Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
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The name's Adcock. I'm a geologist. I'm in charge of the drill and the dynamite.

We begged and begged George to run another Call of Cthulhu adventure and so he's going to run our bright, shiny characters through the grinder.

Antarctica in 1933 -- what could go wrong?

I shall return with such tales worthy of fine scotch, a warm hearth and rapt grandchildren!
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Chris Tannhauser
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San Diego
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Session 0
We gather and roll up characters.

I am lazy and so only get half a character done.

There is much talk of guns though they will freeze to your hand and there's nothing to shoot at but penguins and teammates.

I decide that this time I will play it straight:

- Ignoring all this "Cthulhu" nonsense.

- Ignoring all player knowledge of the inevitablility of our situation.

- I'm a geologist from Connecticut embarking on the adventure of a lifetime!

- I will probably not end up eating anyone and pooping teeth and wedding rings.

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Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
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Session 1
We assemble in New York and are interviewed by Starkweather, our unfortunately named expedition leader.

We are:

Chad Adcock, PhD geologist & Yale Man. Played by Yours Truly.

Logan Quaid, PhD zoölogist & Harvard clown. Played by Dave.

Edwin Tuttle, of the Fairbanks Tuttles. Astrologer. Played by Big D.

Luciano Torregossa, mountain engineer. Foreigner. Played by Tod.

Albert Leopold Something Something Marie Meinrod, King of the Belgians. Played by Jas.

I am still lazy and so my character sheet is mostly empty.

As we prepare to load the ship we find lots of stuff missing or wrong -- no actual dynamite in the crates labled dynamite. I am dedicated to playing it straight but good god, we need dynamite.

We spend the bulk of the hours making fun of each other's names and occupations and funny accents. The more I like these guys the harder it's going to be on me when I have to eat them.
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Mark Chaplin
United Kingdom
Nottingham
Ice-choked tower, Mondavia, Nanglangka.
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Re: The Thursday Night Academy Does the Mountains of Madness
Please continue with this when you can, Chris. Made me laugh out loud!



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Chris Tannhauser
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San Diego
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Session 2
It all starts to gel. The playspace is set.


Fig. 1 -- Everyone has a hoodoo knife from Africa.

The clues are beginning to pile up.


Fig. 2 -- Already headache-inducing.

We speak in character.


Fig. 3 -- The corncob pipe really sells it.

I am still lazy and so my numbers are not filled in. George asks, "When are you going to choose your skills?"

And I reply, "When I know what I'm rolling for and how much I need to make it."

Murder most foul occurs, along with death threats to the rest of the team. A madman is jealous that we're going to go have fun in the snow.

A rival of our expedition leader is mounting her own assault on the pole (heh). There is a brief discussion as to whether the "Mountains of Madness" refers to the crazy ex's boobs.

I am honored to make the first die roll of the game -- an Idea roll, as I am a Yale Man and little escapes me. I make the roll with room to spare (Yale Man, remember?) and it is lamented that I wasted a good roll on a stupid idea instead of the first San roll, where I will really need it. But that won't come until I am eating Tod's pickled liver, naked in an igloo.

George is slightly taken aback at our reluctance to ransack strange hotel rooms, set things on fire or shoot cops. We are all assiduously avoiding our usual go-to moves in the interest of playing it straight.

We suddenly realize that our team includes members named Adcock and Meinrod.

By the end of the session I have filled in my character sheet to completion.


Fig. 4 -- I'll never be this clean again.

Madness awaits...
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Chris Tannhauser
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San Diego
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Re: The Thursday Night Academy Does the Mountains of Madness
OH GOD I JUST NOW REALIZED I DIDN'T PUT ANY POINTS INTO POLAR SURVIVAL

Looks like I will be cutting Dave open and crawling inside him sooner than expected.
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Eric Dodd
New Zealand
Martinborough
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Re: The Thursday Night Academy Does the Mountains of Madness
Oh, this ought to be good...99% in Geology! You really rock..
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Derrick Farwell
United States
California
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Re: The Thursday Night Academy Does the Mountains of Madness
ASTRONOMER. We Tuttles are men of Science. Astrologers, my friends, are not.

Yaleeys... Sigh.
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Frank Eisenhauer
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
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Re: The Thursday Night Academy Does the Mountains of Madness
Pure.Dead.Brilliant.
I am looking forward to what will hopefully be a long and slow decline into insanity! (Your already reached hilarity)
Please keep the report coming !
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Chris Tannhauser
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For those so inclined, our GM, George, is keeping a log of his thoughts on running this adventure over in the GMs Only section:

Behind the Beyond

From the other side of the screen it all makes sense!
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Chris Tannhauser
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One of the creepiest bits in the original novella (At the Mountains of Madness) is that the bulk of the Mythos action takes place off stage, outside the view of the protagonist. The details of the happenings are relayed back to base camp, and the protagonist, via garbled radio broadcasts.

Wire recordings of these broadcasts stand as an artifact of record of that doomed expedition.

George reproduced some of these recordings here:

Lake's Discovery #1

Lake's Discovery #2

Lake's Discovery #3

Lake's Discovery #4

Lake's Discovery #5


Made the hair stand up on the back of my neck -- the dogs, man, THE DOGS!

"My GM made these for me!"

[swells with pride]
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Eric Dodd
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Martinborough
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Your GM / Keeper is excellent - that audio and his own list show great effort!

The "scientific" way the original story is told is very fitting.
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Chris Tannhauser
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Red Wine Pie wrote:
Your GM / Keeper is excellent - that audio and his own list show great effort!

The "scientific" way the original story is told is very fitting.

He's the best. George is a grad student in history, with a focus on the Golden Age of Radio -- he's not only knowledgeable about the era but has great passion for it as well. This comes across when we play; the game world is a living, breathing thing.

No, I mean that literally -- it will eat your head.
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Chris Tannhauser
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Session 3
More noodling around in New York City & New England in the last few days before we set sail for the ass-end of the world.

There is a mess of girl Pocky, the last of the Halloween candy and a lovely "ingot spread" of Ding Dongs. I make a mental note to be sure to enjoy a Ding Dong with my coffee.


Fig. 5 -- Never take your eyes off the Ding Dongs.

I declare that as soon as we hit the ice I'm going to kit-bash together a jet pack. We have pipes, aviation fuel and reasonably talented fabricators. I figure I'll make up for the lack of a gyroscope with chutzpah. There is a brief discussion as to whether I'll rocket across the ice face-first or shoot up 30 feet, angle over and power-smack back down into a spectacular fireball. I'm pretty sure they're just jealous of how awesome I'll look flying around in Antarctica with an honest-to-god jet pack.

Dave brings some "candy" from a faraway land where toiletries & sweets must happen in the same factory:


Fig. 6 -- Guaranteed to give you a pain in your gulliver.

Hideously, they taste like perfume. What the hell? Who does that?

We follow up on some clues, which really means we steal a car and watch an artist get kidnapped and tied to a chair with a bag over his head. Luciano won't stand for it and scares the kidnappers away with his impressive gesticulating. He escorts the poor artist back to his car, which isn't where he parked it on account of that's the one we hot-wired.

Meanwhile, Dave & I drive thither and yon in the artist's hoopty probably running things over because, hey, it belongs to some jerk we don't know. After running down the one fruitless clue-thread we abandon the car at the wharf. Ha-ha! Sucks to be an artist!

I have blinked and the Ding Dongs have vanished. I console myself with more of that foreign toilet candy.

Suddenly realizing what being on the ice for months will mean, I find myself ravenous for the face- and palm-warming magic of boobs. I declare my intention to pleasure a zaftig waitress. George tells me to make a venereal disease roll. Sadly, I don't have that skill.

Derrick heads out to Miskatonic University to check out the Necronomicon and ends up getting it on with the librarian. No VD, but there is a San hit involved. So I suppose the last laugh is on him when he gets blood in his eye while going nuts with a straight razor on the ship.

Chad sez: All this talk of "Elder Things" is nothing but the superstitious "weird science" of gypsy children and fishwives. Lake's "discovery" was obviously that laudanum and freezing temperatures don't mix.


Fig. 7 -- A windy sack of bollocks & poppycock.

We have nothing to fear but snow-blindness & Derrick's straight razor.

Player Knowledge wrote:
We are so fucked. Lake's team woke these things up three years ago. They've had three years to yank the dust covers off all their crap and warm up whatever infernal machines they've got humming down there. They're 100 times smarter than we are, 100 million years older, and are curious as hell to see what makes us tick.

Do they use anesthetic & tranquilizers during vivisection? Depends, says George, on what they're hoping to discover when they punch that core sample out of you.

I figure they use neither since they can "handle" any thrashing around we might do.

We are so

At long last I finish my non-Polar gear list. Just because we'll be wearing 50 layers of seal skin and yak fur in order not to have any dangly bits blacken and drop off doesn't mean we can't be civilized. If Tod can get a mortar, I can have silk jammies.


Fig. 8 -- The fez will be blessed comic relief at some point. That, and bear traps.

As we're cleaning up a lone Ding Dong is revealed:


Fig. 9 -- God. Dammit.

I choose to see this as an omen of things to come...
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Calavera Soñando
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Socks with garters. Glad to see you've got your priorities in the right place.
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Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
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MScrivner wrote:
Socks with garters. Glad to see you've got your priorities in the right place.

Got to keep my snazz & aplomb stats high. Besides, they'll add a comic "burlesque" air to my vivisection scene.
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Chris Tannhauser
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Player Knowledge wrote:
So it turns out that the term "Elder Things" isn't just a cute nickname -- they have us beat by more than a billion years. My bad.

It's a good thing Chad has no clue -- I'd like him to be as happy as possible right up to the end.

"Adventure, ho! with good chums!"
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Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
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What are you thinking, facialhairwise? Imperial? Van Dyke? Rico? Toothbrush? The "Mexican"? Fu Manchu, for a far-East flair? Will he be bringing wax and a sleeping mask? And what of the sideburns? Will there be "chops?" Will they connect to moustaches/goatee, or will there be an isthmus of bare skin between? Will he allow his facial hair to grow free and woolly in the bitter cold of the Antarctic, for reasons practical (protection from cold and dry wind), expedient (the saving of time, fewer pressures of social convention in unpopulated wilderness), and psychosocial (reinforcing group awareness of secondary sexual characteristics i.e. manliness, machismo, badassery)? Or will our precious little dewdrop keep a fastidious neatness about his face like some kind of dandy or elegant bathhouse punk?
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Jeff Wiles
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Macon
Georgia
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Gola wrote:
What are you thinking, facialhairwise? Imperial? Van Dyke? Rico? Toothbrush? The "Mexican"? Fu Manchu, for a far-East flair? Will he be bringing wax and a sleeping mask? And what of the sideburns? Will there be "chops?" Will they connect to moustaches/goatee, or will there be an isthmus of bare skin between? Will he allow his facial hair to grow free and woolly in the bitter cold of the Antarctic, for reasons practical (protection from cold and dry wind), expedient (the saving of time, fewer pressures of social convention in unpopulated wilderness), and psychosocial (reinforcing group awareness of secondary sexual characteristics i.e. manliness, machismo, badassery)? Or will our precious little dewdrop keep a fastidious neatness about his face like some kind of dandy or elegant bathhouse punk?


I can't decide if I am excited or repulsed by a game that requires a quarter of the character sheet space be allotted to facial hair.
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Brett Christensen
United States
Dickinson
North Dakota
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Only one canteen of whiskey? I thought this guy was a pilot!
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Andrew W.
United States
Eighty Four
Pennsylvania
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jeffwiles wrote:

I can't decide if I am excited or repulsed by a game that requires a quarter of the character sheet space be allotted to facial hair.


Facial hair?


I find your lack of faith.... disturbing.
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Chris Tannhauser
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San Diego
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Gola wrote:
What are you thinking, facialhairwise? Imperial? Van Dyke? Rico? Toothbrush? The "Mexican"? Fu Manchu, for a far-East flair? Will he be bringing wax and a sleeping mask? And what of the sideburns? Will there be "chops?" Will they connect to moustaches/goatee, or will there be an isthmus of bare skin between? Will he allow his facial hair to grow free and woolly in the bitter cold of the Antarctic, for reasons practical (protection from cold and dry wind), expedient (the saving of time, fewer pressures of social convention in unpopulated wilderness), and psychosocial (reinforcing group awareness of secondary sexual characteristics i.e. manliness, machismo, badassery)? Or will our precious little dewdrop keep a fastidious neatness about his face like some kind of dandy or elegant bathhouse punk?

As much as I like the idea of maintaining my elegant bathhouse punk façade, I'll probably go "full woolly" as soon as the ship slips its moorings. It is the practical considerations that weigh most heavily: splashing water on one's head and then touching a thin metal slat to one's naked skin in -50˚ weather is contraindicated.

I will continue to shave until we embark as the ladies prefer non-threatening man-boys to True Men. In my experience the beard repels the majority of women and only serves to attract the most aggressive and sexually predatory of their kind. While this works fine for me in reality, I'm doing my damnedest to get poor Chad laid before the sausage party of the boat ride. He will not die a virgin!

My greatest fear is that George will make me roll to see if Chad has the balls to grow a full beard... and that I will fail that roll and end up with a scraggly half-mess that will only look "right" once I've broken all my teeth and have the glint of the Abyss in my eyes.
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W M Shubert
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Lexington
Massachusetts
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Whether you plan on staying neatly trimmed or not, I think that a good long straightedge razor could be invaluable.
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Chris Tannhauser
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Session 4
We begin the session one man down -- the King of Belgium has a sudden attack of lumbago or gout or something and so is sitting around with his foot bundled up like a baby mummy while every now and then someone whacks it hilariously.

Karl, His Royal Majesty's faithful manservant, is entrusted to our... care.

For snacks I brought wasabi peas, "sugar sparkle", a giant sack of girl Pocky, and oppression-flavor Kit Kats:


Fig. 10 -- Bug-covered chunks of fermented yellow.

Seriously, what's up with the official guy taking notes? Am I eating too much? Not enough? Is this the snack that gets handed out at the Reeducation Camp? It tastes like... shut the hell up.

We make Karl carry all of our crap onto the ship as we argue about bunking arrangements. I immediately call dibs on the zoölogist because it's fun to spell with ümlaüts and having a Yale Man and a Harvard clown bunk in the same compartment is instant sitcom --

KER-WHAAANG!!!

An enormous explosion rings the ship like a bell. George looks at us expectantly.

I say nothing.

He describes the screams as the klaxons howl, stamping feet, shouting, hatches thrown open and a wave of superheated air that washes through the bulkhead.

I say nothing.

Karl, the Italian and the zoölogist rush up and out the ladder well.

George looks at me, fire in his eyes. "Are you going?"

"I am neither a fireman nor a sailor," I reply, "I could do nothing more than get in the way."

Besides, I'm in my jammie pants and fez, preparing for bed. (This is my key strategy for surviving what will surely come -- staying out of trouble by going nowhere near it.)

George takes Tod & Dave upstairs to run the excitement on deck. That leaves me & Big D at the table.

It is at this point that D shares a secret with me, a secret so enormous and terrible that I can scarcely contain it without going mad. We talk long and in great detail about the secret and what it could mean for the expedition, our very survival, and the future of humanity. I would share it with you but for the fact I swore I would not. Let me just say that my earlier pooh-poohing of firearms as only being useful for "shooting penguins and expedition members" was predicated on the idea that it would be crazy to shoot either. Now I'm not so sure; penguins may turn out to be delicious, and people...

(So much for my strategy. By staying out of trouble I landed in the thick of much worse things.)

They return to the table and D & I shut up. They look like they've been to an Irish BBQ -- singed and beat to hell. Karl is notably absent. It turns out he gave his all fighting the fire. The hapless manservant grabbed a fire hose a couple feet from the heavy brass nozzle and cranked the wheel; the nozzle whirled around and brained him. The Resistance Table claims another victim.

Jas, this is what happens when you don't show up -- your crap gets disrespected and misused. In this case Tod & Dave broke your manservant. Sorry.

A bunch of stuff happened on deck during the fire -- there were fisticuffs amid the flames* -- but I wasn't privy to it being downstairs with D.

And then George points out that D isn't actually there -- he's on a train en route from Arkham. My mind reels above roiling gulfs of gobbledygook etc., etc. I say nothing of our conversation in order to avoid a San roll.

Back on land as the ship get repairs, the clues begin to accrue like pregnancies on a porn set:

- There will be Nazis on the ice.

- Lexington is probably a Nazi.

- There are five missing chapters from the Pym Ms.

- The complete ms. was stolen on the day Lexington's father "committed suicide"

- The rare galley proof of the ms. differs greatly from the published version

- Clues clues clues clues clues clues clues how I hate the writhing mass of youse

Taking this all into account, the Italian and the zoölogist decide they are second-story men and break into Lexington's mansion to ransack the joint. I have little idea of how that went since my survival strategy "go in the opposite direction of trouble, and quickly" had me out cruising dames. I was assured I was successful, though the manner of my success left me queasy and possibly syphilitic. At least I didn't have to make a San roll.

George is flipping through the module to look something up when BANG a page flops open and both George and Dave gasp -- George quickly slaps the book shut. "I have to be more careful about how I open this thing," he chuckles.

"What was it?" I ask Dave.

Dave hesitates. "It was either... flaming skulls or a cityscape."

Great.

Heading out on what should be the adventure of a lifetime I find myself suddenly off balance, uneasy and harboring both mental and physical venereal diseases. We'll see how far the infection spreads.

Meanwhile, the ice awaits, cold, hard and patient.


*Most notably involving rampant "nut-punching".
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Chris Tannhauser
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Session 5
Meinrod, the King of Belgium, returns to the repaired ship from his senescence convalescence to find his manservant and "wipe buddy" Karl MIA. We assure him that Karl died as a hero, or at least as heroically as one can when one's miscalculation and misunderstanding of physics collides with the cold equations to the dome-piece.

"I feel naked without my man Karl—"

The table explodes with laughter.

"It's not funny! I'm taking it hard—"

We're weeping and retching with laughter now, begging him to stop.

He draws himself up, regal in the face of such abuse. "Rearrange my words however you like -- I still feel inadequate."

Someone may have actually blown a hydrocele at this point.

We begin playing musical bunks since the arrangement of:

Adcock & Quaid
Meinrod & Karl
Tuttle & Torregossa


has been blown to hell with the loss of Karl and Meinrod's age-addled reluctance to bunk alone combined with my sudden desire to bunk with Tuttle. Elaborate game theory grids are constructed from hot air and ire:


Fig. 11 -- AW C'MON!

During which much scorn is heaped back and forth:

"When I take off my shirt," declares the Italian, "You see that I bear a tattooed inscription across my chest." It states, in large Roman capitals:

DI QUI NON SI PASSA

"'Degrease the pasta?'" asks Tuttle.

It also turns out he drinks a lot of grappa. "What's grappa?" I ask.

The Italian responds to my polite query. "It's kind of pomace brandy infused with—"

"Hair," finishes Meinrod.

The bickering begins anew and in the end no progress is made -- bunking arrangements remain as they were, save for Meinrod, who declares that he's bunking with his "hand grenade collection".

I finally secure a goddamned Ding Dong plucked from the Wall of Ding Dongs:


Fig. 12 -- Who knew the idea of a Ding Dong was far superior to the actual physical thing?

Reading the Pym Manuscript has made everyone twitchy -- there are requests for the makings of Molotov Cocktails. (Though it turns out they wouldn't actually be invented until three years hence, during the Spanish Civil War, and wouldn't be christened with the familiar name until the Finnish Winter War six years beyond that. We shall have to refer to them as "Tuttle Tipplers".)

"Massacre?!" blurts Meinrod as he re-reads the précis of the Pym Ms.

Tuttle asks for 10 boxes of soap flakes in response. Nobody asks when napalm was invented. Perhaps it will be in 1933, on the Antarctic ice.

We set sail for the Panama Canal.

To fill the weeks that follow, George hints that there will be classes offered—

"Like 'Sailor Sutra' on the poop deck?"

"'Sailor Knots' or 'Rope Work with Seamen?'"

"Can you get your hands loose? No? Now begins Sailor Sutra."

Unfortunately, it's having to choose between:

Ballroom Dancing or Polar Exploration?

Origami or Polar First Aid?

More Origami or Polar First Aid again?

As funny as I think it would be to light out onto the ice as a twinkle-toed paper-crane-maker, I opt for all the polar classes instead and end up pushing my Polar Survival skill from an "OMIGOD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE" 01% to a "Hang on, I think I got this—oops" 21%.

Somewhere in the middle of all this Big D leans in and mutters nonsense to George in order to eyeball all his notes. George quickly covers everything and I am given a small measure of peace knowing I won't be the first one to lose a limb to frostbite.


Fig. 13 -- Also, the candy begins behaving strangely.

We sluice through the Panama Canal (not really -- it's slow and boring, especially in primeval times like the '30s) and onward south toward Australia.

(takes deep breath)

Okay, this next part was really, really awesome. I will try to do it justice.

As we near the equator there is talk of "pollywogs" and "shellbacking" and suddenly Davy Jones his very self appears aboard (to Quaid's eternal startlement) and declares that we must all appear before King Neptune's court.

Are we going to LARP our shellbacking? George and Big D (who has himself been so honored) assure us we would not LARP it.

"So no sodomy?"

"Well," George replies, "No extra sodomy."

I am very excited by all this. When the shenanigans get rolling, with all kinds of fun-looking carnival contests and jars of mysterious liquids laid out, I make sure to push to the front.

"Who would dare approach King Neptune first?"

"Oh!" I cry, hand shot high.

Suddenly, there's a bag over my head.

At the table, I turn to look at Dave, who has his jacket in both hands behind me.

"I thought we weren't going to LARP it," I say slowly, not taking my eyes off him.

"We aren't," states George.

"Awww," says Dave, crestfallen.

I am spun around until I can feel my breakfast and then placed on a board-and-rolling-can setup -- I get 03 on my dex roll, much to everyone's disappointment.

I am then dunked into a bathtub filled with god-knows-what (I pretend it's "pudding") -- I get 03 on my con roll, again to the vocal disappointment of the crowd. (And I worry about wasting such stellar rolls on non-Sanity-related activities.)

Next up is a maze of boxes, which, head-bagged, disoriented and gagging, I fail to navigate well. The crowd approves and I am glad to be of service.

Then to the Jar of "Man"-naise which I swill in manly fashion, rolling a 45 as my breakfast protests, but is held in check.

And finally to the Royal Baby -- an exceedingly fat and hairy seaman dressed as a baby, an olive buried in his cavernous navel. It is my fate to extract it with nothing but my mouth and tongue. I do so, but at the expense of my breakfast which I expel lustily all over the Royal Baby's legs and feet. The crowd goes wild.

Meinrod rolls a 01 on the Royal Baby labor, pulling it off, in his own words, "like Karl and I rehearsed it."

When it comes time for the ballroom dance portion of the ritual, I blow it royally with a heart-stopping roll of 97. I am clumsy and ugly and just plain massacre the ladies' steps.

After everyone has staggered, stumbled and barfed their way through it George presents us with these fantastic certificates:


Fig. 14 -- I crossed the equator on my way to crazy-town and all I got was this lousy certificate.

I am over the moon. Seriously. It's so cool that he would give us a piece of the game world as a prop—

"You smell an overpowering odor of ammonia. Lots of it."

The spell is broken by foul saboteurs who have ganked our freezers; all our perishable food starts going bad.

We eat what we can, preserve what we can, set up drag lines for fishing round-the-clock, and prepare to break into our pemmican stores to see us through to Australia.

I am not alarmed. Though there be saboteurs aboard, it is someone else's problem. I'm just the geologist, after all.

We break into the pemmican as stores run low, at least to feed the dogs. Almost immediately the dogs become crazed and begin dying, their piteous howling echoing throughout the ship.

Quaid, the zoölogist, secures some of the pemmican and several dog-corpses and after a fevered night of science finds they were killed by strychnine poisoning. Strychnine in the pemmican.

This news hits me like a bolt and I am suddenly involved.

They sabotaged the freezers so we'd eat the pemmican.

The strychnine was meant for us.



Fig. 15 -- Note to self: Test on dogs FIRST.

I suddenly feel uncharacteristically like I could beat something important out of the bastard(s) who did this.

Now it's personal.
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