Posted by : David Guyll November 09, 2014
ActorsCasey and Rena, stars of a new paranormal investigation show
- Sam, landowner
- Zeke, caretaker
- Stacy, reporter
- Joey, camera boy
Establishing ShotWe start with an overhead shot of the crumbling, abandoned estate that was once the Longsview Asylum for the Mentally Disturbed. Night is falling, and the long driveway to the large iron gate is illuminated only by the piercing headlights of a van.
Scene 1: Extra Attack/EnvironmentThe van stops, the front doors open in unison and out step CASEY and RENA. They are the sort of pair that makes for good TV: Casey a man’s man with fists hard as rock and a brain to match, Rena a witty woman who is likable, if only a little jumpy.
They approach the gate, where SAM, the estate’s owner, stands waiting. He is glad they've come, as there have been strange things happening around the estate. They were highly recommended after their last case in Amityville. It is at this point that he was planning to turn them over to the elderly ZEKE, but though the caretaker promised to meet them at the gate as well, he was nowhere to be seen when Sam arrived. The businessman then leaves them to their work and begins the walk down the drive.
The investigators, along with their young assistant/cameraman JOEY, begin unloading the van of their equipment. Upon getting everything out, however, they realized that Sam has forgotten to give them the key to the gate, which is closed with a heavy padlock. They aren’t about to let this stop them, though, and Casey easily scales the wrought-iron and drops to the other side. (C: Brawn Success)
The other two pass the equipment through the bars and he helps them up, over, and onto the grounds. (R: Brawn Success)
The two fire up their small cameras and record some opening remarks about the place before they push the front door open with a creeeak and step inside. After setting up their gadgets they split up to explore the twin wings of the old building.
Scene Notes: For this game, to keep things mysterious and spooky, I decided to shy away from gory on-screen deaths. I originally planned to actually have Zeke show them around the grounds, but when I rolled Extra Attack I figured he was expendable enough to disappear. The environmental result I also kept simple, making them have to find a way inside the gate.
Scene 2: Environment/Actor AttackRena takes a flashlight and Joey and starts down the hallway through the non-violent wing. The first large room she passes is the children’s area. The idea of mentally disturbed children creeps her out and she begins to walk faster, but as she does her flashlight flickers and dies. This along with her already taut nerves causes her to drop it, and it clangs to the floor before rolling into the children’s ward. (R: Cool Failure)
Joey activates the small light on the top of his camera and the two slowly enter the large room. Using the soft glow their eyes sweep across scattered toys and games, before spotting the missing flashlight under a crib. (R: Wits Success)
Rena bends and reaches her arm underneath, straining to reach the metal cylinder. She is so focused she almost doesn’t hear the squeak of wheels rolling across the floorboards. She turns her head to see a large hobbyhorse bearing down on her! (R: Speed Defense)
It slams into her, and she falls to the floor, twisting her ankle as she hits. Joey grabs the flashlight, helps her to her feet and she leans on him as she begins to hobble back to the van to patch her up.
Scene Notes: Another environment roll; this one allowed me to mess with the lighting and plunge them into darkness. It also made Rena go into the playroom (she had decided to skip it). This fit perfectly well with my monster, as I got to establish a pattern of playthings as weapons. The hobbyhorse coming out of the darkness of its own accord seemed a nice touch.
Scene 3: Extra Attack/Director’s Choice (Information)Casey is in the violent offender’s wing, and his first stop is the padded cell of one of the worst. A serial killer and cannibal was kept in this room, strapped to his cot and sedated. Casey thinks this might be a good place to start looking for unhappy spirits. As he opens the door and shines his light inside, his heart freezes as he sees a figure lying on the bed. (C: Cool Failure)
On closer inspection, however, he finds that this is nothing more than a rather effective scarecrow. It seems that the dangerous man caged here had a wicked sense of humor, and had left a stuffed uniform to surprise any prying eyes before they moved and ultimately executed him.
The investigator begins by recording an introduction to the room and its famous occupant. He calls to the spirits to reveal themselves to him, and starts banging on the walls, hoping to rattle them into making themselves known. He makes his way around the room, finally finding himself tapping on the metal frame of the room’s only furniture, a cot bolted to the wall. No ghosts pop up, but as the vibrations of his pounding pass through the metal, the mattress is dislodged and reveals writing on the wall.
It seems that the isolation and medication had taken its toll on this once charismatic psychopath, as what Casey finds are ramblings scrawled in blood. He is unable to make sense of the long, stream-of-consciousness-style sentences, but words and phrases stand out to him. Things like “experiments”, “cutting my brain”, “they’re in my head” … (C: Brains Failure)
Casey, disappointed not to have found anything especially exciting, moves on.
Scene Notes: I got a choice for the plot roll this time, so I decided it was time to drop some information about some of the stuff that had occurred in the asylum’s past. Bloody scrawlings made the crazy even crazier. As Casey made a rather unintelligent character and failed his brain roll I only gave him snatches of what was written, but enough to get them thinking. And again, the extra attack happened off-screen, which ended up setting the next scene up perfectly...
Scene 4: Extra Attack/Body FoundRena and Joey exit the asylum, and the boy helps her over the fence. Upon further examination, they decide that she will be fine, apart from a slight limp for the next few days. As they turn to go back in there is a shout from behind them. Up runs STACY, an eager reporter who had followed them up and then waited for them to show their faces.
She convinces them to let her accompany them and help them search for clues, as long as she gets to publish the scoop. She is confused as the other two begin to scale the fence, and points to the gate, where the padlock hangs open. She pushes the gate open, switches on her flashlight, and they all walk inside.
Joey, who is holds the other flashlight, is getting more and more nervous. He is erratically jerking the flashlight toward the smallest sound or movement. Rena grabs his arm to steady it as his beam illuminates a shape lying behind one of the bushes by the wall. (R: Wits Success)
The three head that direction, Stacy in the lead, Rena behind her, and Joey tiptoeing in the rear. As they round the bush, Stacy’s light settles on the prone form of Sam. Rena’s eyes narrow as she takes in the details of the scene. (R: Cool Success)
Stacy gasps beside her. And Joey lets out a high-pitched scream.
Scene Notes: I decided they should stumble upon the body of the owner for this one, as I had killed him in my head last scene. Since they didn’t know he had come back/died, the open padlock added a new mystery for a bit.
Scene 5: Jump Scare/ObjectMeanwhile, Casey has made his way to the other end of the wing, to where residents were “cured”. This process included injections, waterboarding, and electric shock therapy, among other questionable practices.
He turns his camera on and describes the horrors that had once been perpetrated in this room, running his fingers along sharp implements and cold restraints. He even flips the lever that controlled the electric currents. When he does a shower of sparks rains down from above, causing a frantic lunge to the lever and some nervous laughter. (C: Cool Success)
Still filming, he begins an encore of his ghost call, rattling chains and banging on pipes. He grows tired of this as he reaches the far end of the room and finds a bookcase full of bound volumes. He pulls a few out, thumbing the pages. He laments the lack of pictures, and grabs a few more, tossing them aside as they one by one fail to hold his interest.
As he flips through one more he discovers that sections of this book are highlighted and underlined. The words are long, and he doesn’t understand much of being discussed, but this one does have a few diagrams. (C: Brains Failure)
The section seems to be detailing portions of the brain that are not activated in the normal human, and theorizing as to what their purpose might be. After turning the book this way and that, Casey tosses it too and decides to head back to the lobby to see if the others have had any more luck than he.
Scene Notes: This scene occurred in a pretty isolated area, and I didn’t want to tip my hand with the monster just yet, so the shower of sparks worked as a jump scare. And since Casey was still poking around, I gave him some more clues in the form of a book. His character was still too thick to glean a lot from it, but again, the snatches he did get added to our understanding of the asylum.
Scene 6: Actor Attack/Director’s Choice (Body Found)Rena stoops to examine the body of the now-deceased property owner. The flashlight’s glow catches a glint of metal clutched in his hand, and she extracts the key to the gate. (R: Wits Success)
It seems the man had realized his mistake and returned to give them the key, when he was attacked before he reached the steps. She also discovers the instrument of Sam’s demise: a bloody baseball that had struck him in the back of the head before rolling under the bush.
She checks to see if Joey is filming this, to find that his camera and light are lying on the ground. She and Stacy look left, then right, and finally up. What they see unnerves them further. The young camera operator’s scream had apparently not been because of the body. His body is slumped over a branch that is sticking through his chest. The really odd thing, however, is that the branch he was skewered on is several yards up the tree…
Rena has had just about enough. She instructs the reporter to call for help, and returns to the dark interior of the asylum to look for her partner. As she passes the booth that had once been used to greet visitors something long and black shoots out of the darkness at her. (R: Brawn Defense)
She is unable to bat away the pen that sticks itself in her shoulder, causing a trickle of blood to ooze down her arm. She yanks it free and runs down the hallway to where Casey is just emerging from his wing. After filling each other in they realize that there is one portion of this place that they have yet to explore: the basement.
Scene Notes: I’ll admit, I forgot to kill someone in Rena’s last scene. But Joey’s rather girly scream was ambiguous to be open to interpretation, so I went with it. I brought in the levitation to do him in, tossing him into the high limbs. And having them turn around to find the body made sense, so I used my director’s choice to toss that in.
End PhaseAs they descend the stairs, their lights illuminate a large open space surrounded by cobwebs and various groundskeeping tools. Sitting in the center of the dusty floor is a figure sitting cross-legged, back to the stairs. As the paranormal pair watch, this figure slowly begins to rise into the air and turn to face them. Suspended before them is a man, but the grin spread across his face is that of a child. He looks at them and says, in a singsong voice, “Did you come to play with me?”
Casey cautiously steps forward, unsure if this is the spectre he has been seeking. He grabs a rake and slowly reaches its end out to poke the figure. The solid flesh tells him that this is definitely a live body, but the man he is prodding flinches away. Smile turns to pout as he screams, “You’re just like all the others! Poking and prodding… I don’t like you at all!”
A mass in his temple begins to pulse, and Casey feels himself being hoisted into the air by an unseen force, and before he can react he is thrown against the wall. (C: Brawn Defense)
The monstrous boy of a man floats toward him, his mounting rage fueling a power unleashed by meddling hands so many years ago. As he advances on Casey, Rena runs in from the side, brandishing her flashlight. She swings it and catches her foe square in the chest. (R: Brawn Attack)
This brings a howl from his lips, and he rises higher, glaring at them from the rafters.
From the ground Casey looks around for something he can use against the angry man-child. He reaches out, grabs a hoe, and comes up swinging. The man is too far up, however, and he ends up just swinging wildly. (C: Brawn Attack)
As he retreats back to his partner, a pitchfork rises up and flies toward them, piercing their flesh. (Both: Speed Defense)
This final injury gets Rena’s adrenaline pumping, and she wrenches the tool free and hurls it back at her enemy. Her aim is true and one of the prongs passes through the man’s side. (R: Brawn Attack)
Yelping in pain, he crashes to the ground and begins backing toward the stairs.
Casey is already moving toward him. He brings his flashlight down on the pulsing lump poking from the prone man’s head with a satisfying THUNK. (C: Brawn Attack)
A snarl contorts the crazed inmate’s face, and his eyes dart around before settling on a sharp tilling implement. He raises his hand to harness it, but to his shock it does not move. He tries several times, becoming more agitated until, with a frustrated scream, he collapses with a grunt and a pout. Like a punished child, he scowls at the pair who have ruined his fun.
Rena picks up a shovel and raises it above her head. The man before her turns his head and sticks out his tongue, a final defiant gesture. With a form that would have made any golfer proud, she swings the shovel and brings an end to the last resident of Longsview Asylum. (R: Brawn Attack)
Casey and Rena drag the body up and out to the lawn and lay it out with the other victims, the large man narrating to his camera the whole way. Lying on the grass he discovers one more body: that of the ace reporter. He hoists the camera high and assures the viewers that they will be back next week to see if they can rouse her spirit too!
We fade out and transition into the show’s credits, a mix of jump cuts, extreme angles and screaming guitar. After the credits roll we are treated to one last shot from Casey’s camera. “Looks like we need a new cameraman,” he tells us. “We’re taking volunteers…” A predatory smile spreads across his face, as suddenly a dark shadow passes behind him.
Final ThoughtsFirst of all, I want to say thank you to Red Castle Games in Portland for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this year’s fair, as well as to my two unsuspecting victims. The entire evening was a blast. I met a lot of cool people and got to play some brand-new games before starting this one. And I could not have asked for a better pair to play with!
Now, on to the game. The abandoned asylum is always a setting ripe with possibilities for horror, so I was excited to see what I’d be putting our heros up against. I rolled a MAGICAL, MOBILE HUMANOID. Mobile is a fairly new addition to the attribute tables, and one that we took some time thinking about to make sure it worked for all the bases. Since humanoids are already mobile by nature, I decided to give this one a special mode of movement.
I chose levitation, as it fit with the magical trait. From there a picture formed of a place where mad doctors experimented on patients, trying to access abilities hidden deep in the brain. Their one success before being shut down was a young boy. While they unlocked his telekinetic powers, however, he became developmentally stagnant, and while the rest of the residents had been removed, he had stayed, hidden in the crumbling building.
We had a time constraint on this game, so while I had Casey and Rena roll for the climax after their scenes, we decided to cut to the end phase after a few scenes apiece. So hopefully the above will flesh out what I was thinking a bit more. With more time I would have been able to pepper in more clues and backstory.
That said, I feel that this game went amazingly well. I loved seeing the characters develop. Casey played his as a Steve Irwin-type, only much dumber. He was banging on the walls looking for ghosts and getting information he didn’t understand, as all of the exciting stuff was happening to Rena, who was just trying to survive the experience. The juxtaposition of the scenes bouncing back and forth like that added a bit of levity that, when paired with the dark happenings, really gave the whole experience a fun flavor.
And for those of you who noticed that we never found Zeke, I’ll leave that detail to your imagination… Though if you imagine that I forgot to tie up that loose end, you’re probably right. :)