Night Mall

The Night Mall is a shopping mall infected by Carcosa, guarded by hapless Mall Ninjas. It has been turned into a highly successful and offbeat scenario by a number of list members. An actual play recording can be found on Role Playing Public Radio. A writeup of the scenario for the World of Darkness system is also available, if you like the albino fleabag approach.

It all started out with this post:

From: "James Haughton"
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 6:05 AM

Has your agent been busted for "tampering with evidence" or other girly-man trumped up so-called "felonies" one too many times? Forced out of the Force? Never fear, you can start a new career: as a heavily-armed mall security guard. or MALL NINJA!

It soon escalated further:

From: "Ross Payton"
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2008 6:40 AM

This link has inspired me. I am going to run a one shot Mall Ninjas game. 200 point GURPS 4th edition. However, I have an idea.

Carcosa is leaking into the mall. Think Night Floors but even more intense. I'll run and record this game so all of you can find out what happens.

So, I ask you, the DG email list: what kind of encounters and insanity can I put in this scenario? I'll use every good suggestion so help me think of Hastur related insanity.

From: <tomcusworth>
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2008 1:59 PM

How about the sproting goods store that only stocks pussy nine mill? That'll bring out calls of panty-wetting hilarity from your MN's

From: <Bomias1>
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2008 7:08 PM


Evil Muzak.

Elevator opens on "Dawn of the Dead" Floor.

Evil Muzak

Yellow Julius.

From: "Christopher Wayne"
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2008 7:56 PM

One idea would be a clothing store that the players find themselves in and their regular day to day clothes are replaced by flowing robes and other types of Carcosa garb….

From: "Peter Dimitriadis"
Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 5:02 AM

Mannequins. They can be creepy, or at least they can be to me. Mannequins moving about. Other people in the mall turning _into_ mannequins when they fall deeper into Carcosa.

From: "Jon Nyx"
Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 6:28 AM

Have the PCs wander into/become part of an Insylum session.

Other random thoughts:

The mall becomes infinite; there is no way for the PCs to escape it.

There are some odd shops in the mall. *Very* odd.

One shop is filled with thousands of bottles, no two alike. They are stoppered and each is inscribed with a single name…

Of course the shops and kiosks and plazas and food courts change whenever the PCs look away; the PCs immediately become lost.

The elevator muzak is VERY LOUD and NEVER STOPS. Sadistic GMs will have hours and hours cued up to torture their players with.

Maybe something escapes from the mall with the PCs, something they don't find out about until later.

Something is stalking the PCs, something they can never quite catch a glimpse of. And it keeps getting closer and closer…

Some ideas if the PCs attempt to leave the mall via loading dock exits, emergency exits, etc or wander into the non-public office and administration areas:

One of the office/admin hallways intersects with the Macallistar building/Night Floors.

If you've already run Night Floors with this group of PCs, perhaps they can encounter some of the same NPCs and situations from their earlier Night Floors session, or see events from that scenario replayed (or re-enacted by marionettes).

If any PCs were lost to Carcosa during the Night Floors scenario, maybe the current group of PCs can encounter them. The Carcosa-consumed (N)PCs could either behave in a manner similar to the Macallistar residents, or they could pitifully (and futilely) beg the PCs to help them escape. Or the PCs could simply find a marionette version of the lost/consumed PC, perhaps with an interesting note for the current group of PCs in one of its pockets.

The PCs step through a doorway or walk into a shop and find themselves on a large stage, greeted by thunderous applause, with prop furniture and store inventory scattered about. An endless shower of rose petals falls upon them. They are in an auditorium, in front of an audience of hundreds (thousands?) of life-sized and faceless marionettes. The marionette strings and the source of the rose petals are lost in the overhead glare of hundreds of spotlights.

For extra creep factor, hand the players a prop program guide for the "play" the PCs are participating in [1]. Might be interesting if the "Cast of Characters" looked something like "[PCs' real name] plays the part of [Agent CODENAME]", especially if the PCs only know each other by their codenames & via DG ops. It could *really* be fun if other DG agents & contacts, some of whom the PCs know and some the don't, also appear in the Cast of Characters, ie - "Dr. Joseph Camp plays the part of Agent ALPHONSE". Don't forget the actor's bios. The director, production crew, etc credits I leave to the fevered imaginations of dglist members; anyone got any especially warped suggestions?

Might want to reread these as well as the Night Floors scenario for further inspiration:

[1] - A simple playbill/program guide can be found here:

From: "Ross Payton"
Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 7:54 AM

Oh god, this is brilliant stuff. The mannequins with this material is going to fucking rock their worlds.

I'll play selections from this album

Here's my game plan so far:

Describe the game as a basic beer and pretzels game where each PC is a mall ninja/commando. Don't mention Carcosa or DG. Just emphasize the humor. Give them 200 point pregen 4e GURPS combat munchkins.

What they don't know is that each character is actually a DG veteran cowboy with dozens of black ops under their belts. Each of them has finally cracked and is about to succumb to Hastur.

Start the game with laughable elements such as asian gangsters trying to heist a video game machine from the arcade.

Slowly introduce Carcosa elements. Make them think that their characters are just going nuts.

Go full bore with Carcosa and start to leak personal histories for each PC. Their failed marriages and alienated kids. The carnage of the battlefield. Alcoholism and pills.

Offer them a slight if improbable chance for salvation. If they renounce their violent ways, make peace with their personal demons and stay strong, they can resist the pull and walk away. If not, they walk on stage…

From: "Jon Nyx"
Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 7:12 PM

I'll play selections from this album

You are an evil evil man. One reviewer said that it all sounded like "Ren & Stimpy music", which gave me another idea - toss in inappropriately happy upbeat music to further mess with your players/PCs. Maybe gradually increase the volume throughout the scenario & if you have the audio gear (or a decent laptop with some audio manipulation software) slowly add reverb, random pitch & phase shifting, etc.

Other thoughts:

Mall payphones - Have them start ringing when PCs walk by, with increasing frequency until one is answered (at which point all of the rest stop ringing). On the other end is someone the PC knew and cared about who died a violent and/or slow & agonizing death (ie - cancer, etc). They either blame the PC for their death or are begging the PC to help them.

Bonus points - Coordinate with another non-player. Have this person's phone# ready to dial in your cellphone. At the right time, unobtrusively call them, let their phone ring a few times & hang up. This is the signal for them to call you back; apologize for "forgetting" to turn off your cellphone/landline, answer it, then say "It's for you" and hand it to the appropriate player. Your accomplice works from a script and/or ad libs the part of the PC's dead friend or family member.

Mall ATMs - They flash disturbing messages on their screens that are relevant to the PCs when they walk by. Or spit out notes. Or the screens display video of some disturbing scene from the PC's past (or future).

Naturally the phones will continue to ring and the ATMs will continue to spit out messages even if the PCs take them apart with a sledgehammer or empty clips into them.

Another thought - A PCs shoots at something and instead of bullets a banner or little flag with "BANG!" printed on it pops out of the barrel.

Maybe have the Clockwork Child make a brief appearance or two.

Hmm, mall Starbucks - something especially vile has to be done with this. Thoughts?

From: "phanfasm"
Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 8:03 PM

Some random fun times.

The delicious aroma of baked and frosted cinnamon rolls wafts to the PCs (Bonus points: bring actual CinnaBuns out at this point and place them under the table, saying the players can't touch them till they find the shop in-game). The source is unfindable at first, but tempts them and may even distract during other scenes - the aroma causes a penalty to concentration related skills at critical moments unless players make an Idea roll to focus. After making a determined effort to follow the aroma, they find a mall shop with a glass casefront stuffed with what looks like pastries. A crowd of people wave money at the harried pimply-faced teen in a yellow uniform at the register. Fighting through the crowd with physical skills, the rolls are revealed to be a)rotting molluscs squirming with worms, beetles, and fungi (mild san check); b)large rolls of human flesh lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar (you can tell because of the degloved hands and faces)(serious san check); c)Skinned, copulating animal parts having a sticky orgy in a mix of cinnamon sauce and white (possibly sugar?) paste (major san check). Offer the players the real CinnaBuns, with evil glee.

Extra! Extra!
A 10-year-old boy is hauling newspapers around the back rooms, occasionally sighted by PCs in the mall proper dropping a newspaper off and hurrying into a service door. If found, the paper is different every time… a) Blank except for a Yellow Sign, b)Filled with detailed coverage of one player's future death, including macabre crime scene photos. c)A totally normal local paper, except that every time a person is mentioned in every single story, it is always the name of one of the player's favorite high school teacher.

Escalator Action
The players step onto an escalator that seems to lead to the next floor. Once on it, it becomes infinite, and worse, advertisements on the wall start showing a sequence of ads that mimic the Heathrow Airport ones that show two photos twice each, with text displayed on each 4 photos that make the ads switch meanings. Bonus points for
actually mocking these up as handouts.

A)A photo of a crowd dancing at a 1920s masquerade ball / A photo of a nuclear detonation ; Words: Fun / Fatal
B)A sliced yellow bell pepper / A yellow burqua-clad woman; Words: Delicious / Deadly
C)Image: Delta green triangle / Photo of PCs murdered spouse & children; Words: Secret / Safe

I could come up with these all day - you get the idea. Would be even more fun if you could relate the words to the PCs prior/future actions, or if there are catch phrases or words that your particular gaming group use all the time.

From: "Luke Pendo"
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 12:21 AM

As the ninjas fend off the depredations of the Asian Gang, they throw insults, saying that the Ninjas have no idea what awaits them. "You will reap the whirl wind!" Of course the ninjas write this off as the empty boasting of a defeated enemy.

The game is some awful faux-anime thing, Kingu.

As the mall descends further into Carcosa, they eventually come across the arcade again, only to discover that a few games work. One, in particular, is familiar to them - Kingu's screen still glows. In fact, an emaciated child of 10 with sunken eyes is playing. The child is rank with the smell of ammonia.

If the ninjas take any action to interrupt the child, he fights fiercely with all the rage of the child. Ultimately, he should prove no threat to the heroes beyond the potential for their bites to become infected.

The child begs to be allowed to play, pleads and struggles futilely against his bonds and captors. He will accept food and water, which he sorely needs, but after a time anything put in his stomach will be rejected.

If the ninjas prove resistant to pleading, the child begins to convulse, and his eyes roll back up in his head. At first, he's just faking, but after awhile it becomes clear that the child's heart is racing, he is panting, and sweating. As time goes on, he falls into a coma.

Within the hour after this, his heart stops. The child is dead.

If the ninjas ignore the child, they eventually return to find his corpse along with a few fresher dead. Also, it seems some of the broken consoles in the arcade have been removed and replaced with Kingu games.

The ninjas eventually find their way to a roof exit. At this point, the mall has quite obvious changed, and the vista of the nigh infinite mall is beautiful. It is a night lit with some unidentified source of orange light along the horizon. Something very similar to snow falls from the sky, but it is yellow. If a brave ninja tastes it, it tastes like a very ancient, very good brandy. It burns.

The ninjas can't tell if the mall extends to the horizon, but new additions to the architecture of the mall block the view. Tall gothic towers block the ninjas sight farther than… a mile? The impression is very much of being in large bowl. The architecture is vast, and even the most hardened ninja is struck by a brief sense of transcendental beauty.

As the mall becomes more Baroque, the heroes eventually return to a vastly different Cinnabon. The dining area has been plushly decorated, and pleasant smells from incense waft through the air. The wares on sale are pastries in the shape of human body parts. From appearance, this is a very realistic effect, but upon a brave poke, it seems obvious that the body parts are just bread.

For those debauched or hungry enough to try the unusual food find that the sense of realism returns. The body parts contain veins of delicious crimson jelly with only a hint of translucence. There are bones, that crunch, made of some sort of sweet cracker.

Those who stay and eat may gain a brief look into the kitchens. From the quick look through the door, it is dingy and poorly lit, its ugliness is in stark contrast to the beautiful dining area. The ninja spots a quick hint of the upper half of a torso laid on a slab, as a cleaver comes down to chop off an arm.

There is no hint in the taste, or texture of the food that these are anything but exceptionally morbid pastries.

The mall becomes wonderfully beautiful. The relentless and headache inducing fluorescent lights eventually get replaced by gaslights. Bioluminescent plants are arranged very tastefully to give a sense of nature while offering more light. Redwood becomes a frequent flourish used in support columns. The floor becomes a perfectly maintained carpet. Even the normally oppressive elevator muzak becomes a slightly more tolerable orchestral arrangement.

Suddenly, the ninjas turn a corner, and this beauty has become an ugly parody. The plants are plastic, and fake. The wood accents are mostly rotted, and the carpets are rank, slimy, and stained. Suddenly, the fluorescent lights return, and the ninjas spot a portion of the mall that is familiar - tile floors, no hint of wood, or of the unusual stores. It is exactly like a normal American mall in Anywhere, U.S.A

This part of the mall is completely abandoned. While here, if the ninjas spot anyone else from other parts of the mall, they react with fear to the normal mall, and will run away with abject terror away from the ninjas.

The ninjas discover that this part of the mall is a complete fake. The store fronts are artificial wood facades, the things seen through the glass are pin-up pictures. The tile floor can be removed to reveal the wood of a stage. As the ninjas round a corner, they find that the food court just ends, and a vast auditorium of seats are here. They are all empty.

A copy of a play is on the floor. It is titled the King In Yellow, but this play is not about Ythill or Cassilda. It is set in what is obviously a pastiche of the mall the ninjas used to protect. The second act is missing, but the first ends with the ninjas going on a rampage and killing many in the mall for perceived sins after a directive from Mayor Alphonse.

From: "Peter Dimitriadis"
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 1:58 AM

Jon Nyx wrote:

Hmm, mall Starbucks - something especially vile has to be done with this. Thoughts?
- —

I dunno, Starbucks is evil enough as it is, does there need to be more? Maybe some huge hipster artist vibe, full of people working on their great novel or sketching horrible sights in charcoal? A coffee blend from beans from the Lake of Hali? Cities glimpsed faintly in the foam of large cups of coffee, inspiring people to drown themselves in it?

Another thought:
The Newsstand: One of the PCs is passing by a news stand when they see themselves on the cover. They're one of Hollywood's It actors, in an exclusive profile, promoting their new sequel in their signature movie series, in which they play an FBI agent who fights the occult. The interview talks about the actor's life (which matches that of the real agent's childhood, but then later events match up with movies the actor supposedly played. Maybe a long lost (or better yet) dead love is supposed to be the actor's real life girlfriend, and they met on the set of the movie in which she died), and includes references to how intently he tries to get into his role. In that same stand a tabloid reports on the actor's psychotic break, that he's losing touch with reality due to excessive drug use.

Later, in the scenario, that new movie, Delta Green IV: Appropriate Subtitle Here (Carcosan Dreams? Hastur Pussycat, Kill Kill?) is playing in the mall's movie theater. If they stop to watch it, it… ends badly.

From: "Ross Payton"
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 2:14 AM

Anyway, a few things I thought of:

Mall Walkers. Old people who walk around the mall early in the morning because it's a safe place indoor to get some exercise. Imagine a silent shuffling stampede of mall walkers who ignore any attempt of communication. Hundreds, thousands of senior citizens walking shoulder to shoulder, oxygen tanks, canes, strollers and a gentle rasping noise. As the ninjas turn to move away from the mall walkers, the lights turn out and they find the mall walkers are on them. A cloying claustrophobic mass of wrinkled flesh and false teeth. They instantly disappear when a ninja turns on a flashlight.

Win this Car! A car standing in the intersection of the mall advertising a contest to win it, only its a car important to a PC. The car they lose their virginity or a parent died in. Possibly mangled or showroom new. When the PC enters the car, the windows show an alien landscape and twin moons. When they flee, the car falls apart.

DARE to resist drugs. A mall cop substation heavily littered with D.A.R.E. propaganda for kids. Two children step out of the substation and enact an anti drug play, but it gradually becomes a version of the King in Yellow.

From: "Peter Kisner"
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 5:38 AM

Going back to the original KiY stories: The newest modern convenience, suicide booths start cropping up. Brightly colored little affairs the whatever style of trade dress is currently the most eye-catching. Maybe one of the only fixtures in the place that looks new or well maintained and serviced.

WTF? Surely suicide hasn't been legalized. But any attempt to involve external police, legislators, or other branches of government who should be concerned meet with an upward battle.

Anyone outside the mall told about the things is incredulous that such a thing could possibly really have been installed. If tricked into being shown the things directly outside police just don't seem to see the harm, aren't aware that such a device should be illegal (should be a freedom, right?), and scoff at the thought that anyone would use it anyway. These same officers have tried to prevent suicide multiple times outside the mall, maybe even arrested those trying to assist in suicide. Legislators or city councilors who can actually be persuaded come in and take a look seem a little troubled by the existence of the things, mention they'll see what they can do but these kinds of zoning things can get tied up in committee for months. Sometimes, after drinking themselves to sleep that night the officials just forget.

At some point PCs might catch their sister or mother gazing wistfully at one, or hurrying into the booth with a pained expression on her face. Or might notice parents giving their kids a couple quarters and ushering them in.

Also, there seems to be a shadow society of some sort among the shop clerks and regular patrons of the mall. In addition to their surface identities each has some standing as a member of the Carcosan court. There are blackmailings and intrigues among them. All have to go to the food court to eat but are always on edge because if your contact in L'Bistros defected to a different faction might just find a little botulism in that spicy Italian sub.

Fight Club style duels break out in the security access coridores, but with stilettos or more exotic weapons. Scruffy teenage clerks with shirt tails half untucked gather round jeering and chanting as two go at each other. Their steps smearing some sort of ritual diagrams laid out in advance using filthy sand from the ash trays in the vestibules. You can catch one of these affairs on the video camera, but try to sneak up on one and the audience instantly reverts to their normal slack-jawed, disinterested look and casually wander off to their appointed stations. Even if they couldn't possibly hear you coming.

From: "Luke Pendo"
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 10:21 AM

Some early manifestations -

An advertisement plays over the public address system, spoken by a tender female voice:

"This is an important message from the US Department of Health and Human Services. In these times of great change it is normal to feel sad, mad, or guilty. If you feel like completely giving up or are having thoughts of suicide, get help. Finish your business with family and friends, find a support network, and talk with a counselor. Prepare yourself for taking the next step.

Remember, suicide is your god-given right. Call 1-800-042-7887."

No one seems unnerved by the content of this message.

much of the text lifted from/er, inspired by:

A mall ninja notices a small political advertisement for the presidential campaign. A quick glance shows that, while red and blue are predominant colors used in it, there is a great deal of yellow accenting. Ninjas who pick the advertisement notice that it supports a Nathan Winthrop for President in 2012.

"For too long, waffling leadership has taken the ship of America into troubled waters. Our cities sink into anarchy and our dynasty is betrayed. We have turned away from the Living God.

For a better, more beautiful America, for the America of tomorrow, elect Winthrop in November."

From: "Peter Dimitriadis"
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2008 2:57 AM

The scenario starts (save for some vague precursor signs) with a lockdown due to a missing child, who they suspect might have been kidnapped. The child has some emotional problems but is described as very creative, perhaps even eeriely so. Maybe the parents have some proud examples of otherworldly artwork. The child, either because it's Hallowe'en or for other reasons, was last seen wearing a mask. Yes, the child has been taken over by the Phantom of Truth as its vessel in judging the mall, and shows up at varying points, only for fleeting moments..

The Logo:
Nowadays lots of malls have a vaguely abstract, market-tested to be pleasingly nonoffensive logo to go along with their name. Some might have it hanging from banners, others have it just on the maps. The obvious thing to do here is make the logo morph into the Yellow Sign.

The Arcade:
A hi-tech arcade in the mall slowly shifts into a Victorian Penny Arcade. I'm sure plenty of Hastur things can be done with that… animatronic fortune tellers that give disturbing prophecies for the future, a hall of mirrors that show people as they really are (or believe they really are) - perhaps the above child can be seen in the
mirrors, but nowhere outside. Breaking the mirrors might lead to Carcosa itself. Or, before the Arcade shifts, a video game based on the character's life. And he finds he can _undo_ things with it - lost a hand in RL, dodge that machete in the game and it grows back (but is obsessed with drawing incredibly detailed, old-style doorways, never the
same one twice… and they're getting incredibly realistic). Parents eaten by ghouls? Fight them off in the game and they start to follow you around the mall, like you were doing xmas shopping with them when the weirdness hit (and then you gradually start to become more childlike, and they keep dragging you back to the arcade to have fun).

The Fountain:
There's a big mall fountain in the center of the mall. In addition to occasionally turning to mist, the fountain itself is rotting from within, leaving a slick layer of water on the ground, falling in weird escher-like ways (from the ground floor to over the balcony of the second floor). When the fountain's water is mist, you can walk down into the fountain and enter a subterranean cavern full of twisty passages, all alike. You are very likely to be eaten by a Byakhee.

From: "Scott Wells"
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2008 5:39 PM

This isn't so much an idea, as a personal experience in a mall… but it could be used or modified to good effect by a creative keeper.

There's a mall near where I live that was renovated a few years ago. Its *present* look has an elaborate fountain in the center of the mall, just off the food court, and the ceiling above is domed and painted with pastel skies and clouds.

What many don't remember is what was there *before*

There was a fairly ugly bas relief that used to be displayed on the wall above the entrance to the food court. It was, ostensibly, a stylized sun and a field of oddly designed flowers… however, it didn't look so much like a sun as a tentacled mass that seemed to be sunken among alien plants. It really did look that way.

The best part is, when they renovated, they only put *false walls over top of it*. ITS STILL THERE, lying hidden just behind som cheap construction work…

Perhaps the mall ninjas could find this sort of thing as they go through the mall… bizarre artwork only barely hidden behind ordinary facades.

From: "Tom Lynch"
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2008 6:43 PM

Perhaps the mall ninjas could find this sort of thing as they go through the mall… bizarre artwork only barely hidden behind ordinary facades.

What a great idea. That could be a way for the mall ninjas to view the transition to Carcosa. Paint chips fall away to reveal other colors. Pieces of drywall crack and reveal alien architecture. A window that has always has curtains across it suddenly reveals a stunning view of an otherworldly lake…oooooo.

From: "Joe Crazyperson"
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:34 PM

A lost kid in the mall, parents (Sally and Jeff we'll say) come to the Security to try to find help about their missing daughter who is 10, named Jenny. If asked around about, no one has seen her. Only by watching the cameras does anyone seem to notice her (a small girl in a yellow dress with a pretty twisting scarf) and when you watch the cameras Jenny is often off about to go into an area she shouldn't be or to do something dangerous. Those on camera who should have seen the little girl will deny having noticed her at all. Going to where Jenny has recently been on camera will never find anything of the girl, but perhaps something even creepier (such as one of the other events on the list). The parents may linger around and cause problems with the security trying to find their daughter. They may threaten to get them fired, scream hysterically, and the usual.

Shopping Cart Thief!
Just another idea - has anyone seen Trailer Park Boys and Bubbles who used to steal carts out of a shopping mall parking lot to sell to other stores for a profit? I think a homage to that kind of character might be worth it in the scenario. You might give him another name…but his appearance would be perfect. Not too mention having to explain once caught with the dozens of shopping carts he's pushed down the hill because he 'collects them' with his bumbling accent.

From: "David Rankus"
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:59 PM

I really like the first one. The kids parents should be morbidly obese. Perhaps they seem full of liquid or puss. Very soft. Easily breakable, no pain though. Maybe they are pale, cold, remind one of a "Grub" or "Grave Worm."

At least one of the security guards should be a cop, doing this shit job while IA goes over a recent epic bungle. A second security guard always wanted to be a cop, but he's a little slow. He's also sort of following the first as he is lonely and impressed.

Night Mall Playtest Report

From: "phanfasm"
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:56 PM

Long post - fair warning!

I ran the Mall Ninjas/Night Mall playtest and, as expected, it was a a f*cking riot. I had two experienced players (who I wrote/published The Secret of Zir'An RPG with) who were used to minimizing dice rolling and in-character improvisation, which was ideal as I wanted to generate some additional ideas to use in the convention run.

I dropped an NPC supervisor mall ninja, "Macreedy" in as a lever to move things along, which worked well. He eventually became a Kurtz like figure, tearing off his clothes and running wild with several automatic weapons.

-Ideas that worked-
Macreedy just aquired a PSG 1 sniper rifle and the Ninjas go on the roof to show it off. He takes some shots at "rabbits" then invites a PC to look through the scope. The player sees a bloodied human arm sticking out from behind a Dumpster, with blood splashed against a wall - an exit wound. Looking back, there's nothing there.

The Ninjas have a golf cart transport. Every time I run the game, I'll have that session's players name the vehicle. This sparked heated debate and was a reoccurring in-character roleplaying argument, in a hilarious way.

A 3-step process for the Ninja PCs learning about their real selves (all PCs are actually experienced friendlies or DG agents who have been on three or four Operas).
1) They have a weird thing happen to them that gives them a flashback to their normal lives… which are uniformly things like a spouse cheating on them, kicking back with a bottle of pills and a six-pack, watching their spouse die in a car crash, etc.
2) They have a violent or Mythos thing happen to them that gives them a flashback to a bad SAN loss moment at a Night at the Opera. This may be shared by the PCs in the situation at the time, so they recognize each other as their previous selves.
3) Each PC has a final break where the mall illusion tears and they see where they really are - a Carcosa moment. At that point they can choose to retreat to their Mall Ninja identities or embrace their DG personas

The suicide announcements and booths were great. They really drove home that something was very, very wrong after the PCs were having fun just screwing around as Ninjas. Nothing like the portly mall mom ushering her daughter into the booth - "She's just not doing well at school

Both Cinnabon scenes worked like a charm. These were the creepiest moments except for the full on realization of their situation.

The arcade was more effective at the start than the encounter with the asian gang - I got great mileage out of describing the various games' attract mode sound to creep the players out.

Nyarlathotep as a Sikh janitor - I tossed this in to see if the players would try to play one Mythos entity against another. Nyarly was cleaning out some ash from a suicide booth, and the PC who had embraced his true self made his Mythos skill roll. They were very, very careful talking to him :). They didn't end up negotiating with him for a spell that would get them out of Hastur's grip (I'd probably have Nyarly give them Call Azathoth) but it was great moment of terror when they realized who they were talking to.

I hit upon the idea during the run that this situation originated with a DG op gone bad, as the players were chasing a cult that kept putting on The King in Yellow in dinner theaters across the U.S. The cult had escaped again, and uploaded a video of the KIY dinner theater play to YouTube. The PCs, tracking the cult, had mistakenly watched a minute of two and been sucked into this Night Mall situation. The best moment in the game was when the PCs realized not only were they trapped in Carcosa, which sucks pretty bad, but likely MILLIONS of people who had watched the YouTube video and were in the same situation. Begging the question, even if they escaped Hastur's clutches, what did the real world look like now? Did they even have a human society to go back to?

-What didn't work-
The scene in the arcade was awkward - I ran it right after the rooftop and the Asian gang playing Kingu seemed like it happened too soon. I'll probably have the kids do some hand-to-hand fighting then just run away instead of pulling a couple handguns.

I didn't use the bomb threat announcement. I'll try that in the next playtest, probably try to connect Nyarly's Sikh appearance with it.

The mall walkers mob was just OK. Not the best scene of the night, the players just rammed their golf cart into the mob and I had 'em vanish.

I didn't get to do a full-on visit to the actual play in action, have the PCs be forced into parts, etc. With more players in a convention setting, I'll probably prepare some handouts with scripts to be read by the PCs who don't succeed in reclaiming their true personalities.

In the end I want to make sure the DG agent characters have a mix of skills and spells that if two or three cooperate, they can escape and/or take Hastur's little universe down a peg. Getting to the point where the players can puzzle out "Ok, you make the gate, I'll use the viewing stone to set the location." or "Let's sacrifice a bunch of people to summon Azathoth and burn this whole thing down (including ourselves)"

Of course, this little slice of hope will be dashed if they do escape, as the millions of people in the real world are dealing with a massive exposure to the KIY…

Please post any feedback or additional ideas. I'll follow up with some character writeups, all of them pretty universally offensive and hilarious in a Super Troopers/Reno 911 kind of way.

From: "phanfasm"
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:16 PM

—- In moc.spuorgoohay|tsilgd#moc.spuorgoohay|tsilgd, Tom Lynch <tlynch999@…> wrote:

What a great hook! You then assumed it would work…people watching the play thru the filter of the web? Geez. That'd suck. It's a terrific way to bring them in, tho'…nicely done.

In terms of the YouTube angle working or not, I figured it was just a particularly potent performance. Alternatively, the PCs may just be personally teetering on the edge of Carcosa due to their investigation and past contact with the Mythos. The YouTube video was just enough to push them over.

Afterward we brainstormed a bit about how the real world would be affected. Since the internet and broadband video is more of a first world country thing, Carcosa would spread in a pattern similar to the "urban archipelago" as seen in voting maps ( Safety resided in taking yourself off the web and hunkering down with trusted family and community. If I were to continue the game, I'd perhaps set it as a survival horror thing in a Jerico/The Stand like America, where the PCs find their way to a world slipping into a particularly yellow-stained End Times.

From: "phanfasm"
Sent: Friday, March 14, 2008 11:59 PM

In moc.spuorgoohay|tsilgd#moc.spuorgoohay|tsilgd, "Joe Crazyperson" wrote:

I really am enjoying this write-up, what did you name the Mall again, I'm curious? For some reason I keep thinking 'Yellow County Mall'….

A lot of this reminds me of the videogame Dead Rising, a huge almost surreal mall filled with strange characters and numerous horrors and madmen.

I called it the "El Rey Shopping Centre" - but even that was too obvious and gave the Hastur theme away. I might end up with something else that is a red herring, Mythos wise, to distract the players. Any suggestions?

From: "phanfasm"
Sent: Saturday, March 15, 2008 9:14 PM

Some more details…

The arcade was more effective at the start than the encounter with the asian gang - I got great mileage out of describing the various games' attract mode sound to creep the players out.

Did you play those attract mode sounds as campy or creepy (or both!)? I think I'd like to have an example of what you used.

I didn't actually play the sounds, but narrating Berzerk's "Kill the Hu-man Kill The Intruder!", Gorf's "Some galactic defender you are, Space Cadet!" and especially Sinistar's "I Hunnnngerrr!" got waaay more creep factor than I expected. The PCs took it like the attract mode voices were the voices of Hastur itself.

The scene in the arcade was awkward - I ran it right after the rooftop and the Asian gang playing Kingu seemed like it happened too soon. I'll probably have the kids do some hand-to-hand fighting then just run away instead of pulling a couple handguns.

Did you ever use the Addicted Child? I'm guessing not, as you'd already had two encounters in the arcade, and a third might be pushing novelty. In my mind, the Asian Gang were never playing the game. They wanted to destroy it. As the duly constituted and/or self-appointed authorities in the mall, the ninjas must stop it.

I'll try it out the way you suggest next time - that seems like it will be more effective. Maybe I can get the Addicted Child in there after they leave, to refocus the players on what's going on in the mall. It'll definitely be the suicide booth for the AC later - that would be a great resolution to the arcade game arc. In fact, the booths are probably made by the same company as the Kingu game… Spot check!

I realized a short while ago that while I was writing most of my ideas up, I had in the back of my mind that the most overtly dangerous and physically powerful presence in the mall would be the ninjas. Of course, as the Hasturification proceeded, there would be many hints of death, mortality, and decay, but there would be few overtly fatal things in the mall.

As an overall thematic guideline, I'm in full agreement. Hastur is giving the DG agents what all DG agents *really* want - to be so bad-ass they can fight and win against the utterly uncaring and effortlessly superior Mythos reality. Except it's a sham, of course. A cruel joke that is even worse than their previous broken lives because they have given in to the thing they started out fighting, and are doing its unholy work.

I hit upon the idea during the run that this situation originated with a DG op gone bad, as the players were chasing a cult that kept putting on The King in Yellow in dinner theaters across the U.S. The cult had escaped again, and uploaded a video of the KIY dinner theater play to YouTube. The PCs, tracking the cult, had mistakenly watched a minute of two and been sucked into this Night Mall situation.

I really, really like this idea, and the elaboration of the urban archipelago. For some reason, this was on my mind over the last few days. I was wondering what if something like Neal Stephenson's linguistic virus or the King In Yellow got on the internet - how fast would I be consumed? Where would be safe?

I can only think that the safest place would be in a dogmatic religious enclave, where you had no thoughts of your own because any original or creative endeavor would be a chink in the community's armor for Hastur to come in. A cult, as it were. Given the rotten history of religious enclaves (People's Temple, etc.) you just can't win, at least without developing some kind of memetic immune system response… Dismiss Hastur spells?

Maybe the journey to the roof after the mall becomes infinite should be altered a little bit. Maybe instead of being in a vast, epic bowl-like architecture, they find themselves on a balcony as part of a grand ascending terrace of sorts. Above them, the structure continues upward into the sky, past the ability to see. The higher up, the more grand and baroque the towers and crenelations become. It is a stark white which stands out against a beautiful blue sky, and the lengthening shadows of the late afternoon make striking patterns of light and dark.

But, if they look out, away from this immense tower, they see landmarks they identify - the City Hall, the Town Lake. They're all still there - but the building look altered. The streets are wider, paved with some sort of cream stone, the City Hall has gone from a dirty gray color to a shimmering white. On the Lake sits a gaudy Victorian boat, and as the sun falls, it can be seen that the boat is crowded with people at some sort of party.

After nightfall, the horizon becomes tinted with orange, and the brandy ash (or perhaps just regular ash) starts to fall.

I'm afraid I am going to have to shamelessly steal that incredible imagery - fucking-a Luke! Do you have a little blind Milton on your shoulder whispering these terrible, beautiful things into your ear or what?

From the post-Azathothian ruins comes a group of mall security guards in a beat up yet faithful golf cart, thinking they've escaped the madness, not realizing that by judging the mall and finding it wanting they've become conduits for the Phantom of Truth in this Carcosa haunted world.

Begin Act. II

Oh hellz yeah! Sounds like its time to write up a chapbook, eh?

From: "James Haughton"
Sent: Monday, March 17, 2008 12:45 AM

GMs setting games in Malls or other Kapitalist Amerikan icons might find this book useful:
"Pretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture"

Yes, that is an L7 quote in the title.

Other Resources

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