Thursday, May 23, 2019

TwK: America's Got Guts

There is a TV show that plays on small, local networks at an odd time.  It has short, brief seasons.  Few know of its existence, and even fewer have seen it.  Those who have describe it as a reality show, but a most odd one.

The contestants are always scared, concerned, confused, or openly salivating at the thought of the next challenge.  Sometimes they are a combination of all of them.  The challenges are always strange, and usually violent, sometimes even gory.  Witnesses have reported seeing contestants receive horrific injuries on this show, and some have even seen people die, or so they say.  The show is never pulled down, despite any other television programming that would display this would likely be off the air faster then you can say 'FCC regulations'.

Witnesses say they've seen people mangled, injured or even die, but they also claim to have seen stranger things.  Things that should be impossible without tons of special effects.  Witnesses report strange, alien creatures, contestants performing feats no human should be able to do, and things that are quite clearly not human.

The show's name seems to change every so often, as well as the premise.  But among certain isolated groups of perverts, psychopaths and Those who Know, the show is called America's Got Guts.

                                                       from Running Man

What is the premise this season?


1- Survivor Knock-off: Every week contestants have to complete a  new challenge based on some vague theme.  Ex: The contestants are on an island and must complete challenges based around survival such as- finding food, starting fires, etc;  Or half the contestants are superheroes and the other half are supervillains.  At the end of each episode, if no one died during the challenges, one person is voted off the Island (note: may not actually be on a island).

2- X's Apprentice: The contestants work in teams at the behest of some master craftsman- though unlike the Apprentice, none of these careers are safe.  Examples from previous seasons include Thief, Prostitute, bounty hunter, Repo Man, Lawyer or serial killer.  Each week the contests are given certain challenges each week.  Then, at the end, whoever X is, they pick a winning team and a losing team.  Then at the end of each episode, one member of the losing team is fired.  Depending on the show, being fired can either mean being sent home, being mutilated and stranded, or disappearing in the middle of the night and never being seen or heard from again.

3- Office Assassination: All the contestants are in a concealed location.  They have a supervisor.  The goal of the whole show is simple.  Whoever kills the supervisor first wins.  However, the Supervisor is not only protected by certain rules, but is also quite powerful himself, and would be quite difficult to kill.  Those who try and fail in their attempts enough times are fired by the Supervisor (if they're lucky).  If they're really lucky, he kills them in the middle of their first attempt. 

4- Single's Mixer: A rip off of the Bachelor/Bachelorette.  The twist is that the person everyone is trying to impress is inhuman, evil or insane (sometimes all three).  At the end of each episode, the 1 contestant the person finds most unappealing is sent home.  This may seem like the most safe option, but in reality, it's full of back-stabbing (literal and metaphorical), betrayal and intrigue.

5- Running Man.  Contestants are let loose into a fenced-off area and must make it to the Safe Zone hidden somewhere in the area.  If they make it there, they will be safe.  However, there are studio hired killers called Stalkers also prowling the course, with permission to kill anyone they encounter.

6- Survival Game.  It's a battle royale.  Everyone is dropped into a confined area, weapons are randomly distributed across the area, and only one person can be the winner.  The last one standing wins. 

                                            from Total Drama Island

So you want to be famous

But why merely investigate this show, when you could play as the contestants?  This is the perfect start for a Those who Know Campaign.  Imagine the pitch to the players, "You're contestants on a reality show, but it's run by Satan."  Essentially, it's the Hunger Games but with less melodrama and more people being forced to cannibalize each other to please the studio audience.  
Now, as for the contestants themselves.  They are elected through means unknown to even them, eager recipients of mysterious talent calls or those lazy or disinterested enough to sign the contract before they knew what they were agreeing to.  Most of the contestants then, once they got on the show, were spoken to by the Producers, who encouraged them to act in a specific way.  Essentially, all of the Contestants are role-playing as a stereotype.

Remember though, this is an act.  All the Contestants are much more nuanced than their stereotypes, but when they are being observed, or think they are, they will maintain character.


1- The mean girl.  She's pretty, but bitchy.  Says something like "I'm not here to make friends."  Cut-throat, but basically useless in a fight. 
2- The dumb, but nice bimbo.  She tries, bless her heart.  She's also a total knockout, and really nice.  Basically useless in most circumstances, but no one really holds it against her (except for the girls).
3- The ethnic stereotype.  He/she's black, or Puerto Rico, or something else like that, and he/she's going to let you know at every opportunity.
4- The effete, sophisticated, but asshole European.  This contestant will constantly dress nice, act sophisticated, and pretend to be knowledgable on all things cultured- from ballet to classic music to fine wine and etc.
5- The charming psychopath.  Seems like a nice person, but is actually intensely manipulative.  Plays everyone around them. Likely to be nice and helpful in the early game, and vicious in the late game.
6- The psycho girlfriend.  She's very clearly in love with one member of the crew or another contestant.  She stalks that person and makes him or her creepy gifts.  This may not actually be an act.
7- The chubby, awkward guy.  Neckbeard personified.  A little portly, dresses terribly, probably likes anime, MLP, or something else cringy and weird.
8- The nerd.  He's a an 80s nerd stereotype.  Awkward, likes video games, bad with girls, glasses, kind of smart, etc. 
9- The hippy.  Can be a guy or girl.  The Hippy constantly talks like he or she is high, is always super chill, wears flowers in his or her hair, etc.  What people in their 60s think potheads are like. 
10- The nice guy.  He's just nice.  A gentleman to all the ladies and a good friend to all the guys.  Incorrigibly optimistic.  Doesn't realize how screwed he is. 
11- The girl next door.  A nice, pretty girl.  Someone you feel comfortable around.  She realizes how dangerous the situation is.
12- The rural hick.  Speaks with an exaggerated southern drawl or midwestern accent.  Acts unsophisticated and marvels over modern conveniences.  Constantly tells ridiculous, funny stories of what it was like back home.
13- The bad boy.  Spiky hair, leather jacket, piercings or earrings.  Obeys rules only grudgingly, and constantly postures.
14- The goth girl.  Pretends to be sad or depressed all the time.  Writes poetry.  Never wears anything but black.
15- The manic pixie dream girl.  High energy, super positive, endlessly sunny.  Not in touch with reality.   
16- The LGBT.  This person is the show's LGBT representation.  They can belong to any identity group that is not common; regardless of what it is, it doesn't matter.  The most important thing is that they bring up their identity constantly, and it seems to be their primary character trait. 
17- The Hipster.  As goth girl, but more pretentious.  Thinks he's better than you, though won't say it.
18- The artist.  Creative, romantic, possibly insane.  Likely has wild mood swings and behaves irrationally.
19- The political radical.  He or she has some "taboo" political opinion.  Perhaps he doesn't believe the State of Israel is legitimate, or she really hates people who engage in "degenerate" activities.
20- The Stepford Smiler.  Seems normal, overly normal, but is actually quite damaged.  Hide behind a mask of false cheer.

Of course, all the Contestants are real people, and their characters are just that.  So to reveal what dark secret the Contestants have, roll on the table below.

                                            from Kaiji: Ultimate Gambler

The Contestant's Secrets

1- He or she actually signed up for this, as wasn't kidnapped or coerced into participating.
2- He or she is actually a monster wearing human skin.
3- He or she has an evil split personality.
4- He or she is a hitman looking for one of the other competitors on a mission to kill them.
5- He or she is on some kind of drugs to keep themselves normal (mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, etc).
6- He or she is addicted to some illegal drug
7- He or she is actually a serial killer, and are planning on killing someone here, though probably someone that won't be missed.
8- He or she knows a secret about someone important on the show.
9- He or she are not actually the real contestant, but someone who looks like them.  The real contestant will show up soon, and reveal the mix-up.
10- He or she is immortal.  For some reason, he or she cannot die.  He or she will try and conceal this fact at first, and will destroy anyone who threatens to reveal him or her.
11- He or she are secretly favored to win, and multiple producers are protecting them in subtle ways.
12- He or she found a secret route to the prize, and are going to try and steal it.  There is a 25% that the Producers know about this "secret" route, and it is actually a trap, unbeknowest to the contestant.
13- He or she are cursed to meet some ironic end.  He or she will die soon, probably in some kind of freak accident.  When he or she does, don't be near them, or you might be swept up in the maelstrom.  
14- He or she are actually an Understudy and have strange powers.  He or she isn't a mere Human.
15- He or she is actually related to an important NPC the Players know or have heard of.
16- He or she is actually a genius, and are playing along, and probably pretending to be dumb.  In truth, however, he or she is actually brilliant.
17- He or she is a slave of a Mage-Master and have armed backup on speed dial.  The Mage-Master wants to claim the Reward, but their master is not stupid enough to risk themselves in the contest.
18- He or she is a con artist.  He or she will pretend to be a good person and agree with all your opinions.  He or she want to use you to get through the challenges and exploit you.  But in the end, he or she does plan on double-crossing you.
19- He or she are actually a great person, morally speaking.  He seems too nice for it to be true, but it's no act.  She is a human after God's own heart.  A modern day Saint. 
20- Destiny is on his or her side.  When it comes down to luck, he always make it out okay.  Only significant intervention by an outside party can cause her to end up suffering misfortune.  If the players or producers never act against them, he or she end up charming the audience and winning the whole thing. 


Other characters to be aware of...

The Personal Assistants (PAs)

The PAs spend most of his or her time running around, assisting Contestants, staff and Producers by fetching coffee, dry-cleaning clothes and doing any number of other errands.  There is only one PA at a time, but who the PA is will shift almost daily, as the job has an immensely high fatality and turnover rate.  PAs are often killed, either accidentally or on purpose. This is an occurence so common the Producers barely notice it, and the staff pretend not to, as they don't want to face the ugly reality.   

The Producers

The Producers are a band of psychopaths, competing for prizes beyond comprehension, serving the showrunner.  Contestants at first will usually be divided up into teams based on some theme and one Producer will be assigned to each one.  These Producers will then compete against each other, plotting to see one of their Contestants be the last one standing.  They will use any means to do this, but they will usually not defy the Will of the Executive Producer, who is the highest Producer and last winner, and they will never defy the Showrunner.

The Showrunner

While defying the Executive Producer is possible, if you keep your crime secret, nothing escapes the eyes of the Showrunner.  No one knows what he or she or It looks like, but they always speak in glowing tones about the Showrunner and always assure each other that the Showrunner is doing a great job.  Those who speak ill of the Showrunner or defy the orders it gives either lose the competition or vanish and are never seen again, except in pieces.

                                            by Li Van Saathoff

The Reward

This is what everyone is competing over, the prize of prizes, the boon to surpass all others.  Everyone will usually be informed of this on day 1, to bait them into staying.  Tell me, what is it?


1- Conditional Immortality.  The winner of the Show will be granted immortality and will cease to age, as well as healing from any injury, as long as a specific condition is not fulfilled.  Example conditions include such things as having your head chopped off or being killed by a man who has lost everything but his life.
2- Daemonhood.  The winner of the Show will be made an Outsider through a blasphemous ritual.  The winner will gain the powers of an Outsider, though the downsides will be included as well.   
3- Dominion.  The winner of the Show will be given the throne of a major nation in the world.  Even if this nation has an elected or pre-existing government, the winner of the show will be able to override them.
4- 1 magical Wish.  The winner of the Show will be granted a magical Wish.  Anything within the Showrunner's power will be granted to him.  And while the Showrunner cannot overwrite physics or resurrect the dead, there are few limits to what he or she or It cannot do.
5- 1 Hour.  The winner of the Show may be granted 1 hour's conversation with any person they wish to speak to, whether that person is living, dead, missing or otherwise. 
6- Rethreading Fate.  One event from the past the winner wishes changed will be altered.  If you wish someone who is alive to be dead or vice versa, it will be done.  If your preferred candidate did not win the last election, it will be done.  The changes will occur for everyone, but will always choose the simplest route.  If the easiest way for someone to not be alive is to teleport you into their bathroom with a gun, that is what will occur.  If the simplest way your preferred candidate to win the last election is through massive voter fraud, that is what will be done.  

                                                    by Steve Ferris  

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