A Yellow King: This is Normal Now yuletide scenario hook
Ask your players to describe a Christmas party they would all attend. While there, the investigator whose Freaking Weird Moment most reminds you of this story hook makes egg-nog flavored small talk with a fellow partygoer of about the same age. A mutual flirtation might occur if your group enjoys romantic elements.
The new acquaintance, Sunil Tirki, mentions that he’s been having strange dreams lately. He vividly remembers them each morning, which is not usually the case for him. They feature him as a bolder, tougher, but more hardened and traumatized version of himself, navigating a grim, gray New York City.
When asked what has changed recently for him, the only weird recent event from his waking life concerns a problem he’s been having at his job. He works at a photo and digital imaging service, where a customer asked him to transfer a 16 mm film to digital. Very strangely, he was unable to successfully digitize the film. Repeat attempts yielded only video noise with no sound.
He finally hauled a projector from storage to watch the film, hoping to find the source of the glitches. What he saw a captivatingly off-kilter avant garde half-hour film called The Dream Clown Christmas Special. The film followed the format of an old-fashioned kid’s show, but seemingly hailing from an alternate universe. The host, the titular Dream Clown, had this creepy, intense attitude. Every so often he interrupted the Christmas games and crafts he had his young co-hosts perform to remind the audience that the spirit of the season was obedience. Parents often drank a little too much at this time of year, one of his monologues said. That’s when their lips loosen and they say things out loud they would ordinarily only think to themselves. Kids expecting presents from Santa should listen carefully to what their moms and dads might blurt out about the Emperor. Calling the hotline number shown on the screen would quality them for special holiday prizes.
Sunil can’t hand over the film, which his customer eventually returned to reclaim. He can’t explain why this elaborate, sort of satirical production wouldn’t exist on a contemporary format. Maybe it was made years ago, as its kind of 70s or 80s but not really visual scheme suggests.
This may or may not tingle the team’s Carcosa senses, sending them to find the owner of the film, who discovered it left behind in an apartment he moved into. Francisco Brock became obsessed with the film and held several viewing parties for his arts scene friends. He has since given up on his plan to upload it to YouTube. “I’m not the person I was back then,” he says, referring to events from a few months ago.
The film has indeed slipped between realities, and hails from the Aftermath world. People who watch the Christmas special have been gradually taking on traits, and dreams, of their alt timeline counterparts. On December 25, which is when the Christmas special always aired during the Castaigne years, watchers will fully transform into their other selves, with reality-altering ripple effects. People whose counterparts are dead in the Aftermath timeline will go from the listless and depressed individuals they have lately become to decomposing into sludge on the spot.
To stop this, the investigators must find and destroy the original film. Unfortunately, says Francisco, some guy in a white mask broke into his apartment soon after he brought it back from the transfer place. He took only one item: the film reel of the Dream Clown Christmas Special.
The Yellow King Roleplaying Game takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines, pitting characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. When read, this suppressed play invites madness, and remolds our world into a colony of the alien planet Carcosa. Four core books, s erved up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront layers with an epic journey into horror in four alternate-reality settings: Belle Epoque Paris, The Wars, Aftermath, and This Is Normal Now. Purchase The Yellow King Roleplaying Game in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.