It is 3:50 AM. I just woke from a dream with a sharp pain on my back. When I looked in the bathroom mirror, I saw it was a mole on my back that has grown dangerous large and swollen. But the dream showed me a secret. A secret I must share with the others…
It’s true. It is 3:50 (now, 3:53) and I did wake from a dream with a sharp pain on my back. And I do have a mole on my back that is dangerously large and has become painful. And the dream is something I feel the need to share. With you.
(I should note this is, in no way, an officially licensed vision. Just something I felt the need to write down. Also, I haven’t playtested this. It’s literally coming from my head to the page.)
Making the Town
There’s a small Town somewhere in America. Maybe it’s in the Mid-West, maybe it’s in the South, maybe it’s in the Southwest, maybe it’s in the Great Northeast. Players decide where the Town is.
Next, go around in a circle and every player add one, two or three Details to the Town. These could be Locations, Businesses or Secrets. Every player adds one at a time until the group feels they’ve added enough Details. Don’t add too many! You want enough Details that you have a feel for the Town, but you also want enough freedom to add more Details later.
Making a Character
You are portraying someone in the Town. The first thing to do is write down your role in the town. That may be Sheriff or Deputy, it may be High School Student, it may be Mechanic, it may be Tavern Owner. This is your Role. Write it down.
Next is your Secret. Everyone in the Town has a secret. It could be that you’re involved in the Town’s drug community. Your Secret should be dangerous. If anyone else discovers your Secret, they could blackmail you for it. It could be that were responsible for someone else’s death (accidentally or intentionally) and you helped cover it up. It could be that you’re married and having an affair. Or, it could be that you become possessed by a hungry spirit and you’ve murdered your daughter.
Finally write down the word Danger and write a “1” next to it. Everyone in the Town is in some kind of danger.
Explore the idea of having multiple characters.
Making the Mystery
Finally, make a Mystery that has fallen over the Town. This is a large, dramatic even that has changed the town in some way. It could be a fire that burned down the local high school, the disappearance of a prominent member of the Town, or the murder of the prom queen. The Mystery should be dangerous and affect everyone in the Town.
Telling the Story
First, let’s talk about the Director.
Each player takes a turn being the Director. Have a special token that indicates when a player is the Director. If you are the Director, you’re responsible for playing any characters who are not played by players and for running Scenes. If you are the Director, none of your characters appear in the Scene. If one of your characters appears in the Scene, you must surrender the Director Token to another player who does not have a character in the Scene. You choose who gets the Token. If you receive the Token and you have a character in the Scene, your character must find a reason to suddenly leave the Scene.
Second, let’s talk about Scenes.
The story is told in a series of Scenes. Typically, a Scene is limited to a physical location. Characters can walk in and out of Scenes, but when focus leaves the physical location, the Scene has changed. When you change a Scene, change Directors.
Characters can do anything in a Scene, but whenever they take an action the Director feels could a) put them in mental or physical danger, b) expose their Secret, or c) gets them closer to solving the Mystery, the character gains a point of Danger.
Whenever a character gains a point of Danger, roll a d6. If the d6 rolls lower than the character’s current Danger, the player must decide how the character is injured or changed in the current Scene. Their Secret may be revealed for the first time, they may find themselves tied up and left for dead in THE WOODS. This may include the character’s death. Remember, the player decides how their character changes. Use each point of Danger to say one thing that is now different about your character. This could be a physical difference, such as a scar. It could be a knowledge difference, such as something your character knew that she didn’t know before. Or, it could be a mental difference, such as a change in attitude toward another character or situation. For each change, reduce the amount of Danger by one.
Confronting the Mystery
Finally, characters may choose to confront the heart of the Mystery. If they do, they take all their Danger with them. They must choose a number of ways their character is changed by the Mystery. No rolling dice. Their character is permanently changed in a number of ways by confronting the Mystery equal to their current Danger.
* * *
Diane, it’s 4:55.
I’ve decided to see old Doc Whipple about this mole on my back. But the dream still lingers behind my eyes, affecting everything I see. I don’t think I’ll be the same after all of this, but often times, a place changes you more than you could have anticipated.