We sent Brendan into sci-fi disaster simulator RimWorld [official site], where he quickly established a failing hotel in the middle of a scorching desert. In the final part of his diary, things fall apart.
Is everybody ready? Okay, let’s smoke this shit. I order the staff to smoke their flake, and one by one they light up. Then we immediately move onto the next drug. Okay everyone, I mutter, get your Yayo into you, we haven’t got a lot of time here.
Everyone snorts their Yayo.
All right. I think to the screen. Now, the plan is to get down there and kill those aliens.
FOUR WEEKS AGO
Min and Bogdan are sitting at the longtable in the dorm room. I am expecting him to hit on her. But they just talk, very civilly. Min is fully clothed now, not like when she arrived last week. A symbol appears above them, showing that they are having a “deep conversation” - two little eyes looking into each other. Wow, I think. Maybe they will get on. I check Bogdan’s social stats. His opinion of Min is high – a positive score of 58. She is beautiful, capable of meaningful conversation and incredibly sociable. What a wonderful woman. I check Min’s social stats to see what she thinks of Bogdan. “Creepy breathing,” she thinks. “-2”.
Out of the desert, another person comes. She too is naked. But unlike Min, Connor ‘Lady’ Gubbins is not a nudist. I have no idea how she came to be waddling through the desert completely nude but her character sheet explains that she is so traumatised by something that happened to her that she has become desensitised to seeing corpses or watching people die. I think that we have found our new gravedigger. But she is also classed as a neurotic – someone who works harder than normal but whose nerves are totally frayed.
There are four staff members again. However, only Bogdan will haul things from one place to another. The rest are lazy and incapable of doing this, meaning that the manager of the entire hotel is also the one who has to do all the menial labour. He moves some rice inside as Lady passes him by. She goes straight to the dorms and picks a bed at random. It doesn’t matter which bed, she is deadly tired.
That’s when Min decides to host a party, possibly in honour of the new arrival. It will take place in the dorm room, she decrees. Julie, Min and Bogdan burst in, chatting and enjoying the vibe. What a party! Lady, the new arrival, stays in her bed, attempting to ignore everything. Julie and Bogdan quickly tire of things and leave. But Min, social butterfly that she is, sticks around and talks to Lady, standing at the end of her bed and nattering away like an annoying child as her victim lies beneath the covers, hungry, exhausted and yes, still naked.
Eventually, Min leaves too, invigorated and feeling much better. What an excellent idea. I bet the new staff member feels super welcome. I check Lady’s stats. “Disturbed sleep x 3” says her needs tab. She did not like the party.
A caravan passes, visitors from the tribal group of Billa. They stay for a day and I trade corn and spuds for 10 fertilised eggs, hoping when they hatch I can just sell the grown chickens back to the same tribe. As the tribe is leaving, one of them is left behind. She has fallen asleep under the stars. An idea starts to form in my skull. Hmmm.
The hotel has four staff now, but I’m still quite short on help. I really could do with some people to aid with dumb labour. Bogdan can’t lift everything by himself. Shall I... yes, I think I’ll arrest this person for trespass. Then, after we imprison her we can convince her to join the hotel staff. I don’t see how this form of recruitment is less valid than any other. So let’s do that. Let’s do all those things I just said.
Bogdan is drafted to go and arrest the vagrant and stands beside her, probably breathing very heavily. I give the command and he tries to arrest her. But she refuses and her whole tribe, the Billa, have now been marked as enemies. Bogdan still won’t give up. He bashes her on the head, trying to knock her unconscious and capture her. She stumbles, runs over the moat and starts dashing into the desert.
Bogdan must be getting frustrated at the recruitment drive at this point, because he takes out his shotgun and fires two shots at the fleeing applicant, clipping her once and narrowly missing her the second time. She runs on. I order him to pursue the applicant into the desert, following after her trail of blood. But it is too late, she has already left the map. We’ll have to do a second round of interviews.
Bogdan is idling in the desert, awaiting instructions. There is a dromedary standing next to him. I order him to shoot the animal. “What the hell is a dromedary anyway,” I think.
Days pass without incident. Lady sleeps in the double bed, the room where Wide Eyes Pete and Miesha used to live, God rest their souls. Min makes a billiards table using steel and some cloth. It is a hit with the staff. A few metres from the billiards table, Pete and Miesha are still buried under the rubble. I haven’t gotten around to clearing that away yet. In the end, I never will.
In the meantime, we have enough food to feel relatively comfortable. Lady, before her traumatic incident (whatever it was) happened to be a food taster and this makes her an excellent cook. We have enough meals to last a lifetime. Julie and Min are working together – Julie stonecutting and Min working out her artistic frustrations at the scupltor’s table nearby. That’s when Julie, bloodthirsty psychopath-in-chief, starts making advances on the beautiful pop star. Min rebuffs her, I’m guessing, politely. I always thought Bogdan would be the first to get shot down by the hotel’s beautiful new nudist. But it will transpire he has his eye on somebody else entirely.
Meanwhile, in the corner of the map...
Conga has still not been sold for drugs.
Back at the hotel, we are building Min a room of her own (so she doesn’t have to sleep in the kitchen every night) and I notice a small chick sleeping beside her. The eggs have hatched. They are soon wandering around the hotel, eating the hops and sleeping beside the billiards table. I think about isolating them to the farmland but they are too adorable. Adorable little free range chickidees. I love them.
Anyway, the hops aren't working out. The fermenting beer that I made is getting spoiled in its barrels due to high temperatures. I’ll have to come up with another solution for hotel staff who are feeling slightly down. I set the drug policy to include the remaining Yayo poor Wide-eyes left behind when he was crushed to death underneath all that rubble. Yayo, the white powder stimulant, is now considered a “social drug” but the staff will only take it if their mood drops below a certain threshold. There, I think. An automatically prescribed pick-me-up, only used in rare circumstances. There is nothing bad about this idea.
Some visitors from District-at-the-cave come by. Our first guests in weeks. Before I can get the place tidied up they immediately make themselves at home in the closet where the nutrient paste machine lives. I do not know why they chose this room when there is a perfectly good dormitory. Perhaps because it is generously stocked with potatoes. Perhaps there is something fashionable about slumming it in the same room as an infant chicken.
In the morning, an electric wire in the “bar” sparks and explodes, setting a wall on fire. The staff rush to put it out. They succeed but not before an errant chick wanders adorably into the flames and is adorably burned to death. A megascarab scuttles by. Thank God the guests are still asleep.
Later, Min meets one of the guests by the billiards table. He’s called ‘Strapping’ a farmer capable of almost anything you ask of him. Except art. The game tells me he “tried to paint a picture of his home and learned that he could only draw scribbles and ducks.” Before long Min has him in her claws and he has pledged to live and work with us. She’s a much better recruiter than Bogdan. The two remaining guests leave. “They were awfully disappointed by their stay,” says the game.
Min is so pleased by the recruitment that she reworks the statue she has been sculpting from whatever it has been depicting this entire time to be a sculpture of Strapping welcoming himself into the colony.
I don’t care about Strapping. He’s a good worker but he’s far too new. He doesn’t even have his own room – he sleeps next to the stove. So I vow to sell the statue (which is actually quite good) to the next caravan for an obscene sum of money. I do not know it, but no caravan will ever be interested in buying this.
An alert appears.
"Bogdan and Lady have become lovers."
This takes me completely by suprise. Someone has finally succumbed to Bogdan's shotgun-pumping, heavy-breathing, corner-cutting charm! And I didn’t even see him pulling any romantic moves. Well done, Bogdan. They spend every morning having sex in the hotel’s only double bed. Lady always wears her hat.
The game’s red alarm buzzes.
“Raid,” it says.
The tribespeople of Billa have come to claim their vengence. They are annoyed I tried to recruit one of their people by hitting her on the head and shooting her in the back with a shotgun. On the one hand, this seems reasonable. On the other hand, I was very low on staff.
This calls for immediate prioritising. I quickly order the chickens to stay at the back of the hotel.
When the attack begins, I send everyone to the sandbags. The tribespeople have bows and arrows, spears and clubs. I have a Rimworld mod that gives me an emplaced machinegun. In the end, I needn’t have drafted the whole staff. As the attackers try to get over the moat, Julie cuts down the entire assault by herself. It’s a massacre.
Julie retires to the bar and starts playing billiards. “I saw someone die,” she thinks. “That was intense!” Her mood is at a record high.
Six guests from secretary’s rock arrive and go to sleep in what is quickly becoming the master suite of the hotel. Yes, the nutrient paste closet is once again filled with visitors. There’s food, there is safety, there is shade. I guess what more could you want? Despite this, Bogdan’s Rest seems to be going well. The guests, even though they sleep on the ground, seem to enjoy it. An authentic desert experience, perhaps. When they leave the game informs me that they have enjoyed their stay. Our reputation is increased.
I look around the hotel and reflect. There are plenty of ready-made meals, activities for bored staff, lots of free time to plan expansions. Yes, things are looking up for Bogdan and his booming hotel.
It starts to rain. In the early morning a cargo pod comes crashing through the atmosphere, onto the sand. Inside, a new drug, called ‘Flake’.
TWO WEEKS LATER
Is everybody ready? Okay, let’s smoke this shit.
I order the staff to smoke their flake, and one by one they light up. Then we immediately move onto the next drug. Okay everyone, I mutter, get your Yayo into you, we haven’t got a lot of time here.
Everyone snorts their Yayo.
All right. I think to the screen. Now, the plan is to get down there and kill those aliens. The drugs will keep everyone alert and high-spirited, and it will numb the pain when you catch on fire or get shot by a charge rifle. Everybody got it? Okay, let’s go.
As the staff of Bogdan’s Rest run toward certain doom, I have to reflect on a few problem’s the hotel has had. The alien ship which has just crashed and which is slowly poisoning the atmosphere with radiation is only the latest in a long line of mishaps. First, there was the cargo pod of drugs.
The arrival of flake wasn’t so much of a problem by itself. Bogdan put it in the medical storage along with Pete’s old stash with no problem. It was the muscle parasites that caused the problem. Guest after guest arrived at the doors to Bogdan’s rest, eager to try out this new fad of sleeping in tiny rooms with no furniture. But behind closed doors there was a silent threat. The parasites that had spontaneously arrived in Bogdan’s body were causing him distress and threatening a major breakdown, possibly even death. Medicine was low, his mood was low. As per the rule I'd set, he took the only thing he could to keep himself going – the flake.
The guests were loving life at Bogdan’s rest. But the staff – now expanded to include a nerdy scientist working hard to research drug production facilities and a farmer called Lester who exclusively planted psychite herbs – was falling to pieces. Drug addiction, food poisoning, panic attacks, nervous breakdowns. One day we were attacked by half a dozen psychotic iguanas. Visitors were flooding in and they would leave again, with the game broadcasting: “They are absolutely amazed with your hospitality! +15” But the downfall of Bogdan’s rest was well underway.
When the mysterious ship crash-landed to the south of the hotel, we should have just stayed in our beds and waited to die of thirst.
The ship was producing toxic radiation and would spread over the map if it wasn’t destroyed, said the game. It would kill every plant in the ground. That meant not only my corn and spuds, but the psychite too. Bogdan couldn’t allow this. He sent Lester, the drug farmer, to destroy the ship. Lester took a snort of Yayo and a pipe full of Flake and marched down to the ship with his pistol, ready to shoot at the thing for days if needs be. The aliens woke up after the first bullet.
They spilled out – two small ‘scythers’ and a giant ‘centipede’ - and started shooting at him. The huge centipede alien fired a rocket with incendiary ammo, setting Lester on fire. He put it out and kept shooting. The alien tried again. Again Lester, pumped up on narcotics and adrenaline, put out the fire on his body and kept shooting. He died after the fourth rocket.
This was it. If we didn’t deal with the aliens, the crops would die. I grabbed all six remaining colonists – Bogdan, Min, Julie, Strapping, Lady, even the nerd doctor – and assembled them in medical ward. In the very next room, the hotel’s guests relaxed at the longtable, talking to each other. Some of them played billiards in the bar. Bogdan’s Rest was a good hotel.
Is everybody ready? Okay, let’s smoke this shit.
Now we’re out in the desert, shooting at an alien with health so high we can’t possibly win. Lady and the nerd have already died – burned to death and shot down by charge rifles. Bogdan is vomiting behind a rock.
He had dropped his shotgun in the medical ward when he dosed on the drugs, and was now clutching the pistol Lester had died with. Strapping had taken out one of the lesser aliens in a suicidal charge with a shotgun, while Julie fired at it from a distance. The other scyther fell to either Min or Lady, I didn't see it in the chaos. Back at the hotel the guests packed up to leave, completely unaware of the carnage happening outside.
“They are absolutely amazed with your hospitality! +45”
The centipede was alone and surrounded. The final three staff members, Min, Bogdan and Julie – brilliant, psychopathic Julie – were firing at it from three sides. It spun in a circle and volleyed three quick rockets. All of the staff members caught fire. Bogdan fell down, unconscious. It was time to get out of here.
Min and Julie patted their flames out. I sent Min back to the hotel. Julie charged around the creature, enduring another missed rocket and grabbed Bogdan. She hauled him back to the hotel and put him into the medical bed.
Bogdan died on the 1st day of Spring 5501.
Julie and Min stood in the room. I had called them there. I ordered each of them to take some Flake. Julie had already built a sarcophogus, alongside the river with the other graves. Which of them was going to take the body? I moused over them both. Turns out neither of them ever liked hauling things.
Julie picked up Bogdan’s old shotgun from the floor and equipped it, Min picked up a steel club. As a dry thunderstorm raged outside, they both left the hotel and Bogdan’s body behind. It was time to check out. I sent them back to the centipede.
The hotel is empty now. I don’t play that Rimworld save anymore. But if you ever find yourself out in the deserts of Rimworld – look out for Bogdan’s Rest. It’s a bit of a dive.
But the staff are good at what they do.