I ran a game last night at my LGS (Local Game Store), using the Dead Light Scenario, and thought I would post a recap here, that it might help other new Keepers.
Spoiler Alert - if you plan on PLAYING this, do not continue to read, I'll be giving away major plot points.
Also apologies for such a long winded post!
So, I'm going to also be a little frank in my review of this scenario as I found a few things lacking and some mistakes (at least I interpreted them as mistakes). I want to be clear though, I very much enjoyed this scenario, and my critiques here is meant in the form of "constructive criticism" Also - I am a NEW Keeper, so some of these "faults" may be my own short comings.
1) Bluntly... Price. Were it not for the fact that my game last night was so enjoyable, I might be a little upset at the $10 price for this one scenario. The booklet is only about 10 pages (not including some full page maps and NPC Character sheets). But again, I'm new, so maybe this is a typical price to pay for one scenario? (or maybe if I had bought a PDF version it would have been cheaper). As I said, we all enjoyed the game, and it lasted approx 4 hours, so $10 is a small price to pay in that sense!
2) a few errors I found upon reading. For a published piece, I didn't expect to find these sorts of errors. Two worth mentioning... 1) pg 5 says that in the Diner is "Walter the pump jockey" - Yet on page 11 where it lists the NPC's who are in the diner, Walter is not mentioned. Walter was never mentioned again, so I assumed it was a mistake. 2) This was hard for me to wrap my head around... We're told that the "Dead Light" was after Emilia. Our investigators meet Emilia right at the outset, and it's even suggested that one of the players might catch a glimpse of the deadlight out in the woods (which I did). But then in the next "scene" the players come upon a Truck in the middle of the road in front of the diner, where a "pig farmer" is talking about almost hitting the "dead light" - I couldn't figure out how the Dead Light could basically be in two places at one time (or at least speedily pass the Players as they were driving to get in front of them at the diner. So, I changed the story around a bit, to use it as a "red herring" that the Pig Farmer saw something "white" and then IF the players decided to pursue that lead or chase it down in the woods, I was going to have it be a white Coyote.
Alright, moving past those minor critiques to the FUN part!
As I mentioned, this turned into a pretty interesting scenario the way the events unfolded.
I had my players meet Emilia in the road (I had them make a Drive Auto Check, to see if they hit her - they did, but I only had them give her a minor d4 HP loss). And as I mentioned above, I had one player see a glimpse of "something" out in the woods, but they weren't sure if it was a trick of the light, or an animal. (foreshadowing that they're not alone).
On the map, They had to drive PAST the driveway to Emilia's Cottage... I mentioned this, that as they drove past it Emilia was staring frightfully at the driveway. They initially wanted to go straight to the Cottage (which I was not prepared for that option). Luckily, I had Emilia's health and safety become more important and told them there was a Diner up ahead.
The Diner scene was hard for me to manage as there was a lot going on! Introduction of 4-5 NPC's, the current story of the Pig Farmer and his truck, not to mention trying to stabilize and comfort Emilia to the point where she could relay more about what she had just experienced.
I hinted several times that the waitress (Mary) seemed nervous and irritated. But after some "herding of cats" I got all the important information out that need to be given to keep the story moving.
The whole time this is happening, I wasn't sure how to use or when to introduce the "Billy" character. I initially planned on having him hide in the garage, but when my players got to the cottage, that was the first place they investigated. I didn't want him to be introduced to soon, so I held off. It eventually became clear that "someone" was still out there, and I liked holding that over the players heads for a sense that they had to still be careful.
The house investigation went smoothly. Minor sanity was lost, and I didn't make them work too hard to find the journal in Dr. Webb's Study. At first I was upset, that the scenario did NOT provide the "instructions" on how to control the Dead Light. But I figured, well, if I want the players to discover these "instructions" then I would have to make them myself. So I did. And I have to admit, I had fun in making them.
(I'll post a link so as to share).
I was having a hard time of figuring out, how to introduce the Deadlight that would make sense. It was chasing Emilia. They had left her in the diner, while they went to investigate the cottage. So what I ended up doing, was that when they finished investigating the Cottage and coming up with a plan of "attack" they were basically going BACK to the Diner. When they arrived at the Diner, I had them discover the remains of Emilia (they Deadlight got her), and I had them arrive to a DARK Diner (power outage), where Mary (the Waitress) and Billy (the second burglar) had stolen the keys from Sam (gas station guy), and then locked up the elderly couple, as well as Sam in a back Storage/Closet (which I added to the map). When the investigators freed the 3, I had them explain that Mary and Billy escaped in Sam's car. (The pig farmer I was going to have also be a victim of the Dead light, but no one ever asked about him).
I gave the investigators 4 options to end the scenario... but let them work it out, I didn't give them all the options verbally.
1) run and leave
2) using the instructions they would have to SACRIFICE someone (either an NPC or one of themselves!)
3) Fight the monster using fire (which I expected them to choose but they didn't)
4) Fight the monster with electricity (the book hinted as this being a way to defeat the monster, but it was very hard to introduce this idea to the players, so they never even knew this was an option.
It was a brilliant tense moment when they all realized that THEY would have to be the ones to sacrifice someone.
I let them have PLENTY of time (maybe too much?) to work out all the possible options.
They kept re-reading my instructions, looking for "loopholes" on how they could get away with not actually sacrificing anyone (thankfully my instructions were solid). In the end, one of the players DID volunteer to sacrifice himself! (although he was visiting from out of town and didn't really have plans on returning except for maybe around Christmas). So not quite as meaningful, but still it was a challenge for him. Finally, one of the other players got frustrated (in a good way) and stepped up and said he was going to sacrifice the little old lady. It was very tense (and I enjoyed every bit of it). TWO of my players wanted nothing to do with sacrificing anyone! They ended up staying out in the parking lot, and actually succeeded on hot-wiring the older couple's car, and they drove away leaving the other 3 players to figure it out. The other 3 players were not happy at being abandoned, but I loved it as a story line.
They successfully followed my instructions, and re-captured the Dead Light in the Silver box. I had fun making them loose a minimum of 5 SAN for having gone through that. I had them roll randomly for a Phobia, and my Private Eye player, ended up getting "Fear of Firearms" - lol.
So a fun night. Lots of Sanity was lost. A few HP were lost from the Storm and a small car crash, but lots of good interaction among the players and they really struggled with learning about what the Doctor was using the Dead Light for.
Maybe my notes above will help another new Keeper work out some of the issues I had to.
I am posting my Instruction handout here:
PS> I actually made them DRAW both symbols... because it was very simple but tricky! If I had been a cruel keeper, I would of had them fail on their first attempt, but I am too nice and gave them 3 chances.