The series outlines for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game now reaches the last of the canonical four sequences, This is Normal Now. Previous installments cover Paris Part One and Part Two, and The Wars, Part One and Part Two, and Aftermath, Part One and Part Two.
As before, this outline presents one way to do it, which you can stick to or diverge from as much as you want. It supplies more entries than almost any Game Moderator will need, allowing you to pick and choose. While you play you’ll spot emergent story elements that you’ll want to feature in their own episodes, which will be better than nearly any of the ones below.
The intro scenario in the book, in this case “Entanglement,” serves as the best set-up. Should you choose to do your own thing with the opener, take a look at its structure, particularly the way it brings all the disparate, apparently ordinary characters together and turns them into a group of amateur occult investigators.
After the group assembles, cement personal connection to the reality horror by wrapping a scenario around one of the characters’ Freaking Weird Moments. Select the one that immediately sparks a clear scenario idea with a big revelation at the end. Ideally, weave in two or more of them. The ending doesn’t wrap up the FWM so much as it reveals a bigger dimension to it. It furthers the hint from the first episode that the characters are tangled together into a peculiar destiny.
The book recommends that you set TINN in the city you and your players live in or are familiar with. This underlines the fact that the alternate worlds of this and Aftermath, which is set in New York City*, aren’t standard alternate timelines branching from a single divergence point, but a weirder reality slip. Underline this with a scenario set around a local historical spot or other notable location. This reinforces the conceit of the setting, in which the quotidian meets the Carcosan.
As a Torontonian, I ran a ghost story set in the storied, decommissioned Don Jail, with some additional Freaking Weirdness stirred in for good measure.
*Sorry, NYC residents. For once living in there makes things less weird.
A disappearance or act of sabotage draws the investigators into a cover-up by one of the setting’s shady corporations.
- Abzynth’s trials for a new iteration of its anti-Carcosan pharmasocial drug, Acasor, have gone murderously awry.
- Blackstar has developed a serum from captured rampagers which it hopes to use to turn its contractors into human-alien hybrid supersoldiers.
- A reactive prosthetic designed by McAidrai BioMaterials has developed its own consciousness. Does it merely wish to subsume its host, or does it harbor a more ambitious agenda?
Big Bad Teaser
Of the recurring villains from your previous three sequences, pick the one that most resonated with your players. Then devise a mystery that your baddie can appear in, without being the main threat that needs to be dealt with to bring about a successful resolution.
Set a scenario in the whirl of your city’s entertainment scene. The obvious plot has a sapient Carcosan menace, like the central figure in the cover image, hunting the young and fashionable in clubs and bars. You might also consider monstrous musicians, dealers of Carcosan drugs, or a tattoo artist marking people with the Yellow Sign.
Wrap a mystery around a player’s Familiar Face, the connection that refers back to a previous character from one of the previous sequences. They might deal with the otherworldly resonance of a sculpture or painting by a Paris PC, discover a war diary from an alternate history, or meet up with their more heroic and troubled selves from Aftermath.
In my game, I had an absent player’s hardened assassin character show up to confuse, and be confused by, the soft, unhaunted versions of his insurgent crew. Further head-spinning ensued the next week, when the player showed up to hear what his character’s doppelganger had been up to.
Art World Unease
Echo the vibe of the Paris sequence, as the contemporary art and gallery scene intersects with alien horror.
- A new artist might stage a performance piece around the destruction of a print by a Paris PC.
- A gallery could require exorcism.
- A sculpture garden might reconfigure itself into a hungry Carcosan entity at night, or serve as a gate to the other world.
And how is Disruptive Events LLC involved?
Ripped from the Headlines
Pick the story of shocking modernity that’s freaking everyone out on social media as you plan your session, turning it into a horror scenario featuring pallid masks and the dread influence of a sinister play. By the time you get around to this, crypto, NFTs, and robots that reproduce might be old hat consensus reality. But there will be some other destabilizing news story to capture the fever of the moment, and that’s where you come in.
The city goes wild for absinthe. Suddenly influencers are sporting top hats or Charles Worth gowns and referring to themselves as flaneurs. Lines form around the block for a revived version of an outlandish Montmartre tavern, like Hell or the Cabaret of Death. Those who succumb to the fad go wild in their own dangerous ways. All received visitations from a recently freed absinthe entity, who wishes to recreate her glory days in Paris. She doesn’t care how many minds she breaks in the process, so the group must figure out how to get her back in the bottle. Along the way they may wonder why she refers to them by vaguely familiar names that hearken back to the Belle Époque.