Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dread Scenario - The Swimming Hole

I mentioned a little while ago that the World of Darkness book Mysterious Places is a fantastic source for horror one-shots. In that post I made a point that the very first scenario, The Swimming Hole grabbed me right away and inspired me to start working on a scenario with Dread.

It only being the first week of Shocktober, I unfortunately haven't had much of an opportunity to plan or run this game, half of this tragedy will be avenged today with this very post!

There's a couple of notes before you Keep Reading following this short paragraph that also acts as filler to fill this space because the first note is that anyone who may find themselves playing this in the future *cough Andrea cough Chuck cough cough cough* should stop reading now. It will do you no good, and you will be much worse off in the game having read this. The second note is that this write up requires two more books: Dread and Mysterious Places. I'm definitely not going to be giving up the goods on Mysterious Places, but you will see some notes.
The Host's Notes

Like I said, I'm going to provide some quick notes on The Swimming Hole, but trust me, you'll get your money's worth and then some by picking up the actual Mysterious Places. The Swimming Hole offers up many NPC's and possible directions for you to take your players through the scenario. For the purpose of my Dread version of The Swimming Hole the players are split evenly between townies and employees of the corporation Veridian. The townies will know about the local legends of the Swimming Hole (an old flooded and abandoned rock quarry with tons of urban legends built around it) and may even want to protect the local landmark. The Veridian employees are low-level company men who don't know about the greater ambitions Veridian has for the quarry. The players with Veridian are brand new to the town so they know nothing of the urban legends, but they do now the general project underway to drain the quarry.

Ah, but what is the Swimming Hole (SH) really? As it stands, the SH offers wishes to those who know how to get at it. With a drop of fresh blood and a very precisely worded (if you're smart) audible wish, you'll get just what you want, but you won't know when - or at what cost. Essentially the SH operates on a system of balance. If it gives you $10,000 because of your wish, that money had to have come from somewhere and now maybe your neighbor can't afford the next payment for his kid's cancer treatment. Oh well. This is how the SH operates normally. When the lake gets lower, wishes don't need to be spoken or be given blood to make the desire come through, and things get really, really dangerous with secret passions unleashed on the town (illustration to the left is from the Painting Prints & Stuff blog).

Essentially the conflict is that the townies may or may not want to help the Veridian employees dredge the quarry (who may or may not want to help themselves as they start to see the effects). They'll have to deal with terrible wishes, pressure from higher-up Veridian employees, and crazed townies desperately protecting the SH from being drained.

Ok, so we know what the SH is, but why is it this way? There's something at the bottom of the SH that should not have been unearthed. It's supernatural (clearly) and the SH itself is a perfect security system. The wishes keep the locals near it and protective of this impossibly rare resource. Whoever put the SH there didn't want the thing at the bottom to be released for some reason, so things get dangerous and people get defensive as the wishes get loose and reality seems to break down. I've decided to play it by ear whether or not the SH is a force for good or evil and if the thing at the bottom is being held justly or needs to go free all depending on how my players react to it and especially Veridian since the company is the one trying to free the thing at the bottom.

The Characters

Now that the stakes and setting are clear (sorry, you'll have to get the book for the details and really great NPC's written up for it), let's take a look at the characters! Remember that Dread doesn't do character sheets. Instead the GM prepares questionnaires that the players complete to create their characters. If you're new to Dread, feel free to copy and paste these questionnaires into word documents to print and hand out to your players before playing this one shot. By the way, I'm a 10 questions kind of guy, but if you feel like you want to give the players more to chew on, by all means, throw in some questions, but don't make it more than 15 questions total - that's too much.

Character 1 - Veridian Dredger

1. What previous jobs have you done for Veridian?

2. How was it growing up in a big city?

3. Why don't you go to church anymore?

4. What do you always make sure to pack before a long trip for a job?

5. How do you get a long with your co-workers?

6. Why are you nervous whenever you're alon?

7. What did you win awards for in high school?

8. What's your favorite TV show?

9. What do you always do the first night in a new town?

10. What's your name?

Character 2 - Veridian Shift Supervisor

1. How long have you worked for Veridian?

2. How did you get promoted to Shift Supervisor?

3. What irritates you most about the employees your supervise?

4. What happened in school that you really regret?

5. What do you do to make money on the side?

6. How do you feel about small-town churches?

7. Why didn't you ever learn how to swim?

8. What's in your pocket?

9. What is the only thing that helps with those headaches?

10. What's your name?

Character 3 - Veridian Paper-Pusher

1. How did you get your cushy job fresh out of college?

2. Why do you resent the town's mayor?

3. What did you do to be sent to this town for this job?

4. What did you overhear from the site director that you probably shouldn't have?

5. Why don't you stay in the same hotel as the rest of the Veridian employees?

6. What's your favorite season?

7. What do you always keep at least one of in your top desk drawer?

8. What's your fall back job if Veridian ever goes under?

9. What do you want to make sure everyone else knows about you?

10. What's your name?

Character 4 - Local Elementary School Teacher

1. Why did you go into teaching?

2. What have you seen kids doing in town that doesn't seem normal?

3. Where's the funding go in the school system that you belive should be going towards academic efforts?

4. Why have you always had cats and never a dog?

5. What was the worst experience you had growing up in the town.

6. What do you do on the weekends?

7. What's the weirdest thing you've seen in town?

8. What's the most important thing in your car trunk?

9. What did all of your recent break-ups have in common?

10. What's your name?

Character 5 - Local Waiter or Waitress

1. You finished college and now you're back in town in this job. Why?

2. Who's your favorite customer?

3. Why don't you get along with the other waitstaff?

4. How do you feel about the food you serve?

5. What's the biggest thing you regret leaving behind at school?

6. What terrible experience have you had with Veridian in the past?

7. How do you feel about the town's church and preacher?

8. What's the weirdest thing you've seen happen in the town?

9. What won't you even try to do because you're certain you'll fail?

10. What's your name?

Character 6 - Small Town Mechanic

1. Why did your brother move out of town?

2. How did you get your money to open your own auto garage?

3. What's the weirdest thing you've seen in town?

4. Who's vehicle do you regret doing a purposefully poor job repairing?

5. What did you do the first night the Veridian workers came to town?

6. Who do you visit every weekend?

7. What do you do to reward your best employee?

8. What trick do you use to make strangers comfortable around you?

9. Why do you refuse to touch scissors anymore?

10. What's your name?

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