Saturday Seed ~ Halloween

This special Holiday Edition Saturday Seed is for Palladium Fantasy. I think horror games get over-used as one-shots or get abused with added gore during this special time of year, and I prefer to think of things to do with other games for Halloween gaming.

This entry will be written with a small group of fairly mundane adventurers in mind, and you can alter it according to your specific needs.

The exact location for the scene does not matter all that much. It might be an inn, or a hostel, or wherever the party has set up camp for the evening. Elements required for the scene are darkness, conversation, a certain degree of relaxation, firelight, and food. I would run it as the characters have settled down to digest and prepare for the following day. The campfire is warm and watch duty has not yet begun.

The seed: The characters encounter the supernatural in an entirely natural way. Your goal for the session is to pass off everything that happens, as entirely mundane, when in fact, it is wholly mystical. If you succeed, you will create an evening of roleplay which finishes with a surprising twist. If you fail, you can salvage things by providing a night of adventure laying a spirit to rest. Ideally, you can use the game itself as a method of actually celebrating the spirit of the occasion, with camaraderie, reminiscences, and talk of things to come.

The setting

As the group relaxes around the fire and the dim light of evening becomes the dark of night, have those facing North spot the glimmer of another campfire through the trees, several hundred metres away. If they listen intently, and the wind is in their favor, they might hear the sounds one normally associates with camping: splitting wood, muted clanks of pots and pans, the occasional laugh, etc.

It doesn’t matter if the group investigates and gets invited to sit and enjoy the hospitality of the other fire, or if they do not and they receive visitors at their own. The other group will have a lot in common with the player group, and you should ensure that you do not send signals to make the players suspicious. The idea is to pass the evening with savory treats, fine drink, and tales of the past and prophecies of the future. Were I to run this session this year for Halloween, I would prepare a few pies, warm rolls, warm drinks, and make them freely available… if they share a fire with the strangers. If you run the sort of game where all NPCs and encounters are simply random dialog and loot dispensers, then this seed will not be for you.

The Events

The conversation around the fire will serve several functions, and can do a lot more than just provide enjoyment through roleplaying. The other group can serve as a vehicle to transmit regional information, clues, clarifications, obfuscations, or what-have-you, and that is important. However, more importantly you can use it as well as a method to bring interesting aspects of the game world to life that often get ignored or glossed over in favor of ‘getting on with it’ :

  • Encourage players to describe food from their characters’ home regions, or things that they enjoy/miss from wherever they hail. Coax them to tantalize and entice the others with their description of the smells and tastes of the food from their home tables.
  • Turn the conversation toward the scents and sounds of the land around them (or the features of the inn, should this happen in one, or whatever), and then toward the landmarks and favorite places the group has left behind them in their travels. Encourage them to describe/create these vistas and experiences, to make the others wish to travel there.
  • Turn the conversation later toward the relatives, loved ones, pets, and ultimately toward the departed that the group has buried, seen buried, or lost in their youth. Encourage the group to inspire or warn others with their tales of dear ones departed.
The Mystery

As the night stretches on, have characters fall asleep as befits their condition, and endurance. When they wake with the sun the following morning, they will find that the strangers, now strangers no longer, have left, and no trace of their presence remains except for warm memories, and the still-warm embers of the fire.

Surrounding the camp there are signs and spoor of any number of wild and dangerous beasts which normally stalk the area, but none enter the camp, they circle it, and pass on by. No harmful print or sign is found withing 10 metres of the camp.

As the group packs, they will discover that despite all the food and drink they consumed in the night, nothing is missing from their stores, and in fact, they might have more than they thought.

Those with injuries will feel fitter, and will indeed have gained the equivalent benefit of an additional full day and night’s rest.

The morning air will be crisp, clean, and invigorating, and those with heavy burdens of spirit, will find them lighter for awhile.

As the group resumes its journey, a few hundred metres down the trail they will uncover a burial mound with a single stone marker:

Here lie brave men who gave freely of their blood, skill, and lives so that others might live

We do not know their names, nor from where they hail

We will, however, remember them always

 

A few kilometres along the trail, the group will encounter a small farming hamlet. Should they pursue it, they will hear many stories, all wildly distorted and exaggerated by time and embellishment, of bravery and heroism, about the men-under-the-hill, and come to recognize certain traits and mannerisms which clearly indicate that the night before, they dined with ghosts.

The local custom in the town, is to gather in the market square before noon on this day, once a year, and raise a toast toward the mound, to give thanks. They would be delighted to have the characters join in, even if they do not know of their experience the night before. “We all have someone to whom to be thankful”

The celebration

Again, were I to run this game for my Halloween, I would invite the players to toast to our own companions lost to the real world, never to return, and to end the evening with fond memories of the time we had together among the living…

…But don’t let it turn sour or sorrowful. Leave the door open for the missing to join the celebration, don’t lie down with them in the grave. No door closes without another opening, after all~

Cha d’dhùin doras nach d’fhosgail doras

Comments
2 Responses to “Saturday Seed ~ Halloween”
  1. The RPGrrl says:

    What a lovely game idea! I felt all warm just reading it. The group I GM won’t be meeting Hallowe’en week, so I won’t be able to run this for them… but I think I’ll keep it in mind. Thank you for sharing! If I ever do get to run it, I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

  2. Runeslinger says:

    Thanks for the kind words!
    Do let me know how it goes if you get a chance to try it out~

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