A little background is necessary before we begin:
My brother, Mark, has a condition called Acromegaly or Gigantism. It’s caused by a brain tumor that has been effectively dealt with, but left him with not just a tall body, but out of proportion limbs and absolutely no stamina. In Savage Worlds terms, he has Strength d10 and Brawny, but All Thumbs, Anemic (though he’s not actually anemic) and Heat Prone. One of his unfortunate quirks is that certain “normal”-sized chairs are extremely uncomfortable for him (because the designers don’t take into account people who are both tall and out-of-proportion), and that’s why Robert “Professor” Grimes is hiding out in Cambodia to this day*.
It started out so well…
Three Fridays ago (that’s the 1st of October), we went to Southern Exposure, our very local gaming convention. It was fun, in spite of the scheduling screw-up that resulted in no one knowing when the seminars were on (and thus, no one except the speakers showed up as I found out later). Lots of LARPing, lots of CCGs and non-C CGs and LOTS & LOTS of D&D. Oh yeah, and the obligatory showing of bad sci fi films, “convention specials” (like music videos made from german heavy metal and anime clips) and Anime episodes. In the middle of all this relentless, unending fun, a guy (I think his name was Dean) was running a Tour of Darkness adventure. Mark and I sat down and one other guy (who I will be referring to as “The Third Guy”) came along a few minutes later. Like I said: it started out quite well:
Since I’m usually the GM, I (stupidly) decided Mark could be the leader of our squad. I got the coolest character, Robert “Professor” Grimes, the secret Phoenix operative. The Third Guy was the Radio Guy, the most important member of the team. We were assigned to scout a particular area and report back everything we found via the radio (there was proper military terminology and everything, but I forget it). Our first potential encounter were some VC militia whom Mark decided weren’t “communist enough” to kill in cold blood, and so we hid in the jungle and scouted some more.
We then came upon a Viet Minh camp (the hardcore commie scum) and decided it needed to be reduced to ash. We called in an air strike which we assume was fairly successful at killing or at least scaring the s___ out of ’em. After that fun, fun event, we continued to avoid direct combat (since at that time it potentially meant we were outnumbered), which meant scouting some more. A few botched rolls later and we literally walked straight into a VC Militia outpost (maybe we should have killed ’em after all). We still didn’t manage to kill any VC, although were were shooting as we fled. But then things got Weird…
The whole jungle went quiet. Our radio wasn’t working either. Suddenly we couldn’t figure out where we were on our map. Our watches were all wrong and at different times. Very Twilight Zoney. I really have to hand it to Dean. Our characters were stuck in Weirdness for about a day and a half (at least a half an hour real-time) and we slowly got the feeling something was tracking us. Then: Boo!
The big ol’ critter jumped us and started swinging away. We let him have it and barely survived, only managing to scare it away with two frag grenades. (Dean was spending bennies like quarters at an arcade) Mark’s character was badly injured and the Third Guy was wounded, but luckily Bob Grimes was unhurt. The Weirdness continued for a while after that and then my downfall began.
Mark was getting really uncomfortable, so he decided to act paranoid in spite of one enforcing the Sanity rules. His character pulled a gun on my character and demanded to know what was going on (as an order). I had been dropping hints that I knew more than what I was letting on, but Mark suspected I was supposed to be a traitor. I explained the Phoenix Program (what my character knew of it: which was almost nothing except that it’s secret) and that satisfied him. Eventually we got out of the Weirdness, the radio worked again and we reported in. Then Dean handed me a note that said my character thought Phoenix would be interested in the critter. So I (stupidly) did something to contribute to my downfall: I called in the cavalry.
Everything was fine and dandy. Our characters got some rest and then we headed out again. We met the helicopter with the Phoenix guys and Mark said something I’ll never forget. “Hey, are you guys with Phoenix?” Now, this didn’t give Dean many options. I know, because I’ve read the Tour of Darkness book myself (and managed to sucessfully not mention any Secrets). So after grilling me, the Phoenix guys told us to wait where we were. I (finally) realised that everything had FUBARed about five seconds before they burst through the jungle, guns blazing.
After five dead Phoenix operatives, an incapacitated character for Mark, and circumstances in which nearly everyone in the world suddenly wanted “Professor” Grimes’ head, Bob decided to leave the Third Guy to explain everything to the Allies. My character sheet said Bob knew the local languages pretty darn well and I hadn’t used them up to this point, so Bob was off to Cambodia.
Dean later explained that he really wasn’t expecting that outcome, and Mark later kind-of sort-of apologised (he was very uncomfortable) but it really wasn’t so bad. I guess it’s worth ruining the life of a convention demo character to have an interesting twist ending. Very Weird Wars-like after all. And to this day, Robert Grimes still hides somewhere in Asia, cursing Mark’s Character every night…
*FUBAR stands for Fouled Up Beyond All Reason, by the way. Or F___ed Up Beyond All Reason if you prefer.