A friend and I, back in high school, conceived of a roleplaying game we called Inner Sanctum. It was, in the terms we used to describe it at the time, of the “modern horror” genre. Over the years, it has gone through some metamorphosis, and become somewhat more crystallized. It has sprouted a few different game settings over the years, which we call Worldlines. Two in particular that got somewhat fleshed out are known as The Shadow Chamber and The Trackless Dark, named in each case after some important concept related to the core metaphysics of that Worldline.
As of this weekend, I’ve invented another Worldline, which I’m calling The Black Doorway for now. It may get renamed later. It was invented as a setting for a game I’m running through IMs for a friend of mine, and has thus far only seen one “game session”. The basic setting as known to its run-of-the-mill inhabitants, gleaned from IM discussion logs and slightly edited to make it a bit more cohesive and readable (though not much more), is as follows:
The year is 2025. Quebec is its own country now, basically all of the Northern Territories are what’s left of Canada now, and the Southern provinces along with a stretch up the West coast all the way to Alaska have all become part of the contiguous continental US in 2015.
Hawaii seceded in 2017, underwent some political turmoil, and has settled into being a corporate welfare state largely governed by the tourism industry with about a 20% unemployment rate. The bits of Canada that have joined the US did so voluntarily, citing the original Articles of Confederation as precedent. In fact, the Canadian provinces that became States consider Quebec and the new Canada to be rogue states that illegally seceded from the US, now. That’s the general popular opinion, in any case. You know how it is: new converts are usually the most zealous. Of course, Quebec seceded from Canada (legally) in 2012 before chunks of Canada joined the US.
There was a near-miss in American politics in 2016 after the Repatriation (as they’re calling it in poli-sci textbooks), where the Conservative candidate (endorsed by the Republican party) won the Presidency with a 32% vote, the Democratic candidate came in second with a 26% vote, and the Libertarian candidate was third with a 23% vote. The other 19% was split up amongst the plethora of other parties (Greens, Constitution, Reform, Independent, and the shotgun-scatter of parties the Canadian provinces brought with them).
The House and Senate were a mess of parties for a while, but after four more years the Republicans and Conservatives had entirely combined as the new Conservative party, the Democrats had absorbed a couple of Canadian parties, and between the two about 75% of Congress was reclaimed from other parties. Legislation was passed in 2019 to “reform campaign finance practices”, to “discourage corruption” of course, with the happy (for the Conservatives and Democrats) side-effect of making it almost impossible for any other parties to win federal office elections.
Quebec, meanwhile, became even more like Quebec. The new Canada went the opposite direction, cutting out lots of government cruft over the next couple decades, and now there’s pretty much no direct relationship between political parties and the electoral process there. Patent law has been decimated, recreational drug prohibition has been defanged, and a new Basic Rights Act that bears a striking resemblance to the US Bill of Rights is currently in deliberation by the national legislature.
Canada doesn’t consider itself a Dominion any longer, in part because the UK abandoned it politically: Britain decided the new Canada was sort of a red-headed stepchild because the UK has become ever-more wedded to US politics, and the UK eventually gave up on trying to get the Territories to join the UK or, failing that, join the US.
The PC in the game is a forensic entomologist working at the regional FBI office in Victoria, in the State of Vancouver. I may start making edited transcripts of the sessions available online at some point. I haven’t yet decided on that, and would have to run the idea past the player anyway before I did so. It’s weird thus far, and the player described it as very Cthulhu-esque.
This is the closest I’ve gotten to running a traditional TT game since about 2001 (when I “retired” as a GM in disgust at the whole enterprise), and I’m actually enjoying this. Of course, much of the reason for that is that I don’t have to actually do most of the more annoying bits of GMing for this: there’s only one player to deal with, I don’t have to hand-hold newbies, I’m not dealing with overweening egos in the players or their ego-identification with their characters, and so on.