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Fill In The Gap

Death's Will

by Matt Turnbull
Oct 31,2005

 

Introduction

Welcome to Fill in The Gap, a column devoted to individual, "one-off" scenarios, that any GM can run for his/her group.

This is the Halloween Scenario, and coincedentally my 13th column. This month's one-off is a gruesome tale of horror and revenge, where your players will be asked to plumb the darkest depths of their souls.

If you need to know more about the FITG(Fill in The Gap) system/column, please check out the first (and second) of these monthly columns. Without further ado, I bring you today's scenario:

Death's Will

As always, if you're going to play in this scenario (run by your favorite GM) then please read no further, for fear of spoilage.

Today's is a scenario for three players.

The Premise

In Death's Will, your players take on the role of three ghosts haunting an abandoned mansion, each with their own powers and weaknesses who have agreed to hold a contest to see who can kill the most ghost-hunters this All Hallow's Eve. The scenario involves several groups of ghost-hunters invading the mansion throughout the evening. The players will have to strategically use their powers to try to kill the ghost hunters, but the GM will throw a variety of quirky opponents with their own abilities at them as the game progresses.

The ghosts and their powers, as well as their history and weaknesses are detailed in the character section. Ideas for various types of ghost hunters will be detailed in the events section. The mansion will be described in the setting section. This scenario follows no set path, and the ending is entirely up to the players. Basically put, it's a collection of situations that the characters find themselves able to affect, but it's up to you and the players how it all goes down.

The metaphysical ramifications of ghosts are complicated at best, but for this scenario, it's simple. Ghosts in this scenario are visible, and can communicate with the ghost-hunters. They appear as pale reflections of how they did in life. They can make themselves invisible, and instantly transport themselves throughout the mansion. The only thing they can't do, is physically touch, or otherwise affect the various ghost-hunters outside of the purview of their own powers. They also cannot leave the mansion.

The point of this scenario is for the characters to be creative, and to use their interesting powers to try to trick the ghost-hunters and kill them in creative (and properly scary) ways. Try not to be too hard on the players as they do things, reward them for creative thinking by letting their plans more often than not go their way. They should be competing against each other, and showing off, so don't make it too hard on them.

Another thing to note about this scenario, is that one way for a player to win is to stop the other ghosts from accomplishing much, or even exploit their weaknesses to allow them to "pass beyond", the closest thing to "death" the player's characters can have happen to them in this scenario. Encourage the players to attempt to thwart each other's plans, and discover each other's weaknesses.

The Characters

The first player's ghost is Max Zuker, a famous German film-score composer. A master during the era of black & white films, the switch to color left him uninspired, and unable to create. At the end of his rope, he traveled to this mansion, its first guest when it was a bed & breakfast. He hung himself to death after two nights. Max stalks the halls, playing hauntingly sad music upon his viola. He seeks inspiration for his musical creations, and is unwilling to pass on to the next life until he's created one truly great composition. Max's supernatural ability is Hypnotism.

With Hypnotism, Max can play hauntingly beautiful music which causes a single woman to follow him around, like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Max can't keep this up for very long though, about a minute at most without needing a rest. The GM (you) should track this.

Max's weakness is that he's recently written a piece of music that could be a masterpiece, but is unable to play it upon his viola, as it requires a piano. If any of the ghost-hunters who know how to play the piano find their way to the Study and play his masterful composition, Max will hear it, and his reason for staying behind and killing will be over. He'll pass beyond, and the game will end for his player. The player playing Max is aware of this fact, but none of the other ghosts are.

The second player's ghost is Taron Mill , a painter of some note who bought the mansion in the late 90's in an effort to gain the inspiration needed to finish his masterpiece. He died of a heart attack, after he finished the painting, but before he could stamp it with his insignia. Since he has died, the mansion has been abandoned, until now. Several teams of ghost-hunters have been hired to try to exorcise the mansion. Taron's power is Hallucination..

With Hallucination. Taron can describe things that an individual ghost-hunter will see, and will be able to hear/feel/interact with. These things cannot be directly dangerous (Taron can't make a ghost-hunter believe he's filled with knives and kill him that way), but they can be indirectly so (a terrible chasm might be covered with a delightful throwrug). Taron can affect one ghost-hunter at a time with this ability.

Taron's weakness is tied to his painting. Located in the Master Bedroom, underneath a tarp, his final painting rests -- awaiting his insignia's stamp. Not only can Taron's power of hallucination not mask the painting, but if a ghost-hunter manages to stamp the painting with his insignia, Taron's reason for dwindling in the here-and-now will end, and he'll be transported to the here-after. The player playing Taron is aware of this fact, but none of the other ghosts are.

The final player's ghost is John Ericson, a mystery author who died in the mansion in the1970's. John was found dead in a locked room of the mansion (the basement). John's last regret is that he never did find out how he was killed, and could never think of how it could be possible. John's estate donated the mansion to charity, where it was sold for a profit, exchanging hands several times until finally landing in Taron Mill's lap. John's power is Possession..

With Possession, during the scenario, John can take over control of a ghost hunter. He can do this only one at a time, and only for bouts of about 15 seconds. Another qualifier with this extremely potent power is that if a ghost-hunter has been possessed once, he can't be again. Lastly, at the GM's discretion (if John's power proves to be too strong) a ghost-hunter who has been possessed (but who has survived) may learn of John's weakness.

John's weakness is tied to his murder. Located in the Basement are several clues to how, in a completely locked room, John was killed. If the ghost-hunters are able to discover a way into the basement, they'll quite possibly be able to figure out how John was killed, and if John hears them explain it (which he can't help but if they do aloud) he'll pass on, and the game will be over for his player as well.

The Theme

The theme of this scenario is an inability to see the truth. All of the powers of the ghosts involve lying to the hunters or deceiving them in some fashion, and all of the ghost's themselves weaknesses revolve around a willing disbelief to that their time is past. John's lied to himself that was murdered, unwilling to belief he died due to carelessness. Taron's lied to himself that his work was unfinished, unwilling to let go. And Max is unwilling to believe that he'd ever truly made a great composition, despite being a genius. Their lies are reflected in their cruelty. Touch upon this as much as you can throughout the scenario.

The Setting

The Mansion itself is rather unimportant for the scenario. It's made up of many rooms, halls, and has extensive grounds. The main things to be noted are the Basement, which includes evidence of John's death, that any ghost-hunters who spends enough time searching will discover a diary that reveals that his death was actually a drug-overdose, The Study, which has the piano, ready to play Max's masterwork, The Master Bedroom, which contains both the stamp with Taron's insignia and his final unfinished painting, and a number of deathtraps such as rusted spikes, tangled thorny vines, poisonous concoctions in the kitchen and bathrooms, and of course -- heights. The different kinds of ghost hunters will wander these locales, describe them in anyway that's conducive to the overall ability of the ghosts to wreak havoc upon them.

The Events

Here are some sample ghost-hunters to throw at the players.

The Witch's Coven. A group of 6 women, with some simple telekinetic magical abilities, and an innate ability to read the importance of a location.

The High-Tech Ghost-Hunting team.A group of 4 scientifically-minded individuals, all men, with weaponry able to kill men or drive visible ghosts away.

The Amateurs. Untalented hacks, 3 men and 3 women, who think they about ghosts but really haven't a clue, and all trying to one-up each other.

The Priests. Armed with religious texts and detailed knowledge of ghosts and why they haunt, 2 priests and 2 nuns, who can slightly resist various supernatural powers by invoking their faith.

The Psychologists. Cautious, and intelligent, 3 men and 3 women, trained psychologists -- who are here to genuinely try to help the ghosts.

Many many more -- Think up your own groups to use in this scenario, based on the way your players play. If they're prone to outbursts of action and violence, maybe more direct ghost-hunters will be required. If they greatly enjoy subtle trickery, ghost-hunters that aren't hunters at all but just visitors to the location, or squatters might work.

The End

Let me know what you thought of this scenario by E-mailing me at Msturnbull@comcast.net

See you next month!

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