Fake Funeral! Monday November 5th! Tell Your Friends!

(This is sort of a sequel to a fake wedding done in 2008).

The date of the fake funeral has been set! It’s November 5th (by curious coincidence, just a week after my 50th birthday). You’re invited, so please come! And bring your friends! Or, really, bring anyone who is reasonably unlikely to violently attack me or the church building. I’m not fussy.

What’s a fake funeral? Just what it sounds like. We’re going to pretend to put on a funeral. It’s sort of a role-playing game; everyone plays a part, and together we’ll throw the worst funeral of all time. (You can make up your own character, or have one assigned to you.)

The funeral will take place in downtown Portland, at The Old Church (corner of SW 11th and Clay, Portland, OR), at 7:00pm. A brief and (I hope) disastrous reception to follow.

Post questions in the comments, and email me if you’re coming!


You’re welcome to make up your own character! But we also have these suggested characters, for you to inspire or swipe, or even to be assigned to you when you show up, if you’d like. Email me if you’d like to play a specific character listed here, and I’ll mark that character as “taken.”

Ephraim Echinodermus, aka, “The Dead Guy.” (This role is already taken).
It seems that no one really knew Ephraim Echinodermus well. Everyone knows that he was fabulously wealthy, but where has the fortune gone? Rumor says that he had a secret child who might now inherit everything, but where is it? And who knew he had a twin?

Bradford Kounterpheit-Echinodermus, Ephraim’s previously unknown identical twin. (This role is already taken).
A devoted brother, and definitely not a criminal who underwent extensive plastic surgery. Also definitely not Ephraim Echinodermus who is just pretending to have died.

The Officiant (this role is already taken)
A professional minister who passionately hated Ephraim Echinodermus, for reasons they are eager to explain, and now has to run the service and eulogize Ephraim. Will their sheer joy that Ephraim is dead spill over into their performance as a minister? I certainly hope so!
GOAL: To make sure everyone understands that Ephraim Echinodermus was scum, with specific outlandish anecdotes if at all possible.
SECONDARY GOAL: Conduct a dignified funeral service.

Shutterstock Pond: Wedding Photographer (This part is taken)
Do funerals have photographers? This one does! Only Shutterstock is technically, actually, only ever a wedding photographer, so they might need periodic help remembering the tone of the event.

Requirement: A camera. (Or use a camera phone but act like it’s a good camera).
GOAL: Capture the somber yet emotionally moving scene of remembrance from a number of dramatic angles.

An individual claiming to be Ephraim’s widow, devastated at the loss of a long and happy marriage of 4-6 weeks that took place entirely over Snapchat
GOAL: to inherit and/or to find a new victim-I-mean-fiancé

Cindy Echinodermus, Ephraim’s mystery daughter. (This role is already taken.)
She used to be Ephraim’s shoe shine girl, but now she’s trying to stake a claim to inherit the rumored fortune.
GOAL: To get people to tell her stories about times they saw Ephraim, and then to try to convince them that she was there.

Innocence Echinodermus, another mystery child (can be male or female, doesn’t matter).
An evil mastermind disguised as the sweetest, most innocent child imaginable (possibly dressed in anime style).
GOAL: To be loved by all. Also to convince everybody that any other similar-aged children present are evil monsters.

Annie Hannigan, yet another Ephraim mystery daughter. (This role is already taken)
A genuinely good hearted child, forced by her evil guardian to come here and pretend to be Ephraim’s long lost daughter.
GOAL: To find a nice adult, or adult couple, and convince them to adopt her.

Annie/Arnie Hannigan’s evil guardian. (This part is taken.)
Their goal: To get Annie accepted as the one true heir, embezzle Annie’s fortune,and eventually to rule the world in an iron fist.
Secondary goal: To subtly pump guests to find out information on subjects such as how to embezzle, how to fix elections, how do to a coup, building reliable deathtraps, etc.

Toby Wayne Tucker (This part is already taken)
All he knows about the deceased he has read in the papers, so he carries around an album of newspaper clippings about Ephraim, all of which are slanderous and libelous and other terrible things that Toby will be happy to tell you about with much indignation and detail.
GOAL: To gain fame and notoriety by associating with the deceased and anyone connected to him.
SECONDARY GOAL: To get others to think that he may have played a hand in the death of the deceased.

The attorney handling the estate (This part is already taken)
GOAL: to find the will, which they’ve carelessly misplaced, before anybody realizes

Associate representative, Empyrean Interference With Contracts and Windfalls Division
This personage has come from above, disguised as an ordinary mortal, because they’ve been tipped off that an agent of the underworld may be at this funeral.
GOAL: To investigate and question people to determine who here is actually a disguised representative of the underworld.
SECONDARY GOAL: To negotiate better deals on behalf of any human who signed a contract with the demon. (“An eternity of torture in exchange for THAT? Ha! That’s worth thirty thousand years of agony, tops!”)

A faithful but ominous groundskeeper with a highly variable selection of regional/foreign accents
GOAL: to draw attention by dropping as many sinister portents as possible

The ghost of Ephraim’s most esteemed ancestor (time period: dealer’s choice), who is just HORRIFIED at what the family has come to
GOAL: to identify the new scion that will restore the family’s legacy

The radical death-positive mortician
GOAL: to make this the most progressive funeral EVER

…and the mortician’s incongruously wholesome assistant

A couple of amateur ghost-hunters (are they siblings? Are they lovers? Nobody can tell) and the psychic they’ve hired at an hourly rate. (These parts are taken.)
GOAL: to finally FINALLY detect and capture a real ghost

Ephraim’s college roommate, who can’t stop spouting possibly apocryphal tales of their joint university hijinks
GOAL: Leverage his grief to lock down a date (did you know that Susan left him last year, can you believe it?)

Investigative podcast reporter/interviewer
GOAL: Find (or manufacture) the scoops that will turn Ephraim’s life and demise (?) into the next Serial

Jules Changepocket: Washed up Accountant
Ephraim’s accountant who just so happens to have embezzled, stole, and otherwise poorly invested all of Ephriam’s secret fortune (at least, as much as they know about). Their goal is to make sure no one knows that this has happened (until the very end?).

GOAL: Make it to the end without revealing fiscal bungles, try to score some new clients in the meantime
SECONDARY GOAL: Hoard snacks for the next few days, they’re going to need them!

Time Traveler from the Past. (This part is taken.) A classic for a reason!
GOAL: To blend in undetected with the future people.
SECONDARY GOAL: To find out what the glowing rectangles everyone is so fascinated with are and how they work and perhaps acquire one.

Gretel Radisdotter: Local Grocery Proprietor and Curious Acquaintance
Green grocer that was occasionally visited by Ephraim and/or his personal assistant-shopper. The last time they saw Ephraim, he was in the middle of telling a joke, but he had to leave for a phone call before finishing.
There’s a little voice in Gretel’s tummy saying that maybe, just maybe, the punchline of the joke has something to do with Ephraim’s mysterious death, but secretly they really just want to know what it is for yucks. Also Gretel kind of knows what Ephriam ate in the days before he died.

GOAL: Try and find out Ephriam’s favorite joke
SECONDARY GOAL: Hand out all coupons for next week’s sale
Tertiary GOAL (you know, if it happens): Solve the mystery of Ephriam’s death

Granola Stevens: Literally just another Portland hippie canvasing for some radical lefty cause. (This part is already taken)
Granola will be collecting signatures with increasingly tactless introductions like “you know if we had saved the environment we wouldn’t be going to as many funerals.”

GOAL: Collect as many signatures for cause as possible without being put in the grave them self.
Secondary GOAL: Legalize It, Dude!

Sauriel Glothigzheim: Third Assistant, Netherworld Acquisitions Compliance Department. (This part is already taken)
You’ve been sent by death themself to make sure everything goes smoothly, which is to say, no zombies or half-vampires like last time. This is your second chance before being forced to stand for a disciplinary committee, so you better not f it up. This should be easy, just make sure the deceased is really deceased until the end. Oh, and don’t get found out.

GOAL: Come up with a really convincing banal human identity and easy-to-pronounce name like “Tom Shoes” or something. Make sure no one knows they are a supernatural being.

SECONDARY GOAL: Convincing a mortal or two to sell their souls (and then trying to pass it off as a joke if the mortal responds poorly).

SECOND SECONDARY GOAL: Laura in accounting is totally dating Drekavac in marketing. You just HAVE to rant to someone who will finally understand about this juicy workplace gossip.

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13 Responses to Fake Funeral! Monday November 5th! Tell Your Friends!

  1. 1
    J Squid says:

    Yay! I was hoping I hadn’t missed this.

  2. I so wish I could come play. This sounds like a blast!

  3. 3
    J Squid says:

    That was fun, if short, for me. I hope I added something.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    You definitely did! That bizarre plot you introduced, with the decapitated head, kept on coming up through the end of the game.

    Sorry you couldn’t be there longer! Your character was awesome.

  5. 5
    J. Squid says:

    That bizarre plot you introduced, with the decapitated head, kept on coming up…

    Oh! I want this to be my epitaph.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    J. Squid, 1966-2057

    “The decapitated head kept coming up.”

    … I like it!

  7. 7
    lurker23 says:

    this is really interesting, and i cannot even think about what this would have been like, can you possibly post pictures any description of what actually happened?

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    It’s really hard to describe. There were (I think) 28 people there; nearly everyone came with a character who had some sort of agenda. The fun of this sort of live-action role-play, for me, is seeing all those agendas collide and form into (very loose) plots in ways that no one could have predicted, and no one person can see all of.

    From my perspective, I was playing a man who had murdered my twin brother, who was trying to get his hands on his brothers (frustratingly hidden) fortune – but I was competing with three different young girls who were all claiming to be the secret daughter of my twin. From Charles’ perspective, he was playing someone who knew that I was not a twin of the deceased, but the ghost of the deceased, and whose goal was to to get me to admit that I was a ghost so I could pass on to the next stage. A.J. was there to buy people’s souls for the underworld. Mandolin was playing a beautiful ghost who was there to try and set the family’s future on the right path, I think, but eventually seemed more interested in singing. And so forth.

    Some characters I never really interacted with. For example, my friend John was playing an incarnation of The Doctor, and I didn’t find out until after the game had ended.

    One of the players was playing a podcaster (going around and interviewing characters), and she says that she intends to make a “podcast” episode about the funeral. If she does, I’ll ask her if I can share it here.

  9. 9
    lurker23 says:

    One of the players was playing a podcaster (going around and interviewing characters), and she says that she intends to make a “podcast” episode about the funeral. If she does, I’ll ask her if I can share it here.

    yes! please!

    thank you for trying to explain! i am still trying to imagine it, it is VERY interesting to read about, but it is so far different from anything that i have ever seen or done i do not think i am imagining it right even when i read your description.

  10. 10
    Mandolin says:

    I was the ghost of someone who had been buried there (an opera singer) and had stuck around from time to time, hanging out, and sometimes visiting funerals. She was an American opera singer who had toured Europe, and come home with a totally-realistic-not-at-all-obviously-fake English-ish accent. She was somewhat outraged and exasperated by the ways in which modern people have forgone morals and decent clothing, and very exasperated by the fact that her name has not been passed down as one of the great opera singers in the past. (Damn you, Lillian Russell.)

    She got irritated with the fact that everyone was arguing about where the ghost was, so she decided to just go find him in the afterlife, discovered he wasn’t there, and revealed to all that, in fact, Ephraim had faked his own death, and was attending his funeral while pretending to be his own twin brother.

    After a couple of times trying to convince people of this — I think she may have convinced one — she opted instead to do what was in her heart of hearts the whole time, to go and sing at the empty microphone in the giant hall with the good acoustics.

    GOALS: Court and receive praise and acclaim, be acknowledged as a famous and talented singer, show off singing, gawk at human drama from the enviable position of one who no longer has any investment in it.

  11. 11
    lurker23 says:

    wow. did you just make all that up? that is not something i could do well. did you make it up beforehand or did you change a lot when you got there and see what everyone else was doing?

    *haha. i forgot for a moment, who you are, and what you do, making good stuff up is your job, of course you made it up! :) but it was funny to leave my comment there.

  12. 12
    Mandolin says:

    I had a couple things in advance. I knew I was going to be a ghost that had been haunting the church for a long time, and I did a lot of theater as a kid so I have a couple of characters it’s easy to pull out–in this case, a significantly less cruel, but still obnoxious, Carlotta from Phantom (probably mixed with the Duchess from Gondoliers). She didn’t end up acting a lot like Carlotta, but it was a good place to start, and then find an inflection from.

    I also got lucky because I realized when I got there that people were going to ask me about the afterlife (I realized this because some people asked me about the afterlife and my response was “…”), and I was like, “Oh shit, I have to decide what the afterlife is.” But then I remembered I’d written one in a short story (“Fields of Gold”) so I just swiped it, and felt relieved. ;)

    A lot of the details–the European tour being part of the fake accent, the distaste for children, stuff like that–were emergent.

    My friend who writes table top role playing games finds some of the comparisons between improv/theater and RPGs frustrating, but in this case, I think the overlap did me well. We’ve been playing a couple of role playing games, which got me used to rapidly improvising dialogue again. When I’m writing, I often go much slower than an actual conversation goes. It also reminded me that if I have to do a role in real time, where I don’t have a long time to consider reactions, it’s a lot easier to pull a character type I have some experience with playing, and find ways to inflect and tailor it from there. Right now, I’m playing a very anxious, tightly wound, angsty teenage girl in a game called Chuubo’s Marvelous Wishing Engine; last time, I did a selfish, cynical scam artist in a game called Nobilis.

  13. 13
    lurker23 says:

    thank you for explaining! me i am not that kind of creative and my friends are not also, so i would not be able to go to that party, i do not think, because nobody could ever think of it to throw one. so it is fun to read about: you are all doing stories there of course and your individual story is interesting, but the fact of what you are all doing and why and how is also maybe even more interesting.