Team Sleuth: Entertain yourselves.
On Poker Night with the Midnight Crew, you got to boasting about your escapades. The Crew, never slow to take a challenge, thought your big imaginary adventure wasn't that exciting, but all the same, they still insisted they'd be way better at it. Boasts led to dares and dares led to bets and bets would seem to have led to popcorn. Ace Dick brought several bags of it, ostensibly for himself, which you decided fairly quickly to share with yourself and Inspector.
The Midnight Crew have their respective computers spread throughout their base, so you make an executive team leader decision to split up. You can always flip about later if you're curious. But for now, you follow your new protégés over to their computers and wait to see if they can possibly be better than you at a game you literally created.
You seriously doubt it, but you also would not miss it for the world.
"Bet he never gets past SLEUTH DIPLOMACY," you say to Pickle Inspector as you head deeper into the lair.
"What's that?" demands Spades Slick, and smacks you on the arm.
"I hope not," says Pickle Inspector, carefully keeping yourself and Diamonds Droog between him and Slick. "Because I fear what he would do with SEPULCHRITUDE."
"Stop making up words," Slick snarls across the hall at him, and you laugh. This is going to be hilarious.
You are one of the top Problem Sleuths in the city. Solicitations for your service are numerous in quantity. Compensation, adequate. It is a balmy summer evening. You are feeling particularly hard boiled tonight.
What will you do?
You are quite positive there has never been a gun in your office, and never will be. Frankly, the notion strikes you as reckless and foolhardy.
Your eyes narrow at the computer screen. Your sense of humour is black and subtle, and you find practical jokes distasteful. Your mouth quirks almost imperceptibly into the beginnings of a sneer, and you start to test the game.
You pick up the gun.
The grip is cold against your palm. This is your only friend in the world right now. It's gonna be a long night.
Your jaw tightens. You have spent a total of one minute playing this game and already you dislike it on principle. Beside you, watching over your shoulder, Pickle Inspector looks nervous. This is going to be a long night.
Your name is HEARTS BOXCARS, and you are locked in your office.
You would have gotten out of there, too, if it weren't for those meddling painters. Unfortunately your unusually high VIM characteristic still isn't enough for you to bust through the wall like Cans. Unfortunate. You wouldn't mind the ability to punch a few of your teammates into next week. They're making it rather hard to focus with all their yelling and moaning and arguments from room to room. If they'd just settle down and work together you'd all be out of your offices by now.
Ace Dick scarfs down some popcorn. "Keep ahold of those phone parts," he suggests.
"They important?" you ask him. "Wait, don't spoil anything. I want to find out for myself."
You can see Droog's eyes looking out of the dumbwaiter.
"Oh yeah," says Ace Dick. "Keep the phone parts. You're gonna regret it later if you give those away."
Droog's eyes narrow and he says something unintelligible through the dumbwaiter hole.
"You peed in there yet?" asks Ace Dick.
"Have I what?" you ask distractedly, typing TUG AT SCAFFOLDING.
"You can pee in the dumbwaiter. You should do that."
"Droog is in the dumbwaiter," you remind Ace.
From the look you receive back, you begin to suspect that your backseat gamer may not be working in your best interests. You hand Droog the phone parts, and Ace Dick groans.
Nobody is helping you play, but you are doing just fine on your own. You are playing CLUBS DEUCE, PICKLE INSPECTOR, which you think is a pretty funny name, because imagine having your job being just looking at pickles all day! Nobody cares what pickles look like! What a weird game!
There's some bottles in the room, which you've figured out the contents of through trial and error. There are some elves around too, and they seem kind of high-strung. You play a relaxing game of GO FISH with them for about half an hour, because you certainly don't have enough VIM to get out of the door. You don't even have enough to lift this HAIR PIN.
Everything seems perfectly straightforward until you pour yourself a teacup of HOT SAUCE and all hell breaks loose. Everything is on fire except for the ceiling, which rains.
You run around in circles until the sprinkler douses the fire that sprung up out of absolutely nowhere and definitely wasn't from you trying to lift the MACHINE GUN.
Team Sleuth: Meet up and exchange notes.
You thought this would be just plain hilarious (and it is), but looking around, you are filled with the sense of forboding. Ace Dick is of course just stuffing his face, the fat bastard, and chuckling over almost screwing Droog out of a working phone, and Pickle Inspector looks mildly ruffled. But you're the one with the real sense of Something's Wrong.
"Either of you two geniuses think about what would happen if we put four people in a three-person game?" you ask them. Admittedly, you didn't think about it much yourself. You figured it would make Deuce an elf or something. Actually, you're still not sure why the Midnight Crew keeps Deuce around in the first place. What is he even for?
Pickle Inspector shakes his head and Ace Dick didn't listen to you to begin with.
"Well, maybe we should have," you say. "Because I've been watching Slick. And I don't think this is gonna end well."
You hadn't exactly been looking forward to playing this stupid game, but at least it started out well enough.
A busy speakeasy. The clients boisterously enjoy illicit libations.
You are MOBSTER KINGPIN, the speakeasy's owner, the scourge of this pseudo-prohibition era universe. Nobody fucks with you.
Team Sleuth: Oversee rivals.
You direct your companions back to their respective rooms, but you take a bit of a walkaround first. For one, you want to get an idea of where everybody is in their respective roles, and second, this is the first time you've been able to wander around the Midnight Crew's headquarters without a chaperone and you're going to damn well note down all the exits.
Clubs Deuce has made the elf table into his fort and the elves have all clambered in there with him. They're having a booze tea party. You know the Pickle Inspector character is supposed to be the weasel hero, but you think they like him anyhow. Little guy fits right in. Well, good on him.
Wait, wasn't the elf room supposed to be in the imaginary world to begin with? If you recall correctly, Inspector got in there via his window. What is the fort in the imaginary world supposed to accomplish? You are baffled.
"Hey Deuce," you say easily, "what's the fort for?"
He looks up at you blankly. Like all times you've met Clubs Deuce's eyes, you feel you can stare through them into the back of his empty head. Into eternity. "For tea parties," he replies.
"...oh," you say, and slip back out the door.
Pickle Inspector tells you the last time Droog asked him anything was when he picked up his gun. "Yes, it... it'll keep doing that," he told Droog, and after that Droog went on a methodical rifling of his office and everywhere else he could access. No stone unturned. To your surprise, there were screws on the horrible clown panel on the dumbwaiter, and Droog used the oboe reed to unscrew them, thus bypassing the whole "you can't reach the phone parts" kerfuffle.
He's also already Level 5, having been jumping in and out of the imaginary world practically since he started. It took you almost an hour to figure out this fort business. When you're about to comment, his head whips around and the glare he levels at you is formidable. You don't bother him.
Ace Dick is demanding repeatedly that Hearts Boxcars do the truffle shuffle. Boxcars looks uncomfortable and increasingly annoyed, so you tell Ace where the Midnight Crew's fridge is and let the situation reach its logical conclusion.
"Where's your fort?" you ask him.
"My what?" he asks.
God Ace Dick is an asshole.
Finally, you reach the last room, which you are increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of entering. Kingpin is the bad guy. How are you supposed to tell Slick that the goal of the game is to kill him?
You sigh and walk in.
To your surprise, Slick has built an armoured fort and is inside the imaginary world. Not so surprising, he seems hell-bent on conquering it. He's destroyed one of those freaky horned beasts already and has set the horn on the front of his sketchily-drawn imaginary desk. Now he's walking around in the monster legs like you did, except that he's taken them downtown and is grinning at his screen while sketchy people flee from his devastation.
"The Midnight Cruiser is for chumps," he tells you. "I'm never travelling by anything but monster legs from here on in."
Problem Sleuth: Reflect on situation.
Droog and Slick seem to both be going for single-handed world domination. You'll be surprised if Boxcars and Deuce ever leave their rooms. Ace Dick is making their game just as bad as he made yours.
You've never made such easy money. This bet is in the bag.
It's not long at all after you take DIAMONDS DROOG, PROBLEM SLEUTH through a ridiculous rigmarole to get his phone parts back together that he receives a call on it. You're glad. You would not want to spend as much effort as you just did to make a thing that never got used again.
You tensely suggest to the caller (female, voice: familiar) that everything in this stupid game will have a time and a place, and if she wants her problem sleuthed (you can't believe you just typed that), she'll learn her place before you make it her time. You hang up.
You've waded through an avalanche of foolish and useless puzzles for hours now. You are an extremely intelligent man, but not the sort who does the crosswords. You are endlessly patient, but you are very, very tired of this. You will murder the next puzzle you see.
There is a large door guarded by two SURLY THUGS. The door is locked. It looks like it will require more weird puzzle shit to open it. There are three skull-shaped grooves on the wall.
As it turns out, you will merely need to murder for the next puzzle you see. You find it an acceptable compromise.
You've brought HEARTS BOXCARS, ACE DICK back with Droog to the strange door. He explains in comforting words how he requires your skull to unlock this door, and how you've been rather useless so far in the party, so the least you can do is off yourself so he's spared the effort. You're surprised how convincing he is.
And it's true, you have been pretty useless. Problem Sleuth took pity on you after he banished Ace Dick (you hope he's not helping himself to those eclairs you made earlier), but his method of helping was so rambling and long-winded that you lost his instructions in the flow of words. He tipped his hat and smiled and told you he thought you'd be alright now, and then he wandered off to check on the Boss.
You spent another hour in your office, poking at whatever looked clickable.
"Wait," Droog says, as you raise the baffling hairpin he gave you. You think that will blow your head off and allow Droog to use your skull, with the added side benefit of not having to play this game anymore. You lower the hairpin.
"I suppose if we do this in the imaginary world, we'll be able to access you for another skull sometime," says Droog eventually.
"Oh," you say, with moderate disappointment. You trudge back downstairs and drink heavily before lumbering under your broken desk.
Just when you thought things couldn't get any more fun, Droog showed up and said he needed your help. After you jumped into the imaginary world and brought him back your own skull, he said he actually also needed your help for something else.
As per his instructions, you took him into the elf room. Ropo, Foko, Zobo, and Blod start crying practically as soon as they see him, and you don't blame them. Droog can be pretty intimidating sometimes. But inside, you know he's just a big suck who needs friends like anyone else.
He examines the map on the back of the wall before taking it and stashing it in his inventory. When your friends the elves protest, he leans down to Ropo and whispers something in his pointed ear. "If you know what's good for you," he says, standing back up.
Droog considers the map again, and smiles. The elves cry more. "My friend here will help you with your war," he says. "Take him through and make him do whatever foolish thing it is you need."
Blod, tears running down his pointed elf face, opens a tunnel-looking thing in the wall.
Droog sees you off, like any good friend would. "Go do their ridiculous quest," he says. "And don't die. I might need your skull."
How the fuck do you get out of this stupid office? Imaginary hijinks are great, and all, but you're running out of booze and you still have no idea how to get out of your fucking room. You rage.
Problem Sleuth watches you with a grim expression. You tell him to keep it down, you've got it under control.
This lasts until a tunnel appears in your wall, with a clown in it. You kill the clown- you've always had a secret fear of clowns, jesters, that kind of shit- and run down the tunnel before it closes. Problem Sleuth's hand meets his face, and you tell him to shut it before he says anything. You know how to play this stupid game.
Goddammit this place is full of clowns! You have a lot of work ahead of you.
Problem Sleuth: Fear.
You feel sorry for the Kingdoms. You grew to love them through the hours and hours it took to cheat your way through diplomatic negotiations. You just hope a few members of the four-pronged society live to tell the tale.
Snowman: Hang up.
You're not used to being stuck in one place, and it is beginning to get to you. He's long since hung up, of course, but saying something out loud makes you feel a little better. "I hate to be the one asking you for help," you say, "but I've been trapped in my bedroom for hours and can't get out."
Four Kingdoms: Prophesy.
Long have the kingdoms stood at odds, and long will it be before the Four of Destiny arrive to change the balance of the world. The Elves tell of a time when their Hero, the Hero of Empathy, will grant them their truest wish. The Weasel People too tell of a time when their Hero, the Saviour of Height, will lend his aid to their cause. Hog Nation legends describe a Master of Decisiveness who will take their side against their foes.
The Clownfolk predict a Hero Who Will End These Fools, but since nobody likes talking to clowns, no Player Character has ever found this out.
Curiously, if you make a habit of speaking to every magical creature you find, one will point you to the Blind Seer of each Kingdom, depending on your ALLEGIANCE MENU. The Seers are vastly unpopular and suggest that the Chosen Arbitor's own fate is one that hangs in the balance, and that it will be a little thing that tips the balance. But the Seers are the only ones who mention this, and it is really, really hard to get a 100% completion rate in a game as stupid as PROBLEM SLEUTH.
You are surrounded by dead clowns, and your inventory is full of CLOWN MEAT. You didn't choose this. It just hopped right in there. Somehow, this is worse than before. You thought the only good clown was a dead one, but now you've got a terrible case of the freakouts, looking at all these blood-covered clowns.
Off in the distance, you can see one half-hiding behind a tree. You mostly missed him in the wave of destruction; he's missing an eye and you tore his arm off, but he's still alive. And terrifying. Just fucking monstrous, hiding behind that tree.
For some reason, his maimed appearance scares you more than any clown you've ever known. There's a pig nearby, and you manage to throw him in the clown's direction and back away. As a test.
The clown hesitantly approaches the terrified pig. He lifts his remaining, blood-soaked hand. And he slaps the pig's rump. Gently. Then he lays down and begins to weep.
A portal opens. You don't care where it leads as there are no clowns there.
He wants you to do what?
You looks hesitantly at the weasel nearby, and then back to the pig you're talking to. Your arms are full of melons, as per the hog's request, but the weasel is going crazy. You put the melons down.
"Look, little guy," you tell him, "sometimes, you gotta share. Were you gonna eat all those melons yourself?"
The weasel informs you loudly that they're his melons, and he can eat them if he wants, and to clear off his property and take that fat jerk with you. Insulted, you defend your friend the pig.
"Don't need to get rude about it," you say. "Didn't know these were yours. We can be on our way without you callin' us names."
You can hear something running down the corridor. Like all things since you started playing, this worries you. You make your character back away from the furious, name-calling weasel.
A sound is coming, a doppler effect radiating down the corridor, starting a low whine and getting louder with the footsteps.
The pig is looking at you.
The sound reaches a crescendo. Ace Dick comes screaming to a halt in your doorway, his face covered in eclair crumbs. His voice rings out through the hallway. "Punch him in the faaaaaaaace," he yells.
Poor guys! All they wanted was some pie!
You understand. How many times have you wanted pie? A lot. A lot of times. Luckily you've got Hearts around, because he's a great chef and a greater baker, and you forget where you were going with this, but boy he's a good friend.
Looking around for something to jog your memory, one of the nearby elves waves to you and is only too happy to tell you that there is pie at the nearby cottage and that you'll be richly rewarded if you get it for them.
You set off for the cottage. You end up getting a little distracted (you found a cave with a weasel smuggler in it and an elf girl who needed to be led home, and then wandering around, you ran into a nice elf who told you he wanted some pie, and that there was pie at the nearby cottage. He even says you'll be richly rewarded.
You can understand his plight. How many times have you wanted pie?
It is like being surrounded by a dozen Clubs Deuces, you think serenely. Your brain floats in the frozen state you forced it into, because the only other option is to murder everything in a mile radius, and you just want to get this quest over and never return to this plane. Where did it come from, anyway? What does this have to do with the office building and being trapped there and the monsters in the streets.
The weaselly Deuce at your feet stares blankly up at you, and is joined by several others. Dozens of Deuce. As if one of him was not enough. An entire nation of Deuces. What a horrifying idea.
You are not quite the highest HEIGHT ATTRIBUTE in the game (that would be Boxcars, naturally), but you're tall enough. You press a few buttons quickly in the most boring minigame ever, and your character stands on his toes to reach into the nest and hand the eggs to the weasels. Horrifyingly, they begin to dance.
You can feel the beginnings of a facial tic. After this, you are going back to the city and you are never dealing with these stupid tiny creatures again.
All: Emerge from quest reinvigorated.
One by one you emerge from your respective portals, and into empty rooms. Great! Maybe this is the endgame thing where they'll roll the credits over your character, now able to return to the real world and do what he wants.
Oh wait, no, you still don't know where the MEGATON KEY is to get out of the office building. And the credits are nowhere in sight.
Team Sleuth: Be consulted.
They thought it was over! Ahahahahahahaha-