The Changeling Contest
at RPGnet has come to an end. Thanks to all those who participated, here's the winning post by San Dee Jota.Goblin Television
Sitting on top of the TV set is a strange black metal box, wired into the jacks on the back of the set. If you opened the box inside you might find some marbles, a piece of quartz, thirteen Kewpie doll heads, and the rotting heart of an owl. Or maybe you’d just find a loose wad of torn pennies from 1986, fast food burger wrappers from around the world, and thirteen used condoms, all stuffed inside a costume wizard’s hat. Each box contains a different mixture of garbage, whimsy, and disgust, tailor made for its user.
What makes Goblin Television so special is that it broadcasts the shows it owner most wants to see. The still ongoing seasons of shows canceled before their time, the season’s worth of reality police episodes where the police officers have to shoot and kill one’s frenzied ex-lovers, entertaining commercials for products that sound good, movies recast with different actors or dead actors in their prime, or news programs from a world where political events turned out differently and better. None of it is real, but it’s comforting to those who watch. And every spring and fall, new programming options become available on GTV’s 13 channels. There’s always something good to watch.
But Goblin Television is jealous and easily provoked to anger. Those who use the GTV adapter boxes can’t watch any other television network provider; not at home or elsewhere, although friends are always welcome to come over and watch GTV on the customer’s set. They can’t use DVR or VCR technologies; GTV gives no consent to illegal recordings, but at least the commercials are interesting too. Finally, no remote channel changer is included with the service and modifying the adapter box to use one will break the terms of service; you have to change the channel by hand. Breaking any of these rules results in the GTV adapter ceasing to work, and the customer is banned from ever receiving Goblin Television services again.
But while the terms of service may seem harsh, the fees are worse. To keep service, the customer must break someone’s heart somehow. The greater the break, the longer the customer’s account is paid up. Breaking a child’s favorite toy is worth maybe a week or two, but if the customer breaks the favorite toy of his own child, that could be worth a full year. It’s rumored that a circle of TV executives for a major network keep their fees paid by promoting brilliant new shows on their network, only to kill the shows after a single season or two. The sorrow it creates is quite small, but spread over even a couple million of people it adds up quickly.