[Play by Post] Yuletide Anomaly

Start a project: collect and categorize all the letters found in the post boxes. (2/2)

Archived deleted message from the Helpers' Slack, channel #help-a-helper

Arthur Beech: okay, I brought a ton of homemade mini-donuts and they are sitting at my desk. Anyone that wants to give me a hand in mapping out an Anomaly outbreak by reading through ~700 letters addressed to “Santa”, can get one! #HELP-A-HELPER

0 replies, 0 reactions at the time of deletion.

Project “Track-the-letters” will take 6 weeks.

Also pretty self-explanatory and a direct follow up from the card. Arthur is mapping how far the outbreak could be, based on the letters addressed to the Yule Lads’ Santa.

I hope I got it right that I needed to both answer to the question AND do an action


Yes answering the question is step 1 of your turn and then the final step is also doing an action so you got it right. :+1:

During the previous turn,

Mundanesoul’s “Santa is in” goes down to 1 turn left.
My project “Detect the Residue” goes down to 3 turns.

I did mispeak before, we technically should say “turn” not week, as unlike the Quiet year each turn is less than a day long.


And now for @mundanesoul it’s the Ten of Pentacles

Someone is found miraculously having survived a previously assumed death. Who? How did they survive?
The organization sends much needed supplies and back up. What do they send? How does this avert disaster?

During your turn, your own project “Santa is in” will conclude, so wrap that up as you see fit.

Then you can either hold a team meeting, start a new project or introduce a character.


Hey folks, just letting you know I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m up against a big writing deadline at the moment that’s pulling all my focus, but I promise I’ll be back ASAP to post my turn. Sorry for the delay!


The organization sends much needed supplies and back up. What do they send? How does this avert disaster?

Arthur Beech peered out of the window with a raised eyebrow as the panel van with a florist’s logo on the side pulled up to the rear of the building. His phone chimed to indicate he’d received a message. It was Hilda: “Sent along that help you requested - Hyun-mi wants answers post-haste. HH.”

Arthur looked up from the phone just in time to see a a motley crew of sharply dressed youths stroll through the door. He shook his head and sighed. “Of all the people you could’ve sent…”

The leader of the group, a tall, pink-haired woman in a dark blazer, stepped up to Arthur and made the Helper symbol of greeting. “Speed-reader Squadron ▉▉▉▉ reporting for duty, sir!”

“You’re the ones who responsible for the burning of the library in ▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉, right?”

“Not our fault, sir, technically.”

From the other side of the room, one of the speed-readers called out, “Mini-donut alert!”

“No! No, those are for local Helpers only, please!” Arthur went dashing across the room, panicked.

Santa is IN conclusion

The last family made their way out of the Santa shed, and Meat-Hook came dashing up, soaked in sweat. “We, uh,” he panted, holding out the toy the last child had wished for, “we really should have thought through the logistics of this.” He chuckled as he leaned back to catch his breath. “Enjoy your Max Power Blaster Kit, kiddo.” The parents looked as shocked as all the rest of them had, the mother’s face caught somewhere between discomfort and gratitude. “I…we can’t…how did you…thank you?”

Meat-Hook grinned and pulled a rag from his pocket to wipe the sweat from his face. “Welcome, ma’am. Don’t forget to tell your family and friends that Santa’s granting all the children’s wishes this year! And maybe some adults, too.” He looked over at the father, who raised his eyebrows in surprise, and winked knowingly.

Introduce a character: Risk

Sometime after 2 am, Risk sighed and settled into the tattered armchair in their shabby motel room. They weren’t sure how much longer their ▉▉▉▉▉▉ was going to last, but they were determined to make the best of it while it did. They pulled off their elf hat and sat it on the scratched-up end table nearby, turning to the figure handcuffed to the bed. “Well, Candle-Stealer,” they said, “it ain’t easy being you, but somebody’s gotta do it, right?” Risk grinned in the glow of the grimy light as Candle-Stealer grimaced and continued to struggle against their bonds. “What should we talk about tonight?”

Sorry I held up the game so long!


No worries, once we have notice we all know that the turn is still coming. :smile:

During the previous turn.

My project “Detect the Residue” goes down to 2 turns.
CulturalSnowCrash’s project “Track-the-letters” goes down to 5 turns.


And now it is @creditinthestr8world’s turn.

Six of Cups

How does the team get supplies? Why is this a risk?
How much business does the team do with the community? What does this look like?

And then you can hold a team meeting, start a new project or acquire or lose something.


How much business does the team do with the community? What does this look like?
Acquire a New Item (anomaly)

Comet Garza might have meant to disconcert Interim Supervisor Hwang when they shook her hand with their souvenir skeletal dinosaur claw glove, but by now she has come to expect these little flourishes. A cluster of gift shop employees looks on–it’s been a slow shift, despite the holidays, and most of their adult visitors aren’t inclined to start on their dinopla at the table. Hwang shifts in her seat and picks at her orange, but Garza just smiles their toothy smile. “It’s been a while, Hyun-mi. I hear you’ve been moving up in the organization. Do you still make time for the roller derby league?”

“Inessential, Mx. Garza! We haven’t had a sitrep from our… friends in the area for hours now. We have to reestablish communication, and given what we’ve already seen, we may not have much time to contain these phenomena”–Katie Stockwell, behind the register, sleepily mouths along to “phenomena,” and turns back to her phone. “I mean, there’s not much time for holiday shopping! So many little ones to think about, the lines are terrifying, and closing time comes so early. Shall we proceed?”

Blakesdottir sets down her vape pen and gestures to her tablet. “We may already be attracting the wrong kind of exposure.” In the video, a woman wearing purple smokey eye is smiling widely and gesturing to the camera in what seems like a dim hut. Behind her, the hut’s door seems to pixelate and shimmer. There might be compression artifacts in the video, or else little eyes are starting to bubble up along the edges of the door.

During the previous turn.

My project “Detect the Residue” goes down to 1 turns.
CulturalSnowCrash’s project “Track-the-letters” goes down to 4 turns.


The Star

A previous victory in containing the anomaly is undone. Who is in danger as a result?

Transcript of phone conversation from operators Blakesdottir and Risk

Blakesdottir: "Yes?"
Risk: "Blakesd-"
Blakesdottir: "Oh ▉▉▉▉, it's ▉▉▉▉ing you isn't it Risk."
Risk: Aha, you've been briefed already.
Blakesdottir <agitated tone>: What did you do?
Risk <relaxed>: I did what we do, contained an AA*.
Blakesdottir: I don't care for your ▉▉▉▉ sandwich. Hold the bread and give me the real ▉▉▉▉ if you want me to clean it up.
Risk <chuckles>
Blakesdottir: Risk. What do you need.
Risk: Well I had one of your Yule Boys here for an exchange of information.
Blakesdottir: Had?
Risk: Well... it turns out that not only does this one love stealing candles, they know a lot about using wax to slip out of restraints.
Blakesdottir <irritated silence>
Risk: One other thing to note Blakesdottir. Do you remember last year's Operation ▉▉▉▉ing ▉▉▉▉.
Blakesdottir <exhales slowly>: The infinite nights of Hannukah... the material is stored nearby isn't it?
Risk <hangs up>
  • AA = Anomalous Actor

So the thing that’s under threat is the Helpers’ cache of suspiciously duplicating Hannukah candles from a previous operation. No doubt imbued with some kind of anomalous power.


CulturalSnowCrash’s project “Track-the-letters” goes down to 3 turns.

Project “Detect the Residue” concludes.

Detecting the residue is both harder and easier than you might have hoped. It’s easier because there is residue EVE-RY-WHERE. The village is lousy with it. It obviously sprang from some magical source, but there’s some additional residue on top of that for reasons not yet known.

However Echo R▉▉▉▉’s tracking skills come in handy. By sourcing all the marginally higher sources of residue, they triangulated the source of them all as Santa’s seat. However, from there Echo detected a massive outpouring of residue from a nearby nondescript barn.


New project, by the anomaly: word of mouth advertising campaign indicating that festive wishes can truly be granted (regardless of parental approval).

Will take 6 turns.

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Next up is @CulturalSnowCrash.

Five of Pentacles

The locals have a legend that might be connected to the anomaly. What is it?
How do the locals feel about outsiders?

During your turn:

Your project “Track-the-letters” goes down to 3 turns.
My project: Anomalous Advertising - will go down to 5 turns.

And you can have a team meeting, start a new project or introduce a character.

One thing I almost forgot to do, since we’ve done a full round I’ll take a quick temperature check. Do we want to make this the last turn of the game?

If “yes” wins, we’ll each get one more turn and then the game will be over.

(because there’s 4 of us currently playing, a majority requires 3 votes, which I think is a good requirement)

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

1/2: The locals have a legend that might be connected to the anomaly. What is it?

The Happy Whale Inn was the cheapest hotel available in the “Helpers approved food and lodging app” so Interim Supervisor Hwang Hyun-mi was prepared to many thing. The fact that they would have to spend every single one of their nights in C▉▉▉ City ON A BOAT HOTEL was not one of them. Especially considering that the boat hotel was docked in an artificial lake with not a single chance of boating anywhere.

What Operative Ragna Blakesdottir was not prepared for — and that’s not something that generally happens — was finding a small book written in English and what seemed like a poorly translated Icelandic in her nightstand. And no Bible in sight — that was also surprising.

The book, Blakesdottir confirmed later with Hyun-mi, was available in all the 10 rooms of the Happy Whale Inn, was written by John Jónsson and titled The first house of C▉▉▉ City was a boat (a good title, thought Blakesdottir).

The first house of C▉▉▉ City was a boat was a children’s book of no more than 20 pages typed in a very large font. It told a story of a pre-colombian Icelandic expedition that, supposedly, managed to cross the ocean, land in M▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉ and then carry a whole boat — filled with large metallic boxes — for a thousand miles on land, just to create the first settlement that became C▉▉▉ City.

Only few days in, they discovered that John Jónsson was the owner of the Happy Whale Inn.

So, I’m a European and I know absolutely NOTHING about the US. Can you imagine my surprise when, after writing this whole bit I google Kentucky and find THIS picture? I’m dead. Next part coming tomorrow, probably introducing John Jónsson!


2/2: Start a new project for the Helpers: Ragna goes hunting

Complete inventory of the equipment checked out by Operative Ragna Blakesdottir from the Helpers R&D department before departing toward C▉▉▉ City.

1 long-range high-powered air-rifle (project name: Il Grande)

1 foldable titanium javelin (space-tested)

2 A4 paper-thin paper box

1 audiovisual camouflage unit, loaded with the Kentucky wilderness cartridge

1 Build-a-bear kit

1 roll of wrapping paper

1 syringe-bullet for long-range high-powered air-rifle, loaded with narcotic

2 Mars chocolate bars (stolen from Andrea’s desk)

The project “Ragna goes hunting” will take 4 turns.

Changed my mind. This project is for Ragna to go out and capture the Yule Cat alive.


And now @mundanesoul

A calming energy resides over the region. What conflicts are halted by this? What urgent matters are neglected?

During your turn:

CulturalSnowCrash’s project “Track-the-letters” goes down to 2 turns.
My project: Anomalous Advertising - will go down to 4 turns.
CulturalSnowCrash’s project Ragna Goes Hunting will go down to 3 turns

And you can have a team meeting, start a new project or perform an Anomalous Action.

mundanesoul has had to drop out for time commitments, so now it’s actually @creditinthestr8world’s turn, following the above prompts for the “Temperance” card.


A calming energy resides over the region. What conflicts are halted by this? What urgent matters are neglected?
Anomalous action (broadcast)

“…and when the chimes started, we didn’t know what to make of them at first. They were coming from every phone, screen, and radio on the block, shifting in and out of phase. I think the C▉▉▉ City Rumor called it a malfunction of the city’s emergency broadcast system; I guess they had to print something. I later identified it as a part of a setting of a passage from the Poem of Gryla, one of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s early compositions, supposed to exorcise her childhood fear of the Lads as a metaphor for, uhh–a lost past? the roots of chaos bursting up through any concrete? I don’t know, I’m not a critic.

“It was supposed to be on Rhizoma, but when she tried to record it with her ensemble, no one could stay lucid long enough to make it through a coherent take: the first cellist reported breaking off before a crescendo with the sudden feeling that a thousand candles were lighting themselves in her mother’s house in Kópavogur, and their flames, though distant, were blinding. She excused herself from the session minutes before she read her mother’s text about the fire, still feeling eerily calm. A short fragment from the session was uploaded to Bandcamp, but taken down the next day after what Thorvaldsdottir called ‘a dream or an omen’ in a cryptic post. Of course, Echo R ▉▉▉▉ scrubbed the servers for the old file; those waveforms could still be useful. But I’m getting away from things.

“While Ragna was off on her hunt, Hyun-mi and I were approaching the site, practicing our patter, getting into character as two old friends looking for a tree. I guess we were that, but it’s complicated. Portland was a mess. It’s not important. We saw the traffic jam before we heard the chimes, cars full of workers and shoppers skidding to a gentle stop, no honking, even. We pulled over, got out to investigate, and we just started swaying. It was like a slow dance or a summoning ritual in the middle of a basement drone show, kind of thing you’d hear on WFMU around 4 or 5 AM. Whatever was happening, the sound said, we were here together and there was nothing to fear, nothing to run from, nowhere to go but the party, which was everywhere. It took us a while–an hour or so? to clear our heads before we continued on foot–we felt we couldn’t trust the roads. Hyun-mi got out the emergency boombox stowed in the trunk and we played an old Slint tape loud to keep our edges. As we were approaching the site we looked back and saw the people following us, a few at a time in the near distance, but joined into columns further back: we recognized a few faces from the traffic jam, but that’s all. I guess things might have been different at the site if we had heard the transmissions from the away team earlier, but you have your own files on what went down.”

The Fool

A previous conclusion about the Anomaly is proven catastrophically wrong. What is it? What happens?

Risk waits impatiently for their coffee order at the Stop’n’Go. The trail for Candle Stealer is obvious, with waxy prints left all around that lead directly to the local Helper candle cache. They take their paper cup from the uninterested teen with a nod and Risk berates themself again for not remembering to bring their reusable cup.

Strolling down the road, following Candle Stealer was easy. The only niggling question is how Risk was so easily escaped. They usually handle tougher targets with ease, and this was just one of the Yule crew. Risk sniffs their still too hot coffee, turning down a laneway between two houses. It’s dark, but even in the faint light available, they notice something odd on the ground as they peer closer.

A second set of footprints from here? Of course, some sort of accomplice. Doesn’t look quite right for the Yule Cat, perhaps some sort of team up with another entity? Risk crouches down to the ground, lifting their coffee to take a deep sip as they think. And then multiple things hit them all at once.

Goat footprints, this is no Yule crew member. Base has no idea how big of a threat they’re actually dealing with. The hot coffee burns Risk’s tongue as they try to exclaim, “Krampus!”.

Lastly, they’re hit on the back of the head with a cloven hoof, knocked out cold.

CulturalSnowCrash’s project “Track-the-letters” goes down to 1 turn.
CulturalSnowCrash’s project Ragna Goes Hunting will go down to 2 turns
My project: Anomalous Advertising - will go down to 3 turn.


This feels suitably catastrophic, but I do want to flag that I’m fundamentally changing what the Anomaly is. Please do respond either here or through the anonymous form if you feel that it’s TOO big a shift. I’m happy to take a do-over for my turn, and will wait a day before posting the prompt for CulturalSnowCrash’s turn just in case I need to. I’m also going to make another “shall we end the game” poll anyway.

Shall we end the game after this next turn?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Also my turn is not yet over, I need to do an Anomalous action, I’ll write that post later today.


Just commenting to say that I have absolutely zero problems with changing the anomaly. And that I love this game!


I’m also fine with the nature of the anomaly or anomalies shifting over the course of the game;
if anything, I’ve had trouble fighting my own tendency toward scope creep and digression during my turns, but Krampus makes a lot of sense as an addition to the narrative.


Great, thanks for the reassurance! :smile: I’ll continue on now.

Anomalous Action

“Well folks, it is a funny little Christmas Village but I sure do like their flourishes. It’s nice to deviate from the boring old normal stuff with some festive meat hooks, isn’t it? Especially to see children getting the presents that they truly want instead of useless tat. Excuse me, hi little girl.”
“Uhm, who’re you?”
“Joan McCreely, I stream oddities I find on the road.”
“Oh do you do Fortnite?”
girl begins flossing
“Aha, so tell me what you got there? A little present?”
girl holds up her Pretty Polly Slaughter Playground Set
“It’s a Pretty Polly Slaughter Playground Set, it comes complete with a Pretty Polly with slaughter accessories, some pack in gut goop as well as a recipe for making more at home, it was the thing I wanted the most most for Christmas!!! I uhm… got it from the nice Santa back there.”
“Well I can see he’s having a busy time of it, there’s a huge queue! I guess he’s really making people happy? But tell me, if this was what you were excited about the most for Christmas, what are you looking forward to for that day?”
girl looks at camera, wide eyed and unblinking
“Santa told me to return for Christmas, and I can get what I really, really want. Even if I don’t realise it.”
Joan is uncharacteristically silent before continuing, speaking slowly and deliberately
“So I guess we should all get down here, huh?”
girl nods stiffly
“Yes… The more the better.”


And now @CulturalSnowCrash’s turn

Knight of Swords

Someone seizes and opportunity and takes a place of power in the community. How does the team think the anomaly was involved and why does this worry them?
Someone seizes an opportunity accomplishing something incredible despite the risks. What did they accomplish and who was endangered to do it?

During your turn
Your project “Track-the-letters” will complete, so you should write that finishing.
Your project Ragna Goes Hunting will go down to 1 turn
My project: Anomalous Advertising will go down to 2 turn

Then you can either start a new project, hold a team meeting or Secure/Endanger Something.


1/3: Someone seizes and opportunity and takes a place of power in the community. How does the team think the anomaly was involved and why does this worry them?

A message from Hyun-mi to the whole team.

«I don’t know what the hell is going on here but this dude is gonna get killed. If I don’t kill him first»

Attachment: a post from the C▉▉▉ City Rumor Facebook page. Posted December 17th, at 07:34 AM

John Jónsson, real name Jakob Jeopardy, is a man that has given much to our city. Many know him as the owner of the Happy Whale Inn. Fewer know him as the author of the children’s books like The first house of C▉▉▉ City was a boat. But today he also revealed himself as the owner of the lot of land at the back of the Christmas tree where, according to many reliable reports posted here on our page, many children of our community have seen their wishes become reality early this year.

After days of intermittent queues in front of the Santa barn, Jónsson has put up a fence and, starting today, is beginning to charge a small fee for entering the barn. Jónsson did not reply to the C▉▉▉ City Rumor requests for clarification about his change of heart.


The other two posts are coming tomorrow but I’ll give you a heads up: I’m calling a team meeting from the Director with a status update, so we can do kind of a recap of where every member of the Helpers is


2/3: Project “Track-the-letters” concludes.

From: Arthur Beech
To: hhenchman@helpe.rs, hhyunmi@helpe.rs

Director Henchman, Interim Supervisor Hyun-mi, I can say that for once we have been incredibly, incredibly lucky.

I — and the Speed-reader Squadron ▉▉▉▉ Director Henchman has kindly summoned to support this effort — just completed the full review of the 732 letters that the helpers team seized from the C▉▉▉ City anomaly-related post-box. The spread radius is only 38 miles from the event epicentre (see attachment). WHICH IS NOTHING for an event of this kind. It could have been much much worse. The Speed-reader Squadron ▉▉▉▉ even volunteered to personally visit every single address we identified and tell each one of the children involved, and I quote, that «Sant doesn’t exist». I took an executive decision and dismissed them as soon as they were done with the assignment.

Based on how the operations in C▉▉▉ City are proceeding, we may or may not want to involve the memetic-containment unit. Even with a spread this small, it would be quite an effort to contain every single instance. So, I hope things are going well down there.

And, Hwang, you’ll find freshly made donuts waiting for you on your desk as soon as you are back to HQ. Come back safe.

No attachments

From: Arthur Beech
To: hhenchman@helpe.rs, hhyunmi@helpe.rs

God damnit, every time

1 Like