It is a terrible thing, to lose the ones you love, and not at all something that can be rectified with a stick of gum. “Rectified” is a word which here means “made right,” and as you chew your Weatherbee’s Weepmint gum in the lobby of the Bureau of Orphan Operations, you feel as though nothing will ever be right again.
Some of you sob a little. The receptionist clears his throat and points at the NO SOBBING sign on his desk.
The entire building appears to be made out of cast concrete, except for the floors, which are black and white stone slabs arranged in a checkerboard. Acoustic tiles have been attached at strategic points on the wall to dampen sound, but some of them have fallen down, and none of the harried adults you see look interested in fixing them.
The elevator dings, and one of its sliding doors screeches open. A middle-aged woman with frizzy hair shoulders the second door open and steps out, throwing her arms wide.
“Welcome, orphans!” she cries. The acoustic tiles are no match for her enthusiasm. “I am Ursula Underwood, but you can call me W. Now,” she says, scanning you as you hide behind 20-year-old issues of International Anthropologist, “who here has never been an orphan before?”
Hands go up. She makes a face and nods sadly.
“Yes, it’s always hardest the first time. But, if you read the orphan handbooks on the ride over, you know that orphanhood is just one of those little curveballs life throws at you sometimes. Mm? Follow me.”
You stand, stick your gum to the bottom of the fiberglass waiting room seats, and head deeper into the building.
“I’ve been here since they set this place up,” says Ursula, as you head down a confusing series of corridors. Here and there are incongruously nice oil portraits, but you’re moving too fast to read the brass plaques. “Right here, in fact,” she says, stopping at a completely featureless yellow door in a hallway of completely featureless yellow doors. “Wipe your feet, please.” There’s no floor mat.
Inside is a small, windowless box of a room, with one of those odd fluorescent lighting fixtures that use a grid of mirrors to scatter the light. The light has one orangish bulb and one bluish bulb, and together they sort of make white light.
“Have a seat,” says Ursula, gesturing to a single chair. You look at each other and remain standing, which she ignores as she sits down at her computer terminal. “Just a moment while I pull up your case number…”
You examine the room. There’s brown carpet, beige walls, a dying ficus, and another of the oil portraits. You gather around it: A picture of a smiling blonde woman with wavy hair that forms ringlets at the front. The plaque identifies her as Robin “Spooky” Amiko, Philanthropist.
“Oh, that’s a terrible shame,” yells Ursula over the modem noise from the computer. “She died just before she could give the Bureau a huge donation. Some say she still haunts these halls.” There’s an obligatory pause for something creepy to happen, but nothing does.
Ursula sighs in the silence. “I miss Robin.” The modem noise stops. “Here we go!”
You gather around the boxy beige monitor and squint into the cathode-ray tube. “It says here,” says Ursula, “that your closest mutual relative is…” you wait with bated breath as a picture slowly loads “…Juniper Perkins, who lives just up the hill from here.” You all lean in to look at the tiny picture of a frazzled-looking woman in her early 30s. “Oh, that’s just capital,” Ursula continues. “Sometimes we have to drive all the way across the city. Come on!”
It is a hard thing to trust someone, when your supply of trust has all been used up. For instance, I use cooking spray on my nonstick frying pan. But as I watch you leave the Bureau of Orphan Operations, from behind my featureless yellow door, open just a crack, I see faces looking for something to believe in. Here is that something, and I’ll whisper it to you quick as you go: CCWM UFZE CF UCXV JYSSM JV PFTBEU.
The ride to the Perkins residence is undertaken in Ursula’s minivan, where she insists on playing you a demo recorded by her boyfriend’s band. You try to be appreciative.
You leave the city proper and crawl up a hill in second gear, where you arrive, engine rattling, at the rusted gates of an observatory. The front lawn is overgrown, and vines have climbed the old Hecate missile on display. Ursula double-checks her GPS, shrugs, and orders you out of the minivan.
The gate is unlocked, and you nervously head up the cracked walkway. There’s a vinyl decal that says SCIENCE! just visible through the boarded-up windows. Ursula rings the doorbell, and an antique security camera pans to face her. She waves a clipboard she brought from the office.
“Uh, yes, hello,” she says. “I’m with the Bureau of Orphan Operations. We faxed you earlier about a shipment of orph-“
You hear a few deadbolts shoot back, and the door opens on a short length of chain. A woman wearing a bowtie and a fraying lab coat squints at you through heavy glasses. One lens is cracked.
“Are you-” Ursula double-checks her clipboard “-Juniper Perkins? I’ve never seen an observatory with a doorbell before.”
“Yes, but this is a bad time,” she says in a raspy voice. “I’m very close to a breakthrough. Is there any chance you could bring the orphans back tomorrow?”
“I’m afraid not,” says Ursula. “We’re not supposed to leave them in the office overnight.”
“Fine,” says Juniper. The door closes and you hear her unlock the door chain. “Come in.”
The lobby is dark and dusty, pierced with grey light from the boarded windows. There are boxes piled up everywhere, and a faint acrid smell, like old electronics.
“Just sign here, here and here,” says Ursula, proffering the clipboard to Juniper and clicking out a pen. “And recite the pledge at the bottom, please.”
Juniper bobs her head forward to knock the glasses down her nose and squints over the top of them. “‘I, Your Name He- I mean, Juniper Perkins, do solemnly swear to care for these orphans to the best of my ability with the tools I have available.’ Is that good?”
“That’s fine,” says Ursula, taking back the clipboard. “Just call if you have any problems.” She darts to the door.
“Wait,” says Juniper, holding out her hand, “I didn’t get your… oh, she’s gone.” She sighs and turns to the lot of you. “I don’t suppose she gave you her business card?”
You all shake your heads.
“Well, alright.” She squares her shoulders. “Everyone can have one meteorite and one astronaut ice cream from the gift shop. Let’s see how good you are at science.”
You collect your dusty prizes and follow her through the SCIENTISTS ONLY door to an enormous observing hall. Antique computer banks, some of them covered with sheets, hug the circular wall. At the very center is a wooden stepladder leading up to a huge telescope pointed up at the darkening sky.
“I was so lucky to find this place for sale,” she says, heading over to the ladder. “I’ve found it… challenging to maintain employment in the current scientific climate.”
As she mounts the ladder, a couple of you notice an odd tattoo on her ankle. It’s of an eye.
“Oh, that,” she says, when you ask. “That’s part of my past, it’s not really who I am anymore.” She climbs into the observing chair and claps her hands. “Now! I hope you’re all good at pushing, because the orientation control motors are burned out. Tomorrow we’ll work on winding copper wire around magnets. I’ve had a devil of a time doing that myself. Orphans have good upper body strength, right?”
“When do we sleep?” someone asks.
“Oh, right,” says Juniper. “Sleep. During the day, mostly. I need to keep an eye on the stars.” She pauses and eyes you conspiratorially. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Uh, sure,” says someone else.
“The stars…” She wrings her hands. “Some of them are moving.“
“Are you sure those aren’t planets?” someone offers.
“Or satellites?” says someone else.
“I thought that at first, too,” says Juniper, “but no. They move, and they move together. There’s a vast sinusoidal shape slithering across the sky. No one else believes me, but I can prove it.” She points across the room to a corkboard full of printouts connected with pieces of string. “And you’re going to help me!”
You look at each other, sigh, and prepare for a long night of crazy space.
- Tobias Morpheus
- Mr. I’m My Own Grandpa
- Side Character
- Sister Jude the Obscure
- Colonel Mustard
- Nate the Lesser
- Louie Blue
- Cop on the Edge-ish
- Lord Stoneheart
- The Hayes Code
- Lamb Dance
- April LKD
- Raven and Rose
- 18 Orphans
- 1 Inventor (Special role – see below)
- 1 Bibliophile (Investigator)
- 15 Generic Orphans (Vanilla Town)
- 1 Premium Orphan (Functionally identical to Vanilla Town, but somehow intrinsically better than the rest of you)
- 1 Adult Carmelita Spats, Orphan Hater (Serial Killer)
- 5 Rogue VFD Agents (Wolves)
- 1 Rogue VFD Roleblocker
- 4 Generic Rogue VFD Agents
The Inventor crafts single-shot powers each night in their QT. They can only make one a night, and will have the following list to choose from:
- 1 vigilante kill
- 2 doctor protections (prevents incoming damage)
- 1 jailer protection (prevents incoming damage AND night actions, if any)
- 2 roleblocks
- 1 investigation (will reveal both alignment and role)
Each night, the Inventor will announce their intended power (i.e., vigilante) and, using only materials that could plausibly be found in the day’s setting (i.e., a carnival midway) they will attempt to invent something that could do the job (i.e., “I will spin this cotton candy into a rope and strangle [other player] with it.”)
The arbiter of success in this matter will be Owenthrop J. Studepackard, Arch-Director of Recursive Arbitration. The Inventor will get up to three chances per night to make the desired item type. If Mr. Studepackard finds all three attempts too unlikely to succeed (or using ingredients unlikely to be available in your current location), the Inventor fails for the night, and they lose their chance to craft that particular power. (Note: For powers that can be crafted twice, this only eliminates one, not both).
Inventions must be used the night they are crafted. They cannot be given away or held back. The Inventor can use the items they craft on themselves, if they wish.
The Bibliophile works as an investigator, using the things they learn in books to assess other people’s intentions. Each night, the Bibliophile can target one person for study. If the investigation isn’t blocked, the Bibliophile will learn the target’s alignment.
On first investigation, targets will either come up GOOD (Orphans) or BAD (VFD agents and Carmelita Spats). If the Bibliophile wishes to investigate that person again, they will also learn the target’s role (or lack thereof).
The Premium Orphan has no special powers, but is slightly more pleasant to look at and talk to than the rest of you are.
- 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:
- Rough order of operations: Roleblocks, then misc. actions, then kills.
- Investigations: Orphans come back GOOD, VFD agents and Carmelita Spats come back BAD.
- The medic cannot medic themselves or the same person two nights running.
- 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, unless Owen and Spooky decide they want to do the RNG thing instead. Try it and find out!
- 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 we will answer publicly here.
Cryptography, Codes and Puzzles: Each day, Robin WILL place a secret message somewhere in the header. If you feel up to the challenge, decipher it and post in the answer in your QT. Winners will be chosen randomly from those who answer correctly. Those who share QTs are allowed to work on the puzzles together, but must submit the solutions in their private QTs in order to qualify.
Only post the answer in your QT; do not make the solution public. If you post the answer publicly, you will be disqualified from that day’s puzzle and for two subsequent days. It is acceptable to reveal the answer on any subsequent day, however. Not after twilight on the day of the puzzle, the next day. Posting the answer after twilight will result in the ban described above.
There will usually – but not always – be one winner for each puzzle. Prizes include night actions such as, but not limited to, the power of life and death. None of the prizes will contain an eavesdropping power, however, and none will impair a player’s ability to communicate.
And remember: Have fun!
<b>Twilight will occur on Thursday, June 17 at 10 PM EST.</b>