And Some Fell on Stony Ground

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Details

Pages: 30

Author(s): Paul Fricker

Artist(s): Jonathan Wyke, Chris Lackey, Steff Worthington (maps)

Setting: 1920s Small Town, USA (Stowell, Massachusetts)

Appears in: Nameless Horrors (Supplement)

Campaign: (none)

Summary

Life in small-town America of the 1920s is not quite what it was for residents of Stowell. Local people are behaving strangely and events are escalating. Can the investigators get to the bottom of the mystery and survive before the entire town explodes in frenzy of blood and crime?

Links

  • (review needed)

Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.

Synopsis

Describe the adventure in detail; no bias allowed.

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

Life in small-town America of the 1920s is not quite what it was for residents of Stowell. A professor of astronomy on the outskirts of town has stared too deeply into the stars, and discovered a way to transform people's lives. He shares his discovery with his friends and neighbors, some of whom are able to make use of the discovery and abnormally enrich their lives at the cost of humanity, while others are shattered by the experience; before long, the small town is anything but typical, and local people are behaving strangely—some delve the mysteries of science, while others experiment with avant-garde music; as things progress, the residents are increasingly converted to either one of the masters (Blessed) or one of the slaves (Broken). The town is now a pressure cooker, and partway through the game it will explode. When the situation is seemingly resolved, the final act is triggered and the story changes to one of survival horror. When that happens, slaughter and mayhem ensue, leaving the investigators to fight for their very lives.


References

Player Handouts:

  • maps, charts, and tables:
    • list: Pre-Gen Character Hooks/Motivations (for keeper use)
    • list: Layers of the Onion (for keeper use)
    • list: Pushing the Pre-Gen Characters (for keeper use)
    • list: A Town Called Stowell (points of interest; for keeper use, may be adaptable as player hand-outs as well)
    • list: The Stowell Townsfolk (for keeper use)
    • list: Chase Locations (for keeper use)
    • list: Chase Obstacles (for keeper use)
    • chart: NPC Relationship Map (for keeper use)
    • map: Town of Stowell (for keeper use)
    • timeline: a year in the 1920s (for keeper use)
  • illustrations:
    • Broken
    • Imprisoned in the Basement
    • Hey, come listen to this!
    • Jensen retrieves the corpse
    • Elmer gets revenge on Taaramae
    • Pearson eavesdrops on his neighbors
    • Dramatis Personae (NPC portraits, adaptable as handouts for players)
    • A Day of Survival Horror
    • Fleeing the Blessed and the Broken
  • handouts:
    • six handouts for Pre-Gen characters
    • six Pre-Gen Characters
    • six "pickup non-player characters" (to play if the investigators successfully leave town after destroying the telescope)
    • Players' Map of Stowell

Locations:

  • "Stowell", small-town USA

Creatures:

Tomes and Artifacts:

  • (none)

Campaigns / Scenarios:

  • (none), but scenario is adaptable for insertion into a campaign

Organizations

  • (none)

Comments

List dedication, trivia, images, anything else of note.

  • The scenario's title is taken from a Biblical parable about a sower of Divine wisdom, in which some of the wisdom is sown in good soil and flourishes, but other wisdom is sown in hard, difficult, unfriendly, stony ground.... (Matthew 13:18-23)

Keeper Comments

Comments to Keepers about this scenario; Possibly how to run it successfully. Keep general DISCUSSION on the talk page.

Setting: Nominally set in the 1920s, but could perhaps be updated to later decades of the 20th Century (perhaps up to the 1950s, a decade for which this sort of plot seems naturally suited) without subverting the original spirit of the scenario, and could just as easily be backdated to the Gaslight/Victorian/Weird West era as well. The default town is "Stowell" in any U.S. state, but could be moved around to any small town in the U.S. or Canada that's convenient, and perhaps other countries as well; the scenario recommends some personal connection between the investigators and the town, in any event, such as a home town for at least one of the investigators. Pre-gens are provided and incorporated into the plot, but the scenario indicates that pre-existing or new investigators other than the pre-gens can be easily adapted into the scenario, and offers advice on how to do this.

Special Notes:

  • According to the scenario: "The game opens with an action scene. This is then likely to be followed by a period of investigation as the investigators get to the root cause of what is wrong in the town. After that is resolved, the second half of the game takes the form of survival horror, and is likely to feature combat and chase scenes. The game has a natural end point, and built-in support should the investigators decide to leave town early. If the Keeper pushes the pace of play then this scenario should be playable in one session. If you prefer a slower boil it could extend over two sessions."
  • The scenario consists of two parts: one is relatively low-conflict, the second is survival horror full of conflict, with the change occurring with the destruction of the telescope, at which point the situation weirdly reverses, with the "broken" reverting to normal, and the "blessed" suddenly going mad from the revelation and running riot over the town for 24 hours. Keepers might choose to alter the second act by deleting the combat-heavy role-reversal, and opting instead for some other resolution - perhaps one that does not require heavy combat, perhaps one in which the broken remain broken, perhaps one in which the "blessed" are similarly broken upon losing contact with "the Great Mind", or perhaps one that takes inspiration from a 1950s "B" science fiction invasion movie (like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which ends with a chase scene with protagonists desperately trying to flee the town and failing, or Invaders from Mars which ends with a "chase" scene for protagonists fleeing an explosion in a town that is ultimately destroyed by the process of saving it) - indeed, the scenario does have a distinctly 1950s Red Scare invasion movie flavor to it!

Sequel Plot Hooks: (none)