21st Feb 2020, 12:30 AM
Go to The Back Room

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Go to The Back Room
"Thank you," you say as you finish your cup. "And thank you for the tea."

Ms. Halford holds out her hand, and you give her your empty cup as you rise from your seat.

"I... guess..." You stare off at nothing for a moment, trying to get it all sorted. "...If you see Kate, tell her I'm having a sleepover at the spooky house."

"You're camping out at the spooky house?"

"I own the spooky house," you huff on your way to the door. You stop. You sigh. "I live in the spooky house."

"Ohhh." Ms. Halford smiles wide, knowingly. "It's all coming together now." She grins just a little wider, and nods. "I'll let her know."


You begin the very long trudge back to the bus stop.


Past one field

and a bait shop

which you see some actual movement through the windows of, prompting you to walk faster

and past another field.


The bus arrives rather quickly; you don't think they went far.

"She wasn't home," you inform the bus. "Can you take me to The Back Room?"

"Sure," the bus replies.



You once again survey the damage of the less populated part of the town as you pass through it. You had to have ridden past here this morning, right? When the bus dropped Kate off...?

But then, you were still half asleep at the time

and Kate was here

and you probably just... didn't notice how it looked outside.

"Has anyone asked about me?," you suddenly ask the bus.

"No," says the bus.

"Can you let me know if anyone does?"

"Sure," the bus replies, "I'll make a note to log it if anyone inquires about you."

"Thanks," you say with a small nod. "I don't know how deep and big conspiracy this whole thing's gonna go, but... I want to try and stay on top of it. Oh! And if you see Kate, tell her I'm doing a thing tonight and she's invited? Please?"

"Will do," says the bus.



Near the edge of where the decay starts, the bus reaches a small shopping strip. Wedged between an "Old Fashioned" Burger Joint and a Massage Place

is The Back Room.

The bus pulls up to a stop on the far end of the parking lot.

You thank the bus, and head inside.







Absolute silence.

Two people behind the counter--one pretty old, the other a (vaguely familiar?) teenager, stare you down like you just caught them committing a crime.

"Bro," whispers the large teen, "there's a girl in here."

"Are... you looking for the massage place?" The older man points in their general direction.

You shake your head. "This is The Back Room, right?"

"Oh, shit," whispers the large teen, "she's here on purpose."

"Well," the old man whispers back, "she passes the shoe test."

"What's the shoe test?," you ask, finally breaking the illusion that you can't hear them whispering.

Their respective eyes widen. The two straighten their postures a bit.

The older man speaks first. "You can usually tell a cop by their shoes."

"You don't have cop shoes," the rotund boy adds a bit more quietly.

"This is the second time today someone thought I might be a cop," you mutter, shaking your head in mild disbelief. "People have pets bigger than me, how do I look like a cop?"

"Well," begins the old man, "you walk like you're about to arrest somebody. Or burn the building down. Welcome to The Back Room! I'm Marlow, though half the town calls me Tuck. There used to be too many Marlows."

"Like, when we had dinosaurs and shit?," asks the boy.

Marlow gives him a glare. "And this is Afu. You'll have to forgive him, he's a teenager. He doesn't get to see females of the species in the store too often."

"Hey!," Afu exclaims indignantly.

...And then switches his focus to you, leaning casually on the counter. "...Hey."

"Wh..." You take a second to breathe. It does feel a bit like you just walked in on a sitcom routine. "What the hell is this place?"

Marlow takes a deep, slow breath, as though building to something dramatic. "The Back Room is the foremost purveyor in... lost... toys, and... uh..."

He quickly putters out.

He shakes his head, and gives a small shrug. "Eh, I can't remember the whole thing."

"We haven't said the whole thing in like..." Afu gives a bigger shrug. "Months? Bruh."

Marlow gives a small nod, and waves the whole thing off. "We buy and sell oddities and rejects. Recalled toys, unlicensed games, cancelled prototypes..."

Afu joins in. "Laser pointers. Those chocolate eggs with the toys in 'em."

"We've got unreleased episodes from a bunch of shows," Marlow adds. "And the theatrical cuts of movies you're not supposed to see the theatrical cut of. We've gooot... uh..."

You decide to save him from having to think of more things. "So you guys sell shit that's technically illegal, but nobody cares about enforcing."

"Is that not enough for you?," asks Marlow with a sly grin. "Are you not impressed?"

"She wants the heavy stuff," suggests Afu with an eyebrow waggle.

"You don't lead with the heavy stuff," replies Marlow, "that's why we keep scaring off customers. Lead with the medium stuff." He turns back to you. "We've got tabletop roleplaying books from back when they were actually Satanic. You into haunted dolls? We got a closet full of haunted dolls."

"We think they mostly keep each other in check," adds Afu.

"Ever see a bucket of crabs?," asks Marlow. "Same principle. We've got board games with body counts, dream rings, that soda that causes heart attacks..."

"Why did you say dream ring like that?," you feel obligated to ask.

"Like what?"

Afu chimes in. "You said it like it had a mission from God. Like... DREAM RING."

"d r e a m r i n g," you attempt to imitate.

"I just... said dream ring?," Marlow affirms, shaking his head. "Anyway, that's the sort of thing we deal in."

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21st Feb 2020, 12:48 AM
so how much is this dream ring?
21st Feb 2020, 12:48 AM
guess i should also ask what it does, duh
21st Feb 2020, 9:09 AM
21st Feb 2020, 12:50 AM
Ask about the dream rings. The plot demands it.
21st Feb 2020, 8:41 AM
I felt the same way when I read it also ask them if they have any interesting Video Games in stock(illegeal or otherwise) and check out their selection Tabletop games
21st Feb 2020, 9:10 AM
21st Feb 2020, 2:43 PM
Hell yeah, this is clearly worth not quite the entirety of our little amount of money, plus whatever we're about to bargain for it.
They're also likely to have some good banned games from the eighties to go with that.
21st Feb 2020, 1:03 AM
Macheman7
Marlow is right. Don't lead with the heavy stuff. Ask about games first, then ask about the dream rings.
Also, try to slip in something nerd-cred-y in there. I don't know, make an obscure anime or video game reference.
21st Feb 2020, 3:09 AM
YetAnother
Plaire is a level 100 nerd. Challenge those guys to nerd-off!
21st Feb 2020, 4:11 AM
21st Feb 2020, 11:39 AM
Frission
+1 to nerd-off! She must assert nerd dominance early if we hope to become the pack alpha. *nod*
21st Feb 2020, 9:02 AM
21st Feb 2020, 9:06 AM
Snervalton
+1 to all of this, especially the nerd-off, it'll solidify Plaire as some one these kinds of folks could respect.
21st Feb 2020, 9:15 AM
pkrankow
Probably the best tactic.
Introduce ourself. I bet they are fanboys because of the video channel. Because of the cop shoes routine they are probably not very serious fanboys.

Lead with seeing Afu (the kid in the purple shirt) at the Biggest Shrug concert, and how awesome Kate is on guitar.

Casual discussion of tabletop games, followed by video games (which often have roots in tabletop games) on to the Dream Ring segue over to The Spooky House and maybe our video channel.
21st Feb 2020, 1:09 AM
In for a penny... Ask if they have Solomon's Ring.

And maybe a Dullahan Waifu? ...I dunno, it could be a body pillow. Body pillows might follow us into the dungeon.

Seriously though, ask about Solomon's ring.
21st Feb 2020, 8:42 AM
Solomon's Ring might actually be a Dream Ring hmm
21st Feb 2020, 8:47 AM
Hari_Seldon
+1 ask about Solomon's ring
21st Feb 2020, 9:06 AM
21st Feb 2020, 9:02 AM
21st Feb 2020, 7:01 PM
21st Feb 2020, 1:10 AM
Portal In Time
Let's look around on the shelves first, then start digging into the hard stuff like the D R E A M R I N G S. What does that arcade cabinet have? And that gold plaque looks interesting....
21st Feb 2020, 2:14 AM
"You said it like an NPC highlighting a very important plot coupon for the PC in a Sierra C-era point-and-click game. The kind that results in you dying if you don't have it at the right point in the game."

If we decide to try and purchase the ring and it's well outside our price range, see if we can get an, "Owner of the spooky house" one-time discount as a part of haggling. While we shouldn't be telling the whole town that bit of info, I imagine if anyone can either keep a secret or not be believed if they spill; it's these guys.
21st Feb 2020, 4:15 AM
Xylas_Incarnum
+1
Definitely should drop the spooky house ownership thing after shopping around a bit though, since that's pretty heavy I think.
21st Feb 2020, 9:09 AM
Snervalton
+1! One of the reasons we came here was to see what these folks might know about the spooky house and other strange goings-on in Ninelives. Maybe we should ask about the mayor too?
21st Feb 2020, 2:20 AM
for some reason i want to know what is in the blue chest on the shelf. and what the dream ring does.
21st Feb 2020, 4:00 AM
TGWMoC
Not gonna lie, I would window shop the hell out of that store irl.

So! Look around a bit if we're curious about the more mundane stuff, but when we want to get to the point, mention that A) We bought the spooky house, B) it is in fact spooky, C) we want to know if they have any tips or merch that might keep us alive, or D) keep Mondol off our back.
21st Feb 2020, 9:10 AM
21st Feb 2020, 8:29 AM
Hari_Seldon
Ask about MASAMOON Fate games because some TYPEMOON Fate games are obscure and might be at The Back Room.

Ask about the dream rings, which might be even more powerful than obscure video games. Try to get as many dream rings as possible, because each person has 10 fingers (10 dream rings per person) and 2 hands (2 rings per person if you put 1 ring on each ring finger) and right now we might have 2 or 3 people at the sleepover. So 6-60 possible rings to wear. They might give her that many if she says it is a spooky house experiment.

I'm disappointed that the tabletop games are Satanic, because that sounds a lot more of a bad idea to buy than if they were pagan.
21st Feb 2020, 9:12 AM
Snervalton
+1 to collecting dream rings, but there might be some D&D-type limitation that only allows one ring to work properly on each hand...
(edited for spelling)
21st Feb 2020, 1:23 PM
Depends on the kind of Satanic honestly. Some kinds of Satanism are mostly just people trying to have a good time and not be dicks while raising a big ol’ middle finger to people who try to keep others from having a good time.
21st Feb 2020, 4:09 PM
Hari_Seldon
WARNING BLOOD IS MINE SPOILERS

I support the Satanists who are fighting to get 10 commandment stuff off of public property (courthouses). And of course D&D is not actually Satanic because its magic lore does not follow Christian ideas.

But I can imagine Satanic rituals asking for magic power (in Plaire's world where magic is real) might attract dangerous spirits willing to make deals by pretending to be Satan.

It would be funny, though, if the "Satanic" tabletop games actually contact the Tradesmen. I think Plaire should actually eventually buy a D&D book just in case that is true. And hope it does not contact evil Tradesmen or something.
21st Feb 2020, 10:57 AM
+1 Can't take a gift *bolding* for granted!
21st Feb 2020, 11:26 AM
So they've told us about what they sell, ask to see what they sell. Inquire further about the satan books; maybe they have a certain copy of Geoangular Control, or something similar.
21st Feb 2020, 11:53 AM
Hari_Seldon
+1 ask about books that might help us. But if you remember Geoangular Control was a very NOT dangerous book, there are much more dangerous ones, so be careful.
21st Feb 2020, 12:51 PM
Buy a haunted doll.
21st Feb 2020, 12:52 PM
21st Feb 2020, 12:56 PM
Hari_Seldon
As Cadfael suggested on the Discord:
In addition to the solomon dream ring, we should also first see if they know anything about the spooky house before mentioning that we own it. Then ask if Afu and Marlow recognize the symbol on the dream map. Then ask if they have burner phones for sale.

Edit: Last I heard burner phones were not illegal in Plaire's universe, so OK we could ask
"There's also been a big push to ban what's referred to as 'burner phones,' citing their use by the criminal element."

A burner flip phone might actually be a good idea. What's the point of a smartphone in Plaire's case?
21st Feb 2020, 1:21 PM
Definitely ask about dream rings. But also get a kinder egg!!! They’re probably not super expensive and the delight they bring is totally worth it. Because *kinder egg* <3
21st Feb 2020, 2:47 PM
I'm wondering if Plaire should try digging about TFL right there or if it's too early and/or risky.
21st Feb 2020, 4:16 PM
Hari_Seldon
BLOOD IS MINE SPOILERS BELOW

Investigate the tabletop game that is "Satanic" (and any other magic books that might have the Tradesmen symbol Plaire saw in her dreams). Ask if you could look at it and look through it for the Tradesmen symbol Plaire saw in her dreams (maybe it is called Satanic because ignorant people heard you make deals with spirits and assumed it was Satan, but it is actually the Tradesmen).

Of course Plaire does not know who the Tradesmen are, but this could just be her looking for that mysterious symbol she saw in her dreams in all of the magic books they sell there.

Edit: Plaire should do this even if she asks and the store owners tell her about what the Tradesmen symbol is, because she needs a way (a spell) to contact the Tradesmen to ask them about how to stop her spooky house killing people.
21st Feb 2020, 4:18 PM
Fishbulb
A few things we might want to do:

1. Once we've established our nerd cred, ask Afu and Marlow about the symbol on the dream world map.

2. Ask about procuring a pay-as-you-go burner phone.
21st Feb 2020, 6:06 PM
Snervalton
+1 to both those suggestions
21st Feb 2020, 6:25 PM
pkrankow
+1, except call it a "prepaid" or "pay as you go" and not "burner" because we do not plan to burn the phone, but use it as our primary phone.

And

Afu was at the concert
21st Feb 2020, 7:04 PM
Heroshima
+1, mention Afu was the concert in order to kickstart social bond!
21st Feb 2020, 7:38 PM
Limrix
Aw yeah, now this is it. Somewhere where we can nerd out with people of similarly low social skills and not have to care about the pretense of small talk. Or at least talk about things we actually like. A place where we can hang with other cool but slightly awkward individuals. Get right in there and geek out with some fellow reservoirs of incredibly specific knowledge. This is a place we could while all the time before we need to meet Kate. So many things with so many stories behind them. Where did they come from? What do they do? Who made them, and why? It's a veritable treasure trove of intrigue and options.

If they're wise to real dream rings we should see if we can also get a dullahan waifu, whatever form that takes. Figure, poster, body pillow? Or maybe it's inside the dungeon.

Man, that sure was weird how he said dream ring. It's almost like it was a cryptic message or something.
21st Feb 2020, 10:40 PM
lil Joshu
... find out if they're willing to hire a geek girl to just hang out all the time to make the place seem more intriguing to guys and more friendly to girls. Heck, if we just hang out here to do our reviews and such, it'd build up cred for the "the back room" with us being able to review stuff there, and make our material all the more interesting. It's a match made in... well, maybe not heaven... but somewhere where things take off!
21st Feb 2020, 10:44 PM
+1
This would also give us more stable income
21st Feb 2020, 11:25 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 I like this better than Maria's offer of a job
21st Feb 2020, 11:31 PM
Snervalton
+1 as long as the hours are flexible enough to allow Plaire to continue her paranormal investigations and fighting of fascism and such.