stuff in here, so I'm not sure what the buy-in would look like exactly, but it probably needs to be there, you're not bringing this to your regular 5e table :p.

      At some point I should more cohesively tie together the "mechanics", and maybe flesh out the "encounters"; that's not really what I was going for with these two posts but I realize that to make it properly pick-up-and-playable it would need those things.

      There was also originally going to be a school, that's one section I forgot to write, but maybe I'll come back to it later, it wasn't going to be any more significant than any of the other sections but there was going to be a Buddhist Libertarian math teacher who makes dad jokes.

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