Now then...get a drink and some snacks and settle in. This is a long one.
This past Saturday, October 8th, 2011, I ran the second ever full-on session of my Muppets RPG in the form of a Muppet Show adventure at RECESS.
Was it good? Does Lew Zealand talk to tuna? YES! IT WAS FANTASTIC! It equaled and even came close to out-cooling the first session. Impossible you say? Let's take a look...
Following the events in the previous RECESS session of The Muppet Show, the Muppet Theater was largely destroyed and is currently under repairs. This episode of the show is being done at an old castle that belongs to a friend of Uncle Deadly's. As the show prepares to start, Scooter checks on the guest star, Angus McGonagle, the Argyle Gargoyle who gargles Gershwin (Gorgeously I might add). After Scooter leaves the room, McGonagle hears a knocking on the inside of a old wardrobe. The doors burst open and out steps the episode's real special guest star...
JACK SKELLINGTON from The Nightmare Before Christmas. And *Spoiler Alert*, as you can see in the image, there was a special guest appearance by Count Von Count from Sesame Street. The Count my homies! Now the Count doesn't come into play until a little more than half way through the adventure. For the time being let's focus on the story itself... The idea is Jack has made it to the Muppet Show the same way he made it to Christmas Town. Essentially he stepped through a mysterious door. Now, why did he do this? He was one again bored and curious about the worlds beyond Halloween Town and heard the music and laughter coming from the Muppets.
Scooter discovers that Jack is among them and that McGonagle has apparently run off. He informs Kermit who makes some changes to the show's schedule. Jack opens with Wilson Pickett's Til The Midnight Hour.
Now while this is happening, Kermit asks Scooter how he let the potential audience know the Muppets had moved the show from the Theater to this Castle. Scooter implies a brief but strong campaign of posters, fliers and postcards, distributed locally. Locally in this case means an old cemetery, a dark forest and moors.
Soon the Muppets realize that the majority of the audience (aside from Statler and Waldorf and a handful of Whatnots) consists of ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves and zombies!
Nervous about the situation, the Muppets get Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker to devise a way to get rid of the ghosts and creepy creatures. Muppet Labs' latest invention should do the trick! The Time/Space Displacement Vortex Generator is designed to suck all the supernatural beings into another dimension. Upon activation it works waaay too well and becomes a black hole, rapidly absorbing the world around it. The Swedish Chef, performing the first of several impressive tactical moves, stuffs a massive glob of uncooked Swedish Bread Dough into the vortex, sealing it. Go Chef!
As it turned out, a small gang of ne'er do well ghosts were not sucked in and instead escaped into the Castle. The group planned on taking over the show, first by having their leader possess Kermit and then by replacing all the regular acts with Halloween themed, ghostly and ghastly acts.
Meanwhile Uncle Deadly seemed to evidence split loyalties as the ghosts convince him that he is the biggest 'living challenged' star they have. The player who was performing Uncle Deadly, Matt, hammed it up and chewed the scenery like a pro. Great work for a guy who didn't remember the character that well.*
All the while Jack Skellington is walking around the Castle discovering props, comedy and music in a fashion similar to his 'What's This?' song in The Nightmare Before Christmas. He eventually discovers Fozzie Bear and believes him to be fascinating and very funny. Fozzie is torn between wanting to hang out with his first groupie and being absolutely terrified by him.
Soon, Kermit is possessed and the Ghost Ringleader cancels an act to put his ghostly allies on stage. His plan is to scare any remaining audience members to death in hopes of making more ghosts. His plan barely works as most of the audience is gone, sucked into the vortex earlier. Only a handful of whatnot Muppets filling in the seats get effected. Waldorf and Statler joke about people dying to be on the show and how they die a little every time they sit through an episode.
Scooter (played amazingly well by a gal named Liz who was also responsible for 'Swedish Chef: Kitchen Commando!') knows somethings up but can't figure out what. When 'Kermit' suggests refilling the seats with a new audience the same way he did before, Scooter is forced to go back out and bring in new...um...blood. *Gulp* He has no choice and calls in more ghosts, zombies and supernatural beasties. At the same time, Scooter vows to reveal 'Kermit' as a fake and get to the bottom of what's happening.
Luckily, Johnny Fiama (also played by Matt) decides to help by calling his Ma and getting her to contact 'The Family'. They agree to show up to the castle as long as Johnny gets to sing a number. 'Kermit' agrees.
Now in between these 'Episode Plot' scenes we had a number of sketches and side gags. We did Pigs in Space, Veterinarian's Hospital (featuring a scoop out Pumpkin/Jack O' Lantern who was feeling empty inside. Y'know. If only he could light that fire in his belly that would bring back his inner glow. Yeah. Lots of pumpkin jokes and puns), one or two musical numbers, a Swedish Chef kitchen segment and, thanks to adding this character to the roster of available Muppets, Muppet News Flash moments commenting on the main story and featuring the Newsman! Sooo funny.
OK, at some point Scooter realizes or believes Kermit is possessed and goes to Gonzo for help. Hilarious moments as Scooter says...
Scooter: "Gonzo, you know Kermit really well. You're one of his best friends. Can't you tell this guy isn't really our beloved leader."
Possessed Kermit: "That's silly. Of course I'm Kermit the, um, frog did you say? Yes. Frog. I am Kermit the Frog."
Scooter: "See! See! You have to agree with me on this. Something is up."
Gonzo: "I don't know what you're talking about Scooter. Of course he's Kermit the Frog. Why, he just said he was didn't he?"
Scooter assembles a group to perform a seance. He hopes to contact a spirit to help them free Kermit. He is joined by Rizzo, Pepe, Bobo the Bear and Carl, The Big Mean Medium.** They use a ouja board and Carl has Rizzo sit on the key to focus everyone's karma or some such. Carl proceeds to eat Rizzo but insists it's part of the process. From inside Carl's stomach, Rizzo sees a spectral vision which turns out to be...Uncle Deadly (upstairs, other Muppets see Uncle Deadly talking to no one and figure he's just being his usual weird self).
Uncle Deadly must abide by the rules of Spiritual Communication and therefore reveals that the ghosts have a secret weakness hidden in the coffin of the lead ghosts grandmother. The coffin is in a room deep underneath the castle.It is then that there is a loud rapping at the castle door. The castle's owner has returned!To be continued...
*Everyone did an amazing job of playing the various characters, especially the lesser known ones.
It was a common and very effective theme to have the player play...not the character so much as the type of character. For example, Matt didn't know Uncle Deadly well but he could understand and play a melodramatic, classical thespian full of pomp and ego. Add the idea that he now haunts his old theater in hopes of returning to the stage and Matt nailed Uncle Deadly perfectly.
Sal Manilla and Big Mean Carl were also approached that way by their respective players and they knocked it out of the park! Don't know Sal? OK. Can you play a fast-talking Chimp who acts as hollywood agent? Cool.
**Big Mean Carl was awesome. Awesome is insufficent. Not only did he manage to be a Muppet eating monster but his personality and style truly came out this time. The young lady who played him was in the original game session and was rather shy and a bit unsure of yourself. Also, being much younger than the rest of the group meant she wasn't as familiar with some of the later Muppets. No such problems this time. She was spectacular and the Jack-of-all-Trades, Master of Eating Friend that is Carl. Her Fozzie was quite good as well. Actually she was all around very good.
I'll go more in depth about the group of players next time as something should really be said about how fantastic they were.