Monday, March 26, 2018

Answering an Age-Old Question: Can an RPG session fit on a postcard?

Yes it can! I wouldn't have written a post simply stating 'NO' in 40-point font.

In Mailhouse 1, I try to work (yet again!) but find things... difficult. As hard as a banana split, as simple as VCR assembly, as easy as falling up from a log.

In Mailhouse 2 a small dog (terrier?) attempts to purchase an antler for the purposes of gnawing. Do dogs grind their teeth and, if so, does it matter? I actually don't attempt to answer that question. Spoilers. I will say this is inspired by reading lots to a young toddler, so things are a lot less dark.

Again, these games are based on the Funhouse RPG I found whilst scrolling through the Lone Wolf G+ roleplaying community. Come to a decision point, make a list of possible outcomes, and roll. Mailhouse 1 is also inspired by the Surrealist game of never being able to leave a particular room, but when walking out (and immediately coming back in), something changes.

These postcards were sent to my niece and nephew.



Sunday, March 25, 2018

Funhouse Surreal Solo Play 2: Office Edition

I come into the office and it’s Monday. I leave and come back and it’s Tuesday. Then I leave and come back again and it’s Wednesday, then Thursday, Friday. I don’t return until Monday again, go in, work, leave. Then

  1. It’s Tuesday
  2. It’s Wednesday
  3. It’s Thursday
  4. It’s Friday
  5. It’s Saturday
  6. It’s Sunday.

d6 => 5

I come in the next day. No one is around but a confused support agent, O_____. He stares at me but doesn’t say anything. 

“Pretty dead for a Tuesday, eh?”

“It’s Saturday.”

I laugh. O_____ does a lot of deadpan humor. He keeps looking at me calmly and I slowly see he’s not kidding. 

“Yeah, but… It’s Tuesday,” I say, still trying to get in on the joke. 

“Listen C_____. It’s Saturday. I saw you Wednesday, remember?”

“No. No, it was Monday. Yesterday was Monday. Let me… I’m going to call my wife.” I say, walking away.

“Get her to tell you it’s fucking Saturday!” He calls out behind me.

I walk out and am suddenly back in and

  1. It’s Tuesday
  2. It’s Wednesday
  3. It’s Thursday
  4. It’s Friday
  5. It’s Saturday
  6. It’s Sunday.

d6 => 3

Some people have shown up. Several people. No one was in the hall. Right? No one came in the back, the back door and the front door are right next to each other in the same hallway. I could see them both. I’m just not sure if I remember being in the hallway.

O_____ is gone from the support room. His manager’s computer is on, unlocked. I look at the time displayed at the top. The day of the week: Thursday.

“What the hell, what the hell. What the fuck.” I murmur. 


“Hey, hey man,” I say to the support manager, who is directly behind me. “Sorry, I blanked out, was just, ah, you know.”

“Hah, well, week’s almost over, C_____.”


I flee to my desk and open my laptop. Pull up a calendar. Time has passed, time has flown by. Almost two weeks I can’t account for. I look at emails… I’ve responded to things during my missing time. Pull up my tickets, work to-do notes.

  1. I have no work to do
  2. One ticket: ‘get out’
  3. Normal workload
  4. Strange meeting with CEO
  5. Text moving around (lazily? hypnotically? like a predator?)
  6. Feed sheep

d6 => 5

The text wavers in front of me, as though I were trying to read it across summer asphalt. The letters twist and dip. I can’t read anything. I pull out my phone, try to call my wife, J_____. Same deal. I numbly thumb the too-bright screen and a YouTube video plays, loud, someone running a tabletop game. People laughing. People - the real ones in the office - look at me over the cubicle walls. Nervous faces.

I apologize and they lower behind the fabric walls. 

I can’t read, I can’t work. I reach for a piece of paper. I know I can get through this, somehow. I can write something and see what happens.

  1. A ransom note that appears to have been made from glue and cut-up magazines
  2. A sentient, self-aware poem (which is nevertheless not very good) 
  3. I realize I’ve signed something but I can’t tell what
  4. I’ve drawn the office building but it’s on fire
  5. A sketch of a spiral or vortex
  6. The paper is black as a void

d6 => 5

A spiral. It holds my mind in place and I am falling, falling down it. Faster and yet slower, so fast and yet I never get closer to the center. Floating.

The office is full of floating debris, cables, people floating in midair. People hover above their gently drifting monitors and peck at keyboards perched in their laps. 

My boss pushes out of his offices and wafts over to my cube. 

“There’s still chicken biscuits in the break room, C_____.”

“Ah… great!”

“Are you alright? You look a little peaked.”

“Oh you know, just, you know. Thursday for you.”

He nods as if I said something sensible and pushes off my cubicle, which creaks, heading down the hallway. 

OK, ok. OK. I drew something and things changed. I could draw… going home. And get out of the office. 

I begin writing, scrawling, drawing. I can’t tell. 

  1. A drawing of the car ride home
  2. My third eye opening
  3. The building is on fire
  4. Dogs have taken over
  5. Printers are spewing out papers like machine guns
  6. I am a baby at a daycare

d6 => 3

The drawing of burning cubicles shakes in my hands. I smell smoke. 

People are on the bounce, flinging themselves down the main hallway as smoke fills the air. I flail after them, slamming off carpeted walls. The fire flows in zero g. I see that the fancy lounge part of the office has been converted to escape pods. Looking out the windows I see stars and void. I get in an escape pod and strap myself in. The hatch irises shut and I am slammed into my crash harness and am suddenly back in the office.

  1. It’s Tuesday
  2. It’s Wednesday
  3. It’s Thursday
  4. It’s Friday
  5. It’s Saturday
  6. It’s Sunday.

d6 => 2

It’s the day before, I remember it now, every detail. I walk in backwards and say goodbye backwards to my boss. Other people filter into place in reverse. I unpress buttons and words are rubbed off the screens, which I can read again, as I turn something into nothing. 

I want to try to escape before lunch, before I have to pull food out of my mouth, form it a bite at a time. Hell, I’d like to escape before my last bathroom break of the day.

But my thoughts are empty, useless, without action, and my acts are on rails. I cannot break the past. I pour water out of my mouth into an upturned cup and leave the office to go to the bathroom. When I return

  1. It’s Tuesday
  2. It’s Wednesday
  3. It’s Thursday
  4. It’s Friday
  5. It’s Saturday
  6. It’s Sunday.

d6 => 1

It’s Tuesday. It’s the day after Monday. I work a normal day. I go home and I work from home the rest of the week. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Funhouse Surreal Solo Play 1

What it is

Funhouse Rpg is something +Chad Robb came up with here. I thought it was worth a spin, and enjoyed it. The d6 tables I generate aren't very generalizable - they're probably not going to help you at your table. But they're still fun to dream up.

I've been reading Itras By lately, and I suppose the surrealism is leaking through a bit. The Menagerie mentioned a surrealist game of re-entering the same room over and over again (no matter how you try to leave) but one or two things change, so that's what I used to run this.

Actual Play

When I come back to the office
  1. everyone is a cat
  2. computers trying to eat everyone
  3. no one is there
  4. raging inferno
  5. giant party
  6. grass is growing in the carpet

d6 => 3

The office completely emptied out before I returned. What had I left for, even? I hadn’t been gone long. The disgusting fluorescent light bathed empty swivel chairs. Computers were on, screens unlocked, as though people left in a hurry. I tried not to think of Aliens, where the marines nervously sweep and clear the vacant living quarters of the colonists on LV426.

“Hello?” I yell out.

  1. YES reverberates from everywhere around me, basso profundo.
  2. An alien from Aliens drops from the cheap ceiling tile, its white dust coating its bug-like visage
  3. Nothing responds
  4. I hear music outside the office
  5. the fire alarm goes off and the sprinklers hose me down
  6. I smell fish coming from behind one of the cubicle walls, which has moved.

d6 => 4

I hear Alt-J’s Matilda start up behind me. Behind me is the wooden door to the office. A narrow vertical window stretches floor-to-ceiling beside it. The hallway outside is pitch black. It shouldn’t be. It should be lit. It was just lit.

“This is for, this is for, this is for Matilda.”

My hand shakes as I turn the door handle. I step outside into the dark and am still in the office. Where I just was, on the other side of the door.

  1. Everyone is back
  2. Everyone is back and have turned into cats
  3. Every computer is playing that song
  4. Ankle-deep in water, fish eat algae
  5. Cubicle walls are now trees
  6. Outside I can see the ocean

d6 => 6

The grey sky is gone. Outside I see blue. Wind thuds itself dumbly against the windows. I pull a fingerful of blinds down. 

The ocean. Waves break against the shore. The office sits at the edge of dunes, elevated, atop wooden beams. The sun is coming up slowly, languidly. 

I try to open a window to go outside

  1. A voice calls out, saying, ‘Don’t go’
  2. The window turns black like a TV screen dying
  3. The ocean recedes, sweeps in over the beach. It carries the office building out to sea.
  4. See 3 but then you fall off the edge of the earth into spaaaaace
  5. The sea swallows the office up and now you’re under water
  6. Walk outside and wind up back in the office

d6 => 2

“You’re not allowed to leave.” A computerized voice says, all around me. The window I’d opened is dead, black. Around me, all the other windows - the screens that imitated windows - hiss static. The other lights have gone dead, but everything is bright in the glow of the window-screens.

“Test phase two of four is about to begin.”

  1. Infantry flood in, weapons drawn
  2. Shadows gather and cohere in one cubicle-corner.
  3. 100 feral cats enter the room in search of food
  4. The room begins to fill with small balls of fur which hum and purr
  5. Water begins to flood the room
  6. The walls start to close in

D6 => 6

The walls shudder and groan around me. They move in at me. The window-screens crack and shatter at the periphery and fall down. There’s still an office door that hasn’t been completely occluded across the way, visible over the cubicle walls. I start to run.

  1. The walls back up and rush in, I am crushed
  2. The floor shatters beneath me and I fall…
  3. The walls rush in and are made of styrofoam; I burst through.
  4. I wake up with a start
  5. I make it to the doorway and rush through
  6. A hatch in the floor that didn’t exist in the ‘real’ office is open, I fall through into the ocean
d6 = > 4

I wake up with a start. 

It’s 6:45am. I need to get up, eat breakfast. I need to go to the office.