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Roleplay: Mayfield

You awaken one morning in a bright, summer suburb straight out of the 1950s. There's a smile on every neighbor's face, not a cloud in the sky, and the paper has been delivered on time, just like every other morning. Your spouse lays next to you; your kids are asleep in the other room. Looking around, you see photos of yourself and your family—your wedding, the birth of your first child, your last family vacation.

The problem? You can't remember any of this happening.

A horror-themed Mega Crossover Journal Roleplay community, initially hosted on LiveJournal, but moved to Dreamwidth after 2011. It ran from March 1, 2009 to December 3, 2012.

The setting was, ostensibly, a small American town named Mayfield during the 1950's. Upon arrival, new characters would awake finding that they had been stripped of any powers or possessions, turned into a human if they weren't one (unless designated as a family pet), and preassigned to a household with other characters, acting out the roles of a traditional 1950's American nuclear family. Roughly every month, a game-wide event was hosted that often involved torture or psychological manipulation, but sometimes unraveled part of the mystery surrounding the true nature of Mayfield and those who control it. Participating characters would then be eligible to have one (or some) of their possessions or abilities returned to them, collectively known as "regains."

For its time, it was one of the largest communities in the LJ portion of journal roleplaying, and renowned for its team of moderators. Mayfield was also known for its acceptance of Original Characters, and featured both entirely unique characters as well as OCs from specific types of continuities (such as Tabletop RPGs and MMORPGs).

Totally not based on that level from Fallout 3.

Tropes related to the NPCs should go on the character sheet.

Mayfield provides examples of:

  • A Glitch in the Matrix: Many events involved these, but most notably (and most horrifyingly) the alternate carnival in the Summer 2012 event "Step Right Up."
  • And I Must Scream: Oh, how shall we count the ways?
    • Captives who were temporarily droned would be trapped in their bodies, unable to act for themselves but forced to watch (and experience) as they acted whatever role the town assigned them to play.
    • During the "Better Dead" event of 2010, Sergei Smirnov confirmed this was also true of permanently droned captives, saying that they are fully awake and screaming to escape, but slowly fade away until nothing of them remains.
    • It was also theorized that the NPC drones were also suffering from the same plight as droned captives. According to Zemekis, this wasn't true—but only for the drones.
  • Anyone Can Die: But luckily, they would respawn. Usually.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Done a few times, such as a video found in the sister city of Westport during May 2010.
  • Arc Words: Several—
    • "A Better Place to Live." Mayfield's official motto, also used as the Tagline.
    • "Don't drink the milk." A standard warning and greeting for new arrivals by other captives.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Several cases—
    • Some captives who were experimented on by Mrs. Johnson during the "New and Improved" event in early 2012.
    • During the final game event "The End," Captives whose bodies were under Mrs. Johnson's control were often like this, if they didn't enjoy it.
  • As the Good Book Says: During the May 2010 event "Westport," survivors found that the church had quotes from the Book of Revelation written all over the walls in red.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The highway portion of the Spring 2011 event "Exit" included GODDAMN INVINCIBLE BEARS.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The upscale restaurant in town, with prices more than anyone's paycheck and utterly bland food, is called L'Déplaisant. Which means "The Nasty" in French.
  • Brainwashed: Captives can become drones themselves. If they get dropped they are permanently droned unless applied for again.
  • Body Backup Drive: Not for the town's original citizens, but for the captives, a new copy of them was created with all memories up to their time of death every time one of them died. What happened to the corpses wasn't revealed until the final event.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: What happened to captives who were brainwashed by the Milkman.
  • Brought Down to Normal: All newly arrived captives appear in Mayfield as a completely normal, powerless human. Unless they were designated as a family pet, though they would still be stripped of all powers and possessions.
  • Christmas In July: For the 2009 Forth of July event, the town suddenly shifted into Christmas mode, and all of the drones (except for the Milkman) disappeared. As it turned out, the drones had been chopped up and their pieces placed in the gift boxes.
  • Circus of Fear: The Summer 2012 event, "Step Right Up / Welcome to Mayfield." There were two versions—
    • The first version was in Mayfield itself, and was a Crappy Carnival playing this trope straight. The roller coaster dismembered and gored drones riding it, and (worst of all) the "freak show" tent included a few bloody curios from past events, including the rotting exhumed bodies of Jane Smith and Officer Grady.
    • The second version was accessible only to a relatively few captives who got lost in the first version's funhouse. It was set in another, smaller Mayfield, and appeared to be a bright, colorful, cheerful, safe and actually fun carnival—at first. It was actually much, MUCH worse.
  • Compulsory School Age: All captives placed in the children slot, whether or not they're actually children, are forced to go to school.
  • Crapsaccharine World
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: For just about everyone. After the "Nice Job Breaking it Heroes" event in early 2012, coming back from the dead carried temporary consequences.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The drones can be like this, as can some of the captives. Even when not droned.
  • Eagleland: On the surface, Mayfield appears to be Flavor #1—a perfect town modeled on the American 1950's. Under the surface, though, it's Flavor #2. Putting aside the captors' methods of torture, the town exhibits many of the uglier attitudes of that time taken to an exaggerated level.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the horror and torture the captives went through (for years in some cases), the ending is nothing less than heartwarming.
  • Escape from the Crazy Place: As much as captives wanted to do this throughout Mayfield's run, it only became a major objective in the game's plot at its end.
  • Equivalent Exchange: During the event "Payable on Delivery" in August 2010, a post office appeared where people can pick up regains at will. The catch? Obtaining a regain this way requires you to give up a body part, a chunk of memories, or another regain you've already obtained.
  • Empty Shell: The drones. Captives with mind reading and the like don't get anything from them.
  • Expy: For Tranquility Lane. The Big Bad was even an Expy for Brawn. And once the Lone Wanderer showed up ...
    • After a while, Mayfield's captors started droning the Lone Wanderer any time she mentioned Tranquility Lane.
  • Everytown, America: Mayfield is designed to appear as an average small town of The Fifties in America.
  • Faceless Goons: The Hazmats—literally just ambulatory, vacant hazmat suits filled with poison gas and coated with a chemical that burns skin on contact. First seen in Westport during May 2010 (along with evidence that they were made to deal with Richard Grey and his resistance), they started appearing in Mayfield for later events—such as hunting down Sergei Smirnov (and killing anyone protecting him) in October 2010, or in the game's final events.
  • Fake Memories: A common occurrence in events. Some highlights—
    • The 2011 Valentine's Day event, "A Better Place to Love" gave adult and older teen characters a regain package that, rather than containing something from home, would give them false memories of an affair they had with someone else in town—who had also received the same memories.
    • The 2011 Fourth of July event, "Proud to be a Mayfieldian." Mayfield attempted to Brainwash everyone into believing they were born and raised in Mayfield and have lived there all their lives, but without tampering with their personality, independent will, or regains. This worked to varying levels of effectiveness, with some still retaining knowledge of their real lives.
    • The 2011 Christmas event "Every Time a Bell Rings" caused everyone to lose their memories of people who volunteered to be Un-Personed, sometimes with drastic personality consequences.
    • The 2012 October event "Beginning of the End" saw one final attempt by Mayfield to force the captives into believing they'd always been denizens of Mayfield, much like the 2011 Fourth of July event. Any attempt to recall one's true memories would involve a progressively worse headache and an attempt by the captors to drown them out with false memories.
  • The Fifties
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Happened to captives during the eponymous "Freaky Friday" event in April 2012.
  • Glorious Mother Russia: Several events involved or mentioned a city in the Soviet Union known as Maipole.
    • The 2010 Fourth of July event, "Milk Drinks You," involved all of Mayfield's citizens getting translocated to Maipole. Life there turned out to be even worse than the town they were "liberated" from. Given suspicious similarities between the two towns, some captives theorized that Mayfield was actually transformed into Maipole, rather than everyone being moved there.
    • The October 2010 event "Better Dead" involved a fugitive from Maipole, Sergei Smirnov, trying to evade Mayfield's captors. He explained much about Maipole's relationship with Mayfield. At one point, the radios all started playing a distorted version of the Soviet Union's national anthem, while a woman sobbed furiously.
    • During the early 2011 event "Exit," the highway's mileage signs included Maipole as a nearby city, among several other towns.
  • Ironic Echo: The ironic tagline is repeated in the last line of the last IC post of the game, sincere this time.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: During the "Westport" event of May 2010, visiting the ruins of Westport Elementary would cause vagrants to hear children singing a nursery rhyme that referenced, among other things, the Milkman's eagerness to poison people with his milk. With each successive verse, the rhyme would cause Shell-Shock Silence, then a splitting headache, then blood to trickle out of the ears. Hearing the fourth verse caused immediate heart failure.
  • Killed Off for Real: Several examples—
    • Jane Smith and Grady after the Summer 2011 event "Speak Up."
    • Starting with the September 2012 event "Don't You Forget About Me," a number of captives.
    • By the final event of the game, every named NPC.
  • La Résistance: Over the years, several of these popped up, taking different forms. The Mayfield Defense Association was more concerned with providing aid and shelter during more tortuous times, while other groups actively tried to fight the captors.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: New locations in Mayfield would pop up unexpectedly, but treated by locals as if they were always there. Some examples: Mount Bonanza and Makeout Point for the first "Summer Lovin'" event, the Lourve Hotel for the second, Mayfield's Post Office in the 2010 event "Payable on Delivery," and the highway in the 2011 event "Exit."
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Was one of the larger Journal Roleplay communities for its time.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: This is what Adrian Veidt and Klaus Wulfenbach theorized Mayfield might be. By the end of the game, it turns out they were right—Mayfield was originally meant to be a combination of Suspended Animation and this for survivors of a nuclear war.
  • Love Hotels: Mayfield had one called the Louvre Hotel, starting with the second annual "Summer Lovin'" event. It was presented as an upscale hotel (with minibars!) used by travelers, but also doubled as a place for married couples to get away for a night.
  • Make a Wish: The 2010 Christmas event compelled captives to write letters to Santa, just like the old 1950's Christmas tradition! ... Except the Santa of Mayfield was a Jerkass Genie who went out of his way to turn Christmas wishlists into horrifying, traumatic, and often deadly experiences.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: The Smith family, specifically Lucy Smith, who is really John Zemekis. The Milkman himself could also qualify, if he weren't so overtly psychopathic and homicidal.
  • Moe Personification: Mayfield has one, in the form of May Field—but she's a subversion. May Field is not moe.
  • Mood Whiplash: So much of this.
  • Mysterious Past: The town itself.
  • New Old Flame: What many captives experienced during the 2011 Valentine's Day event, "A Better Place to Love."
  • Non Player Characters: Several, besides the drones. See the character sheet for tropes pertaining to them.
  • Ontological Mystery
  • Painting the Medium: Most players (and the mods) used the Courier New font to convey dialogue spoken by a droned person.
  • People Puppets: A favorite torture tactic employed by the denizens of the Smith household—and later, by Mrs. Johnson, forcing random captives to mercilessly hunt down and kill everyone else while fully aware.
  • Place Worse Than Death: A consequence of living in a place where you can be maimed, mentally tortured, or die in horrible ways yet be brought back to life soon after.
  • Playable Epilogue: The "Better Place" community, open only to characters who were applied into Mayfield during its run, with the exception of anyone who had been permanently killed off.
  • Punch Clock Villain: It was implied at times that Grady and the Mayor are prisoners just as much as any of the residents. Doesn't excuse them, though; their actions were not, for the most part, forced.
  • Red Herring: Mayfield's captors loved pulling this on its captives. Some examples—
    • During the August 2010 "Payable on Delivery" event, characters were led to believe that they could exchange cereal box tops for their regains. They quickly found out that it didn't work that way. At all.
    • During the Spring 2011 event "Exit," captives were led to believe that permanently droned citizens had their souls removed from their body and used as a source of power for the town. Of course, the entire event was one big April Fools' joke.
    • Late in March 2012, the town issued a census much like one that preceded the "Population Control" event the previous year, in which characters were psychologically manipulated into participating in a brutal Deadly Game. Luckily, it turned out to be a relatively benign prank spree. So long as you played along.
  • Red Scare: Mayfield made McCarthyism look tame in comparison. Some highlights—
    • The 2010 Fourth of July event "Milk Drinks You" put the captives of Mayfield in Maipole, a town that fully acted out the Red Scare.
    • The census that preceded both the 2011 event "Population Control" and the 2012 event "May the Pranks Ever Be in Your Favor" blatantly demanded captives to answer if they were a communist or not. It was also listed as a possible race and a disease.
    • The July 2011 event "Speak Up" saw the town flooded with a cloying truth serum gas that compelled people into blurting out their secrets, and ultimately declare themselves a communist (even if they have no idea what that means).
  • Right Behind Me: Early on in Mayfield, the NPCs had a tendency to drop in on posts or threads started by captives, especially if they were griping about the town.
  • Romance Ensues: Mayfield had an annual "Summer Lovin'" event that occurred in late August or early September, in which couples of adult and teenager captives would be locked up somewhere for a day, with this as the most obvious intent. Children and pets would be locked up as a collective group somewhere age appropriate instead—a daycare center, a summer camp, and a carnival respectively.
  • Serious Business: One word—Homecoming.
  • Spin-Off: Arguably, the players' IC Epic Mafia sessions. Also, Cornfield.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Holly Heights was conceived as this—all of the domestic bliss, none of the deep lurking horror.
  • Stepford Smiler: All of the drones.
  • Stepford Suburbia
  • Tagline: "A Better Place to Live".
  • Theme Naming: As it turns out, most of the major commercial locations in town were named after the actual identities of those controlling Mayfield.
  • Time Skip: During the 2009 Christmas event, time was fast-forwarded by ten years.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: As it turned out by the "Beginning of the End" event, nobody was actually taken from their homes. They were all copies made by the creators of the town.
  • Un-Person: For the 2011 Christmas event "Every Time a Bell Rings," Mayfield convinced captives to voluntarily erase themselves from existence to save their own worlds and the rest of the town. In reality, the characters were never actually erased—rather, the town warped the rest of the captives into thinking the Un-Personed volunteers were grotesque replacements, then erased the memories of everyone that knew them.
  • Yandere: The Moe Personification of the game.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Mayfield's objective behind the 2009 Christmas event.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The entire April Fools' Day "Exit" event was essentially this, with all of the NPCs dying or running away, the mystery of the drones and the city being (somewhat) solved, and a way home opening only to turn out to be one long prank.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Several cases—

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alternative title(s): Mayfield
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