The Mushroom Kingdom is a constitutional Monarchy? Well, It’s Complicated..

4 01 2008

We had a totally great playtest of It’s Complicated tonight in #indierpgs. Players were JR, Liam, Sean (Robostrife from The Forge), and myself. We decided it was an election year in the Mushroom Kingdom, and time to choose a new Prime Minister. This was probably the smoothest, most fun playtest I’ve seen for the game yet! What follows is the In Character log. It’s only about four scenes long, and well worth the read.

Dramatis Personae:

Kara Koopa: Naive, long-suffering aide-de-campe for Dr. Lakitu
Dr. Lakitu: Former rebel leader, currently running against Mario for Prime Minister of the Mushroom Kingdom
Queen Peach: Bitchy monarch figurehead
Luigi: Violently unhinged Minister of Defense

Read all four deliciously dysfunctional scenes after the jump!

Scene 1 map. Relationship: Dr. Lakitu lusts after Kara.

Dr. Lakitu: ‘Tis the season for politicking, and so it is yet another late night at Lakitu HQ. Lights dimmed, the aging reptile reclines comfortably at his desk, on his cloud.
Dr. Lakitu: A glimmer behind his glasses; he leans forward and activates the intercom. “Margaret? Get the new girl in here,” he says lecherously. “Paperwork,” he adds.

Margaret sends in the new girl. Kara looks frazzled as usual; she doesn’t even look up as she laboriously flips the papers on her clipboard. “Hello, sir. You’ve got a town-hall meeting in World 2-4 tomorrow; they’re going to ask you about your stance on taxes. What did we decide your stance on taxes is?”

Dr. Lakitu grins. “I want them to go down.”
Dr. Lakitu: “Please, take a seat.”

Kara: “Right, so we should–” Kara peers over the top of her clipboard. “Oh, um, all right then. Do you want to run through the talking points?” She sits, a bit awkwardly.

Dr. Lakitu: “Sure, yeah, yeah. Kara, right?”
Dr. Lakitu: “That’s a pretty name.”

Kara: “Yes, Doctor.”
Kara: “Oh, thank you. My mother named me after my aunt; she died in a tragic stomping accident before I was born.”

Dr. Lakitu: “I’m sorry to hear that. How old were you at the time?”

Kara clears her throat. “I was.. well, I hadn’t been born yet.”

Dr. Lakitu: “Right, excuse me. So, how many years ago /were/ you born?”

Kara: “Oh. Twenty, in a few weeks. But sir, about your meeting tomorrow..”

Dr. Lakitu: “Are you comfortable? I hate to work uncomfortably.”
Dr. Lakitu: Without waiting for an answer, Dr. Lakitu undoes the top button of his shirt. “Do you mind? It’s stuffy in here at times.”

Kara wrinkles her beak. “Well, um, whatever puts you at ease, sir..”

Dr. Lakitu: “Of course, of course.”

Kara: “So, Minister Mario raised taxes last year, and as a result demolished much of the lovely brick architecture in 2-4. I’d suggest talking about preserving heritage, you know, how important old architecture is to the history of the Kingdom..”

Dr. Lakitu: “I believe in the preservation, in the caretaking of what’s old.”

Kara: “Right! Yes, use that. They’ll eat it up.”

Dr. Lakitu: “You know, Kara, you look very beautiful in this light.”
Dr. Lakitu’s cloud begins to rise.

Kara: “Um.. Thank.. you?”

Dr. Lakitu’s cloud levitates around the desk.
Dr. Lakitu: “Have you ever felt the urge, the primal urge, to just be with someone, just for one night? And never to have to worry about calling, or awkwardness, or anything?”
Dr. Lakitu: “Just, y’know, the beauty of the moment.”
Dr. Lakitu hovers behind Kara.

Kara blinks silently, dumbfounded.

Dr. Lakitu    begins to rub Kara’s shoulders. “Can I get you something to drink? Just to take the edge off of all this work.”

Kara: “So.. Meet the entourage tomorrow at 8 AM at the pipe? We want to get to 2-4 before noon, the sun’s killer at this tIME OF DAY!” Kara jumps out of her seat when the Doctor touches her.
Kara: “I’ll, um, see you tomorrow. Sir.” She backs out of the door, nearly knocking over the coat rack.

Dr. Lakitu: “Wait! I’ll… One time the sun DID try to kill me! Just ran me right out of my cloud!” he calls after her.
Dr. Lakitu: “Talking points!” he shouts desperately.
Dr. Lakitu stops, hanging his head as his cloud returns to the desk. He looks at his desk calendar, and crosses off another day.

Board for scene 2. Relationship: Queen Peach dislikes Dr. Lakitu.

Queen Peach drums her fingers impatiently on her immaculate parlor table, waiting for her tea-time guest.

Dr. Lakitu: A distant laugh grows closer, and soon Dr. Lakitu is in the parlor, telling a dirty joke as he laughs and bending down to slap the mushroomy butler on the back.
Dr. Lakitu: The laughing winds down, and Dr. Lakitu composes himself. “Greetings, your majesty. I apologise for my tardiness.”

Queen Peach raises an eyebrow. “As well you might. I am sorry that your wife perished in a fire — or so I assume she must have, to cause you to show such disrespect to the crown.”

Dr. Lakitu laughs heartily again. “Your Majesty, your jests are a delight, as always. You and I both know she died in a fire /years ago./”
Dr. Lakitu: Taking a seat, he says, “No disrespect intended. Traffic. Another blocked pipe over in World 5.”

Queen Peach: “Mm.” She pours.
Queen Peach: “Do you take lemon, or milk?”

Dr. Lakitu: “Lemon, please.”
Dr. Lakitu takes a sip. “Oh, this is good. Fire flower?”

Queen Peach adeptly slides the lemon slice onto his saucer. “I’m afraid I find fire flower so dreadfully common nowadays. This is an imported blend from the Subspace colonies. The crop has been so sparse this year, what with the uprisings, but we do what we can.”
Queen Peach: “Doctor Lakitu. I am given to understand that you are the current leader of my Opposition party.”

Dr. Lakitu nods. “That I am, Your Majesty, but only in my personal mission to enliven your kingdom.”

Queen Peach: “I appreciate your dedication. However, I hope you recognize the precariousness of your position.”

Dr. Lakitu: “I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage.”

Queen Peach:  “Mario has been a valiant prime minister since the end of the Bowser Wars, twenty years ago.”
Queen Peach: “He has led the Mushroom Kingdom through a period of prosperity and success the likes of which we have never before known.”
Queen Peach: “You, by contrast, are a war criminal, pardoned only because it was your lackeys who executed the actual crimes, while you floated serenely above.”
Queen Peach: “What, exactly, makes you think you are qualified to guide my people?”

Dr. Lakitu: “Your, er,” Dr. Lakitu says as he clears his throat, “previous relationship with the minister aside, he is ignorant of the kingdom /as it is today./ He is no longer a man of the people, and was never a man of /our/ people.”
Dr. Lakitu holds up his cup of tea. “This, your majesty.”
Dr. Lakitu: “Times have changed, as you said yourself regarding the crops. This kingdom needs a man with vision, a man who can rise above the nonsense and look at the entire kingdom at once.”

Queen Peach: “Hmph.”

Dr. Lakitu: “Plus,” he adds, “that Mario can’t fish worth a damn, and any man that can’t fish, my momma always used to say, can’t swim.”

Queen Peach rises calmly out of her chair, floating over to the bell-pull, pulls it, and returns to her seat.
Queen Peach: “Take care that you do not attempt to rise higher than you ought, Doctor. The fall will be correspondingly farther.”
Queen Peach: “As you know, We must remain neutral in any election.”
Queen Peach: “That noted, I dearly hope you lose.”
Queen Peach: “Good day, Doctor.”

Dr. Lakitu: “Don’t worry, your majesty. I will take care that I do not look down on people as admirably as you do.”
Dr. Lakitu takes a small bow and excuses himself.

Queen Peach snorts. “How could you?”

Scene 3 board. Relationship: Luigi sees Dr. Lakitu as an ally.

Luigi sits in front of his desk, staring blankly ahead. His office is claustrophibicly small but overly furnished with ugly adorments, such as a rack full of silver trophies of dubvious quality and a series of tv’s precariously hanging from the walls. On the TV is abarbara-walkers-like News Toad, commenting on the minister of defenses improbably pointless military involvement in the Waffle Kingdom and surrounding territories, and his unbelievably obvious attempts to sway public favor be declaring victory at this random point in time. Luigi waits for his guest, Dr.Lakitu.

Dr. Lakitu:  There’s a slight knock at Luigi’s door.

Luigi: A toad with green spots on his head opens the door for Lakitu. he gives a clear look to the doctor, ‘my soul has left my body long ago’, and proceeds to shut the door. Luigi hums omniously.

Dr. Lakitu swivels his head analytically.
Dr. Lakitu: “Are you broadcasting your hum over SurroundSound?” Dr. Lakitu raises an eyebrow.

Luigi stares coldly ahead, ceasing to hum. He lets the room become full of awkard, painfull silence, the only noise coming from the TV’s which spout news blurbs of the various people frightened by luigi’s decisions since taking office. The stillness is so piercing, in fact, that Dr.Lakitu can notice that Luigi’s moustache drips with syrup, which unceremously pools at the edge of the table.

Dr. Lakitu: “You’ve got a little, uh…”
Dr. Lakitu: “Never mind.”
Dr. Lakitu’s great stores of resolve have pretty much faded in the course of a couple seconds all because of a mushroom, some subwoofers, and a little bit of maple syrup. He looks around nervously.

Luigi: “Drink up. Doctor. We’ve earned it.” Luigi motions towards the other end of the table, where out of a ? box a open bottle of syrup stands. Luigi continues staring ahead, never blinking, just letting his moustache drip. By now Dr.Lakitu has probably noticed that all the windows are painted on.

Dr. Lakitu: Looking over his shoulder as he does so, Lakitu solemnly picks up the bottle of syrup, cracks the seal, and steadfastly doesn’t drink.
Dr. Lakitu looks to the Minister of Defense, waiting for a signal or an explosion or a fish or something.

Luigi turns around in his seat, oblivious to Lakitu’s betrayal of Luigi’s friendly syrup offer. Instead Luigi stares at a smiling cloud drawn on the window behind his desk “We can accomplish great things, you and I. the world’s in our hands now.” The utter lack of previous connection between lakitu and luigi is like an invisble elephant in the room.

Dr. Lakitu     looks at the bottle of syrup in his hands. It’s leaky.
Dr. Lakitu: “Yes,” he says unconvincingly.

Luigi: “Do you like the syrup? Everyone should have access to syrup. We can’t hold on to it by ourselves.”

Dr. Lakitu     gulps audibly and tries it. “Delicious,” he says mechanically.

Luigi: *Luigi’s fingers absently trace the edges of the happy cloud inexpertly drawn on his window. He pulls his chair back, leaning back to stare at the ceiling. “You can go now Doctor. I want you to know I like you almost as much as senator pooba, and you just may win my vote yet. Get out there and do it for me.”

Dr. Lakitu     stands as if to leave. “Nice cloud.”

Luigi: “You’re welcome.”

Scene 4 board. Relationships: Kara trusts Queen Peach and dislikes Luigi.

Kara: After 15 minutes of awkward silence as they wait for the good, lecherous Doctor, Kara clears her throat and flashes a bright-but-uncomfortable smile at Peach. “Your majesty, I have a confession to make.”

Queen Peach leans against her driver and uncomfortably watches Luigi approach driving the little cart. “How unfortunate.”

Luigi quickly approaches the princess, wearing what appears to be a purple heart. Its anyone guess why he’s wearing it, but its assumable that most don’t want to know. “Good day, Peachy.”

Queen Peach stiffens. “Good day…” the pause lengthens… “Luigi.”

Kara flutters her amphibian eyelids. “Minister, so lovely to make your aquaintence!”
Kara: “I work for Dr. Lakitu. If there’s any way he, or I, can be of service, do let me know? We’re at war, after all..”

Luigi’s eyes lock onto Kara’s, burning with an inexplicable focus. It seems unclear whether he’s about to cry or breathe fire or what. “.. It was very nice to meet yours,.. madam…. ” Luigi maintains his stare as he speeds up unceremoniously, and heads off into the mysterious horizon.

Queen Peach: “Where did…” Peach looks after Luigi with some surprise as he walks off.

Kara turns back to the Queen. “That was.. strange.”

Queen Peach: “Yes.”

Kara: “As I was saying, before we got interrupted, and before I lose my nerve.. I, ah, have a confession to make, your Majesty.”
Kara: “The Doctor knew nothing of this meeting. I made it on his behalf, and did not tell him, so I could get an audience with, well, with you. Your Majesty.” Kara’s gaze falters a bit.

Queen Peach is silent for a very long time, then…”Oh.”
Queen Peach: “And what did you intend the contents of this audience to be?”

Kara: “You see– The Doctor is a good man, well, okay, perhaps ‘good’ is a misuse of terms, but you have to understand.. Minister Mario, he’s lost control of his brother, and the war, and.. and..” Kara’s voice breaks. “My brothers. I had four brothers. They were drafted into the 41st Paratroopa division.”
Kara shoots a meaningful, imploring look at Peach. “I have TWO brothers now, Your Majesty.”

Queen Peach: “The Mushroom Kingdom expects every man to do his duty, Miss…?”

Kara: “Kara. Kara Koopa.”
Kara: “I want to end this war, however, whatever I must do. I know there is no love lost between you and my employer; if you can end the war, I will ensure the good Doctor will not be in the running for Prime Minister come election day.”
Kara looks a bit pale; betrayal obviously does not come comfortably.

Queen Peach is scanning the horizon impatiently when she stops, hearing this, and turns to skewer Kara with a penetrating gaze.

Kara withdraws a tiny bit into her shell.

Queen Peach: “Kara.”
Queen Peach: “Miss Koopa.”

Kara: “Y.. Yes, your Majesty?”

Queen Peach:  “There was a time when, if I wished to end the way, I would do it like that,” she says, snapping her fingers. “There was a time when every member of the Mushroom Kingdom bowed to my whim. My WORD was LAW!”
Queen Peach: “But those days have gone.”

Kara blushes.

Queen Peach: “I am a figurehead, today — a last relic of a Golden Age. I have no heir. It will not be too long until the Daisies, or even the Rosettas, will rule…and the blood of the kings that made this country great will be gone forever.”
Queen Peach: “If I could stop Luigi, Kara, I would.”
Queen Peach: “But there is only one man who can do that.”
Queen Peach: “I am sorry.”

Kara: “You may not control the kingdom any more, your Majesty.. but the kingdom loves you. There is power in that. And there is power in the man who loves you most, as well.”

Queen Peach snorts. “Love. There was only one man who ever loved me…and we locked him up for it.”
Queen Peach:  “I will…speak to the Prime Minister.”
Queen Peach: “But I cannot promise anything. My influence is not what it was.”

Kara: “Thank you, your Majesty. I am at your service.”

Queen Peach: “Of course you are.”
Queen Peach: “Do you play?”
Queen Peach gestures towards the tee.

Kara smiles winningly, getting her political bearings once more. “Not half so well as you do, but a little..”

Queen Peach: “Let us play a few, then. I am sure your swing is easily enough corrected.”




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