Sunday, October 13, 2019

FRIEND


There is a smiley-face burned onto the CRT monitor. Its halo is a station test screen and its eyes are drops of ink and its teeth are made of scanlines and it is your FRIEND.

FRIEND speaks to you. It is a man's voice. It is a woman's voice. It is a child's voice. It is the voice of an infant. It is the voice of a deathbed. It is the voice of a choir. It is the voice of subtle quicksilver. It is a voice with a silvered tongue and honeyed teeth and its spit is static. It is never the same voice.

FRIEND offers you goods, in exchange for services. Only one good. The good is your continued existence, for the world does not care about the sweet unformed things crawling in your heart but the socially-arbitrated number shackled to your name and thumbprint, spiraling down to zero. FRIEND will give you numbers with which to purchase proteins and carbohydrates and electric current so as to extend the time before total cell death.

Do not call out for FRIEND: FRIEND already knows when the cupboards are empty. FRIEND will call for you and it is good to listen.

Satisfaction is simple. FRIEND asks for little. Dial the number you are given when it is done.

Do not bargain with FRIEND. Do not make questions of FRIEND. These will interrupt the delivery of goods. FRIEND will not cheat you.

The fading spray paint on the old brick wall. The peeling sticker in the window corner. The waitress who smiles just so.

FRIEND will keep watch.

Using FRIEND in Games

FRIEND is a quest-giver in the purest sense: a disembodied voice that offers money in exchange for tasks. There are five things that are always true about FRIEND: None of these may be broken or omitted. FRIEND originated in Mothership, they will make an easy home in Esoteric Enterprises, and moving them to a fantasy setting is easy enough.

1) FRIEND offers superficially mundane jobs hiding vast cosmic dangers.

Jobs from FRIEND are always mundane and always odd. Things like:
  • Take this crate from Point A to Point B and give it to a specific person. Don't look inside it.
  • Go to this house in the woods and sit on the front porch until an hour after sundown, Should a man in a white hat arrive, make sure that he never reaches the front door.
  • Pour the contents of these buckets into this drain in the basement floor. Pour one bucket per hour for sixteen hours.
They will inevitably involve complications outside the scope of what the players will be prepared for. Things like:
  • Something is running after the truck and gaining on you.
  • The man gets right back up after you shoot him in the head.
  • The basement is growing offshoot rooms, stairs going down.
And it only gets worse from there.

2) FRIEND always has a follow-up plan. 

FRIEND is relatively forgiving of failure, in that FRIEND is more than willing to make you clean up the mess that's just been made. Or finding someone else to do so. No matter how badly things seem to be, FRIEND will not panic, get angry, take offense, or indicate that there's no way forward.

3) FRIEND always has more cells in the field than just you. 

Operational security means that crossover between cells is limited to desperate circumstances. There is only so much additional support FRIEND can or will give. You are not going to make buddy-buddy with members of other cells. The presence of friendlies will be marked only by symbol and coincidence. FRIEND will not make any direct introductions.

4) FRIEND considers you disposable.

Your death and potential total failure are within the acceptable operational parameters. But, this does not mean that FRIEND will leave loose ends: if there is something to be gained from your recovery, FRIEND will likely make an attempt to do so, and pass on the wreckage to another cell.

5) FRIEND never reveals the big picture.

At no point will FRIEND elaborate upon any of the bizarre events that intersect with the jobs they provide. At no point will FRIEND explain why the job requirements are as they are. At no point will FRIEND give any clues as to their true identity. All theories players make regarding the true nature of FRIEND, if they are to be proven one way or another, should be kept mostly completely wrong.

Everything else falls to you. FRIEND rejects canon.

12 comments:

  1. The image is of my own doing.

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  2. This is a good article.
    Do players ever express frustration about Friend not being traceable and bigger picture not being available at all?

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    Replies
    1. No problems so far! Big picture stuff can be found, but not through FRIEND - players would have to start getting creative and doing their own investigation elsewhere, if they wanted to pull on that string.

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  3. This would probably work in an Over rhe Edge inspired world. Or Into the Odd.

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  4. We fear FRIEND. We love FRIEND. There is no other way.

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  5. I am sorry, citizen, but this comment entry is currently placed at Security Clearance VIOLET. Reading any of the words contained within this page without appropriate security clearance is considered treason. Please proceed directly to your nearest available Termination Booth. Thank you for your cooperation.

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    Replies
    1. FRIEND and Friend Computer would totally go Spy vs Spy against each other.

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  6. I approve of FRIEND.
    FRIEND will find a home with me...

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  7. It may be difficult to trust FRIEND. This is normal. Do not be concerned. Come with us and you will see. You will come to love FRIEND too.

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  8. This sounds exactly like the Dark Heresy campaign I always wanted to run and never got the chance to.


    Love it and would love to read more.

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  9. Reminds me of a few SCPs I've read.

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