Everyone Is John: A Cooperative Roleplaying Game For Three Or More Horrible People

I run a Star Wars Saga game weekly. One of the players cycled his character out for a new one, the new character being a corporate fixer who was going to do some corporate fixing in a session as sort of an introduction. He couldn’t it make it to this week’s game, and we didn’t want to run a session revolving around his character’s schtick without him, so instead we played Everyone Is John. That’s selling it short, though. We didn’t just play Everyone Is John. My group beat Everyone Is John.

If you don’t already know, Everyone Is John is a roleplaying game in which all players play as voices in John’s head. Each voice has a handful of skills, and John is generally speaking hopeless at any conceivable task outside of those skills. Each voice has an obsession it wants John to fulfill, and bids Willpower whenever John gets hurt or falls asleep to try and take over and control John, hoping to keep control long enough to fulfill their obsession. The goal is to fulfill your obsession more than any other voice.

So John wakes up in an alleyway in New York with his friend Billy nudging him awake. Billy’s going on again about his alleged girlfriend, Candy, who is supposedly a supermodel and so hot man, but John can’t meet her because she’s been kidnapped by gangsters who are demanding a ransom. Apparently they’re very patient gangsters, because Billy’s been going on about this for like three weeks and they haven’t killed her yet.

John is only moderately interested in this whole “kidnapped girlfriend” thing Billy’s wigging out about. But something catches his attention this time. “They’s got her in an abandoned warehouse down by the docks, John,” Billy is saying, “we gotta get a million dollars or they’re gonna kill her, man!”

“Down by the docks, you say?” John asks, grabbing a piece of pipe as an improvised cutlass, “lead the way, matey!”

Crossing the street to the subway, John gets clipped by a car. “‘Ey, I’m walkin’ here!” he shouts. This is not any particular voice’s personality, this is just something New Yorkers say instinctively whenever menaced by a car. John picks himself up off the ground, his mind swirls around a bit, and he follows Billy into the subway. As soon as he gets down the stairs onto the crowded subway platform, he hears an announcement: The train is delayed by twenty minutes. “That’s not enough time, John! We don’t got enough time!” Billy immediately wails.

“Don’t worry, Billy,” John says, and pulls a marker out of his oversized hobo jacket and begins to scribble equations on the subway map. Before long, John has discovered, through the power of math, the fastest way to get down to the docks.

On his way out, however, John brushes past a man in a ripped leather jacket, black jeans and boots, and a green mohawk. “Did you just shove me?!” the man demands. John brandishes his improvised cutlass axe and beans the guy right between the eyes. His three similarly attired friends leap to avenge him. One comes swinging at John with a chain, John catches the chain around his axe and then yanks the gangster forward, his head stumbling directly into the sharpened tip of the pipe. Another gangster takes a swing and John ducks under and slams his axe into the side of his head. The last gangster starts backing away while drawing a revolver, and John throws the axe at him in a panic, catching the gangster in the gut. Then John’s RPG character instincts kick in and he loots them all for a chain, a revolver, and four Skulls gang jackets.

John leads Billy to the other subway. He falls asleep briefly on the way over, and when he wakes, Accountant John maintains control, much to the consternation of Pirate John and Pyromaniac John. Final John bides his time. Accountant John follows Billy out of the subway and onto the streets. “Okay, it’s not too far from here,” Billy says, “wait…wait, wait, wait, John, we gotta pay the ransom! We gotta have a million dollars, where are we gonna get a million dollars John?”

“Billy,” John says, “it’s time to take out a loan.”

“Yeah, a loan! Great idea, John! We’ll pretend we’re from one of those big corporations, like, like…” Billy snaps his fingers trying to come up with one.

“Google,” John offers.

“Enron!” Billy says. Thinks a minute. “No, no yours is better, Google, let’s go with that one.”

On the way to the bank, John passes an electronics store being looted by Skulls. On the TV screen is a news broadcast. “The city is gripped in terror by the new crime wave. The culprit? The Skulls gang. Responsible for such heinous crimes as murder, theft, and kid-” A skull puts his fist through the screen. They turn to John, see him wearing four Skulls jackets, and shout “hey, come join in the fun!” John helps himself to the contents of the register, then goes to meet Billy.

“John, that loan thing worked out just like you said,” Billy says, “I told ’em I was from Google and they just gave me a million dollars.”

“Hang on, Billy, there’s something important we need to do with this money first,” John says, and finds a post office. Because this loan is income. He finds a post office. Now, he doesn’t have any of the right forms on him, but his knowledge of tax code is encyclopedic, so John figures out what bracket he’s in, what exceptions apply, and what loopholes he can take advantage of, then stuffs exactly the right amount of money into an envelope. He has no idea how to mail an envelope, though, so he just writes “taxes” on the back and mails it. Then John and Billy cross the street together. A car clips them on the road. “‘Ey, I’m walkin’ here!” John says. Accountant John has completely exhausted his willpower to get this far, so Pyromaniac John and Pirate John struggle for control. Final John bides his time. Billy turns around to see what’s happened, but by this point John has already flown into the sky with the superpowers he’s just remembered he has. Since Billy is a New Yorker and never looks up, this makes John effectively invisible.

John flies up Superman style until he finds the Statue of Liberty, and begins flying towards it. The AA turrets at the base take aim (there have been AA turrets on the Statue of Liberty ever since Double 9/11) and begin to fire, but John weaves around them, gathers up fire into his hands, and attempts to ignite the torch of the Statue of Liberty, but the fire gathered into his hands explodes and knocks him down towards the ground. Pyrokinetic John regains control before splattering against the ground (some of the other voices, realizing what would happen if someone who can’t fly got control right now, decline to even try to fight him for control).

John lands on the ground and uses a stream of fire to start melting through the base of the Statue of Liberty, now standing between the AA guns and the statue so that they can’t shoot him for fear of hitting the statue instead. So the soldiers get out and rush him with their small arms. John gets hit once in the chest, but his four Skulls jackets absorb the bullet, but then again in the leg. He limps around the corner for protection, and then turns to confront the soldiers who are pursuing him. “Avast, ye scallywags!” he shouts as they draw near, and attacks with his improvised axe cutlass. While John fights with the soldiers, the statue begins to topple over. He jumps clear just in time and all the soldiers are crushed.

This is when Billy shows up with a speedboat. “John! I found ya! Come on, we gotta go, the gangsters, they got Candy on a yacht, they’s gonna kill her any minute now!”

“A yacht, you say? Avast! Gimme the wheel, Billy, you navigate and I’ll be pilotin’ this vessel!” John says. Billy speeds off towards the gang yacht, one of several civilian ships fleeing the harbor after the Statue of Liberty was destroyed.

Police helicopters have filled the sky. The news broadcasts over the speedboat’s radio. “Another shocking crime by the Skulls, we have just received reports that the Statue of Liberty has been burned down by a man wearing four Skulls jackets. It is now believed that the Skulls gang awards more jackets to gang members who commit more horrible and audacious crimes. Police have issued a warning to immediately flee the area if you see anyone wearing more than two Skulls jackets.”

One of the police helicopters begins chasing after the speedboat. “Don’t worry, John, I got this,” Billy says, cracking open a large plastic crate in the back of the boat to reveal a heavy machine gun. “I got it with the loan money,” he says, and opens fire on the police helicopter. John bobs and weaves the boat through the chopper’s gunfire until Billy shots the pilot out and the whole chopper goes down into the water.

“That’s the one, John!” Billy shouts, pointing towards what appears to be a totally normal yacht fleeing the harbor. People in fancy clothes stand around for what appears to have been a party before everything went to Hell. Billy opens fire with his machine gun while John swings across with a his pipe cutlass clenched in his teeth, knocks over one of the tuxedo-wearing guests as he lands on the deck, and draws his weapon.

“Our cover’s blown!” one of the party-goers shouts, and they all pull out SMGs. Billy provides covering fire while John duels the SMG-toting bad guys, revolver in one hand and pipe cutlass in the other. He’s run out of ammo when several of his foes retreat into a stairwell, hidden from Billy’s view, and prepare to fire on John from well outside the range of his cutlass. John dives for the wheel, hoping to throw them off-balance and ruin their aim with a sudden course change, but accidentally capsizes the entire boat. He hits his head against the floor as the ship tumbles. All the voices but one are now completely drained of willpower, but Pirate John remains in control. Final John bides his time.

Billy pilots the speedboat around to pick up John as two baddies swim out a hatch in the sinking ship with a struggling and beautiful woman. “Thar be yer lady, Billy!” John shouts, the two baddies picked up by a speedboat of their own.

“I’m outta ammo, John!” Billy says.

“Yar, then we be doin’ this the old fashioned way!” John shouts, bringing the speedboat up close to swing across.

On the other speedboat are two new faces, one big and thick and the other short and reedy. Both wear Skulls jackets. “I don’t know how you two found about our plan to kill America’s most famous supermodel, unite all the gangs of New York, and take over the world, but you’re not going to put a stop to it,” the reedy man says.

“I may not be in the best place to be sayin’ so, but yer plan be crazy, scallywag!” John shouts.

“Deal with them, Brick,” the reedy man says.

Brick grunts and charges John, who swings under the blow and stabs Brick. Brick staggers away, comes back for more, and John shoves him off the boat, where his bleeding wound immediately attracts sharks to devour him. The reedy man grabs Billy’s alleged girlfriend and puts a knife to her throat. “One step closer and I’ll kill her now! There’s news choppers nearby, the gangs will see it!” the reedy man says.

John lunges forward and cuts the reedy man’s hand, he’s only able to make a shallow cut on Candy’s(?) throat before they both go overboard. Both of them still bleeding, they are immediately attacked by sharks. John jumps in after them, attempts to punch a shark, misses, and gets bitten in the leg.

Final John takes over. He grabs Candy and uses his super strength to swim away from the sharks at top speed while the reedy man is devoured by sharks. The news and police choppers catch up with him on the shore as he swims to safety, discarding his Skulls jackets. “Ladies and gentlemen of the press,” he says as they get close, Billy arriving just behind them in his speedboat, “I’m pleased to announce that my secret operation to infiltrate the Skulls and destroy them from within has been a complete success. I was not only able to destroy the corrupt military junta occupying the Statue of Liberty, but have also broken the back of the sinister crime cartel bent on world domination, defeating all of their top lieutenants, identifying their leader, and saving America’s top model from their sinister clutches. With that, I would like to announce my bid for presidential candidacy.”

“Hey, uh, hey John,” Billy says, right before John starts making out with Candy. She’s very enthusiastic, what with John having just saved her from a sinister villain and all. “Wha-…John, what’re you…why would-”

“Oh, yes, and that man,” John points to Billy, “is the leader of the Skulls. Take him away and we’ll all be safe from that menace once and for all.”

“What?!” Billy says, just before the police tackle him and lead him off in cuffs.

President, John thinks. That sounds nice. “We’ll need to do lots of taxes as president,” Accountant John thinks, “we may even have to write new tax codes altogether, and then do the taxes – with the new codes – on the income we make writing them.”

“We’ll be needin’ to commission a boat fit for a president,” Pirate John thinks, “and the loot! Yar, we’ll be drownin’ in it!”

“We can have them build a new Statue of Liberty and then we can burn it down again!” Pyromaniac John thinks.

“Did you guys see the look on Billy’s face?” President John thinks, “that was priceless. Once I’m president, I can make people feel like that every day.”

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