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Mr Corbitt - Scenario Adaptation Questions


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#1 Waite

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 07:32 PM

Hi all,

 

I am interested in running Mr. Corbitt from Mansions of Madness for a group of 1st time players.  I have run it before and have read previous threads on here for advice. 

 

That being said, I am looking to adapt it to run for a group of teenagers.  I am heavily leaning towards having them play neighborhood teenagers as opposed to adult neighbors. The reason being the players can relate better as well it potentially fixes some of the inherit scenario issues with immediate, direct confrontation of Corbitt.  So it could be similar in style to any number of movies about a neighbor with secrets.  My other thought would be to flesh out the neighborhood a bit more as a way for the teens to discover rumors/clues. 

 

My questions for this esteemed group are the following:

 

1. What am I not thinking of with this potential adaptation?  The good, the bad?

2. What additional ideas could make this better?  Flesh out scenario?  Evoking more atmosphere, etc?

3. Assuming the teens do not directly take action on Corbitt (confront, break in), what additional actions could Corbitt do to continue to build suspicion of him far enough that the teens would look to take action?

 

Thanks so much!




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#2 Dispaminite

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 05:24 PM

How old are the teens going to be and what era is it going to be set?

 

If you're talking 12-13 year olds, then you could include things like when the neighbor is mowing the lawn, the kid(s) here weird things going on in the basement (like Corbitt talking to the creature) and possibly some urban legends and a dare from an opposing group of kids (if needed). Maybe even a warning from the parents to stay away from the creepy neighbor.

 

If you're talking 16-17, then perhaps the teens will see Corbitt outside of the house being suspicious. At their job at the hospital talking to one of the morgue interns. Or similar.



#3 andreroy

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 07:49 PM

If you have Cthulhu By Gaslight, maybe look at the Children's rules...they are there to help flesh out a younger investigator.

A Goosebumps style or even a Scooby-Doo style approche could be your lead in to get the playerscreen involved...if that fail,have donekne's puppy or cat run into the house though a cellar window, that could help too.

With Halloween around the vent, why not go for a Halloween Dare to"explore the haunted/old-witch house".

#4 Gaffer

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 04:42 AM

When I wrote a three-part, con event scenario with kids at 10, 15, and 20 I assigned each one a stereotype -- egghead, tomboy, bully, snoop, tinkerer, priss. I also gave them some history with each other and made two of them siblings. This let the players roll right into interaction. They didn't have to spend time figuring each other out or even themselves. If your players aren't experienced roleplayers, it might be helpful.
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#5 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 06:37 PM

Mr Corbitt with teenagers... It reminds me of the movie Disturbia (Basically a remake of Rear Window from Hitchcock, with LaBeouf as a juvenile delinquent who is under house arrest and starts watching the neighborhood... Then he starts suspecting his neighbor played by David Morse is actually a serial killer).

 

For a more supernatural source of inspiration, you can also watch Fright Night (Same stuff but the neighbor is a vampire).

 

As someone said before, depending of the characters age, Corbitt could be suspicious for different reasons since kids will tend to jump to conclusions ("But Mom, he is a sorcerer. I saw him!") while adults would just want to keep the status quo with the friendly old man living next door. So you should think about situations that would be suspicious for kids and teens with a wild imagination but that would also be neglected by adults.

 

I've worked on adapting Mr. Corbitt to my current campaign lately and have added a few neighbors to the cast : the nice lady living alone with her three dogs (Which are particulary annoying... Also one of them will disappear), the grumpy old man who loves his tranquillity so much he will always tell everybody to f*** off and keep out of his property (And he is also very secretive about his life and what he does), the kids who always sneak around the neighborhood and are very prone to start rumors (Especially about Grumpy old man).

 

I've also included two peacefull couples, one of them being the parents of the boy Corbitt has saved after he's been hit by a truck. And thus, because Corbitt helped their kid, these people will not tolerate that anyone start asking too many question about "such a good man".

 

Finally, you could use a very common trope in such story : the characters trie to prove that Corbitt is an awful man but since he knew what they were planning to do things doesn't work as planned. Nothing about Corbitt's secret  is revealed (Maybe the proof is destroyed) and the characters have caused some trouble (Maybe they've damaged the greenhouse) and their parents are very embarrassed by the situation.


Edited by DeUniversumMysteriis, 09 October 2017 - 08:12 PM.


#6 Gaffer

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 07:16 PM

Good ideas DUM (sorry), especially the grateful parents who won't hear a word said against....

 

I think you have to give the kids parents to bounce up against. There are so many parent tropes in horror films that it would be a shame not to use some -- overprotective, negligent, indulgent, overbearing, spaced-out, abusive, martinet, religious zealot -- so, so many. You could even ask the kids(players) to build their own parents with the caveat that no two can use the same trope. And if all the kids live in the same neighborhood, they've just provided a bunch of NPCs for you.


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#7 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 08:11 PM

Yeah, just let your players create the neighborhood by themselves. They will get more involved in the situation that way. (And it's the main plus of this scenario : the players are not facing a complete stranger but the man living next door. If they cause trouble, they will quickly face the consequences. Once again, watch Fright Night and Disturbia where the neighbor would take his revenge on the protagonist's family to punish him for interfering).

 

Also, about the kid saved by Corbitt, a keeper could turn this part of Corbitt's backstory upside down by making the saved kid a sibling of one of the investigators (Just ask them if their characters have siblings and pick one).

The parents will be outraged when they found out that their son/daughter has spent days snooping around Corbitt's house and making accusation against the man who saved the life of his/her little brother/sister.

 

And the saved kid could also be particulary defensive about Corbitt and will tell the parents about what the other kids are planning to do.

 

Finally, you could change the plot hook a little bit. The published scenario starts with the players knowing Corbitt is up to no good (Except if you're lucky and the players failed the Spot Hidden Roll when he let go the arm but at least they will be suspicious about that NPC you've introduced to them since the very beginning of the scenario, especially if you've told them the adventure is titled "Mr Corbitt" -One should never tell your players the name of the adventure you're running-). Change that and throw some red herring in the neighborhood, make sure they might doubt at one point. Maybe they're wrong. Maybe Corbitt is actually a normal old guy who loves gardening and has the harmless habit of always going out for a walk downtown the exact same days of the week.

 

 

Damn... This Teenage Horror version of Mr Corbitt looks much cooler than my super classic version. I'm jealous.


Edited by DeUniversumMysteriis, 09 October 2017 - 08:19 PM.


#8 Nightbreed24

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 07:09 AM

That could certainly draw in the Stranger Things and It crowd. Or guys nostalgic towards all the 1980s supernatural horror movies with kids as the leads, like The Gate. I would throw in an abandoned house or a small patch of woods. I've had both in my neighborhood. The latter was a meeting place for older, metalhead teens, they've probably smoked, drank and did drugs there. My circle of friends and I explored it one day and found a hanged toad, some porn mags and a lot of female underwear. It was weird. There was a rumor in elementary school, that the people hanging out in those woods were satanists. We have started the same rumor about the abandoned house mentioned above to be cool. :D A huge, fierce dog (like in The Sandlot movie) and an Old Man Marley-type character (Home Alone) is also sort of mandatory. An old site of a murder is pretty creepy too. I remember a story from my childhood, some juvenile delinquents murdered one of their own, they have beaten him to death with sticks in an abandoned wine cellar. We, being kids, tried to find the place of course. I've heard a rumor on a field trip to an old, ruined Catholic chapel on the outskirts of my town, that the murder victim died, because he walked up the outdoor Via Crucis. And I vaguely remember a story about a satanist drug dealer living in a village, who gave you a discount on weed if you brought him human bones. Some teens did so, they've dug up old mass graves from WWII (my whole country was a theatre of war, relic hunters and construction workers find remains of soldiers every year) and disused cemeteries for them.

What skills would these kids have? Because I've been thinking about running a scenario for one of my groups playing 10-12 year olds. We're playing 5.5 by the way. I've thought about using the student career from Investigators' Companion 2, but dropped that idea after reading it.


Edited by Nightbreed24, 13 October 2017 - 08:19 AM.


#9 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 07:52 AM

What skills would these kids have? Because I've been thinking about running a scenario for one of my groups playing 10-12 year olds. We're playing 5.5 by the way. I've thought about using the student career from Investigators' Companion 2, but dropped that idea after reading it.

 

I suggest each character has several "academic" skills, History, Sciences... The type of things kids learn at school, depending of the era of play.

 

Then add some skills related to the kids hobbies (Sports, Library Use, you could use Mechanical repair for all the things a kid might build or repair from his bike to a cabin in the woods. Handgun could be modified in order to represent a kid's accuracy with a slingshot etc...)



#10 Waite

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 03:01 PM

Hi everyone.  Thanks so much for all the great feedback.  Yeah, I do think the idea of using teenage characters really seems to enhance this scenario which I think has a lot of promise but suffers from a contrived beginning.  I’m super excited.  A few answers/comments on everything so far:

  • The group consists of 3 sixteen year olds; 1 thirteen year old.
  • The movie/tv influences are all exactly how I would like to evoke some atmosphere:  Disturbia, Stranger Things, IT. Also thank you for some of the others I hadn’t thought of (Sandlot, Fright Night).
  • I plan to pre-generate characters with backstories.  That way I can identify and tie in important skills to what is needed in scenario.  Also I can tie in backgrounds to create some tension and indecision with Corbitt since I am not running as a part of a campaign and can’t regularly introduce him.  So far I am thinking of the Athlete, the Academic, the Boy Scout, and the Troublemaker. That would give a fairly broad range of mental and physical skills in my estimation.
  • The scenario will be run in early 1920s in smaller town near Arkham.  I would like to give the scenario a neighborly feel to it with lots of details.  I have developed a neighborhood map already and placed where the characters and Corbitt would live in neighborhood. I like the idea of having the players come up with some ideas here, but since they are relatively new to RPG and new to CoC I am not sure what they will come up with.  So I will look to build a fair amount of detail and then give them option to be creative and add on.
  • Love all the neighbor ideas I read.  Really great ideas on the teen in the car accident who was saved by Corbitt.  Absolutely was planning to use a number of parent tropes, especially ones who simply don’t take the kids and their suspicions seriously.  I was also thinking that maybe the hospital orderly is the older brother of someone the characters know.  Maybe a bully or an older teen who they look up to.  I am thinking of also tying in the nurse who witnessed the birth somehow so that her information can potentially be found easier by teens.
  • Really like the old lady with the three dogs (reminds me of old woman in A Fish Called Wanda).  I am thinking I could use one of the dogs going missing as a secondary way to push the players to take action on Corbitt.  Maybe even foreshadowing the fact that one of the dogs gets away from the old lady and seems very interested in Corbitt’s vegetable garden early in the scenario
  • Another NPC I am thinking of is the local gossip who knows everything about everybody and knows much about Corbitt’s story as a secondary way the players could gain knowledge that is in the newspaper handouts.  Maybe the gossip’s daughter likes one of the players and can obtain the information that way.
  • Lastly I am thinking about an NPC who is another teen in their group who is really the leader of the group and thus tying in different kid archtypes.  But he broke his leg and so can’t participate in scenario but could help them in some ways with advice if needed. Maybe he could also be used as a victim in some way down the road too.
  • I am thinking of starting the scenario not immediately with the initial event in the scenario. The idea would be to distract them from Corbitt initially.  One possibility might be a day in the life of the kids, going to school, seeing Corbitt and other neighbors on way to school, then dealing with school, rumors, urban legends, bullies, girls, etc.  In addition, I was thinking of introducing a couple of broader plot threads/rumors foreshadowing some mysteries to raise atmosphere and suspicion about the scenario.  For instance, rumors of children disappearing in the Boston area over last couple of years.  Maybe parents are wary and not telling them everything except to be safe and not talk to strangers.  Also maybe something about a local teen hangout and haunted site in the woods where supposedly the remains of witches were buried in unmarked graves since they couldn’t be buried on consecrated ground.  So it creates a certain amount of uncertainty about what the scenario is about and evokes some atmosphere before the Corbitt scenario would begin.  

In all, really great feedback.  Thanks everyone and keep it coming if you can think of anything else.



#11 Gaffer

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 03:47 PM

One thing to give some thought to is season of the year. With much of this story taking place outdoors (seeing things while playing, walking to and from school, running errands, etc) winter makes things very different from summer, even if it isn't yet snow-time. Also, what holiday is coming up? There's always one in the USA -- Easter (egg hunts, church), Fourth of July (fireworks/crackers), Hallowe'en (spooky stories and decorations, costumes) and Christmas (decorations, caroling door-to-door, church). Having all this breaking between Thanksgiving and New Year's could add a lot of texture.


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#12 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 04:21 PM

  • Love all the neighbor ideas I read.  Really great ideas on the teen in the car accident who was saved by Corbitt.  Absolutely was planning to use a number of parent tropes, especially ones who simply don’t take the kids and their suspicions seriously.  I was also thinking that maybe the hospital orderly is the older brother of someone the characters know.  Maybe a bully or an older teen who they look up to.  I am thinking of also tying in the nurse who witnessed the birth somehow so that her information can potentially be found easier by teens.

 
The orderly :
 
I'm not sure about the orderly being connected to the neighborhood. I don't think it's a bad idea per se but I prefer when plot elements have "their own life" and are not connected to the characters or people they know. I don't want to give my players the impression that they don't have to search too far to find clues.
Also, Tomaszewski was suspected of killing several pets, so if the kids know him one way or another, how could they not know about this?
 
I think he should remain a complete stranger. It will make him even scarier because the kids don't know him and how he will react.
In fact, I think this character should be vastly modified for your scenario. I don't think a bunch of teens could confront a man, make him run away and even jump to his death.
 
The nurse :
Ms Dunlap is also a bit problematic in your setting. How a group of teens could go to the sanitarium and ask about her? Why anyone would give them the answers they want?
I guess you could keep things that way and hope your players will be creative enough to find a solution.
 
An idea of mine : Ms Dunlap isn't dead at all. She was in the sanitarium for a while, yes, but she was then released when she "recovered"... Now she lives all by herself in an old shack outside of town. She doesn't take care of herself so she now has shaggy grey hair, dirty clothes... Nobody cares about her since she's harmless but everyone thinks she's still nuts. The kids in town have spread a lot of rumors about Ms Dunlap among themselves, one of them being that she is actually a witch.
 
First advantage of this solution, Ms Dunlap is alive and thus can deliver informations herself. No need to go to the sanitarium.
 
Second advantage, she could be a good red herring. The players might think she's guilty of something. Missing dogs, missing kids in Boston? Doesn't Ms Dunlap has a car and doesn't she leave town quite often?
 
Last advantage, even if they don't think she has a hobby of killing children, you could create a good atmospheric segment of your adventure because the young investigators will have to speak to scary lady or, worse, break inside her shack and search for clues.
 
 

 

  • Really like the old lady with the three dogs (reminds me of old woman in A Fish Called Wanda).  I am thinking I could use one of the dogs going missing as a secondary way to push the players to take action on Corbitt.  Maybe even foreshadowing the fact that one of the dogs gets away from the old lady and seems very interested in Corbitt’s vegetable garden early in the scenario

 

 
Ahah, I didn't think about that film but yes I guess it's the lady of A Fish Called Wanda! :D
 
Yes, it's exactly how I am planning to use the dogs. If my players don't bite the plot hook (Or they just fail to spot the kid arm), they will eventually see the old lady knocking at their door, asking if they didn't see her precious little baby. And if they still don't care... Well maybe another puppy will go missing, I don't know. With three of them I could use one or two.
 
 

 

  • Another NPC I am thinking of is the local gossip who knows everything about everybody and knows much about Corbitt’s story as a secondary way the players could gain knowledge that is in the newspaper handouts.  Maybe the gossip’s daughter likes one of the players and can obtain the information that way.

 

 
I like that.
 
Or instead of a gossip, it's just someone who is quite obsessed with the local news. (S)he will always have a collection of newspaper articles and old books about the town History.
 
 

ows everything about everybody and knows much about Corbitt’s story as a secondary way the players could gain knowledge that is in the newspaper handouts.  Maybe the gossip’s daughter likes one of the players and can obtain the information that way.

  • Lastly I am thinking about an NPC who is another teen in their group who is really the leader of the group and thus tying in different kid archtypes.  But he broke his leg and so can’t participate in scenario but could help them in some ways with advice if needed. Maybe he could also be used as a victim in some way down the road too.

 

 
Watch out they don't rely too much of this NPC, though. Idea rolls are a good way to help players when they're stuck. But this friend of their could be a victim, yes.
 

 

  • I am thinking of starting the scenario not immediately with the initial event in the scenario. The idea would be to distract them from Corbitt initially.  One possibility might be a day in the life of the kids, going to school, seeing Corbitt and other neighbors on way to school, then dealing with school, rumors, urban legends, bullies, girls, etc.  In addition, I was thinking of introducing a couple of broader plot threads/rumors foreshadowing some mysteries to raise atmosphere and suspicion about the scenario.  For instance, rumors of children disappearing in the Boston area over last couple of years.  Maybe parents are wary and not telling them everything except to be safe and not talk to strangers.  Also maybe something about a local teen hangout and haunted site in the woods where supposedly the remains of witches were buried in unmarked graves since they couldn’t be buried on consecrated ground.  So it creates a certain amount of uncertainty about what the scenario is about and evokes some atmosphere before the Corbitt scenario would begin. 

 

 
As a fan of IT, I like the idea of rumors of missing kids, but maybe the parents should not be too wary (Or else they might take the kids seriously when they start accusing Corbitt). I prefer the idea of a very peaceful neighborhood.
 
One idea for the bullies : maybe Corbitt himself could help the characters when bullies are after them. You know, like he gets out of a shop and find one of the players being beaten by older kids. He forces them to flee and drives the character home. Maybe with a few wise advices about how to stay out of such trouble.
 
Seize every opportunities to make Corbitt look like the friendliest person in town.
 
 
Uncertainty... I should work on that part. With a scenario called "Mr Corbitt" it will hard for my players not to imagine that they should investigate on the friendly neighbor. I was planning on using the introduction given in the book (Dinner... kid arm...). I even put together a fake movie poster as a way to tease the scenario to my players (I love to do that) and I used "Ce Cher Monsieur Corbitt" (That Dear Mr Corbitt) as a title. But now I'm starting to think it just screams "You must investigate Corbitt".
 
 
Edit :... Here we go. Now my adaptation is titled "Welcome to Whateley Circle". It's the name of the neighborhood where it takes place.
 

In all, really great feedback.  Thanks everyone and keep it coming if you can think of anything else.

 
You're welcome.
 

One thing to give some thought to is season of the year. With much of this story taking place outdoors (seeing things while playing, walking to and from school, running errands, etc) winter makes things very different from summer, even if it isn't yet snow-time. Also, what holiday is coming up? There's always one in the USA -- Easter (egg hunts, church), Fourth of July (fireworks/crackers), Hallowe'en (spooky stories and decorations, costumes) and Christmas (decorations, caroling door-to-door, church). Having all this breaking between Thanksgiving and New Year's could add a lot of texture.

 
Yes and more importantly : it will set how much time the investigators will have.
 
Summer break is ideal if you want the character to have all the freedom they'd need to investigate.



#13 Gaffer

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 04:52 PM

If you're using a dog to drive the story, make it athe pet of one of the PCs, so much investment.

 

Maybe there's one Dad that pretends to buy the kids' story, but is only fooling. Maybe he has stacks of old newspapers in the cellar where they can get the story -- or he keeps a scrapbook on odd happenings in the area.

 

The gossip's daughter could be one of those "Well, my mother says..." people.

 

Nurse could be one of the kids' aunt and orderly could be her son, the kid's cousin. If you start at Hallowe'en, aunt could tell it as a spooky story.

 

Also, I'd change the guy's name to prevent metagaming temptation from either the Mr. Corbitt scenario or The Haunting.

 

Is the Leader of the Pack's leg broken, or has he been seriously grounded because of some escapade he led them into but then took all the blame for. So they REALLY owe him.

 

Maybe the legend of the witch grave is about a woman sixty/seventy years ago who wasn't hanged juridically, but was lynched and secretly buried in the woods.


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#14 Nightbreed24

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Posted 17 October 2017 - 06:28 AM

Ah, terribly sorry. I thought your group will PLAY people in their early teens.



#15 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 11:52 AM

I've just finished running Mr Corbitt for my group. The idea of using missing dogs as a hook worked like a charm. Day one, the group was looking around the neighborhood asking about the missing pet and they took this opportunity to talk to Corbitt himself. He gave them a tour of the greenhouse and the garden, helping them in their search for the dog. The players immediately planned to come back later in order to explore the greenhouse (Where they eventually found a very decomposed/melted poodle).



#16 Waite

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 04:50 PM

Good stuff Mysteriis and all!  Just an update, we have had two short sessions thus far and so far it’s exceeded my expectations in terms of a good time.  Again the background is that I have a group of real-life teens with little RPG experience playing 13-year old neighbor kids.  I created 4 pre-generated characters with short histories, families, and a secret. 

 

I began with playing through a “day in the life” for their characters.  This allowed them to get comfortable playing the kids but also allowed me some necessary build-up and foreshadowing of their world.  I created some tension with high school bullies which allowed me to introduce Mr. Corbitt (though changed his name) as a helpful, upstanding neighbor.  I also fleshed out neighbor and school NPCs giving them a number of small problems to solve (what do they do about Mrs. Langley’s biting dogs, what about that note from who likes them asking about going to the local teen hangout in woods, etc).  Finally, I sprinkled in a number of urban legends/mysteries (buried witches, abandoned house, crazy lady with penchant for collecting lawn gnomes, etc.) along with mundane conversations (what to be for Hallow’s Eve, etc.) 

 

By time they witnessed Mr. Corbitt’s dropped package, there was a high level of immersion going on as well as great atmosphere.  Their immediate reaction to the package was to tell a mom, who seemed concerned but talked up Mr. Corbitt as a good neighbor.  They convinced mom to have talk with Corbitt and they tagged along.  It led to nothing happening, with mom reassured by Corbitt and some major uncertainty with kids.  This led to several sleepovers allowing some snooping around the Corbitt property and hearing things and seeing movement coming from house when Corbitt was gone.  Now they definitely know think something going on which has led to eliciting information from the daughter of neighborhood gossip combined with some research at the library. They have dug more into Corbitt’s background and just recently discovered the nurse and gnome lady are one in the same.  That blew them away.  They are now trying to figure out a way to get police involved without upsetting the neighborhood and their parents.  Of course the other storylines I included at beginning are still going with bullies looking for them and whether or not to go to the teen hangout on Saturday night, etc.  It will be interesting to see what they do next and when (if) they make decision to step foot in the house.

 

In all, I believe it’s solved the main problem I had with the scenario and the players are freaked out but having a ball.



#17 DeUniversumMysteriis

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 05:29 PM

This sounds awesome.

 

You seem to have completly avoided the little problem I met with the opening scene of the scenario. One of my player saw Corbitt and his packages, alright, but afterward it was a bit difficult for the group to roleplay the rest of the evening (Well, we're not experiences roleplayers. We've been doing this for about a year). The player whose character was living in the neighborhood did his best with the whole "Corbitt always seemed like a normal and calm person" with me helping, giving the information his character was supposed to be aware of. But I had the impression that my group was expecting me to give them right away an excuse for investigating Corbitt's past.

 

I suppose that if they had known Corbitt beforehand, they might have been more curious about the packages and more eager to know more.

 

Fortunately, Miss Sackler's missing poodle did the trick.

 

Happy to see you've made Ms Dunlap a very alive and nuts individual living nearby.

 

I think that If one day I get the chance to run this scenario again, I will pick a few ideas from this thread.



#18 Gaffer

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 07:23 PM

Well done, Waite. I foresee years of fun ahead. :D


"Two in the head, you know he's dead." <heh-heh>