Modern Action/Suspense Centerpoint
#1
Hey everyone, welcome to my first longform log of a solo RPG. Centerpoint is a sort of action romance in the vein of your typical "my girlfriend turned out to have powers" anime. It uses a mixture of the usual RPG Solo mechanics with a stat system adapted from a full RPG I worked on and abandoned. Not sure if I can edit posts, but if I can I'll try to keep an update of the stats that have been added.

Main Character:
CHARM 2d6+0
STUDIES 2d6 + 0
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#2
Session One

One more midterm and I'd be done for the week. I kept reminding myself that it would be over soon, but I was still so nervous as I headed to my favorite little coffee joint. I'd definitely need the caffeine: history has always been my worst subject.

I headed in and immediately felt a little calmer just from the scent of coffee all around me. Despite all the little boards with details about exotic blends, I knew I was just going to get a white chocolate mocha like I always do.

As I stepped into line and started pulling out my phone to wait, I stopped. The person at the counter wasn't the one I was used to. No, this girl was gorgeous. Her light brown hair, braided to one side, and bright hazel eyes caught my attention right away. Her face had the softness of someone who took care of herself but didn't bother with a lot of make-up. And--forgive me for noticing, reader--her tall form had some lovely curves hiding under the barista's apron. I don't believe in love at first sight, really, but that moment had to be the next closest thing. I completely forgot about my midterm, and my nerves came back in full force for another reason. I wasn't sure I had the guts to speak with her, even enough to order my drink!

But before that, did she notice me staring at her?

Yes

She looked right at me and I felt my face go hot. Oh no! I turned away a bit and looked at the floor before getting back on my phone like usual. Except I wasn't really checking anything, just fumbling with it so I had an excuse not to look up at all. I couldn't face her now that she'd seen me, presumably with my mouth gaping open. The three orders in front of me seemed to take an eternity, as I tried not to focus too much on her voice--even that part of her was charming.

Finally the last customer in front of me moved on and it was my turn. I put my phone away and moved up to the counter, but still didn't look up. Instead of the usual welcome, she said, "Are you okay, sir?"

Oh, no, she'd noticed me! Did I have any CHARM to work with whatsoever?

8 = 6[d6]+2[d6]

Without looking up, I managed to stammer, "Yeah, sorry, you're just... not what I expected. I didn't want to be rude."

"Oh, yeah, I'm new," she said. "You must come here all the time. Hopefully I'll be here from now on--can I get you something?"

I sort of coughed awkwardly and said, "Yeah, sorry. I just want a large hot white chocolate mocha. Thank you, um..." I finally got the courage to look up at her face.

"Song," she said, quickly jotting down the order and turning to the machines behind her. "Yes, my name really is Song," she added with a little fake laugh. "What were my parents thinking, right?"

With her looking away, I got a little more composure. "No, I think that's a great name. It's really--"

The next person in line cleared his throat and glared at me. I sheepishly sidled away a bit to let him come up. "I'll be right with you," said Song, still running my order.

It wasn't until I got to the pickup counter that I realized I'd forgotten to pay. I suppose between my awkwardness and her still learning the ropes, it must have slipped both our minds. Luckily, Jack, the guy I had expected to take my order, was finishing things up and set my drink up on the counter. "This must be yours," he said. "No name on it, but you've only ordered it forty times before."

"Oh, right," I said. "I also forgot to pay."

Jack shrugged. "I know. It's on the house. Song hasn't missed those steps once today, until you came along. Were you checking her out?"

"No," I blurted out a bit too indignantly. I grabbed my coffee and said, "Thanks Jack, gotta go!" I turned and walked out the door before he could reply.

Wow, was I stupid. Even Jack noticed my mistake, and I must have made her so uncomfortable that she was thrown off. This was my favorite place, and I wasn't sure I could go back anymore. I tried to reason with myself, that I wasn't any worse off than I was before because I would never have a shot with her anyway. I hadn't actually ruined anything, right?

I could barely concentrate on reviewing my notes, but I had to shift gears and do my best on my exam. To that end, did my STUDIES pay off?

4 = 1[d6]+3[d6]

By the time my history midterm was over, I was about ready to jump in front of a bus. I couldn't focus on the questions in front of me at all, still picturing Song's face in the little glimpses I'd gotten before it all became a train wreck. More than that, though, my shame at totally bombing that encounter didn't leave me with any confidence. Things that happened 300 years ago took a back seat to things that happened an hour ago.

What was worse, the coffee shop or the exam? I wasn't sure as I took the afternoon bus back to my rented house just off campus. Normally I would have had a few more classes today, but the schedule always changed for midterm week. That meant I didn't have many more chances at failure, but I'd have a long evening to spend sulking. Unless I went to bed early, that is.

Still, my roommate was probably back as well. Let's see, what kind of person was he again?

Shy female insane genius

Ah, excuse the slip-up--she. Lucy usually left me alone, due to the fact that she didn't do any better with human beings than I did. I had thought it would be weird living with a girl, but honestly, I couldn't even tell you what her major was. It must have been amusing, though, because every once in a while I'd hear crazed laughter coming from her room. That didn't exactly motivate me to get to know her any better.

When I got home she was sprawled out, fast asleep on the couch. I tiptoed by her to the kitchen, put a little bit extra in the cat's food bowl, and went off to my room. Even video games didn't distract me as much as they should have, all things considered. I tried to pour myself into them, but it just became a cycle of leveling up for an hour, going on to a small chunk of story and just watching the scenes without really registering it.

Did Lucy at least knock to see if I wanted dinner?

No

I kept playing and playing until about 1AM, when I couldn't keep my eyes open. I shut the game off and drifted to sleep.

The next morning, I woke in a haze. It was like I had gotten incredibly drunk the night before, but I knew I didn't. I was also incredibly hungry. I checked the kitchen for something I could eat, again feeding our cat (who I hadn't seen in a while). All I found was a bagel, though.

This whole thing was insane. I had to get out and do something, now. Maybe my history professor would have office hours, let me beg to retake my midterm. On that slim hope, I headed out and got on the bus back to campus.

During the ride I looked up the information and found that he wouldn't be in for a couple of hours. I was still extremely hungry, and extremely tired. Maybe I could stop back, and Song might not be in yet? Or maybe I could apologize for yesterday? My mind drifted toward a weird hope, and a fantasy that maybe everything could work out.

Was the coffee shop particularly busy when I got there?

No

To be honest, I had hoped to stop a random person and ask them if they saw Song inside. I know, it's a ridiculous (and maybe creepy) idea, but it didn't matter because there wasn't anyone else walking in the door. I tried to act nonchalant as I got myself in there, unaware of how messed up my hair was or the bags under my eyes. Yes, she was there, and there was only one other customer ahead of me.

Did my CHARM work out any differently today?

5 = 4[d6]+1[d6]

She glanced over at me, then went back to talking to the customer she was on. My shoulders slumped. For an instant I had hoped I was worth a second look, but who was I kidding? I was just some guy with no cool and crappy grades, and she was way too cute.

Finally my turn came along. "Sorry about yesterday," I croaked.

"What? Oh, no, it was my fault," she said. "I started telling you my name, and then..."

Wait, what? I had meant before that. Did she really not think it was a big deal? "I really think it's nice," I said. "And, uh..." I tried to follow up with a better line, but it just wasn't working. I sighed and said. "I'll have my usual and a breakfast sandwich. Oh, my usual is a large white chocolate mocha, hot. Sorry."

She nodded and got started. "Same as yesterday. I can remember that. You really don't look so good, though."

"That's..." I didn't know what to say to that.

Finally I just made my way over to the pickup counter. I didn't want another word to come out of my mouth, or for her to see me like this, for that matter. Last night I'd had no intention of trying to see her again because I was too embarrassed, and now it was even worse.

"You look like crap," said Jack, handing me my drink and sandwich.

"I always look like crap, that's the problem," I said. "Even she thinks so."

"Song? Nah. I don't know if she has a mean bone in her body. Me, on the other hand..."

I sighed. "Alright, I get it. I should just go."

Jack shook his head. "Exam week is over. This place is dead. Sit down, give yourself a break. What are you even doing all the way out here? Unless you came to see... me," he said, with a sarcastic emphasis. I really hoped my crush wasn't as obvious to her as it was to him.

I sat at a table for about 15 minutes with my coffee and sandwich, facing away from the counter. What was I supposed to do? Knowing Jack, he was probably trying to push me to confess my feelings or something equally stupid. I had just met this girl yesterday and exchanged a couple of sentences with her. But, I had to admit, that was more than enough to get her stuck in my head constantly.

Then something unexpected happened. Something dangerous. What was it?

Reptilian hunter

I looked out the window just in time to see a man with a lizard on his shoulder walking towards the door. A moment later, there was a clang behind me as Song jumped right over the counter--I had no idea she was capable of such a thing--and sprinted toward the side door. "I'm sorry, I'll be back!" she shouted.

When I turned back to the front, the guy with the lizard was practically at the door already. He opened it, but Song was already out of sight. He stalked around the room, clearly with no intention of buying anything.

"Can I help you with something?" Jack called.

The man stopped, still looking around critically. "I couldn't help noticing you don't have any other employees in," he said in a gravelly voice. "Quite unusual for a full-sized cafe like this one."

I just sat there at my table, head spinning. What had I gotten in the middle of? It was like some kind of action movie. If Song was running from this guy (and why would she be?), she had just barely gotten away safe.

"Actually, you should see some of the bigger locations," said Jack. "I sometimes run it by myself, especially on slow days like this."

"Hm, yes, you do only have one customer," said the man. At this point he was headed more towards me. He was very tall and had a shaved head and long coat. His eyes were more dead than his lizard's. For its part, it looked at me accusingly. "Kid, do you know anything?"

I shook my head, even though I had a really bad feeling this guy might be armed or something. Did he believe me?

Yes

The man grunted. "Must be just my imagination. Have a good morning, gentlemen." And with that, he turned and walked out the door.

A minute later, the shock of the situation, combined with my exhaustion, hit me like a brick, and I collapsed on the coffee shop's floor.
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#3
Hi Warlyte, welcome aboard. This is a good start. Thanks for sharing.

By the way, watch out for those shy female insane geniuses.
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#4
Ah good stuff. And welcome!
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#5
Session Two

I woke in an unfamiliar bed. From the lights and beeping I figured it must be the campus hospital. Was Song there to see me?

Yes, and...

My eyes focused and I found myself looking directly into the hazel ones I'd been so ensnared by before. What a shame I had avoided looking right at her for so long, because I had been missing a really pleasant sight. I was absolutely speechless as I tried to sit up.

"Welcome back," she said with a little smile. "They said you shut down from exhaustion. Feeling well rested?"

"I feel... I don't know," I said truthfully. Confused was the only word that came to mind. "You came to see me?"

She shrugged. "Jack was worried about you. He said since it was so slow, I could have the rest of the day off, as long as I checked up on you. He gave me your name, since I have a habit of forgetting to ask."

"I'll have to thank him." I'm not sure if that statement was genuine or sarcastic. "What happened to you before that? Did you know that weird lizard guy?"

Song shook her head. "Oh, I just really had to go to the bathroom. Jack told me about the strange man while we waited for the ambulance, but I have no clue what that was about."

It was such an obvious lie, and she must have known I wouldn't really believe her. But we made eye contact again, and there was a vague look of pleading in them that told me to try and forget about it if I could.

"I brought you some food from the shop," she said, changing the subject. "It was partly supposed to be my lunch, but they said you had signs of hunger, so I saved a little extra for you. I felt bad that you went through that right in there when I was gone," she explained, somewhat awkwardly. "So, if there's anything else I can do to make up for it..."

This was it. She was giving me a bigger chance than I'd ever had in my life. I could be smooth or cowardly with my request, and it would determine whether I would get to know this beautiful girl or just keep admiring her across the counter.

Did I have the CHARM to say the right thing?

7 = 6[d6]+1[d6]

"As long as I can keep seeing you," I said. Ugh! It was so ambiguous that way. Had I messed up yet again?

"You mean at the shop?" she asked. "I'm not quitting, if that's what you mean. Or..."

Last chance. Was she thinking what I was thinking?

Yes, but...

"Or were you looking to spend more time with me?" she asked. My heart skipped a beat. Maybe this whole thing could get back on track. "Because I have classes all evening after my shifts - even now I should probably get going. You seem nice, really, and I wouldn't mind if I had the time. But I'm afraid I really don't."

An empty feeling made its way through my heart and stomach. I should have realized someone that was in school and also worked full time probably didn't have a lot of extra time. "And on weekends?"

"I have class then too, and homework," she explained. "If I'm lucky I can get an hour here or there, but I like to unwind by myself. No offense."

She was probably just letting me down easy, although she seemed different than when she'd lied to me before. It didn't matter either way. I guessed I'd have to just see her at the coffee shop. Maybe if I was lucky, I could try again when the semester was over... if twelve other guys weren't already waiting in line by then.

"No offense taken," I said after a pause. "I was just curious. But as long as you still work there, I'll see you around anyway. Um, thanks for coming to see me though. Don't be late for class."

"No big deal," she said, with a little wave. "Feel better." Then she walked away, and I watched her until she was gone.

The bread and soup she'd brought were still there, and the nurses came back for another check as I was eating. Did they release me right away?

Yes

The main thing they'd been worried about was my blood sugar, but when they saw that I was able to eat all that without immediately throwing it back up, they seemed satisfied. It was already late in the afternoon, and I realized I'd missed my chance to ask my professor for a retake of the exam. It occurred to me that since homework was one of Song's time sinks, maybe I could have offered to have a study session with her--if my own grades weren't so mediocre. No, that would never work. I had to give up for now. It hurt to tell myself that, but what else could I do?

It was time to go back home and pass my weekend. I hadn't made many plans because I was too focused on trying to scrape through exams, but now I wished I had some kind of distraction.

When I got home, I could see light from Lucy's room. After facing my crush, talking to her sounded a lot easier. Maybe she could offer me some girl advice - or some help with my study problem. As I knocked on the door, what sort of thing was she working on?

Flail

Almost instantly, I heard a response of, "Back away from the door!" I did so just in time to avoid a big spiky ball smashing right through it and into the wall. I screamed and fell backwards as, with a loud whirring, the chain attached to it went taut and pried it out of its landing spot. The ball zipped back through the door, leaving a large hole in both it and the wall opposite.

"What the hell was that?" I yelled through the hole.

Lucy opened the door, her hair a frizzy mess and her lab coat stained with some kind of blue ink. "Just testing the combination of medieval methods and modern firepower," she explained, as if that was perfectly normal. "What are you up to?"

"Been in the hospital all day," I said. "There was a lizard man." I realized I'd explained myself very badly, but Lucy just nodded as if she understood completely. "Anyway, I was wondering if I could ask you for some advice."

"Don't do full weapon tests in a bedroom," she offered. "That's what I wish someone told me ten minutes ago."

Maybe I was an idiot for asking. Is there anything coherent and useful she can even tell me?

Yes, but...

"I mean some advice about a girl I like. You know, since you're a girl. Not that all girls are the same but, you know."

"Oh. Yes, I have some knowledge of romance. Not much interest in it, really--wait, this isn't a thing where you say you're talking about someone else but you really mean me, is it?"

I laughed, maybe a little harder than I should. "Sorry, no. I'm talking about someone that started working at the coffee shop on campus. She was sent to visit me at the hospital, so she knows who I am, but she says she doesn't have time to see me. I'm not sure if that's totally true or if she's just saying it to get me to go away."

"Hmm," said Lucy. "A mystery that needs to be solved. Slightly mundane, but I suppose we can make a deal. I can tell you what you need to know, and you can help me with one of my projects."

"It's not the spiky ball launcher, is it?" I asked quickly.

"Of course not, and how dare you reduce my work to sounding like a children's toy! Are you taking the deal or not?"

Well, as long as it wasn't a weapon, I supposed it was worth trying. But as I shook her cold and clammy hand, her grin gave me second thoughts.
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#6
Nice. You got a good knack for humor. I enjoyed Lucy and the flail scene. Good stuff!
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#7
Ditto with Jingo on the flail scene.

Welcome. Your infatuation storyline really reminds me of several short stories I wrote back in high school.  Smile

Being a game mechanics person, I am almost obligated to ask. When you make your skill rolls are you trying to beat a specific number (fail/succeed situation), or do you arbitrarily judge the degree of success or failure based on how high you roll?
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