Fright Night: Tonight we Dine on a Highway to Hell

Movie Set
A modern day diner/gas station, along a lonely stretch of desert highway. Probably in Arizona, but we didn't specify.

  • Base: Animal
  • Traits: Demonic, Spectral

Main Cast
  • Ben as Keith Russel, a motorcycle-riding drifter
  • Melissa as Pertunia Humdinger, a gas station attendent

Featured Extras
  • Brody Stein, owner of the place
  • Mary Stein, Brody's wife and waitress
  • Juan Legumazo, a short order cook
  • Rusty, Pertunia's dog
  • The Briswold's, a family on vacation

A semi-truck pulled away from the gas station as Pertunia counted and recounted the money in her till. Something fell past the window by her booth, followed by a garbage can tipping over and trash scattering about. She exited her booth to see what had happened, and was startled by a raccoon as it scampered past her. She cursed at it, then went about picking up the can and replacing most of the it's contents.

When she was done she glanced in the direction the raccoon ran off into, and noticed the silhouette of...something. She figured it to be some kind of animal, but couldn't tell exactly what it was because it was too far away, beyond the diner and mostly concealed by bushes. The only thing she could see clearly were it's eyes, which glowed like angry coals. She headed back inside her booth, but when she looked her window to see if it had moved it was gone.

Keith was driving towards the gas station when he found a car stopped in his lane. There were no hazards flashing, but as he passed by saw that the door had been torn off, possibly by another careless driver. He checked the driver's side and found that the steering wheel and chair were both blackened and melted, as were numerous shards of glass scattered about the street. There were also smooth, shallow craters in the pavement leading away from the car, as if something had pushed it in slightly.

Figuring that someone might be hurt, he followed the depressions and found that some of the brush was glowing faintly, as if it had recently caught fire. It formed a kind of trail, at the end of which was a charred skeleton. There were no signs of any clothes, but there was a faint glint of melted metal. Confused as to what the hell happened and more than a little worried, he headed back to his bike and continued on to the diner. Maybe someone there knew what happened, and if not then they really should.

While cashing in her till Pertunia knocked over a stack of papers, and as she was putting them back found a strange book. The cover looked to have been stitched together and made of some black, leathery material. It was filled with renderings of terrible creatures, and writing that she didn't understand. She tried showing it to Mary, who angrily snatched it away and told her to get back to work before storming off. Pertunia headed back outside as a motorcycle pulled up. Keith told her to fill up his tank, and headed inside the diner.

Keith was considering calling the police, but found neither a phone nor anyone inside the diner besides a family eating. He waited for a few minutes before going back out and asking Pertunia if there was anyone else on the clock. She said yes, and told him to check back near the restrooms. He does, and overheard a pair of voices in a storeroom talking about "giving it more" and that once "everyone here had been consumed" they would finally have enough money to go and do whatever they wanted.

He was not sure exactly what they meant, but given his recent discovery figured it was nothing good. While he was considering his next course of action another door opened behind him, and he saw a man walk out wearing an apron and carrying numerous bags of garbage. He nodded to Keith, and after he disappeared around the corner there was a flash of light followed by a quickly silenced scream. Keith, more than a little shaken, slowly crept to the corner. When he finally worked up the guts to peek around saw another charred skeleton, only this time there was also a dog-like creature standing over it.

It looked as if it was made from blacked rock covered with numerous glowing cracks. As Keith began to back away, the creature gave him a too-wide grin with too many teeth, and vanished in a torrent of fire and smoke. Keith then very quickly walked back to the diner's common room.

The flash of light had drawn Pertunia's attention, but she had only seen Keith rounding the corner and briskly walking back into the diner's common room. Wondering what he was up to, she waited until he was back inside before investigating, and immediately regretted doing so. Her screams drew Brody out of the storeroom, angrily demanding to know what the hell was with all the noise.

She showed him the skeleton and Brody tolds her to call the police. The police got some information from her, and told her that they'd sending some officers out. She hung up and noticed Brody again leave the storeroom. He looked about suspiciously before locking it, and proceeded to head around the back of the diner to where the skeleton was found. Wondering why Brody seemed so indifferent about Keith and what he was doing in there all that time, Pertunia decided to check it out.

Back in the common room Keith told the father of the family that it might be best if they left. The guy was confused, but could see the fear in Keith's eyes so quickly gathered up his family and headed it. Before Keith could leave Mary offered him a cup of coffee, which he quickly downed. There was something off about the taste, but he just assumed it is old, shitty diner coffee. As he headed for the door Mary tried to stop him, offering other food at a discount, but he declined.

Given that the door was locked and she really wanted to get inside, Pertunia was forced to smash the doorknob off with a wrench. Inside looked normal enough: various cans and boxes of foodstuffs were more or less organized on shelves and stacked about, and there were a few roaches and rats. She looked about for a few minutes but found nothing out of the ordinary. As she left however, she saw Brody rummaging through Keith's possessions. She watched him grab a shirt and leave before exiting to confront him.

She asked Brody what he was doing, and he claimed that he was checking for drugs or weapons. That didn't explain the shirt, which she pointed out, but he just shrugged and said that the guy was probably going to get arrested anyway, shirt? More than a bit frustrated Pertunia explained that she had called the police, and they were on their way. Brody nodded and told her that he'd go take care of things until the police arrived, which was about the time Keith walked out of the diner with Mary in tow.

Pertunia focused her attention on Keith, giving Brody a chance to head back into the storeroom, telling him that the police were on their way for what he had done. Keith was very visibly confused, but when he tried to push past them both his motorcycle exploded, throwing everyone to the ground. By the time they regained their feet they saw a dog-like creature, made of rock with glowing cracks standing amid the flames of the wreckage. Pertunia screamed and fled to her trailer, while Mary stood there clapping her hands and cackling with glee.

The hound rushed towards Keith, but as it leapt for him he dived out of the way, causing it to collide with Mary and instantly incinerate her. Brody exited the storeroom, carrying Keith's shirt and the black book that Pertunia had found earlier. Upon seeing Mary's skeletal remains he cursed at the dog, and demanded that it kill Keith. Pertunia, shotgun in hand, exited her trailer and began unloading on the hound. On the plus side it seemed to have some sort of affect on it, but on the other hand it turns its attention towards her.

Rusty tried to protect Pertunia with...predictable results, and the hound managed to get a hold of her leg, burning her badly before she was able to knock it away with the shotgun. Keith snatched the book from Brody and pinned him by the throat against a wall. He flipped through it and found a bookmarked page with a crimson drawing of a hound and strange writing, but when he tried to read them there was no obvious effect. At a loss and with nothing else to lose, he threw the book at the hound, and as it was consumed by the flames the hound crumbled into ash.

A couple officers arrived some tens minutes later. Pertunia and Keith both accused Brody of the murders, and after seeing Pertunia's condition detained Brody for further questioning. While they waited inside the diner for an ambulance to arrive, a man wearing a business suit and carrying a briefcase approached them. He stated that he appreciated the "offerings" that were given, and since Keith was the last to hold the book that he was entitled to compensation. Keith took the case and opened it: it was filled with numerous gold coins stamped with screaming faces.

Keith declined, but the man told him that it was his to do with as he pleased, nodded to both of them and then left. Keith stared at it for a bit before pushing the whole case over to Pertunia, asking her if it would be enough to buy her truck and a piece of pie.

Behind the Scenes
First things first, we are intending to kick off the Kickstarter for this next week. In order to keep things simple we are going to offer a stripped down pdf (no art, some content missing, but everything you need to play) for $1, the full pdf for $5, and an "at-cost" Drivethrurpg coupon for the print version at the $7 mark (you just have to pay the printing and shipping cost).

I have been burned on Kickstarters plenty of times before, and since we want to be as transparent as possible with any potential backers we are making the "beta" pdf freely available. At this point it just needs the art, a few more rules tweaks, and the writing needs to be polished.

In addition, during the entire run of the Kickstarter and up until the art is delivered, we are going to ask for feedback from everyone, and continue to tweak the content and rules: this is the first game we have ever written, and we want it to be as awesome as possible!

On a similar note of first things, this marks the first session of Fright Night I have finished directing, and I really enjoyed it. In a completely free form game I think everything would have gone much differently, and I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. Even though this game provides you with a kind of creative box to think in, the bases, traits, plot, and action results are very flexible and open to interpretation, and I think it would work very well with a kind of random-dungeon type game (so, that might be a thing in the future).

Once Melissa and Ben had settled on the time and place, the idea of a hellhound just seemed like a thematically appropriate monster to use (plus I think someone mentioned Route 66). I did not have the motivation of the owner and wife killing people for cash until an act or two in, but I think figuring out the overall story for a game intended to wrap up in one night, using on the fly content generation is a completely valid way to play.

We played with some new rules, namely a kind of "climax countdown" that uses a dice pool mechanic keeping in tune with the rest of the game. After each act you add 1 die per actor to the pool, plus another one for each omen, information, or object result, and give the whole mess a roll. Each success gets tracked until you get a total of 13, after which point the climax kicks off.

This achieved three things. First, as regular commentator Kinak mentioned it keeps all of the mechanics unified (roll d6, 5+ is a success). Second, it made it impossible for the game to end after the first or second act due to one unlucky roll. Finally, since more actors means more dice added to the pool, it reduced the number of acts it takes to wrap things up, while still allowing for a roughly similar game duration.

We also dropped skills entirely, and focused instead on assets and complications as ways to increase/decrease your dice pool for a stat check. No one missed the skill at all, and this had the added effect of speeding up character generation since you didn't have to worry about thinking of the "right" skill that would probably not get used at all anyway.

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