The Mystery of the Chinese Movie Theater: Gaming summary for 3/14/03

What follows is my summary of the gaming events of this past Sunday (3/14). I don’t have all the names in place yet, and I may have gotten some details wrong. Feel free to let me know, and I’ll edit.

The scene: Early on a sunny weekday afternoon. A cut-rate movie theater in Chinatown, New York City. A street performer named Gabe stands outside with his trumpet, playing for change. In the lobby, the theater owner, Lei “Chucky” Fei, sweeps up. Inside, Tim “Fitz” Fitzgerald is watching the first half of a double-feature. Across the street, Wendy is reading a book while on her lunch hour. Onto this scene bursts Obediah, an older homeless man with a wild look in his eyes (although he doesn’t smell).

Obediah crosses the street to where Gabe is playing and asks him for a drink. Gabe (sensing the PC glow about Obediah) complies. Obediah asks Gabe if he’s going to do anything about the miasma of evil surrounding the theater. Gabe hadn’t noticed the miasma before (because of his drunken state), but does so now, and is quite startled, by the evil itself, and the fact that Obediah can see it. (Gabe has been seeing things that aren’t there for some time, but has written it off as insanity or the effects of drink.) Obediah and Gabe get into an argument about the nature of the evil, which attracts Chucky, who attempts to shoo them away from his property by yelling at them in broken English. The yelling draws Fitz out of the theater to watch, since he isn’t much interested in the 30s noir film that’s currently showing (he’s waiting for the chop-socky film that comes next). Now that the commotion has disturbed Chucky’s paying customer, his attempts to rid himself of the two vagrants increase in volume. Obediah is adamant that the theater is “EEEEE-villll,” and announces this loudly, from the middle of the street. Wendy arrives on the scene at this time, carrying her book, and inquires if Chucky is all right. During the discussion, Obediah insults Gabe’s musical talents, and Gabe responds with a horn solo that nearly blows the paint off the building. At this time, everything goes black. The sun itself is extinguished and all the power goes out. Wendy pulls out her lighter. A few moments later, the sun reappears, and the power comes back on. The PCs, obviously, are startled by this turn of events.

Chucky attempts to convince the other PCs that the sun-going-dark thing was just a fluke (he succeeds), and then tries to convince the vagrants to go away, and Fitz to go back to the movie (he doesn’t succeed). Fitz (using a condescending tone) wants Obediah to be more specific about the nature of the evil, which now seems to be gone. Obediah responds by charging into the theater and upstairs, followed by Fitz. Once upstairs, Obediah cleans a dirty window with his sleeve, and looks out to see 1930s New York. Further investigation reveals a Chinese vampire stuck in a broom closet, with a prayer scroll tacked to its forehead, keeping it immobile. Fitz, who doesn’t know from prayer scrolls, is alarmed and draws a katana from the depths of his coat, startling the other PCs, who have now arrived on the scene. Chucky slams the closet door and demands that everyone leave, explaining that everything is under control. Fitz, waving the katana around carelessly, demands explanations. Obediah may be demanding explanations also, but nobody can really understand what he’s saying, so he goes exploring some more. Wendy, showing remarkable disdain for the guy with the sword, takes Chucky’s side and tries to push Fitz back to the lobby, getting a slice on her sleeve in the process. Gabe drinks. A lot.

Obediah continues to look around, and Gabe wanders off as well. Wendy follows Obediah, but Fitz won’t let Chucky leave until he provides some explanation for the vampire. Fitz claims to have some experience in these matters, and asserts that everyone is in danger, but Chucky is having none of it. Obediah finds a storeroom full of arcane junk and normal cleaning supplies, and Wendy summons Chucky to control him. Fitz takes advantage of the opportunity to ask Wendy if she doesn’t find anything odd about all this strange stuff in the theater. Wendy continues to believe the word of Chucky, whose family has owned the theater for generations, over Fitz, a guy she’s never seen before who’s waving a sword around.

Abandoning the storeroom, Obediah goes back upstairs, where Wendy sees the 1930s view out the window, and finally starts to express concern. Gabe and Fitz see it as well, but they can’t get any more concerned than they already are. (Actually, Gabe runs out of booze at about this point, which concerns him more than anything else going on.) The demands for explanations continue, and Obediah pokes around some more, eventually finding a room that contains a swirly temporal vortex. The ensuing wind and Giant Sucking Sound attract the attention of the people in the hallway. Chucky drops his (very, very bad) fake Engrish speech pattern to mutter “Aw, crap” as he runs toward the door and slams it shut. Unfortunately, there’s a wiggly tentacle jammed in the door. Chucky switches to plain, unaccented English and lays out a plan. Chucky will open the door quickly, and Fitz will stab whatever is on the other side. If the Whatever fights back, Fitz is to let go of his sword. Chucky yanks the door open, Fitz stabs, as requested, and the Whatever pulls back into the vortex, taking Fitz’s mall-bought katana with it. Chucky slams the door and realizes that he’s not going to get these people to leave now.

Gabe and Obediah take up residence at the theater, with Obediah running the popcorn machine (with the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Evil” topping). Fitz expresses dismay that although he’s learned a bit about European-variety demons, this Chinese stuff is new to him, and begs Chucky for lessons. Wendy states that Chucky knows where she is if he needs her. Chucky laments that the day started out well, before the crazies showed up.

One thought on “The Mystery of the Chinese Movie Theater: Gaming summary for 3/14/03

  1. Wendy says:

    Heh. I had an interesting realization after reading this summary…

    Part of the character's “remarkable disdain for the guy with the sword” was on purpose, as I did mean to go for a degree of the imperturbable New Yorker affect, but part of it was, um, not deliberate. I now realize that after so many years of LARP, con, and SCA experience, I just sort of…well…uh… take it for granted, when in a modern setting, that anyone waving a real sword around indoors either must not really mean it or else must not know what they're doing. Perhaps I should reexamine my assumptions. 😉

    Anyway, I think the character's first name is Tamsin. No last name yet until I come up with something to replace the now-ditched veddy veddy English one I originally had in mind.

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