Author Archive

The Kuiper Belt Job audiobook is now available!

Today marks the release of the audiobook of my space opera heist novel THE KUIPER BELT JOB from PODIUM ENTERTAINMENT! It’s a full-cast production featuring the voice talents of Andrew Kishino, Jaime Lincoln Smith, Christa Lewis, Si Chen, and Sneha Mathan!

Kuiper Belt Job audiobook cover

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Kuiper Belt Job audiobook countdown 1: Andrew Kishino

Counting down to the June 18 release of the audiobook of my space opera heist novel THE KUIPER BELT JOB from PODIUM ENTERTAINMENT (@podiumentertainment) by giving you some information on the FIVE amazing voice artists they will be using for the different point-of-view characters! Continuing with number 1: ANDREW KISHINO!

Andrew Kishino, Strange, and Cayce

Andrew Kishino is best known for his work as Saw Gerrera in the Emmy Award winning series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “The Bad Batch”, Kevin in Cartoon Network’s “Steven Universe”, Janja in Disney Junior’s “The Lion Guard” (for which he also composed and performed music), and a long list of others. His voice & performance capture work in video games can be heard & seen in “Halo Infinite”, “Jedi: Fallen Order”, “Ghost of Tsushima”, “Fortnite”, “Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth” and “Starfield”, among a multitude of other titles. He was a member of the English voice cast of the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award winning film “The Boy and the Heron”, and was the lead role of Ernest in the English voice cast of the Annie Award nominated “Ernest & Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia”. He is an Audie Award nominated audiobook narrator (Fonda Lee’s “Jade City”), and he has voiced national commercial campaigns for Adidas, Expedia, Metro, Walmart, McDonalds and EA Games, to name a few. His promo VO client list includes NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN. He is also a Juno Award nominated and Canadian Music Publishing Association award winning recording artist, and was the first hip hop artist signed to a major label in Canada. He has produced, engineered, mentored and written for several artists, and continues to lend his artistic and technical knowledge to up and coming musicians. He is a member of Mensa, and bakes a mean chocolate chip cookie.

Andrew reads the characters Strange and Cayce as well as the interstitial sections from the perspective of the whole Cannibal Club.

STRANGE is the planner and schemer. The “memory palace” in his mind contains every bit of information he’s ever encountered and every plan he’s ever made, and his plans are constantly in motion, adapting to changing circumstances.

CAYCE is Strange’s son. He has an adolescent’s gangly body but he carries himself like an experienced martial artist, which is slightly disturbing.

Andrew Kishino: IG: @big.kish
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Kuiper Belt Job audiobook countdown 2: Jaime Lincoln Smith

Counting down to the June 18 release of the audiobook of my space opera heist novel THE KUIPER BELT JOB from PODIUM ENTERTAINMENT (@podiumentertainment) by giving you some information on the FIVE amazing voice artists they will be using for the different point-of-view characters! Continuing with number 2: JAIME LINCOLN SMITH!

Jaime Lincoln Smith and Kane

Jaime Lincoln Smith has been in this industry for over 15 years. As an actor, he has gone from working on Broadway. to voicing characters in video games, to guest starring in some of your favorite TV shows & movies. Having worked with the likes of John Amos, S. Epatha Merkerson, Danielle Brooks, Michael Imperioli, & Kenny Leon to name a few.

As a coach, whether it be for auditions, dialects, or anywhere in between, Jaime’s main objective is organic truth. He has coached actors such as Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), Tina Benko (The Avengers), Stephen Hill (Magnum P.I.), Morocco Omari (P-Valley), as well as many others.

You reap what you sow, so one needs to sow the seeds they want to reap. Be the seamstress of your life. Be tailor made.

Jaime reads the character KANE, THE HITTER. Impulsive, hot-headed, self-centered, also very emotionally vulnerable. He lacks self-confidence and tends to hit people when he feels uncomfortable.

Jaime Lincoln Smith: IG:
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Kuiper Belt Job audiobook countdown 3: Sneha Mathan

Counting down to the June 18 release of the audiobook of my space opera heist novel THE KUIPER BELT JOB from PODIUM ENTERTAINMENT (@podiumentertainment) by giving you some information on the FIVE amazing voice artists they will be using for the different point-of-view characters! Continuing with number 3: SNEHA MATHAN!

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Sneha Mathan is a voice actor and audiobook narrator. Her audiobook work has received several Earphones awards, and she is a three-time Audie Award finalist. She lives in Seattle.

Sneha reads the character SHWETA, THE GRIFTER… although she prefers the term “negotiator.” She looks like your auntie and you trust her implicitly, but she is, in fact, a master deceiver who can sell you your own helmet and make you think you got a deal. Don’t turn your back on her.

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Kuiper Belt Job audiobook countdown 4: Si Chen

Counting down to the June 18 release of the audiobook of my space opera heist novel THE KUIPER BELT JOB from PODIUM ENTERTAINMENT (@podiumentertainment) by giving you some information on the FIVE amazing voice artists they will be using for the different point-of-view characters! Continuing with number 4: SI CHEN!

Si Chen and Tai

Si’s voice is commonly described as soothing, intimate, playful, and coy, perfect for YA, mysteries, and romance. Si’s soothing voice will deliver your non-fiction from the desks of expert authors to the layperson listener with ease and finesse.

Their subject matter expertise spans classical music (violin and viola), scientific research (genetics, neuroscience, AI, robotics, software engineering, technology policy), and social justice (Asian American diaspora, queer, immigrant, and feminist issues).

Outside of audiobooks, Si is also a stage and film actor, appearing in Marvel shows such as She-Hulk and the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday special, recurring in Wolf Pack, and on the Off-Broadway production of Gumiho.

In their free time, Si is a (surprisingly competent) plant parent, enthusiastic cook, and proud owner of a dog who valiantly guards the VO booth by falling asleep in front of the door and trapping Si inside.

Si reads the character TAI, THE HACKER. They are nonbinary, proud of their curves, and omnisexual. They are vain, self-assured to a fault, and very very good at their job. In their spare time they are a DJ and sound engineer.

Si Chen: IG: @si.jpg
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Kuiper Belt Job audiobook countdown 5: Christa Lewis

Counting down to the June 18 release of the audiobook of my space opera heist novel THE KUIPER BELT JOB from PODIUM ENTERTAINMENT (@podiumentertainment) by giving you some information on the FIVE amazing voice artists they will be using for the different point-of-view characters! Starting with number 5: CHRISTA LEWIS!

Christa Lewis and Alicia

Christa Lewis and her pseudonym Pippa Jayne have narrated approx. 300 audiobooks between them. Christa is a conservatory-trained actor with a smart and funny vibe who can also meet the moment in non-fiction thanks to a 17-year stint as newsreader, an appearance in Call of Duty Black Ops 3 as Sophia, the murderously lovelorn Robot and 5 years as the lead in the podcast The Hotel. Think Catherine O’Hara meets Jenna Ortega. Christa speaks accent-free German fluently and offers a variety of accents and dialects. Magically, there have been 8 Audio File Earphones Awards in Non-Fiction/Biography & Memoir, YA, and Fiction—as well as a SOVAS Voice Arts Award, a Sultry Listeners Award, a Listeners Choice Award and two Audie nominations. Both Christa and Pippa pull out all the stops to create an audiobook unique to their author’s cadence, tone and style – with a lot of love, joy and delight thrown into the mix.

Christa reads the character ALICIA, THE THIEF. There’s no lock she can’t pick, no wall she can’t scale, no tiny opening she can’t shimmy through. She’s warm and caring, everyone’s friend, and hates it when people don’t get along.

Christa Lewis: IG: @liquidbelles

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A Villain’s Villain: “The Continental” LARP Report

I’ve just returned from Spain, where I participated in a Live Action Role Play event called “The Continental,” a game of international super-assassins set in the universe of the John Wick movies. This was the first international (English-language) run of the game, which has been run several times previously in Spanish. This report contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Continental.

If you’re American, when you hear “LARP” you probably think of a live-action D&D game, in which friends go to a park for an afternoon, hit each other with boffers, and fling tennis balls at each other while shouting “Fireball!” But in Europe there is a whole different LARP culture. European “Nordic-style” LARPS (there are also other names, indicating subtle differences in play style) focus on improv role play, deep immersion, and character development with the intention of creating a rich emotional experience — I often use the phrase “real emotions in fake situations.” My personal favorite style of LARP is often referred to as “Blockbuster” LARPS — these have an international player base, typically cost hundreds of dollars for a ticket, and involve anything from 50 to 200 players, all in costume, in a realistic setting, improvising a grand immersive theatrical experience together over the course of three or four days.

This style of LARP depends on the players being intimately familiar with their characters — their background, goals, priorities, and personality — so that they can improvise interactions with other players in real-time. Typically players receive detailed character sheets weeks or months in advance, and also have the opportunity to communicate with the organizers and other players over Discord or some other messaging platform to answer questions and work out details of the characters’ relationships before the game begins. In the case of The Continental, this “co-creation” process was raised to a higher degree than any other game I’ve yet played.

After our initial roles were assigned, which gave us our primary backstory, goals, motivations, and skills, over the course of several weeks we were invited to select four “secondary jobs” or subplots. In each round of secondary job selection we were presented with a broad set of scenarios, each with two or more “traits” (characters within the scenario), and asked to indicate which five traits we were most interested in adding to our characters. Many of these scenarios were based on pop culture; for example, a scenario called “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” involved two traits called Buzz and Woody, with the Buzz character being an overconfident newbie in a situation in which the Woody character was an old hand.

After we submitted our preferences the organizers distributed the traits among the players in a way intended to give people what they wanted, balance play, and provide an interesting experience for everyone. After four rounds of this we each wound up with four subplots; we were informed which players had been assigned the other traits in our selected subplots and given a set of questions to answer with them. For example, I wound up as Buzz in “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” and I had to work with the character who’d been assigned the Woody trait to determine what situation we both found ourselves in and how much we knew about each other’s issues. We had to submit our answers to the organizers before the game so that they could be aware of all the subplots and help make the whole thing work; occasionally they would provide feedback such as “this subplot impinges on another one, would you mind making a few changes?”

The co-creation process was intended to assure that everyone had a rich set of relationships with the other characters so that there were a lot of opportunities for game play when we all arrived in Spain. In a few cases I even wound up in multiple subplots with the same person, which is actually pretty realistic for a close-knit international criminal community. On the whole, I thought it was successful, but I have to say that it was a lot of homework to do for a LARP and, when push came to shove, some of my secondary jobs didn’t get a lot of my attention during the game because I was too busy with other things. I also found that I was involved in two additional subplots because they intersected my main plot, which increased the complexity still further. My suggestion to the organizers would be to reduce the number of secondary jobs from four to two.

This game also had a lot more in the way of “mechanics,” or defined mechanisms for game play, than other LARPs I’ve played. Many LARPs divide the players into “factions,” which are groups of characters having ally and/or enemy relationships with other factions as well as having interpersonal relationships within the faction. In The Continental, the factions were eight criminal families — mine was The Red Circle, an Eastern European / Russian gang specializing in human trafficking — plus the Administration of the High Table, the staff of The Continental, and a fairly large number of independent operators. In addition, family members and independents had specific roles within their group: The Boss, The Slayer (specializing in combat), The Aid (specializing in healing and drugs), The Fisher (specializing in hacking and communications), and The Supplier (specializing in logistics). Each of these roles came with particular abilities and responsibilities within the game.

Slayers were assumed to be wearing Kevlar at all times and to have a higher chance of success on a physical attack against a non-Slayer player. Aids could create “drugs” in-game by combining certain defined substances. For example, anything red and sweet had a calming effect, while bitter brown substances were stimulating. By combining these substances in different proportions we could create truth serums, poisons, stimulants, and knockout drops as needed. To fulfill my role as Aid I brought a selection of flavor extracts and food colors from the grocery store. Players were never required to actually consume the substances, but the colors and flavors were intended to allow other Aid players to guess as to the composition and effect of a “drug” if they encountered it in-game.

The game had a custom app (which was Android-only, requiring a few of us iPhone bigots to rent Android phones for the weekend) which was used for in-character messaging, financial transactions, and resource management, and the app was particularly important to the Fisher role. Fishers had the ability to attempt to hack another player twice a day. The hack attempt involved guessing the answer to the character’s security question, which in some cases could be determined by a web search on the character’s code name (each of us was named after a mythological figure, such as John Wick’s code name of Baba Yaga) and in others could only be determined by social engineering on the player. A successful hack would allow the hacker to view the victim’s messages and transfer money and resources out of the victim’s account. Bosses and Suppliers also had special capabilities within the app, used for inter-family warfare.

I will admit that this all sounds really complicated, but in my opinion it worked well, and most of the time we were just improvising our interactions with each other as in any other LARP. To me, the mechanics added a dimension of realism and interest to what was already a very engaging and interesting game.

David as KhorsMy character, codenamed Khors, was The Aid of The Red Circle, but shortly before the game I was given the option to also add the role of The Fisher because they needed more Fishers. I made good use of both roles and really enjoyed the game play opportunities they offered. My character also had a peculiar quirk of doing people favors and demanding repayment in minutes of the person’s time. These minutes could be demanded at any time and place of Khors’s choosing, and reneging on the deal would risk sanction from The High Table. Khors sat at the right hand of The Boss of The Red Circle — played by my real-life partner Alisa Wood-Walters — and was extremely traditionalist and family-focused.

My character’s main backstory point was that, six months earlier, a promising young Slayer named Poludnitsa had decided to leave the life of crime completely, marry her sweetheart, and live happily as a civilian. Poludnitsa had been the beloved protegee of The Boss, and Khors had also been a mentor to her; we were both disappointed with her decision but she went ahead and did it anyway. And then, at the wedding, gunmen had burst in and slaughtered Poludnitsa, her fiancé, their daughter, and several members of the wedding party — including, interestingly enough, some Red Circle members whose untimely death allowed the current Supplier to assume his position. Strangely, no other members of the family had been present at the wedding.

Unbeknownst to anyone but myself and one other player, Khors was the one who had called in the hit.

When I read this in my character sheet I immediately knew that keeping this secret, especially from my Boss, would be vitally important to my survival. But the situation was even worse than I thought, because a couple of weeks before the game I noticed on Discord that Poludnitsa was a player character! I messaged the player and she confirmed that she was indeed that Poludnitsa, and that she would be out for revenge on whoever had done this to her. After quietly panicking, I decided that my best strategy would be to get out in front of the situation by declaring “Poludnitsa! I’m so glad you aren’t really dead! Let us work together to find the guilty party!” and then use all my resources to pin the crime on some scapegoat.

Did I mention that none of us at The Continental were nice people? To quote from the Player’s Handbook: “This is a story about villains meeting in a hotel to be even more villainous. It’s a story about hierarchy, violence and fear. A story about people who believe themselves beyond good and evil, doing terrible things to stay where they are. They’re also people with conflicts, relationships, and emotions, but most of all, they are assassins.” So I grinned, rubbed my hands, and prepared to Be Evil.

You may recall that in my write-up of the Fairweather Manor LARP I mused on the question of what makes the difference between a good and an evil character and reflected that I could have played my character there as more evil than I did. This was my chance to try evil up to the hilt, and I feel that I did a good job; Khors was cold and calculating and self-centered, willing to lie and cheat and smile at his friends even as he plotted their demise. But, interestingly enough, I also managed to be friendly and engaging and funny while I was doing it. I think that’s just how I am, and I’ll try to keep that in mind as I write villains going forward.

Castle of Sant MoriAfter a few days in Barcelona recovering from jet lag and enjoying the city, the cuisine, and the Gaudi architecture, Alisa and I caught the LARP bus to the 15th-century Castle of Sant Mori which would be portraying The Continental of Girona. It was a beautiful, character-filled, and luxurious locale and the beds, bathrooms, and food were all first-rate. As is fairly typical for European LARPS, Thursday afternoon was spent in workshops: orientation to the space, consent and negotiation, how to simulate violence and sex, and the use of some objects specific to this LARP such as “drugs” and weapons. Then we got into our costumes (and we were a very sophisticated-looking bunch indeed) and were mostly in-game for the rest of the weekend.

Of course the first order of business for me was noticing that, to everyone’s surprise, Poludnitsa was back from the dead. Not unreasonably, she was suspicious when everyone in the family greeted her return with happiness — we all knew that we hadn’t wanted her to leave the family — but everyone else was sincere (to the best of my knowledge) and, for myself, I genuinely liked the player, which made it easier for me to smile and lie convincingly to her face.

I’m usually a terrible liar. I wear my heart on my sleeve; indeed, often other people can tell my feelings better than I can myself. For this reason I’m always one of the first people killed when I play Mafia or Werewolf. Or perhaps I just have a suspicious face. But in this game I was able to maintain the deception completely. Perhaps it’s because player-me really liked player-her so it was easy for me to be generous and kind to her even though character-me had tried to have character-her killed. Or perhaps it was because the whole situation was fictional — everything we did and said was a lie, so the lies-within-lies were emotionally the same as the surface-lies. But for whatever reason, I was able to carry off the lie and was not found out by Poludnitsa or the Boss until I got sold out later in the game.

Dealing with Finding The Real Killer was only part of my agenda for the game. For one thing, the Adjudicator had just shown up, with her Four Horsemen, saying that the Girona Continental was rife with “rats” loyal to the Bowery King, and determined to ferret them out. Also, John Wick was out there somewhere and kept leaving taunting messages. (The game took place between John Wick 3 and John Wick 4; Wick was known to have fallen from the roof of the New York Continental, but his body was never found and he was widely believed to have survived.)

In addition to all of our personal plots and subplots, there was the business of inter-family warfare and attempted territory grabs. When we had a family meeting to discuss how we would defend our territory, our Supplier proposed a genius idea based on the strategy of John D. Rockefeller: use the Red Circle’s existing transportation networks (given that the family’s main business was human trafficking, we had extensive and highly secure routes all across Asia and Europe) to negotiate mutually beneficial deals with the other families in which we would transport and protect their cargo in exchange for a share of the profits. His negotiations with the other families were extremely successful and we were never involved in any attacks. What he did not tell them was that Rockefeller’s strategy had eventually left him in control of a railroad stranglehold that let him milk every other company in the country for everything they were worth. Brilliant!

I met with the character Tsukimi, who was the one who had actually done the hit on Poludnitsa and was the only other person in the game who knew I was responsible (he had hired the other gunmen, but they didn’t know who I was and I didn’t know who they were). But, given that we knew that if either of us sold out the other we would both die, I felt I could trust him to keep our secret. We discussed who best to scapegoat for the crime and settled on Ares, an NPC (non-player character) who was the Continental’s bouncer — a frightening psychopath whom my character also had other reasons to want to get rid of. Also, he had facial scars, which was the one thing Poludnitsa remembered about the gunman who had (nearly) killed her. We both started spreading rumors about his involvement, and I worked with other close allies to tighten the net.

On Friday, the first full day of the game, I came up with a truly evil plan of which I am inordinately proud. As Fisher I had already hacked a few people, a fun little mini-game in the Continental app, and so knew that being able to see and screenshot another person’s private messages was a thing. So I took some screenshots, downloaded the official Android font, and photoshopped up a message from Ares to a person unknown (the recipient of a message was not visible in the screenshot, which was perfect for my purposes) saying “The wedding job is ON. Leave no survivors.” And then — and this is the piece de resistance and something that only my character could have done — I called in one of the favors Khors was owed to launder the evidence.

Before the game I had negotiated with a few other players to go into the game owing Khors minutes, and one in particular was the Boss of a completely unrelated gang for whom I had quietly treated an embarrassing sexually-transmitted infection in exchange for five minutes of his time. So I took the screen shot I had just forged to him and said “show this to me and the other members of the Red Circle, and tell everyone you received it as an anonymous txt and have no idea of its source or authenticity. Do this and your debt to me will be discharged.” It worked beautifully; the messenger was completely neutral (indeed, clueless about the whole situation) and there was absolutely no reason for anyone to suspect that I was the source.

Using the forged message as evidence, we got authorization from the manager of the Continental to bring Ares in for interrogation. We gathered in a small upstairs room well equipped with LARP weapons, sat him in a chair, and pounded him with questions. “Who did you send this to?” I demanded, showing him the forged message. “Who put you up to it?” Of course he denied all knowledge. The Boss told me to give him a truth serum, which I did, but I explained that there’s no such thing as a true truth serum and a sufficiently dedicated psychopath will continue lying as long as they believe their own lies. And Poludnitsa did a fabulous job threatening and eventually torturing him. She got right up in his face with a full load of vitriol; she punched him in the face, dislodging a tooth (it rattled on the floor, a great moment; I have no idea how long the player had been holding it in his mouth); and she broke his kneecaps and shoulder with a (foam rubber) hammer and crowbar. Throughout this the Ares player stayed perfectly in character, laughing and saying that he couldn’t have done it, because if he had been the one pulling the trigger she’d be dead. It was a magnificent scene.

But eventually the whole thing kind of petered out. It was clear that neither drugs nor torture would get him to confess, and furthermore it seemed that he had in fact not done it. So the Continental staff took him away and patched him up (he wore a sling for a while but we all kind of agreed to ignore the broken kneecaps) and we were back to square one in the Search For The Real Killer. I assured Poludnitsa that I would not rest until justice was done.

And then on Friday night: disaster. Both Alisa and I spent the whole night terribly sick, with horrible vomiting and diarrhea. I was certain it was food poisoning — the food had been absolutely delicious but there’s always the possibility that something sat out unrefrigerated too long — but in the morning the organizers assured us that we were the only ones who had gotten sick. Lots of people asked me if I’d drunk the tap water, which I had; I’d had no idea that it wasn’t safe. And though the water was potable, I guess that the bacteria in the well water in rural Spain was too unfamiliar for our American stomachs. The organizers and other players were sympathetic and helpful, bringing toast and Gatorade, and we both slept most of Saturday. Indeed, Alisa, who had had it much worse than me, missed the entire last day of the game, but I managed to haul myself out of bed on Saturday afternoon. I felt I owed Poludnitsa some closure.

By the time I found her and caught up with what I’d missed while I was sick (and boy howdy had it been a lot) the jig was completely up for me. She had managed to follow the trail to Tsukimi, who had pulled a rabbit out of his hat: he had not, in fact, shot Poludnitsa’s daughter at the wedding, but had saved her, and she was alive and safe. He offered to return the daughter to Poludnitsa and tell her who had called in the hit, in exchange for safe conduct for himself and one of the other gunmen (the actual one with the scar). She took the deal and Tsukimi sold me out. Bastard. So Poludnitsa and I talked out-of-character (in the LARP world we call this “calibration”) about how our end game would play out, and then we did it.

Our final scene was absolutely beautiful. I had earlier given Poludnitsa a poison tablet and the corresponding antidote, for her to use in extracting information from someone. (I had not realized at the time I’d given it to her that the “someone” was Tsukimi. Oops.) However, she had not wound up using it, and still had it in her pocket. So she took me aside for a drink, told me that she knew I was the one who had been responsible for slaughtering her family, and then looked me in the eye as she dropped the poison pill I had given her in the drink and handed it to me.

I drank it down without hesitation.

The poison took about half an hour to work. We stood chatting for a while until I started to get shaky and — for real — my Apple Watch warned me that my heart rate was elevated. (Remember what I said earlier about “real emotions in fake situations?”) Did I want to sit down? Yes I did. She led me to a chaise longue by the pool and lay me gently down in the sun. I was starting to get a little incoherent, and honestly I don’t remember everything I said — I remember I said “murder is a young man’s game” and “I only did it because family is more important than anything, even my own life” — but I was crying real tears. “Are you scared?” she asked me. Yes, yes I was. I was shaking and crying and choking and she looked me right in the eye and said “I will burn The Red Circle to ash, I will destroy everything you have worked your whole to build, and you will know as you die that it was me who did it.” And I went “gkk” and died.

Being dead is boring. Eventually Continental staff showed up and took my body away — obviously a heart attack, so sad, but not a violation of the rule “no killing at The Continental” — and I was led backstage for the final phase of the game. We’d been told to bring an all-black outfit to wear in case we died before the end of the game, so I changed into it, and then I and about a dozen other early decedents were issued bulletproof vests, gas masks, and machine guns. We would now be anonymous minions, coming in at the end of the game with the Adjudicator to excommunicate this Continental for being an unredeemable nest of rats loyal to the Bowery King. Our instructions were to die quickly at first, but to keep coming back stronger and stronger until everyone was dead.

David as minionThe final slaughter was magnificent. We fanned out through the castle and killed and killed and killed, and almost everyone got a nice dramatic death. One — the same Boss who had laundered the evidence for me — stood behind a door with a hammer and bopped each incoming minion on the head, over and over, until eventually he was overwhelmed. Bodies were piled everywhere. A few characters, including the Red Circle’s Supplier, had obtained safe-conduct tokens and survived, and a couple, including Poludnitsa, had joined the Administration during the game and were now on the minions’ side. (This was, in fact, the worst possible outcome for her character — instead of dying with the knowledge that her little girl was safe, she was now even more deeply embedded in the system she had tried so hard to escape.) And so the game ended.

After the thank-yous and the applause and the requests to please return all borrowed props and costumes over here, we stood for a group photo. Instead of “Cheese!” everyone said “Weak!” which baffled me until I realized that’s the Spanish pronunciation of John Wick’s last name. Later, on Discord, Poludnitsa’s player posted “Oh god I loved the wedding plot so much … and that Khors was the one ordering the wedding massacre .. my poor heart! Ha. I had an amazing game!” One of the organizers replied “Khors was very very smart in this run, he was able to make it very complicated for Poludnitsa. In other runs, everyone spills the beans too soon XD”

I was so happy. Still dead, of course, but happy.