You arrive at the Manitoba Cryonics HQ in beautiful downtown Winnipeg on the evening of March 26. The lobby floor is covered with asterisks made out of painter’s tape that are spaced at six foot (two meter) intervals. A sign taped to the window of the empty receptionist’s booth asks that none of you touch anything.
Each of you stands on an asterisk and quietly appreciates the various shades of beige the office is painted in. A sign on one wall says MANITOBA CRYONICS – More Future Than Anywhen Else, and it’s fun to guess what that might mean. Occasionally, someone coughs behind their filtration mask.
After five accursed minutes like this, you finally hear squeaky shoes coming down a hallway. A door in the corner of the room pops open, and from it emerges an unnaturally pale man wearing a full-body hazmat suit. The suit was made for someone huskier, and hangs off his gaunt frame like a weather balloon draped over a scarecrow.
“Hello,” he says, and tries to push up his glasses. After poking the face plate a few times, he gives up. “I’m Berk Smøps. My assistant Blurt was supposed to, hn, meet you. I forgot he went home sick.” He has a faint Scandinavian accent, and the occasional high vowel cuts through the muffling effect of the suit. “Follow me.”
“Uh,” says someone in the back, “do you have any more of those suits?”
“You won’t need it,” he says, turning back down the hallway. “The process has a way of, hn, sterilizing you.”
A couple of you take that as a cue to leave, but of course the doors are locked. You look at each other and trudge down the hallway after Dr. Smøps.
“By signing the forms I emailed you,” he says, as you pass beige door after beige door, “you have, hn, irrevocably advanced the cause of science. All of you will be placed in a state of suspended animation that I assure you is quite safe for mice.” At last, you reach a beige door that is somehow different from the others, and he stops. All of you halt and try not to bump into each other.
“In three months, you will be restored to life,” says Dr. Smøps, his hand on the door. “You will pass through this, hn, calamity unharmed, and with no sensation of time passed. Ready?”
“Uh,” says someone, but of course he’s already opening the door. A wave of cold air rolls out. You aren’t sure what you were expecting to see inside, but this wasn’t it.
There are banks of lab equipment up against one wall – computers, microscopes, rolling drawer units, a bunch of bilingual safety placards – and the lone scientist at work waves to you from her workbench. That’s not what you’re focused on, though. What you’re focused on is the in-ground swimming pool.
The pool is filled with something you instinctively know isn’t water. It’s glassily still, and clear all the way to the bottom, save for coils of refracted light, which spangle languidly in subsurface eddies.
“This is the stasis bath,” says Dr. Smøps, proudly. “Its chemical composition is a, hn, secret, but I assure you it is harmless. Unless you’re allergic to thorium. Does anyone here have a thorium allergy? No? Allow me to demonstrate.”
He goes over to a nearby desk and pulls open a drawer, from which you hear much rustling and squeaking. After a moment, he retrieves a live mouse with an aquarium scoop. He walks to the edge of the pool, kneels, and lowers it into the liquid.
You watch, breathlessly, as he lifts the scoop back up. The mouse inside is motionless. Dr. Smøps beams at you proudly.
“You see? Quite harmless. The procedure is easily reversed by soaking the mouse in warm water.” He shakes it out into the desk with a thunk. You can see the soft fur is coated with iridescent crystals.
“Can we maybe see that first?” someone asks. “Before we get frozen solid?”
“No!” says Dr. Smøps, looking irritated. “We have to, hn, shut down in half an hour and then self-quarantine.”
“Please. This is my third job in four years.” He tries to pinch the bridge of his nose and again hits the suit faceplate. “Just let me do this so I can get paid.”
Reluctantly, you agree.
“Excellent! I’ll ready the dunking cage. Please do formal check-ins with Ada” – the tech the corner waves – “and we’ll be, hn, underway.”
Dr. Smøps’ assistant collects all your personal effects – phones, wallets, keys, drugs, assorted small change – and puts them in plastic containers, swiftly writing your names on each one as she does so.
“I hope I spelled that right,” she says, to someone with an unusual name. The person studies her handwriting. The letters bend and kink in unusual places. Maybe the spelling is right? “Next!”
She has black hair, and black eyes, and strangely pale skin. Unlike Smøps, who is recognizably sallow from a life lived under fluorescent light, Ada’s skin is the color of chalk, with no pink underneath it at all. She moves with stiff grace as she confines your personal possessions to a cabinet.
The ceiling opens up without warning, and you jump as a large cage lowers from some recess above.
“Climb in when the, hn, lights stop flashing,” says Dr. Smøps from a PA system. “Try not to rock it too much.”
The cage lowers to just above the liquid, and Ada unlocks the gate. One at a time, you step in.
“Will this be cold?” someone asks her.
“Yes,” she says, smiling a little. “That’s how you know it’s working.”
The last of you clamber in, and she relocks the gate.
“All set?” asks Smøps from above.
“All set!” shouts Ada, in a clear, high voice. To the rest of you, she adds: “See you soon.”
The cage lowers again, and cold races up your legs as they submerge. You hold onto each other for balance, and the last thing you hear is Berk Smøps shouting “Try to inhale as much of it as you can.”
The coronavirus pandemic continues to wrack the globe, growing worse, day by day, until one day it reaches its zenith and begins to ebb. Far more than the promised three months have passed by the time the lights come back on at Manitoba Cryonics.
Berk Smøps, who contracts COVID-19 despite his best efforts, spends two weeks on a ventilator in May of 2020 before recovering. His lungs, never strong, are much weakened by the illness, and he moves slowly as he reactivates the project. Ada the technician is not there, and, when he inquires about her, there’s no evidence an Ada ever worked for Manitoba Cryonics. But his assistant Blurt is back, and that’s all he needs. Blurt, who loyally followed him from job to job, helps him conclude the project. And it’s Blurt who gives him the bad news.
No matter how long you, the human trial subjects, are soaked in hot water, the crystals do not melt away, and you do not reawaken. Humans have far more body mass than mice, and Dr. Smøps regrets not testing on something at least as big as a dog first.
In the end, your bodies are stuffed into a shipping container on the Manitoba Cryonics backlot and forgotten. Smøps retires in 2023 and dies in 2026 while trying to break the world record for most kites flown simultaneously by a single person.
In 2027, Manitoba Cryonics develops a new cryogenic agent completely unrelated to the old one. The following year, the company is bought up by a conglomerate called Eaglescream Systems, which uses the new coolant on a mission to the outer Solar System. Humanity has just discovered Iadolanth. But Iadolanth is ready.
Time passes. Things get weird.
When you wake up, it’s because you are being boiled. You flail, and rediscover your limbs; you scream, and rediscover your voices.
“Hold on,” says a man’s voice.
“We’re coming,” says a woman’s.
Strong, metal arms lift you from the scalding water. You screw your eyes shut against the burning steam. An alarm is sounding, then stops. You are set gently on your feet. You feel tile beneath your toes. One of you has an ice cream headache that just won’t quit, and they feel like they could kill someone. Or everyone.
“Do not open your eyes, yet,” says the man.
“This is the bad part,” says the woman.
Out of nowhere, you are slammed with hurricane-force winds. You stagger under the pressure and feel the steam blown away. You’re suddenly bone dry, but a towel is dropped over each of your shoulders.
“Alright,” says the man.
“Welcome,” says the woman.
You open your eyes.
You are in what could be a swimming pool locker room, minus the lockers. Before you is a robot that looks like it was designed in 1930. The torso has MOSP MK. I stamped into it, and below that the serial number 0000000009 is engraved. Atop its boxy shoulders is what looks like a black and white television set.
“Hello!” say the man and woman on the screen. Somebody in the back of the room screams, and you all wait politely while they get it out.
“We apologize for undue formalities,” says the man.
“But we’re required to read you this next part,” says the woman.
Together: “Welcome to the world of tomorrow. As part of the Reactivation Program, you have been thawed to reintegrate with society. You may find that things have changed significantly. Do not be alarmed. The future is perfectly safe. There is a place for you here.”
They stop and smile hopefully.
“What’s ‘MOSP’ mean?” someone asks, pronouncing it with a long O.
“‘Mahsp,'” corrects the woman.
“‘Motorized Spirit,'” says the man.
“Which we are,” they say together.
The person who asked the question tentatively steps forward, and the machine bends eye to eye. It’s not a television set at all. The figures inside are three dimensional.
“We died in 1866,” says the man.
“We take it a day at a time,” says the woman
Together: “We are Samuel and Minerva Wimbiscus. Come with us.”
It’s hard to tell what this building was, originally. It’s enormous, and appears to have been bombed at some point. The stone colonnades that line the main hallway are sheared off in places, and frayed caution tape is stretched across doorways that lead only to rubble. Where the roof is gone, tarpaulins have been stretched, and they billow under a cold wind. Electric light burns from a handful of undamaged sconces.
You don’t notice it, but somewhere down that hallway, a group of figures swoops in from a doorway and keeps pace. They look just like the rest of you…
You see other gaggles of disoriented people, being led by other MOSPs. Most of the MOSP hulls are newer and sleeker than the one before you, which looks like a crude prototype.
“Something bad happened, didn’t it?” says one of you.
“Oh no,” said Minerva. The boxy head actually has curved glass on all four sides, like a diver’s helmet, and she’s facing you out the back pane. “The future has never been more exciting.”
“We spent 17 decades haunting an attic,” says Samuel from the front. “Every day is an adventure now. We’ve met so many people.”
“So are you two-”
“Twins, yes,” says Minerva.
“I was going to say ‘a couple,’ but-”
“Oh, that too.” It’s suddenly very awkward.
“I can’t see them while I drive,” says Samuel. “Are they judging us?”
“I’m afraid so,” says Minerva, her face falling.
You reach a vast foyer of checkerboard stone. Sections of it are cratered and have orange traffic cones around them. The marble front of the building is completely blown out. The groups in front of you are led through the opening to buses idling outside.
“It looks like the transports for the arsenic mine and the protein plant are both here,” says Samuel. “Do the lot of you have a preference for working at one over the other?”
“You know what, how about we choose for them,” says Minerva, crossly.
You follow them out into the street. It’s oddly dim, and when you look up into the sky, you see a burning ring where the disc of the Sun should be.
“Oh, cool,” says someone weakly.
The Wimbiscus twins confer, and decide to put you on the bus to the protein plant. The driver is another MOSP of later design.
“It smells worse than the arsenic mine,” says Minerva, “but you’ll live longer.”
“Thank you for not giving voice to the sentiment we can read in your faces,” adds Samuel.
“Look,” one of you says, “are we at least safe from the coronavirus?”
“The what?” they ask together, and you have to explain it to them.
“Oh, that,” says Minerva. “That died out after the Prismatic Rain. You’re safe here.”
“You’ll learn about that during reeducation,” says Samuel. Then: “It’s not as bad as it sounds. Adelaida is a kind ruler. She let Minerva and I be together in here.”
“Oh my God,” says someone, “I can’t take it anymore, ewwwwwww.”
They kiss inside their helmet and flip you the bird. You climb onto the bus.
“Howdy!” says the driver. His appearance is of a man in his 30s with pomaded hair. A cowboy hat is duct taped to the top of the MOSP head. “I’m Q. Steve Dougson, and it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I think you’ll find that the future has a little something for everyone. Even those two.”
“Fuck you, Steve,” says Minerva.
“Don’t worry, my darling sister” says Samuel, pecking her on the cheek as the bus doors close. “Someday we’ll get a group that understands.”
Shaken, you find places on the battered bench seats. The bus pulls away from the curb, and you see street after street of ruined buildings. Here and there, work crews are dragging things to dumpsters, or painting walls, or – in one case – cutting apart a crashed airliner with hand tools.
“Seems like you could do with some livening up,” says Q. Steve Dougson. “How about some music?” And so you roll out into the unknown listening to Hank Williams.
A catering truck pulls up alongside the bus. There are no other vehicles on the road, but Q. Steve Dougson doesn’t seem to notice as the truck’s driver motions for you to roll down your windows.
“My name is Princent Vice,” he says, shouting over the wind but still being suave about it. “We can make formal acquaintances later. For now, I’ll make you a nice, simple offer: I have a sword and a shield. Would you rather protect, or kill? I shall award the chosen item to the person with the strangest cat story. It must be a personal anectdote, too. Do not disappoint me.”
(Today’s QT Event: Share your strangest (personal) story that involves cats. Winner gets the item chosen from the catering truck.)
The truck fades away just as Hank Williams gets to the end of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
Day 1 ends Saturday, March 28, at 8 p.m. EST.
- April LKD – Face
- BannerThief – Harley Quinn
- Cop on the Edge-ish – L.Q. “Sonny” Clemonds
- DW – Arsene Lupin, gentleman thief
- E-Dog – The Demoman from Team Fortress 2
- Emmelemm – Kitty Witless
- Flubba Gunto – Caesarbot 3000
- Goat – Gort 5.0
- Grumproro – Betty Grof
- The Hayes Code – Nora, from Sanctuary Hills
- Hohopossum – Tiny Tim and Astral Howeird Possum
- InnDEEEEED – William Dyer, Antarctic explorer
- Jon Hamm’s John Ham – Nolan Austin, dentist in Sherman Oaks
- Lamb Dance – Padparadscha
- Lord Stoneheart – Powerslave
- Louie Blue –Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, von Münchhausen, known to many as the Baron von Münchhausen
- Mayelbridwen – Limited Edition Balloon Lady, leader of the Playmobil
- Mr. Glitch
- Mr. I’m My Own Grandfather – Zap Rowsdower
- MSD – Robo R66-Y
- Owen1120 – The Burger King
- Ralph – Steve Harvey
- Robert Post’s Child – Captain Video
- Sic Humor – Montgomery Burns
- Side Character – Chris Kirkman
- Sister Jude the Obscure – Mary Pickford
- Snugglewumps – Joanna Lannister XIII
- Spiny Creature – Crimes, clone of Grimes
- Spookyfriend – Sharon Lastname, PTA President
- Tiff Aching – Living embodiment of “Let It Be”
- Tyrone –
Chara8-bit Steve from Blue’s Clues
- Wasp – Wasp / Carol / Big Jim / Count Dorkula / Zaxaforian Candulor (working together)
- Zecko – Dennis Reynolds
- Jake – Mick “Crocodile” Dundee / Partisan
- Tobias Morpheus
- Lovely Bones
- 15 Partisans (Town)
- 24 Vanilla Partisans
- 1 Radio Operator (Investigator w/ 100% accuracy)
- 1 EviSync Operator (Investigator w/ 66.7% accuracy)
- 1 Medic
- 1 Haruspex (Town Vigilante)
- 7 Iadolanthean Spies (Wolves)
- 6 Iadolantheans (Vanilla Wolves)
- 1 Iadolanthean Hierophage (Wolf Roleblocker)
- 1 Freezer-Burn Victim (Serial Killer)
Vanilla town message: Welcome Manitoba Cryonics test subject! You will be a PARTISAN (vanilla town) once you’re thawed out in the future, but shh, spoilers. Your only regular power is your vote, although you may also be awarded prizes from the catering truck.
- Each day will feature a day-long Event, which is optional. A prompt will be given in each day’s header, and participating players are to respond in their QTs.
- Do not publicize your Event responses (until the game is over; then it’s okay).
- The winner will be chosen by NPC Princent Vice, the Catering Truck proprietor, which is to say, the mod. I will endeavor to be impartial.
- Do not discourage other players from participating in Events. I want everyone to participate if they want to.
- Win conditions:
- The wolves win when they are equal to the number of town-aligned players left (if the SK is dead), or outnumber the non-wolf players (even if the SK is still alive).
- Town wins when all the wolves and the serial killer are defeated.
- The serial killer wins when it comes down to just them and one other person.
- A three-way standoff between the last town, last wolf and SK will result in a special ending.
- Night actions:
- There isn’t a hard order that night actions occur in. This is to allow as many of them to go through as possible. Roleblocks will always take precedent over the actions of the targeted player, however. If the wolf roleblocker targets the medic, the medic will NOT be able to doctor their target.
- Operators (cops): All town forces and the SK come back HUMAN, all Iadolanthean forces come back NOT HUMAN. The Radio Operator will always get a true result; the EviSync Operator will get the truth two-thirds of the time.
- The medic cannot medic themselves or the same person two nights running.
- Day kill thread:
- You have the option to vote “No Kill” (or words to that effect). If that option prevails, no one dies at the end of the day.
- A majority vote for one player (or No Kill) will end the day early.
- A tied vote at twilight will result in no one dying.
- Catering Truck thread:
- The item with the most votes wins. If there is a tie, I will choose between the tied items for you.
- The selected item is awarded at twilight to the player who best completes that day’s Event to Princent Vice’s satisfaction. Event entries are made in QTs and must not be made public.
- Day kill thread:
- Instant death for the loser. Odds of winning 50%, as selected by RNG.
- There can be up to 2 duels per game day. The winner of the first duel can participate in the second.
- The first duel must be finished before the second takes place.
- You can’t duel yourself.
- You can’t duel Captain Video.
- Do not coerce third parties into dueling each other.
- There are no secret powers or win conditions in this game. Any changes I have to make to the mechanics will be announced publicly. Catering Truck items will always have their effects listed.
- If you maintain a game-related outside resource (like a spreadsheet or an in-character Tumblr), stop updating it after you’re dead.
- No editing posts.
- No quoting or screencapping from your QTs.
- If you have any other questions about rules, please ask in QT, and I will answer publicly here.