An Odd Little Town - Session Log

playthrough

#1

The%20Meteor @JDStirling, Told you I’d get around to posting these!

Top Level Info:
Running a weekly-ish investigative game for 3 friends. The vibe is maybe Twin Peaks/Millennium with a dash of Tarantino here and there. Building slowwwly toward a Wayward Pines twist, but how we get there and how fast is going to be a function of the dice, player decisions, and how all that affects certain fronts advancing.

Deviations from ICRPG Standard:

  • Starting characters were made with p 4-9 of the awesome First Responders.
  • Ablative DEFENSE in lieu of Armor. Stat Points in Defense can be restored with a Recover roll. For Items with Armor points, using First Responder rules.
  • No accounting AMMO rules from Black Light.
  • Adding DISTANT RANGE from First Responder
  • Adrenaline Surge (aka 2 Surge d10s per session, used a la Altered State)
  • Tenacity homebrew: Two Hearts each, which represent Health and Sanity all mixed up together. The characters can take a lot–they think.
  • Using the 3e Effort dice previewed on Runehammer Patreon.
  • Isn’t it just so unfair that PCs get to add Ultimate when they roll a Nat 20, but GM doesn’t usually roll one when they roll Nat. 1? (Evil, evil laugh.) Natural 1s almost always do big environmental or other damage. d4 or d6 PLUS d12. So there’s a lot of swing in that 2 Hearts the PCs have.
  • Another homebrew to fit the tone/theme of a long investigative campaign, my Three Strikes Death Rule for Pulpy Investigations. The first two times their Death dice clicks down, as long as Tenacity not more than -10 HP (triggers Permadeath), they will only be out for the rest of the SESSION. The Third Strike will be a DRAMATIC LAST STAND. They will not go unconscious while Death die ticks down, but they know they have received a permadeath wound and will die the instant the Death die clicks down (or -10 HP whichever comes first.) There may be other narrative realities that limit their options case by case.

So with that ground work in place for my fellow hack-minded GMs, I’m going to post the first few weeks of session logs below, and keep posting to this thread as I go.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!


Longevity of a campaign inquiry
#2

The PCs:
Mikhaila MIKHAILA: Russian mail order bride/Surgeon. Drives a sparkly bubblegum pink lifted Hummer.

Edgar EDGAR: Maintenance Man for the Town of Fairview. Has a good dog that’s getting too old and a pickup doing the same.

Zee ZELDA “ZEE”: Came to town for a job at the Munson Lab doing microbe/neuro research, has held access to some classified stuff at NIH.

6/26 Career Day at Fairview High School Interrupted by a meteor strike in town, just when Edgar was making friends with the Principle Lewicki by spilling coffee all over him with a stray basketball. Mikhaila slams kids face in locker and drives her big pink bubblegum sparkly Hummer across the school lawn to get to town. She picks up Zee along the way, who begins a lifelong habit of hurting herself when she runs. Edgar follows in his rusty pickup.


#3

7/3 Damage Control at Meteor Impact Site Mikhaila and Edgar do Damage Control at Meteor Impact Site, while Zee tries to find something nefarious at the Munson Lab. Edgar fiixes some natural gas problems at the site, but gets skin rashes and eye problems from being too close to the meteor. Mikhaila saves the life of Big Jack the used car magnate with small man syndrome, finds a cat and names it Comrade Poops. Zee helps a man trapped under a dumpster until someone else comes along to handle it, then gets stuck in an elevator.


#4

7/17/20 A Couple Nights Later, Weirdness in Fairview

Zee had got out of the elevator that night and caught up to her boss Hugo as the Crisis Control meeting was breaking up. He thought her microbiology background could be helpful and so tasked her to get a meteor sample and check it for microbes when the site was secure. When she got there, a firefighter told her that they had found stacks of human bodies under Hall’s Hardware, and those bodies were being bagged and removed from the site. Torn between getting meteor sample, snooping more on bodies, when her phone blows up with barely comprehensible voice to text messages from niece Heather that had something to do with her dad and running. She leaves her car near the meteor site and runs toward her twin sister’s home nearby. On the way she finds Heather but had obviously missed her brother in law (and lab partner) Hanz in the darkness. She and Heather run back to her car, notice the car battery is dying more than it should, and drive toward the Munson Lab following Hanz, other runners, and the cops.

Edgar recovers from his eye and skin burns with no issues, but many have developed a kind of rainbow oily eye sheen that doesn’t seem to be harmful. He catches up with Rodger and watches VCR tapes from security camera videos of the meteor strike. They notice a black motorcycle with a slim driver arrive on scene just before impact, but can’t make out much more. Edgar recommends that Rodger find a way to put those videos online. He heads out, but commotion on the Big Gorge Bridge (already one way traffic due to safety concerns after the meteor’s siesmic impact wave) makes him turn around. There’s a lot of people running toward the Munson Lab, Cops too. He notices Big Jack’s Bodyguard, pistol in hand, crossing Route 3 toward Mezger farm, intently focused on something. He gets Rodger (who lives in the industrial area near Munson Lab) to let him crash on the couch due to the bridge problems. Rodger’s been listening to his police scanner and tells him something’s up at the Lab. Edgar drives over to see what’s up.

Mikhaila 's work at the hospital and interest in the weird eye sheen gave her a lead on a local opthamologist, but he lost someone in the meteor strike and wasn’t willing to help her. Her husband Huxley wants to blather on about PTSD from the survivors of the impact while stepson Beau, with a bit of an oily eye sheen is playing a console game on the bigscreen TV. When the TV shorts out, Beau flips out and starts running, knocking Mikhaila over as he rushes out the door. Leaving Huxley dumbfounded, Mikhaila drives out to the lab, late though it is, noticing a few runners out in odd clothes and that the parking lot has a lot more people in it than usual. She used Comrade Poops the Three-Legged Cat to get into the building and tries to get information on the Special Projects section. She has an unsettling conversation about comas and putting animals to sleep with a man smoking clove cigarettes who she dubs Rasputin. He takes her business card and promises to get back to her about consulting work. She watches the loading dock from a second story window as body bags are stacked into a semi. A crowd is forming around the semi, moving in a weird wavelike rhythm as if trying to topple the semi. She takes advantage of past work in the Cryo Lab adjacent to Special Projects and finds documents indicating Cryo is supporting Special Projects in some kind of suspended animation research, possibly to do with longterm space travel.

As Zee and Heather pull up in her car, and Edgar in his truck, and dozens of cops in their cruisers as well , the semi starts up and blares its horn. The oily eyed people surrounding it do not react. Zee and Heather pull Hanz partially free, but he’s in a daze. The semi blares its horn again, then pulls out crunching over several of the oily-eyed townspeople. Most of the townspeople run after it. Half the cops leave with it, escorting it. The other half start subduing the townspeople. Zee sees that the people who were run over and are in pain seem to be themselves again. She punches Hanz hard enough to snap him out of it. The mysterious black motorcycle and its slim driver zoom past Zee and Edgar. It takes point in front of the cop escorted semi. Mikhaila is caught reading things she’s not supposed to late at night in Cryo lab and the tech is calling security.


#5

7/24 A Few Days Later, Things Take a Dark Turn

MIKHAILA: - Goes looking for information about the bodies and semi in the Red Saddle Saloon. - The EMTs Zip and Marni aren’t much help, drinking heavily to cope with trauma. But they do indicate that in more recent calls, the rainbow eye sheens are all but nonexistent since the night of the semi. - A reporter makes it clear that there’s a lot of pressure from network shareholders to keep certain details about all the bodies under Hall’s Hardware. Mikhaila shares info about the mysterious Motorcyclist with the reporter.

  • Big Jack’s ambitious young assistant tells her that Big Jack is grateful for her saving his life the night of the meteor strike and would like to thank her by repairing the damage to her HUMMER. When she drops it off, notes his bodyguard (Amos) desk area by Big Jack’s office door looks like it has been emptied out.
  • When picked up by Edgar tries to sneak with him into the Meteor cleanup zone. Kind of a bust, the forklift Edgar was going to use has a dead battery, as other vehicles which have remained close to the meteor have also developed.

EDGAR: - At some point, it is established that Edgar used to ride motorcycles till laid it down bad enough to get a plate in his head. Likely that this plate may explain why he was not affected same as others who succumbed to the oily eye sheen effect.

  • Hunting with local guide Nedry DuMonde, hears about the Mezgers gone missing, invited to go with Nedry to check on some of the rural folks who haven’t been coming in to town since meteor.
  • At Hank Furnall’s Iron Eagle Bike Shop, learns that the mystery Motorcycle plate number is B612, also that Rodger’s uploaded VHS security cam videos of the meteor striking have been “deleted from the internet.”
  • He breaks off when he gets a couple distressed sounding texts from Nedry about problems at the old Eroll Place. Takes Mikhaila with him to the geotagged location.

    ZEE: - Establishes her field as neuro and microbe research. She doesn’t find any microbes on meteor samples when finally accesses some. Hugo, her boss, lets her in on some of his misgivings with Munson Lab.
  • Coworker, brother in law Hanz been acting stranger. Heather terrified. Alda silent on it all.
  • During research, determines a connection between screens of devices and meteor affects on some lab rats. (this mirrors some of what was noted in Beau and others on night of the semi.
  • She has a major mental break of some type, seeing Hanz in the mirror and then being compelled to seek out a Strange High House in the … Woods off Rt. 3.

THE OLD EROLL PLACE OFF ROUTE 3: - Zee leaves her car by the side of the road and her compulsive state rushes her through some game trails to a clearing by a Strange High House in the Woods. She climbs a tree then falls from near the attic window when Mother Mezger scares her with some nutty ramble about the “Little Prince is coming!”

  • Edgar leaves Mikhaila alone in the long abandoned street-front home. She finds an odd symbol in one of the bedrooms’ floors. It’s like the dust just won’t fall there, because the dusty floor around it was undisturbed. She has to fight for her life against a deranged acting Amos (Big Jack’s frightening, all but mute bodyguard). She escapes through a window, losing track of him, but surviving.
  • Edgar and Zee enter the Strange High House—covered inside in old blood glyphs on every wall—alertly heading up the stairs toward the attic. Zee is still seeing lots of strange scary stuff—Edgar, just a little spooked and jumpy.)
  • When they get to attic, Farmer and Mother Mezger are chained up, emaciated and delirious as if hadn’t eaten or had water for days on end, though they’ve only been missing for a couple days at the most, since Edgar had seen Amos headed to their property with his pistol out the night of the semi.
  • The investigators get the Mezgers to safety, and some blood samples. Edgar’s friend Nedry has not been seen or heard from.

#6

8/7 That Friday, "You had me at Impromptu Autopsy"
OUT ON ROUTE 3:
Looking for Nedry Dumonde at one of his hunting blinds in the woods behind THE ABANDONED EROLL PLACE on Rt. 3, Edgar and Mikhaila find the corpse of Amos (Big Jack’s bodyguard). His hair and nails have grown out to creepy lengths since his attack on Mikhaila the other night. They make a makeshift sledge from the blind’s blackout curtains and begin lugging the body to the old Eroll Place for an impromptu autopsy, since that building at least has some useful counterspace in it, unlike the THE STRANGE HIGH HOUSE IN THE WOODS.

Which is where Zee has been collecting scrapings from the blood glyphs on the walls and making notes of some of the glyphs in her journal. She wraps up at the Strange High House and joins them heading to the old eroll PLace

The impromptu Autopsy reveals:

  • No obvious wound that cause death, most likely natural causes.
  • The internal organs are not as aged as the hair and skin would have lead them to expect
  • Amos had an unusual tattoo that doesn’t exactly match any of the other glyphs, but does seem to have some kind of similarity.
  • They need more science equipment to check the eyes for signs of that oily rainbow eye sheen. (so they take those with them.)

    Edgar can’t take the gore and vomits all over the floor before heading out front to wait in the fresh air. The ladies are just fine with it all, but have the bright idea that maybe they should burn the whole house down in case the GM decides to blow this teensy-tiny autopsy thing all out of proportion. Zee gets some kind of accellerant from her car and in her excitement, the God of Natural 1s smiles upon her. She catches herself on fire. destroying the protective armor of her Utility Pants and still burning her for a LOT of Damage. It takes 2 more rounds of both her and Mikhaila trying before she has extinguished all the flames and quit taking damage.

While all of this is happening inside the Eroll Place, Rt. 3, usually quiet, is backing up with traffic heading into town; news vans and such. Edgar chats with Roberto, the cameraman for that reporter Mikhaila had talked to in the Red Saddle and finds out that there’s word the bridge over the Big Gorge River is going to be closed down for a few days for repairs, so lots of news crews are swapping in and out.

Moments later, one of the town cops, Rusty, rolls up into the front yard of the Eroll Place. While Zee and MIkhaila are trying to shove an enormous, leaky dead body into a cabinet and rethinking the whole fire idea, the cop talks to Edgar, who smoothly convinces him that there’s some perfectly logical, non-autopsy related reason for him to be here with the Russian Lady doctor and whoever drives that other car. He rolls off thinking more positively of Edgar than before.

BACK AT THE MUNSON LAB:
Zee and Mikhaila put their heads together in Zee’a lab analyzing all the samples and correlating their information. While they are working, Zee’s boss Hugo enters with the secretive Special Projects person Mikhaila refers to as “Rasputin.” They silently observe and listen to their findings—The eye sheen seems to be dissipating in all who had it, there is some kind of connection between Blood Type of those infected, time and proximity to meteor, and the frequency of light emitted by certain screens. Mikhaila holds back a realization about the connection with certain metabolic triggers she gathered from when she was rifling through the Cryo lab’s Suspended Animation Project data.

Mikhaila follows “Rasputin” when he leaves. He hands her a business card already printed with her information on it. The position is listed as “Liaison to B612 Society.” In Zee’s Lab, Hugo presses her to get her co-worker/brother-in-law back to work.

PINE BLUFF SUBSTATION: Trying to make up some hours at work, Edgar is out welding some stuff at a remote substation near the trails at Pine Bluffs. He finishes up in time to be outside when a motorcycle buzzes out of the woodsy trail. It’s not the slim B612 motorcyclist as he suspected. It’s Hank Furnall from the Iron Eagle Bike shop with a panicked looking girlfriend on back. Out of breath, they tell him they found a dismembered body out at the end of the trail by the base of the cliff.


#7

Glad you found some use of my material, and your game is looking great!!


#8

Holy wowza, dude! That’s a hell of a recap! :astonished::exploding_head::raised_hands:
I’m feeling so much FOMO right now, off the frickin’ charts.
Great looking boards too. :heart: :herocoin:


#9

Oh the part I didn’t write in above about the Three Strike Pulpy investigative Campaign Deaths Rule: when they come back, they have a consequence of some sort that can only be overcome by putting in a heart of basic effort per cumulative death.

Example: character’s death timer clicks down for first time after taking damage from a nasty fall. Next session, Until they or someone devotes 1 heart of effort, that character moves slow as a Torton. Later, they get jump scared by A Shoggoth and their death clock ticks down for second time. When they come back next session, they are so shaken that now all INT and WIS attempts are HARD until 2 Hearts of effort have been applied. (Friendly encouragement, prayer and meditation, therapy)

This captures a bit more cinematic flavor and keeps consequence in the mix in A fun way that adds to the story.

ETA: For sake of completeness, when I am playing w 1 heart standard builds, and decide to use this hack, the first “death” is just for the rest of Scene; Then come back next scene with an explanation of your Pulpy Good Luck and 1 heart consequence. Second death is knocked out for Session/2 heart Consequence, 3rd death is Dramatic Last Stand. (Anyone who thinks they see some Fate Accellerated DNA there is right…)


#10

8/21 More Questions than Answers

The Big Gorge Bridge is closed today, with a lot of cops guarding it while inspectors and maintenance people stand by to do their work. As such, Edgar is pretty much stuck alone in the woods east of town while Mikhaila and Zee are in town.

EDGAR

Edgar opts to take the Thomson Woods trails on foot, a more direct route than he would have to take with the truck along fire roads and such. He discovers a meticulous campsite in the woods that sems to have been a very efficiently trained small military unit of some type. He also finds a scrap of body bag material similar to what had been used on the bodies under Hall’s Hardware.

Something heavy drops on him from the sky. A hibernating hawk? Hibernating animals pelt and litter the ground all around him as he progresses through the woods. He’s having a hard time finding his way but at least he is making progress. It’s getting darker though, the closer he gets to the cliff wall.

MIKHAILA

MIkhaila is in the Town Library, reading and researching The Little Prince as well as the pictures of Amos’ tattoo and the various markings she and Zee photographed that night out at the Old Eroll Place on Route 3. She discovers Amos’ tattoo was a representation of Chetro Ketl, a sort of village plan for a long dead tribe of the American Southwest. The marking that had been in the dust of the Eroll Place is a Sacred Geometry symbol for “Receive.”

One of the more friendly librarians, Cherise begins acting oddly after helping her, wandering out of the library into BEARCAT PLAZA. She’s trying to see what all the fuss is about, several groups of people surround others throughout the large parking lot. She’s distracted by her phone first: Her husband Huxley calling to tell her he is rushing stepson Beau to the hospital, acting strangely again. Mikhaila tries to help Cherise, but fails. Big Jack pulls her aside wanting to bring her into his organization as a “Mafia Doc” and she agrees. With nothing else to do, she heads to the hospital to check on Beau. Whe she arrives, she finds him levitating in the air, vibrating and collecting static energy like some Soviet-era dynamo.

ZEE

Zee is visiting family in a row of qiet townhomes near West End Park. Her boss had not-so-subtly told her to do what she could to get Hanz back to work. She’s there doing just that, at the moment researching via Google while niece Heather tries to calm Zee’s twin sister Alda in the other room. She doesn’t find out much about the bizarre stasis Hanz seems to be in, but she becomes even more aware of the Coverup—much of the outside world news about the meteor is completely gone from the internet. She also finds in Hanz cache some info about the schedule for several heavy duty helicopters to be removing the meteor from the site today. She also finds a copy of The Little Prince, this one with an inscription “All your efforts appreciated and rewarded. Your family will be safe.” It’s unsigned. The book naturally opens to Page 28 though she cannot figure out a reason for this.

Hanz, who had so far been completely unresponsive, suddenly begins shaking as he gets up and walks somewhat stiltedly out of his home and into the street wearing only a boxers and a bathrobe. The whole family tries to stop him, but he is beyond their control, forcefully making his way toward the Meteor site. Zee’s phone breaks in the scuffle and will need to be replaced. Hanz consents to ride with Zee in her car, but only because its going the right direction. He jumps out of the vehicle as they approach the Meteor site.

JUST NORTH OF METEOR SITE

4 Heavy duty helos have tied off to metal clamps drilled into the meteor. A ring of armed military and police surround the perimeter of the crash site, looking like they are expecting a fight. And that’s what it looks like they are going to get. Hanz, Cherise, and many others of the Affected have begun vibrating in sync, as they face the departing meteor transfixed. It looks like the Affected are somehow using psychic energy to pull the meteor back, and the helos are straingin at their task. The military are definitely about to start shooting at the Affected and anyone else who gets too close to the meteor site. All of this unsettles Zee and she rushes to Hanz, trying to pull him to the earth.

FAIRVIEW HOSPITAL

Michaela tries to help Beau and receives a decent zap for her efforts. She notes he is facing downtown. She’s also put some things together about the B612 Society at this point, understanding that the organization is focused on mitigating the risk of a Meteor causing an Extinction Event.

THOMSON WOODS

At the cliffside clearing, EDGAR finds some odd vehicle tracks he can’t gather much info from and more hunks of body bag… these with several severed limbs and such still stuck to them. A malformed large cat or panther, more cancerous tumors growing out of control than any other flesh pounces on his back. He manages to survive its attacks long enough to get a few shots off. It takes more shots than he would have expected.

JUST NORTH OF THE METEOR SITE

Zee takes a nearly fatal shock from Hanz and is on the ground unconscious and probably Dying. As is he. But the disruption of the network of Affected is enough to allow the helicopters to make off with the meteor.

THOMSON WOODS

It heads East over Thomson Woods and beyond the cliff, for just a moment as it passes overhead, Edgar is in a darker place than he already was.


#11

9/4 The Turn of the Page
IN THE ENSUING TWO MONTHS…

MIKHAILA waits for a drop or secret meeting with “Rasputin” the shadowy B612 Operative. Comrade Poops, the three legged cat she rescued from near the meteor impact site, gets tangled up in some thick stickerbushes and she has to help him get out. In the process, she removes his chip, which might give some information about past owner. When she looks up, the slim mototcyclist, clad all in black with a dark visored helmet leaves another copy of The Little Prince for her. This one in English. She has moved out, exhausted with Huxley’s Meteor PTSD money-grab book efforts and her douchelord stepson Beau.

She’s now living in an upstairs apartment near the Library. Mikhaila follows a couple leads to catch up with Gus Varney at his family’s farm. He is on house arrest and can’t work at his tattoo shop, but tells her some stuff about Amos and his tattoo. There’s some experimental weed in play somewhere too. Gus wants to get on Big Jack’s good side, so tells Mikhaila the address where Jimmy 2 Shoes is hiding out at in Lewistin, and hour or two outside of the three walled canyon that almost fully encloses Fairview.

EDGAR has a weekend gig at Harmon Steel and is on his shift when he sees his old nemesis Principle Lewicki trying to get some parts for the school’s faulty sprinkler system. He does nothing to help, and there’s a lot of tension there as Lewicki blames Edgar for the oblems the school is having with the sprinklers randomly turning on and off. He’s also heard that his friend Rodger has gone missing and spends some time checking into that. Rodger’s home and VCR Repair shop have been ransacked. There’s no sign of him. He finds some kind of invitation from the optometrist Jeff Niederman. He has a second encounter with a no-neck beefy guy, one of them inside Rodger’s shop.

ZEE spends some time moping downtown, feels watched. She sees the B612 Motorcyclist and does some creeping around to no avail. She also spends some time down by the quarry, where the frogs croaking give her an epiphany about the metabolism and genetic on/off switches. She goes looking for a research article she read once by Nicolai Parvo on how atrazine from weedkillers can make frogs hibernate, and in extreme cases, change sex. She can’t find the article anywhere, but does find a connection between Munson Lab and a large quantity of atrazine being purchased by the Lab from Hall’s Hardware and kept there on site. Her niece Heather is wandeing around town taking geotagged pictures for a summer job organized by Principle Lewicki… All the high schoolers are taking ons of pictures all over town and getting paid for them.
AN ABANDONED MALL IN LEWISTON

Mikhaila grabs Zee and Edgar for backup and goes to check out the lead on Jimmy 2 Shoes. It turns into a Battle in the Abandoned Mall for Zee and Edgar as they face a pair of beefy no-neck guys that can jump way better than they should be able to.

Mikhaila is searching for Jimmy 2 Shoes but finds a makeshift military camp instead in the upstairs mall break area. She also finds a book full of pictures of faces and realizes that some of them are annotated as captured, like Nedry and now Beau, and some have been found dead like Amos. Others appear to be targets in process, like Cherise and the kid whose face she put into a locker the day the meteor hit.

Someone (Jimmy 2 Shoes) makes a run for it, and ends up being chased by one of the beefy guys. (While the other one pops a cyanide cap and fizzes out. Mikhaila takes out the other beefy guy and rescues Jimmy 2 Shoes from the trunk of a Crown Vic.

They are on their way back to Fairview, trying to puzzle al of this out when Mikhaila loses contraol of the Hummer and they crash hard. Strangely, an ambulance is on the scene immediately, and the “helpful” paramedics knock them out.

They awaken in Fairview Hospital…