The van only has one spare tire, so you swap out that wheel and then limp down the road to the diner you saw in the heat mirage. To your surprise, it has a sign announcing that it’s Borderinos – The Restaurant Half in the U.S., Half in Mexico. It’s augmented with a neon sign that flashes between the words TEX and MEX.
You look at each other.
“Did… did we make it?” asks the Hamburglar.
“Can anyone ever truly be free, michi?” asks Ono Michio. “Are we not all captives to the prisons we build in our minds?”
“Fuck it,” says Perd Hapley, “I’m getting a burger with chilis. I’m Perd Hapley.”
You pile out of the van. At the back of the line, Chuck says a quiet prayer to his favorite color as he lifts his homemade radio from his jacket and prepares to bring it down on the Hamburglar’s head. Suddenly, he feels it plucked from his grasp. Now off-center, he stumbles and falls out of the van onto the hard-packed dirt. While he’s down, the Hamburglar pulls a half-a-heart locket out of his shirt and holds it up to the one the cat is wearing.
“By our powers combined!”/”Tradução portuguesa aqui!”
The heart halves join. A teensy switchblade knife pops out.
“AHHHHHHH!” says the cat, weilding it, except it comes out “MeeeEEEeeeew!” He stabs Chuck 18 times.
Chuck, blue enthusiast (Beelzebot) has died. He was THE SPY and the WOLF RECRUIT. The Narcs (Wolves) have been eliminated.
“Noooo,” he says, bleeding out very, very slowly. “I can’t believe I died a stoolpigeon.”
You all look at him, feeling pity, if not remorse. The Hamburglar and Philly the cat roll him onto his back to face the sky.
There are no clouds here, and no humidity, either. The sky is utterly, purely blue.
“At last,” says Chuck, closing his eyes for good.
“I’m still getting that burger,” says Perd Hapley. You shrug, load Chuck’s body back in the van, and head into the diner.
It has a long chromed counter that was probably nice when it was new in the 1950s, but the patched vinyl stools look comfy enough. You’re alone inside except for the waitress and a jukebox playing rockabilly music. You all can’t stop looking at the line painted on the floor that says UNITED STATES on one side and MEXICO on the other.
“Howdy!” says the waitress. There’s something oddly familiar about her. “Welcome to Borderino’s. I’m Judy. What can I get you fine folks?”
“Can we sit on the Mexico side?” asks D. B. Cooper.
“Ya sure,” says Judy. “But ya gotta order something first.”
“What did you say your name was, again?” asks Kenny Rogers guardedly.
“Judy Stroan.” She flips her hair back as your hearts sink. “I’m named after my mom, but we haven’t talked in ages. Beat. “Do you hear sirens?”
You all lunge for the line on the floor, but suddenly Judith Stroan senior, accompanied by a bunch of officers wearing a wide variety of uniforms, lunge through the door, blocking your path.
“Freeze!” pants Judith. “Geeze it’s hard to run in body armor.”
“Hi Mom,” says Judy icily.
“Hey there Judy,” says Judith, leaning on the counter. She turns to the lot of you, now cornered on the U.S. side of Borderino’s. “Gosh I hate the heat. You’re all under arrest, by the way. So much paperwork.”
“I would like a hamburger,” says Perd Hapley in a clear, calm voice. “Medium rare. Green chilis.”
The agents with guns have their sights trained on you, and the only motion is Judy nervously writing Perd’s order down.
“Anything else?” says Judy, and then the room explodes.
Half of you jump the counter. Half cower as the cops fire warning shots into the brick-a-brac on the walls. Perd pulls out a black dagger engraved with runes and uses the chaos as an opportunity to swing for Kenny Rogers, but the blade makes a thunk sound as it pierces Kenny’s polyester suit.
“Huh?” says Perd, pulling the knife back out. The tip is bent. Kenny dips into a pocket and pulls out a deck of playing cards, and deals out the first one. Overhead, a bulb shatters as the gunfire continues, but Kenny just smiles as he pulls out the first card. It has a ding in it, and Perd realizes it’s made of steel.
“Weighted playing cards,” says Perd, wonderingly.
“I also have marked dice,” says Kenny amiably, “but I don’t think I’ll need those.”
He grabs the dagger away from Perd and stabs him with it.
“Owwww,” says Perd. “I’m Perd Hapley, and I’m dyinnnnng.”
He goes limp, and Kenny Rogers goes through his pockets, where he founds a book. He pulls it out, and realizes it’s some kind of eldritch tome. The language is in an alphabet he doesn’t recognize, but there are pencil notes in the margins that say things like “must return to the Followers” and “Recruit Mr. Chips??”
Perd Hapley (Nate) has died. He was the CULT LEADER and THE ???, which was SERIAL KILLER+. TOWN WINS.
Kenny Rogers holds up the book, and the shooting stops almost immediately. Judith shoulders her way to the front of the barracade the cops made out of the jukebox and a couple of booths.
“Is that the Codex Portekizce Çeviri Burada?” she asks.
“Ma’am, I have no idea what this is,” says Kenny Rogers, “but you can have it. It’s whispering sweet nothings in my brain and I don’t care for that one bit.”
He walks forward and hands Judith the book, and then they both step back.
“I’m coming out,” says Judy from the kitchen. “Nobody shoot. Thanks, Mom.“
She walks through the batwing doors holding a hamburger with green chilis, which she gently sets on Perd’s body.
“Gosh,” says Judith, looking at the book. “Perd was the most dangerous of all of you, dontcha know. I guess the danger is over.”
“So we could maybe escape, then?” asks the Hamburglar in a wheedling tone. “Pleeeeease?“
“I’m really sorry, folks,” says Judith. She glances at her daughter, who rolls her eyes.
“Isso vai economizar uma imensa quantidade de papelada,” says the cat.
Five minutes later you’re bounding across the desert in the van, five minutes into your 20-minute head start.
“We have succeeded,” says Mojo Jojo. “That is to say that success is ours. We are successful.”
You made it to Mexico. D. B. Cooper. The Co-op Brothers. Ono Michio. The Hamburglar – or “Big Mac,” as he prefers to be known. Philly the cat. A velociraptor. And Kenny Rogers.
“You know,” he says, “I think I might write a song about cards someday,” he says. “But there aren’t any English words that rhyme with ‘card,’ so it might take me a few years.
The rest of you are too worn out to correct him. It’s been a big day. And there are bigger ones ahead.
These are the roles:
THE ARSONIST: Fire good. The Arsonist is a town-aligned vigilante who can torch one player each night.
THE COUPON FORGER (Wolf): The feds spent over $2 million on an op that successfully caught this mastermind, who forged over $50 worth of coupons.
THE CROOKED CONSTABLE: Betrayed the trust of a Vermont town of 200 people. Once a cop, always a cop: Knows how the Narcs think and is immune to their night kills, but not to other forms of death.
THE CROOKED VETERINARIAN: Got busted for working at illegal dog races. Can medic one player per night, protecting them from outside harm.
THE CULT LEADER: A one-time college student who found a grimoire at a used book shop in ‘63 and got into black magic. They function as a Serial Killer, and their win condition is to kill everyone else so they can return to their commune and wait for the spaceship that’s supposed to take everyone to Pluto in 1980.
HOWEVER, they have a one-shot kill/recruitment, in which they can resurrect that night’s kill target. If this succeeds, the Cult Leader and the new Cult Member will become Masons and share a QT and a kill. The Cult Member will lose their previous role, but may share any information they gleaned while it was active. If the Cult Leader dies, the Cult Member will inherit their night kill power. IMPORTANT: The Narcs are incorruptible. If the Cult Leader tries to kill/recruit one of them, they will simply die and stay dead. The Cult Leader will not get a second shot at recruitment if it’s blocked by this or some other means.
THE DRUG HOARDER (Wolf): Convicted of possessing over 7,000 labeled baggies of different controlled substances with no intent to distribute.
THE FAX PSYCHIC: Old hucksterism on new technology. Works as a role cop; can learn one role per night.
THE FISHNAPPER (Wolf): How much would you pay to have Goldie back – 45, maybe even 50 cents?
THE FORBIDDEN LOVERS (THE SWAN and THE BEE): Their love was impossible – or was it? Lovers, but they get one extra life to share between them. They also get a one-shot vig kill.
THE GAMBLER: Bet they’d never end up in prison and lost. If targeted for a night kill, there is a 50% change the killer will die instead. However, the Gambler will automatically lose any day duels.
THE GOLFJACKER (Wolf): Convicted of hijacking golf carts, which the prosecuting attorney was able to convince a jury was a motor vehicle crime.
THE HARUSPEX: Knows how to read a liver like a book, which is not the same thing as being a licensed forensic pathologist. Can get the full role details from the entrails of someone who has died.
THE HERBALIST: Knows the medical properties of a bunch of plants but not that you have to pay taxes. Can choose to either poultice (medic) or poison (kill) one player each night.
THE HIGHWAYMAN: It’s hard to do this in the age of the automobile, but not impossible. Can steal someone’s role tool(s) for the night, working as a town roleblocker.
THE INSURANCE FRAUDSTER: Dead – or are they? Takes two hits to kill. If the Insurance Fraudster is killed at twilight, there will be a normal kill notification, but they will come back the next day… unless someone with a night kill double-taps them overnight.
THE KINGSLAYER: Although the United States is very committed to its status as a democratic republic, regicide is still frowned upon. The Kingslayer only kills kings, and the only king here is Elvis. The Kingslayer gets three chances to kill Elvis, and if they fail, they will fall on their own sword out of shame. If they DO kill Elvis, they have satisfied their own win condition, and may then choose to either remain town (with no further kills) or join with the wolves as their new leader, inheriting Elvis’ roleblocking power.
THE ODOMETER ROLLBACKER: Time to void some warranties. Gets a two-shot redo power that may be conferred upon another player. When used, the receiving player gets another copy of their night action – if they have one – available the following night. If the recipient doesn’t have a night action, nothing happens, but the Rollbacker still loses that use.
THE QUACK: Definitely a legit medical professional. Can check one player per night to see if they’ve died before or not. It’s useful, I swear.
THE SMUGGLER (Wolf): Convicted of smuggling Canadian tires into America without paying dues.
THE SPY: Convicted of espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union in 1955. The Spy is believed to have constructed an unreliable miniature radio that can pick up police-band signals. The following rules will be observed:
- No player or role names will be divulged in intercepted transmissions. The Spy will hear *static* when these pop up.
- The fragments the Spy picks up will only come from posts that are multiples of 5 (5, 10, 15, etc.) and will never exceed three words in a quote, including *static* omissions.
- The Spy will only receive three fragments each day, at twilight, that do not exceed 15 words total, including *static* omissions.
- The Spy may send one message to the Narcs, if desired, as a night action. This message may not exceed 10 words. If the Spy chooses not to, or if they do but are blocked, the Narcs will just be told no message was received.
- In the interest of fairness, both the Spy and the Narcs will be given these rules at the beginning of the game.
(Unlike Nate’s failed attempt to recruit Spooky, this role wasn’t an open recruitment, The role of Spy didn’t originally have the option to switch teams, either, but the wolves were sending “join us” messages and I was intrigued by the idea of a Spy switching sides. When I gave Beelzebot the option, he jumped at it.)
THE TELECORONER: Turns out it’s illegal to bury people over the phone. Can send one message per night to the graveyard, but the graveyard can’t send messages back. Messages must be 10 words or less.
THE UNLICENSED TRAVEL AGENT: Albania is lovely this time of year! Can send someone on a vacation each night, whether they want it or not. Mechanically, this is a town vig power.
Narc chat: https://www.quicktopic.com/53/H/4LuUNLhigdqT
Lover chat: https://www.quicktopic.com/53/H/GJPQqP54cSe
And that’s it! Thank you for playing, or for just reading along. Crime pays!