Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Promethean: Danger Lurks in Vans

Last night was the first session in our new Promethean story, wherein the throng heads north to Lexington on the trail of Lurch, Matt's accidental creator.

Along the way, interesting things happened (courtesy of the players):

  • Skip: Stopped by the Gibson factory in Nashville to go on a factory tour; Skip is both a woodworker and a blues fan and was interested in how the guitars were made.
  • Feather: At a gas station, the throng found box of kittens being given away. Avalon and Feather each adopted one (Feather's is Chester, Avalon's is Oscar). 
  • Grimm: While stopped for dinner and gas, Grimm recognized a bail jumper, broke off from the group to take him down using newfound grappling prowess (he's now on Ferrum).
  • Enoch: Found a place to get illegal booze; some is left over. There was a night of trying it, but of course Prometheans don't get drunk easily.
  • Avalon: Breaks part of a rocket at the Space Museum in Huntsville, AL. It was probably an accident.
  • Matt: Evening on a riverboat on the TN river, gambling and losing what little money they had. 
The throng rolls into Lexington and heads for Coldstream Park, which is where the footage of Lurch in the Firestorm was taken. They've noted, too, that the footage has been taken down since then - government interference seems to be the prevailing theory. They arrive at the park and start poking about, and quickly find the remnants of the storm. It's a big circle-ish shape in the grass, but the grass isn't burnt, it's just dead and brown. In the very center, Grimm notes, there's a small circle that does seem a bit blackened, so that's apparently the epicenter. 

Matt asks some of the folks hanging around what happened, and finds a guy who witnessed it. He says that the sky became dark and overcast almost instantly, and then fire came down in pillars, but slowly enough that people could get out of the way (no one was hurt that he knows of). He doesn't mention seeing Lurch, or indeed anyone, actually in the storm, but he says it was pretty bright so he might not have.

Pondering this, Matt looks around for Pilgrim marks and finds some - carved on trees and benches. They mean things like "death," "despair," "please help" - not uplifting messages. Some of them are carved high enough that a very tall person, such as Lurch, must have done them. 

Enoch, now following Plumbum, employs his Plumb the Fathoms Alembic to learn about the area, and discovers that the greatest danger to the throng is over in the parking lot in a van. He lets Grimm and Skip know about this, and Skip activates Ephemeral Flesh to look for spirits. He finds that the spirit of the van is awake, which is odd, and it's got some minor spirits riding around in it, which is odder. He relates this to the others (Feather and Avalon put their kittens back in the van with Virgil, figuring they might need to be ready for action), and Grimm tells him to go talk to the van-spirit. The Prometheans note a woman in the driver's seat messing with a cell phone, but no other people in evidence.

Skip approaches the van and talks to it, and it seems surprised that he can, but otherwise doesn't offer much helpful information. It does tell him to stand still a minute, and then Skip feels something scrutinizing him. At that point the woman turns around and looks into the back of the van, and then gets out and starts walking around it. 

Skip, sensing danger and playing to his new Role as Savage, uses the Wrath of the Gods Distillation and causes an earthquake. The woman tumbles to the ground, as do all of the Prometheans. Skip advances on the woman, but Avalon intervenes (not wanting Skip to assault someone in broad daylight, especially since people are already taking video of this). Skip demands to know what the woman is doing and what the van told her; the woman seems genuinely confused by the question and terrified by what just happened. Avalon takes a softer tactic and uses her Confession Distillation to force a truthful answer out of the woman - "Do you mean anyone here any harm?"

The woman answers "No, we're just here to protect people." Avalon nods and drags Skip away, and the woman gets in the van and flees. Virgil, a moment later, pulls the throng's van up and the characters pile in. They head off to a cheap motel and rent a couple of rooms. They still need to get a line on finding Lurch, but now there's a new factor in play, and they aren't sure what it is.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Movie #433: Monster House

Monster House is an animated film starring Steve Buscemi, Kathleen Turner, Jon Heder, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, and Spencer Locke.

The movie takes place right before Halloween in a generic American suburb. DJ (Musso) is a fairly normal kid, but he lives across the street from Mr. Nebbercracker (Buscemi), an old man who's crazily possessive of his house and lawn. Any toy or item that lands on the lawn is immediately forfeit, and Nebbercracker screams hatefully at any children that dare step on his grass.

DJ and his buddy Chowder (Lerner) wind up apparently giving poor old Nebbercracker a heart attack after Chowder's ball lands on the lawn, and immediately DJ starts getting phone calls from the supposedly empty house. The boys discover that the is alive and hostile, able to manipulate its physical structure (lawn included), and wind up recruiting a girl who comes around selling candy (Locke) when the house almost eats her.

After some investigation, including a visit with a local video game/nerd culture legend Skull (Heder), they learn that it's not Nebbercracker himself possessing the house, but his long-dead wife Constance (Turner). Nebbercracker found her working as a circus freak, married her and started to build a house with her, but she fell to her death and haunted the place for decades, attacking anyone that came near.

So, a few things about this movie that I really love. First of all, it's all done through motion capture, meaning that the actors really performed their roles rather than just voicing them (the behind the scenes videos on the DVD are pretty damn interesting). Second, there's the nice twist of Nebbercracker being such a hostile dick to protect the kids in the neighborhood; better they lose some toys and hate and fear him than wind up angering Constance. And finally, it's a perfect Chill movie (or WoD: Innocents, or Little Fears, or any of a number of games that have kids investigating spooky stuff), right down to the kids' methods of investigation and confrontation.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Monster Squad, The

Game Prep: Promethean

Haven't run anything in a while (at home, anyway; I got to run a couple of Chill games at Con on the Cob, and that was fun). Tonight we're back into Promethean after a bit of a hiatus due to schedule et al, and beginning a new story.

Most of the time we take a break after a story in this chronicle and play something else as an intermezzo; this time the players decided that the story was light enough that they didn't need the break and we should just keep on Pilgrim'ing. I must be losing my touch.

Anyway, notes below, don't read 'em if you're a player, blabbity-bloo.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Movie #432: The Money Pit

The Money Pit is a mid-80s rom-com starring Tom Hanks, Shelley Long, Alexander Godundov, Joe Mantegna, Carmine Caridi, with a weird little cameo from Yakov Smirnov.

Walter (Hanks) is an entertainment lawyer whose father (Douglass Watson) stole all their money and split for Brazil. He's living with his classical musician girlfriend Anna (Long), but they're living in the apartment of her ex-husband Max (Godunov) while he's in Europe. He returns, preceded by his not-at-all wacky assistant (Smirnov), who tells the couple they need to vacate. Of course, this being New York, they're hosed - they don't have any money to speak of and they have no line on a place to live.

Walter's realtor (Josh Mostel) finds him a million dollar house on sale for a fifth that; the current owner needs to flee the country (turns out her husband was Hitler's pool boy). The couple go in on the house, which immediately starts to crumble comically around them, costing them another fortune (which they don't have) to get it fixed. Meanwhile, Max continues to try to woo Anna back, even to the point of lying and saying that they had sex after getting drunk together while Walter is out of town.

This being an 80s rom-com, at the end of the movie all is well. They've fixed the house, they get married, they get back together, fine and dandy. No mention of whether their money issues have been resolved (doubt it?), but that's fine.

The movie is cute and light, for the most part. Joe Mantegna (who's really only in the one scene) aggressively comes on to Anna (she literally says he attacked her), but Walter kind of dismisses that because he's the only carpenter who'll even consider the job. This would be a lot ickier if she didn't immediately go along with him on that because the dude's brother is a plumber ("So, you think I should sleep with him, then?"). Likewise, the whole subplot with Max letting Anna believe they had sex, which then leads to Walter and Anna splitting up, feels a little much - I almost would have liked it better if Anna had (knowingly and willingly) slept with Max, but that's examining things that are a little too touchy for an 80s rom-com.

In any case, it's fun watching Tom Hanks when he was still primarily doing comedy, and this movie is more watchable than The 'burbs.

My Grade: B
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Monster House