We dispatched Brendan back into sci-fi disaster simulator RimWorld [official site], where he quickly established a failing hotel in the middle of a scorching desert. Last week, the hotel staff were in the grip of drugs and cancer. In part two of this three-part diary, a tragedy brings the hotel to its knees.
Wide-eyes Pete was on another one of his binges. He’d gotten his hands on some Wake-up thanks to a passing group of merchants and after spending the previous week in withdrawl he was now sucking it down like sugar. In terms of work rate, this is bad because you can’t control RimWorld’s cartoon men and women when they enter a state like this - they just refuse to do their jobs. But in terms of happiness, I would rather Pete get high every day and stay chipper than descend into a spiral of withdrawl. That’s why I bought him the drugs. He’s better like this.
The hotel got its first real guests shortly afterwards – three women from District-at-the-cave. They refused to stay in the dormitory provided and insisted on sleeping on the semi-tiled floor of the kitchen, snoring as Bogdan, the head of the hotel, stepped over them to cook his delicious trademark ready-meals of potatoes and rice, which only sometimes give everyone food poisoning.
By the time the three women left the hotel, our relations with their group had improved. With the hospitality mod I’m using, you can set people to chat happily to your guests, attempt to recruit them, or leave them alone entirely. I decided to let Bogdan, who is generally a charismatic guy apart from his creepy heavy breathing and habit of giving unwanted romantic compliments, do all the talking. I went to the work tab and made sure Julie would never talk to guests or prisoners. Julie is not a people person. She is a killing-people person.
In the next few days more visitors would come, including a trade caravan with a bunch of animals in tow. Dogs, alpacas, camels, cows. We more or less rely on people like this to bring things like medicine and precious, precious drugs. But I started to think that maybe some animals would be good for the farm. I haven’t had much luck with animals in the past.
The last time I wrote about RimWorld, long ago at another colony, there was a a girl called Min, a pop idol who the game classed as “beautiful” and who loved animals. One day, she tried to tame a giant sloth. It went bersek. She woke up in hospital having lost her right arm, her nose and one of her ears. She was heavily scarred all over. Min was due to get a giant prosthetic claw attached but I, er, replaced the wrong arm. She locked herself in her room and did art for the rest of the game. I have always been haunted by this character. Sometimes I see her in the game’s scenario editing menu as I cycle through the characters, popping up like a ghost. I quickly cycle past and try to forget what I did to her.
The point is working with animals does not always go well for me. Luckily, the animals brought to Bogdan's Rest by this caravan were already tame. We traded a pile of clothes for a cow and a bull and erected a paddock filled with haygrass to keep them in. The traders did not ask where we got so many surplus pairs of trousers and we did not volunteer this information, pointedly ignoring the six gravestones in the distant desert sand. Hopefully, the new cows would fuck.
As the desert days went by without a guest or a visiting trade group, I started to notice that Bogdan was putting the moves on Miesha – the wife of Wide-eyes Pete – at any possible moment. Perhaps he thought that his friend would be too stoned to notice or care. However, Mie always rebuffed the mouth-breathing hotel chief, ignoring his advances. While this was good for her, it was bad for Bogdan who began to feel strained and irksome. Stress and sadness would be bad for him. He did not have a healthy drug habit to fall back on.
The cows were beginning to starve, so I had to let them walk freely around the hotel. They thanked me for this new-found liberty by raiding the freezer and sleeping in the kitchen. From that point on I marked out an area on the farm where they could freely wander and allocated sleeping areas for them in the paddock. Every other day one of the hotel staff would go up to the paddock to milk them, then immediately drink the warm liquid on their lunch break instead of taking it to the freezer.
Meanwhile, we have started work on the “bar”, hollowing a giant chamber in the remaining rock. It is so big that some of the roof collapses, leaving rubble in the middle of the room. I decide to leave this for later, it’s not important. The bar turns out to be a pipe dream anyway, since none of the people in charge of the hotel know anything about growing hops. Their low ‘growing’ skill levels mean I can only plant and harvest the most basic things – spuds, rice, cotton, corn. This has not stopped me planting some smokeleaf for Wide Eyes, which is just simple enough for him to understand. But if he wants anything stronger he has to rely on passing traders. There hasn’t been one of these in weeks. But that’s okay because here comes some people now.
Oh. They’re tribesmen. They’ve come to kill us.
We quickly set up sandbags and prepare for the assault. The tribespeople have spears and clubs, and seem to spend most of their time getting ready by sleeping. Julie has a rifle. Together with the shotguns and pistols of the other staff members, I am feeling confident. But the tribe don’t care about us – they go straight for the cows.
I panic. Those are my cows. I send husband and wife murdersquad, Mie and Wide-eyes, up to the farm to take care of the pesky tribe, with the hope that the cavepeople will only be injured so that we can indoctrinate them into the hotel staff. “I hope they know how to make beer,” I think to myself as they are shot in the gut. But not only do the happy couple kill two of the tribespeople (scaring away the others in the process) they also manage to put a shotgun shell into the bull by mistake. It’s still alive but badly hurt.
Mie and Pete bury the pair of assailants and I work fast to assign the bull medical treatment (normally animals don’t get this). Pete, perhaps happy to be doing his old job as a paramedic again, runs to get the medical supplies. Mie finishes burying the man she killed and calmly sits down to drink some milk. Wide Eyes is an over eager veterinarian. He returns and begins treating the bull too much, patching up not only the shotgun wound but also any minor bruise or scrape. Now we only have two medical kits left. I consider planting some healroot to make medical herbs but nobody knows how to grow it.
After the drama, Mie was bringing some corn into the freezer and passed Bogdan, who was cooking at the stove. He made another pass at her and again she rebuffed him. That makes a total of four rejections. The very next day he tries it on again as they begin work on the hotel’s biggest project yet – the moat.
Again, he is knocked back. Not satisfied with being rejected by a married ninja assassin, he decides to try his luck with Julie. Bogdan is marked by the game as an “optimist”. Julie, in her role as burgeoning psychopath, is unimpressed.
Then the heat wave came. The desert boiled at 45 degrees Celsius. The moat would have to be finished later – I couldn’t risk any of the hoteliers getting sunstroke. Any minute now we could have guests. True, we hadn’t had any guests for about two weeks, but that does not mean one should not be prepared. I took everyone off moat-digging duty and put them on minor tasks inside – sweeping the floors, cooking dinners. Perhaps, I thought, this would be a good time to renovate the bar. Sure, we couldn’t yet grow the hops or brew the beer. And sure, there weren’t any guests to actually come and drink the stuff, or any staff to put in the position of bartender, or any demand for a dehydrating liquid in the middle of a desert heatwave. But like I said – one should always be prepared for anything.
I ordered Miesha and Pete to clear the rubble that had been sitting in the middle of the room for weeks. We were going to spruce up the room. We were going to make the place marvellous, I could see it all now. Red carpet, coloured lights, tiled floor. The bar would go back here with the brewery table, where Wide-eyes could brew beer and get high out of sight. And in this corner, a billiards table where Mie could tell Bogdan to leave her alone, and a dining table in this corner, where Julie could sit alone and hurl insults at anyone who passed. The guests would flood in, they would love it. “Have you heard of Bogdan’s Rest?” they would say to each other at dinner parties. “It’s wonderful. The atmosphere, the camaraderie - an oasis of friendship in the middle of the harsh desert. 10 out of 10 on TripAdvisor.”
Then the roof collapsed and crushed Peter and Miesha to death.
My mouth dropped open. In all my hours of RimWorld this had never happened to me. I didn’t even know it was possible. I didn’t know how to feel. On the one hand, the game was still throwing me curveballs and that was amazing. On the other hand, the happiest couple in the hotel had just been crushed side-by-side under the same pile of rocks. I mean, it was faintly romantic for the married couple to die together, but also stunning that they should die in such a mundane way. The worst Romeo and Juliet.
Bogdan’s mood plummeted. Two of his closest friends had died in a single swift blow. He went out into the desert heat and dug, half-heartedly, at the moat, on the verge of a minor break down. I mean, we all know he would have liked to sleep with Mie behind Pete’s back, but they were still his friends, right?
Julie continued to cook rice and corn in the kitchen as if nothing had happened. I clicked on her to find out what she was thinking. “My rival Mie died,” she thought. “Serves them right.” She kept on cooking with +3 to her mood. Julie has never been a nice person.
But nobody took the deaths harder than Conga, the hotel’s cat. He immediately entered a psychotic daze and started wandering about acting strange. He paced back and forth over the spot where the married couple died, their bodies still unclaimed beneath the rock.
Julie and Bogdan went about their work separately, rarely even eating together. Julie tilled the fields and Bogdan sat in his room, researching electronics. Every day the starving cows would eat the crops before Julie had a chance to harvest them, like giant leathery locusts. I considered slaughtering them for their meat but decided to hold out for some traders, in the hopes of selling them for medicine.
The hotel fell into disrepair and a cloud of bad luck descended on everything. A cow got pregnant and miscarried within days, there was a blight, thirty ready-made meals rotted due to the heat. Some pods landed nearby, exciting me. “Maybe there’ll be a survivor among the wreckage,” I thought. “That happens sometimes.” But all Bogdan found were 8 snorts worth of Yayo, which is better than nothing, I suppose. He took them back to the drug stockpile, still located in the dead couple’s empty room and still named “Pete’s stash”. Outside, Julie lay on the ground and watched the sunset. Bogdan went to the kitchen where the game said he was “relaxing socially”. He was alone.
That night they met each other at the graves. Julie was visiting Shinichi, while Bogdan, for some reason, went to visit Riddle’s grave like always, even though Kenneth Riddle was just some schmuck who died of heatstroke. Usually when characters pass each other or sit in the same room, little speech bubbles appear, with emotes denoting greetings or insults or love. But that night, at the graves, neither of them said anything.
Finally, after weeks of isolation, a caravan from Secretary’s Rock arrived, a bulk goods trader. I sold the cow-locusts for 300 pieces of silver and bought a huge bushel of hops, two medkits, two bars of chocolate and a fishing rod. I do not know if we will find any fish in the desert moat which we ourselves constructed and definitely did not introduce any fish to. But it’s worth a shot.
Now it is night time. Bogdan and Julie sleep, and the caravan traders loiter outside under the stars. At exactly midnight, a beautiful, naked woman comes walking out of the desert. She is marked as “incapable of dumb labour, hauling, cleaning, plant work and mining”.
It can’t be.
It can’t be.
Min, the pop idol, has returned.
Next week, how will the lecherous Bogdan react to the arrival of a beautiful nudist? How will it all end for the unlucky hotelier's of Bogdan's rest?