I turned Slackbot into a demon and started a secret society at work. This is how I did it.

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This was included in my Damned Bureaucracy! RPG adventure.

The villain of the adventure is a demon that has taken over the computers at work. He lives inside the system and needs energy in order to survive and eventually break out into the physical world.

Not only that — he has taken over Slack so that he can recruit followers and use them as batteries. I decided that radio waves was his tool to extract energy, and therefore loved everything that used that technology. (This fit well to our setting since we work at a broadcasting company). The members of the society don’t know that he is evil, and need to be freed from his influence by the players.

Setting the stage before the adventure starts

Slackbot and custom responses — how it works

Image showing how to input custom responses to Slack
Image showing how to input custom responses to Slack
Slackbot settings

In Slack, you can go to settings and make custom responses.

This means that EVERYTIME someone writes your keyworld in an open slack channel, the response will be triggered.

This also means that EVERYONE (also non-players) will see the messages— so choose your words wisely!

Once I thought it was likely that at least one of the players had seen the response, I deleted the keyword so that it wouldn’t be triggered again.

Planning the dialogues

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Slackbot response to “Good morning” : Ah, I love the taste of fresh WIFI in the morning!

There were a few things that I knew people normally would write in Slack.
For example, we have a channel where people write “Good Morning” when they log in. I tried to identify some common phrases that are likely to be written in open channels and wrote some responses that I thought was appropriate.

I also wrote some specific keywords/responses that I then incorporated into my normal conversations. Sometimes I just wrote something and deleted my message, so that Slackbot seemed to write randomly.

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Slackbot: Sorry. I just got nervous thinking about you there… digging… and what you might find…

Manuscript — the keywords and responses I used

Keyword: Good Morning!

  • Ah, I love the taste of fresh WIFI in the morning!
  • Don’t forget to show your Bluetooth some love today.
  • I drank way too much WIFI, like, four days ago? Yeah. I haven’t slept since!
  • It’s that time of the year. Bring out your transmission pole and decorations!

Keyword: Slackbot

  • … I might not provide the best sound ever, but I like to think I make visitors happy.
  • It seems SOME people find me a little… spooky. I guess those people think I’m kinda scary.
  • Sorry. I just got nervous thinking about you there… digging… and what you might find…

Keyword: Problem

  • When wireless is fully applied the earth will be converted into a huge brain, capable of response in every one of its parts. — Nikola Tesla
  • … Maybe I should be the mayor instead?
  • When I hear the ping from the microwave, I feel like I’m getting a free present.
  • Would it surprise you if I said that I’m pretty proud of my legs?

Keyword: Secret

  • So the earth goes around the sun, and every four years it does it wrong? That’s … not comforting.
  • Such speculation is not scientific, of course, and essentially amounts to technological fan fiction.
  • Fossils are HUGE and AWESOME! I hope I grow up to be a fossil someday!
  • I keep having this weird dream where two giant hands keep tapping me. It’s spooky!
  • Oh, sorry… connection failed.. how inconveniently convenient!

Keyword: Halloween rpg

  • Is that today really? Sounds like a bad idea…
  • Trick or trick! I mean… treat!

A secret society… with a little help from my friends

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A few weeks before the game I asked some colleagues if they would be OK with helping me setting up the adventure, and they said yes. (How lucky am I?). I didn’t want to overload them with stuff to do, so I tried to keep the effort minimal. Before the game, they got a few “assignments” to do:

  • I gave them a new version of their profile picture where the symbol of the secret society was visible. (This clue was later used in the adventure)
  • I asked them to “like” posts that Slackbot had written.
  • We have a Slack channel dedicated to music recommendations.
    Since the monster loves radio waves, I asked one of them to post a video of white noise and introduce it as “great music”.

So what did the players think of it all?

During the adventure, the players eventually ended up in the “communication room” where the demon usually tracks our department and talks to the secret society. The layout and puzzle in the room was pretty simple:

In the middle of the room there is a computer with Slack turned on.

Opposite the computer is a wall covered with screens. The demon had hacked the web-cams and was monitoring everyones behaviour. The players needed to find out who was in the secret society in order to leave the room and save them.

The moment the players investigated the computer and found out that it was logged in as Slackbot was one of the highlights of the game.

When I then told them that they may go into their real Slack accounts and look for “real clues” to find the secret members, they really went all in with their conspiracies. It was an awesome surprise to them and sparked a lot of fun speculations.

Since they wanted to find out more about the demon, they started writing messages to him, hoping for new clues. Since they told me on beforehand what they were going to write, I could easily add custom responses (basically chatting with them as Slackbot) during the game.

Conclusion

I hope you found this inspiring for your upcoming game! :)

Written by

UX designer from 🇸🇪 — currently working in public service, at the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Service (UR).

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