21st Feb 2020, 11:52 PM
Assert nerd dominance first

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Assert nerd dominance first
You take a breath.


You march up to the counter.


You put your hands on the counter.


You hadn't thought about it

but now that you're here

it feels so obvious.


"Robodemons."

"Robodemons?," Afu replies.

"Famikon. Blue cartridge."

"Like the Bible games?," Afu asks.

"Yeah," you say with several nods. "But it was by a different company."

Your mom likes garage sales.

You have played a lot of unlicensed games.

You don't know how she didn't notice the title was Robodemons, but somehow a young you--whose entire world was video games and the things keeping you from playing video games--acquired Robodemons.

Robodemons is, you suspect, the closest there will ever be to creepypasta garage sale haunted video game cartridges actually existing.

It was an insane game, where the hero used a jetpack and a boomerang to fight an army of cybernetic demons. There were bones and corpses everywhere. Allusions and references to Hell and Satan and Death and everything else. All that, in an unlicensed blue cartridge. No seal of approval.

You owned it as a child.

But also, your mom likes having garage sales.

So you don't own it as an adult.

It was also hard as balls so you don't know what anything past the second level looks like. You've tried to find videos online but almost literally zero people have played it and actually literally zero people have recorded it for the internet. No ROMs existed the last time you checked. It's that obscure.

Physically being in the store, and perhaps hearing the phrase unlicensed games, has ignited some long sleeping synapse and a deep dark corner of your brain is now quite curious.

"Never heard of it," Afu says.

You look at Marlow. He shakes his head and motions to Afu. "He's the games guy. If he doesn't know, then we don't have it."

God dammit.

It's probably the source of some real weird shit in the formative aesthetic parts of your brain, and you have no idea what that would mean in the nightmare.


. . .


You squint at Afu. "...Do you have the Bible fighting game--"

"No," he interjects, "I wish, I'd have already bought it."

Damn.

That one didn't have any deep mental attachments, you've just heard it's actually a solid game. Like, it's humorously competent, mostly because it stole all its code from a hyper violent fighting game; all the blood and gore was just... resprited into Bible things. There was a bookstore in Addersfield that carried it (and a bunch of other religious... themed... paraphernalia), but they closed before you owned a console that could play it.

You've also played a lot of other unlicensed Bible games (featuring blue cartridges), but those were all fucking garbo and you have no interest in tracking them back down

...But that fighting game still always felt like a missed opportunity. You were owed at least one good game out of all those hokey knock-offs and it continues to slip through your fingers. You could emulate it online, sure, but you want the physical cartridge. You want the trophy.

"You're killing me, Afu."

"I know," he says. "I'm sorry. I know. I've been hunting for it. I need it to live."

You sigh.

Exasperated, you relent.

"What's a dream ring?"

Afu turns to Marlow. "You made it sound important, bro, you gotta explain it."

Marlow holds his hands up. "I can explain some of it. Some of that story she'd be better off waiting for the boss."

"Oh, yeah," Afu responds with a nod before turning to you. "Ezra's our boss. Not like... a boss-boss, but it's his place."

Marlow clarifies. "Ezra had a lot of money and still has a maybe sort of hoarding problem. He doesn't really care about the business side or how The Back Room is ran."

"He just wants, uh... well, what he told us is--"

"No," Marlow states, "you know what you were gonna say, you gotta finish it."

Afu sighs. "According to the guy himself, he just wants lost toys to find good homes."

Marlow shakes his head. "You need way more dramatic eyebrow waggling when you say it."

Afu smiles, but shakes his head. "I can't match Ezra's eyebrow game. Bro. Those eyebrows tell half the story for him."

"Anyway," Marlow finally says, "if I have to tell the story then I'm not digging around in the back for the stupid rings."

"Fiiine," Afu huffs, and disappears into the... back room. Of The Back Room.

"The year was like... I dunno, probably the 70s. Maybe the 80s?," Marlow begins. "It was in the middle of the Satanic panic. Some pseudo-paranormal spiritualist type toys survived all the bonfires and documentaries. Heck, some of 'em even thrived on it--just look at the Ouija board. But then... there's stuff like the dream ring."

You hear some rustling from The Back Room's back room.

Marlow continues. "Rumors that it was a basic stand-in for an old arcane ritual, and designed to introduce kids to the occult, pretty much killed the ring as a product and the company that made it."

"But what does it do?," you ask.

Afu brings a dusty box to the front counter.

He opens it, like a treasure chest... and inside is a plastic container for about thirty rings.

Only one ring is left.

"Oh, hell," says Marlow, "when'd we sell the other two?"

"I dunno," Afu replies. "There's been one ring left since I got hired."

"I could have sworn there were three left," Marlow says, scratching his head. "Oh, well. What it's supposed to do is... uh..."

"I know you had to--like--" Afu holds out his hands, as though trying to visualize the words. "--Think about a friend while you fall asleep. Right?"

"While wearing the ring," Marlow adds.

"Yeah," agrees Afu.

"And that does what?," you ask.

"...It activates the power of friendship," says Afu.

"Seriously," Marlow adds, "it's a lot more elaborate than that but that's pretty much it."

Hmm. "...And you said your boss knows more about it?"

Afu laughs, Marlow sighs. "Yeah, Ezra'll be in tomorrow if you wanna talk to him."

"How much do you want for it?," you ask, motioning toward the ring.

Marlow looks at Afu, who shrugs. Marlow turns back to you. "On the one hand, it's got a lot of sentimental value for the boss. On the other hand..." He winces.

"Everything in this store has sentimental value," Afu concludes.

"And Ezra's had those rings since... oof," Marlow comments, "I'm sure he knows and I'm sure he'll have to tell us. Anyway, nobody's beating down the door for that last ring, if we don't sell it to you it'll be here forever."

"How much you got?," Afu asks.

"I think the right way to phrase that might be make me an offer," Marlow corrects.



On the one hand, this sounds like it may be related to whatever a Solomon Ring is.

On the other hand... this could just be a waste of money. You won't really know until you try it, unless this Ezra individual does know something more... well, useful.

"So wait," because you have to ask, "if Ezra knows all the history and Afu knows all the game stuff, then you...?"

Afu chuckles. "Marlow's got all the conspiracy theories, and he gives 'em away for free."

"Hey," Marlow says, pointing a finger, "I'm also one of the best maintenance guys in town."

"Oh, yeah," Afu laughs, "I forgot, you're the reason Mondol hasn't bulldozed us yet."

"That's Ezra's theory," says Marlow, holding his hands up. "Like I'd go blow up their boiler room or something if they took over this strip mall."

"Would you?," you ask.

"Yeah," he replies immediately. "They'd know I was going to and they still wouldn't be able to stop me."

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22nd Feb 2020, 12:22 AM
We could pick his brain about the house. But honestly even here I feel like open conversation could be dangerous.
22nd Feb 2020, 9:13 AM
Snervalton
+1 to the brain picking. Marlow, being a maintenance-person who hates Mondol, has probably done a good job of keeping the store bug-free so this would be one of the safer places to hold such a conversation.
22nd Feb 2020, 9:14 AM
pkrankow
Nonspecificly asking might be ok.
22nd Feb 2020, 10:08 AM
Fishbulb
+1

Maybe lead off with "So... I'm kinda the owner of The Spooky House" and see if that helps with the bargaining.
23rd Feb 2020, 1:10 PM
+1 to asking Marlow about the house, but in a general way:

"I heard Person A talking about this house that does weird things to dreams."

Could use the ring to segue into that. No need to tie it specifically to you until you get a better sense of how sympathetic Marlow and Afu will be.
24th Feb 2020, 8:37 PM
+1
But lowball them on the price. the way they described it its more that they want you to take it but cant give it for free
22nd Feb 2020, 12:58 AM
Hari_Seldon
Buy the ring. Promise to return it and get a refund if it doesn't work. That way the store owner can keep it for its sentimental value if it doesn't work.

Edit: Ask about the symbol Plaire saw in her dreams.

Edit: buy the ring now and don't threaten to return it, but we could still do that later if we have to
22nd Feb 2020, 9:09 AM
pkrankow
Threatening to return a toy that doesn't work is the opposite of what we want to do here.

Yes, ask about symbols.
22nd Feb 2020, 9:11 AM
Snervalton
I vote that we wait until tomorrow and get more complete info and history about the ring before plunking down any money for it, which we don't have a lot of...
+1 to asking about the dream symbol
22nd Feb 2020, 9:28 AM
we could always offer 2 bucks for I am assuming Plaire has more then that
23rd Feb 2020, 1:15 AM
I agree with pkranow. Asking for refunds or even just asking about a refund policy may have a negative effect on our interactions with Afu and Marlow, particularly since it seems The Back Room doesn't get much traffic to begin with.
22nd Feb 2020, 9:17 AM
pkrankow
Afu was at the concert. We may have some added, but limited, leverage on the trust side because of this.

Spending the evening with Kate as a result also gives a trusted source of what spooky house info we have.

Asking for more information on the rumors around the spooky house might be reasonable.

With asking about the symbols, we should be able to ask about other symbols. Protection, defense, shielding as question lines. Attacking will present itself more readily if we stick to more altruistic discussion.
22nd Feb 2020, 9:26 AM
so Dream Ring is the Multi-tap for the dream dungeon got it
22nd Feb 2020, 9:34 AM
come back tomorrow and Erza about Robodemons maybe he knows something about it
22nd Feb 2020, 9:34 AM
Limrix
I just want to browse more. Peruse the store, see what they've got. Swap ghost stories maybe. See what they think of the mayor. Of electricity and ghosts. If bigfoot's really blurry in real life. We might even get to meet the boss before we have to go see Kate.

The dream ring might function as a remote summoning mechanic, also if it really is magic there might be a way to reverse engineer it. Kids don't usually sleep over, and I think if people physically came over the house would bring them in.

+1 to asking about that symbol with the triangle and a little circle that looks like a nose we saw.

We should also mention we make video game content on metoobe as a potential reason we're invested in this. We should see what games they do have so we can cross-reference that with the list The First Lie Guys gave us.
22nd Feb 2020, 11:00 AM
Maybe the house can only import its owner in the dreamscape.
The ring would then be required to bring anyone else in.
22nd Feb 2020, 3:45 PM
Hari_Seldon
We could browse magic books for the Tradesmen symbol.
22nd Feb 2020, 9:42 AM
Let's say we'll be back - probably tomorrow - to ask this Ezra about the ring first, because now I'm curious about what he'll be like.
Just shrug and say we might look around the store, and then ask about weird stuff around town. Like the haunted house you keep hearing about - without mentioning we own the place now.
And maybe ask Marlow about what his conspiracy theory for the fire at Maria's is like.
22nd Feb 2020, 5:06 PM
22nd Feb 2020, 11:52 AM
In for a penny, in for a pound... Let's ask about the First Lie! And also mention our ownership of the Spooky House.

It's not like that'll be new information to anyone who's stalking us (because they'd be able to see our Youtube channel and also public property listings) but it would be useful information for our potential allies here.

Edit: Also I still wanna buy a kinder egg. Hopefully we have enough dead presidents for one.
22nd Feb 2020, 12:24 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 we could ask. I'm guessing The First Lie is "Thou shall not surely die." - The Devil, Genesis, The Bible

The spooky house kills people, like original sin did.
22nd Feb 2020, 1:04 PM
lil Joshu
Well, if you want to get biblical about it, Satan is called the prince of lies which implies there's a king of lies... and as there's only one ranking entity above him in biblical mythology, that means the The First Lie could also be "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
22nd Feb 2020, 12:54 PM
lil Joshu
Offer business-helping services in exchange for the ring.
22nd Feb 2020, 1:04 PM
Hari_Seldon
Why what are we saving our money for? But anyway I would like Plaire to work at The Back Room sometimes.
22nd Feb 2020, 2:12 PM
pkrankow
Drop more cred with the video channel indeed.
22nd Feb 2020, 3:28 PM
Whatever help we offer, we should absolutely make sure that we're NOT offering to plug them in return for free stuff. That is one of the most entitled things that online personas do and is entirely unrealistic to how businesses are actually run. We are *not* an "influencer."

Anyway, we don't actually have anything to offer on the advertising front. It's highly unlikely we have enough reach or the ability to mobilize enough buyers to make the advertising worth it-- it's a shop in a small town, not an online store that we can give out discount codes for and that most of our viewers might realistically be able to access.

If we mention our video channel, it should be in an entirely separate context from any offers of assistance or inquiries regarding working there.
23rd Feb 2020, 3:47 PM
pkrankow
Maybe. Free help is awesome, free stuff might be another issue.

Testing stuff now... that is something else entirely.
22nd Feb 2020, 6:58 PM
I wouldn't want to get on Marlow's bad side. And we need to find Kate and have a sleepover.
23rd Feb 2020, 4:00 PM
We can try asking to do a trial run or renting the ring (at least as a means of haggling anyway).
If we're willing to say we own the spooky house, maybe lean-in on that for haggling purposes.
24th Feb 2020, 4:57 PM
I'm on board with asking about the house and coming back tomorrow. Also, asking Ezra about Robodemons and the ring.

(On a mildly related note, I looked up Robodemons out of curiosity. It is a Real Game and looks like insanity but I am somewhat tempted to play it)
24th Feb 2020, 6:45 PM
Morgenstern
update might be late but it's gonna be a humdinger
24th Feb 2020, 6:57 PM
Snervalton
Myself, I always look forward to a good ol' humdinger!