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Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › What We Played: Roots & Weeds (Shock)

What We Played: Roots & Weeds (Shock)

Ben R.
Group Organizer
North Truro, MA
Post #: 7
Roots & Weeds (Mar 13)
players: Caroline, Susan, Ben

Hot, hot, hot game of Shock! We brainstormed a really interesting setting and the stories came together tighter than probably any Shock game I've played.

Some really sublime tragedy. Did I mention it was hot?
Seattle, WA
Post #: 2
This Saturday was my third meetup with this group and it was excellent once again. Another table played Freemarket while Ben, Caroline and I tucked in to the aforementioned "hot" game of Shock. It was enthralling. Real human issues were wrapped up and wildly distorted by the fantasy technology. It's hard to remember it all and I'm sure I've already lost track of many threads in the nine-scene allegory. The small group worked well; three seemed just right for the game mechanic. Caroline was a treat to play with, she was both creative and engaged. Props to Ben for constantly upping the ante - taking each scene to the next level both narratively and philosophically. This was especially helpful to me as a new story gamer.

I definitely take away from this game a new willingness to use any good story material as it comes. It seems the pay-off is much greater when one works cool, high-stakes ideas into scenes right away rather than "saving them up for later" or "only setting the stage in this scene so we still have something cool for the final scene." This game certainly points to the need for each gamer to trust their fellow players - if I spring my favorite idea early it isn't a waste. There are plenty of cool ideas between the three of us to keep things interesting. Getting it out there will only serve to feed new levels of intrigue in later scenes. The higher the stakes the better.

Thanks for a great afternoon guys - I'll let you know who takes gold in the Wheelchair Curling finals.


p.s. And thanks to the Wayward for giving us two tables all afternoon even though the cafe was very busy.

Weeds & Roots
By Caroline, Ben and Susan

Humanity has narrowly avoided extinction during the slow ecological collapse of the planet. Those remaining live in overpopulated domed cities where society is deeply fractured along ideological lines. Most children are implanted in their childhood with a "root" which leads each to live by a distinctive set of values. This indoctrination is common, but the technology used in the process is diverse, as are the values represented. Cultures around the world are being lost every day as the last members die or gangs root the children to their own value system.

Dr. Eloise Beck is a low level programmer in the indoctrination technology wing of one such gang. She is approached by the gang's power-hungry leader, Reverend Anya, to head up a convert mission. She is to infiltrate The Saints, a neighboring gang lead by her estranged brother Peter. Conflict unfolds as Eloise uses her new status to advance her private agenda. In an attempt to end the widespread violence she is designing a biological agent which will network the roots and great a homogenous common value system.

While most belong to tight-knit local gangs, loner Chandri spends most of her time traveling from one ruined city to the next. She is a free-lance "harvester." In a backwards attempt to preserve the many dying cultures of the world she harvests their values, assimilating pieces of them in the process, and sells them to brokers. These packaged values are in turn sold to interested gang leaders and incorporated into the roots of new children. The values of the cultures do indeed live on - but the people she harvests are left empty husks. Her world begins to implode when she is confronted by a surviving member of the Magstadts - a tribe she believed she'd harvested to extinction.

Meanwhile burned-out riot officer Danny Stark's root is degrading. He is losing touch with his values, and wondering where they came from. He is breaking free of the root, becoming a so-called "weed." Trouble ensues when he confesses this to his long-time partner, who moonlights as a "gardener" - hunting and eliminating weeds. Just before he is captured and brainwashed he meets the man he believes is the "father" of his root. This may be the original human source of the values he is wrestling with.

Dr. Beck, Stark, and Chandri are caught in a web of escalating conflict as each becomes more and more detached from reality. Wracked with guilt, Chandri tries to atone for her part in the extinction of scores of cultures. She intend to shut down the market for harvested values. The mysterious "Last Magstadt" convinces her the best way to do this to poison the well. She crafts and sells a toxic root to brokers worldwide. Many die in the coming months. The populace is now all the more vulnerable to the advances of Dr. Beck. Now leading the Saints, she has developed a tool for creating the network. The infectious agent spreads quickly through the population and each new affected individual joins the network, adopting its common values. As stark recovers from his brainwashing he find peace in the turbulent world by talking with a new companion - one who is real only in his mind and has an uncanny resemblance to the "father" of his root.

Through Stark the truth is revealed - harvested values cannot be completely stripped of the personalities they are taken from. Stark and his partner find that the man in his head is a remnant of his "father's" personality - living now in Stark. When last we see him Stark is alone with this realization, and his partner wonders why Stark's old man seems so familiar to him too. He and the riot police are nowhere to be found when Dr. Beck and the Saints lay siege to and Reverend Anya's compound - the city's last bastion of un-networked roots. At the crucial moment Eloise sacrifices her brother to break into the compound and one of her agents releases the infectious fog. Anya is assimilated and in her delirium activates her newest prototype - a device designed to harvest values from hundreds at once. Dr. Beck watches as her followers collapse around her and looks up in awe as she too feels herself being sucked into this machine.

Two years later, though she has not lived to see it, Dr. Beck's dream has become a reality. Ninety percent of the worlds population is infected and part of one network. Their shared values are the approximate average of all the member individuals. As each remaining group is assimilated the balance swings and the populace is left in a state of constant flux. Little can be accomplished and much has been lost. Harvesting is no-longer popular but this is inconsequential because the network has reached nearly everyone.

In a tiny pocket of uninfected weeds Chandri works furiously to find an antidote. Despite reaching out to every resource she has Chandri can not seem to find a cure. She falls deeper and deeper into her own deranged world. The last Magstadt, her constant companion, may hold the key. It dawns on her that like Stark's "father" her friend is only in her mind - he is actually the remnant of a small boy she harvested all those years ago. She may be able to exploit this link, these profound connections that each rooted person has. Perhaps she can use them to get to at the roots, even destroy them. "But how can you turn her back on me, on all of my people?" the boys asks. "It is you now, who are truly the last Magstadt." Chandri is broken. She abandons humanity to its fate and her soul to its madness. As the rest of the world is assimilated she follows the boy to the river, where he teaches her to fish as the Magstadt once did.
Ben R.
Group Organizer
North Truro, MA
Post #: 8
Nice! You totally nailed it Susan. Anytime you leave the game and immediately want to write the whole thing down and share it with the world... well that's a sure sign of a really good game.

One of my favorite moments was with you and Caroline, when Dr. Beck jumps her brother and injects him with a new Root, brutally erasing his old value system, and when we say, wow, you'd do that to your own brother, that's cold, Caroline just looks up and says "Now he's my real brother." Awesome.
Ben R.
Group Organizer
North Truro, MA
Post #: 10
Posted some more about the game over yonder: "Now he's my real brother"
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