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120 Brainchild


Exposition

“Attention everyone! Attention!”


tap tap tap goes the gavel


“I’ve gathered you all again here today to discuss the ongoing epidemic….”


“Oh for Gods’ sake, stop hiding beyond your flowery language and call it what it is! It’s a godsdamned murder spree!”


“Yes, yes! Alright…Now look. Nothing we’ve tried has worked so far. You all know I’ve resigned to being more open and honest about the situation. We’re beyond panic now and back into focus. And it would seem that one bit of continuity we can track is that when we have clearer heads these murders ebb rather than flow.


We’ve discussed many a theory and engaged in many a strategy. But to no avail. No matter the frequency, they continue. Many similar reports, but always new pieces each time as well. This I has been posited by our guest speaker today as a second piece of continuity. I’ll allow him to extrapolate further…”


“Thank you, Lord Mayor. Your esteemed leader is correct: the ebb and flow of this situation could be a significant indicator of the perpetrator’s motivation, perhaps even their confidence in committing these crimes. But it is the second piece of connecting evidence paints a much larger picture. And I would put forward the idea that it is less an ebb and flow and more a wax and wain of its capabilities.


In a quite literal sense, our cooler heads prevail over its power.”


“What on earth is this quack talking about?!”


“Please, let me continue. You’ll better understand if you allow me to go through every motion and show you how they work together.


Now, you know how when you were children and your elders would scare you with stories of the bogeyman beneath the bed, or Nightwood Trolls come to snatch you up? What purpose did that serve? Well, the same as it does now when you tell the tales to your own children. It felt cruel to be instilled with such fear as child, but it kept you safe from harm as you all now know.


Well, this situation here…is quite the opposite in its way. Same by different. I’ve come to tell you that there is power in belief. And not just that of a cleric and her god, or a witch and his eerie patron. But a different kind of belief not so different than those that practice a rather applicable style of Thaumaturgy.


The point I will not try to guide you all through is this: Where there is power in belief, there is also opposing power in disbelief.”



Introduction

James: The Man

Freeman: The Myth

Source: Bestiary 3, pg. 38

Reading List: -


Pathfinder Lore


Ecology

·         Rumors swirl and circulate. And when they do so intensely and persistently, when they become so vivid and real to the those who speak them, they sometimes come to life.

·         A Brainchild can be born this way, often thanks to the rumors involving a victim of a phantasmal killer spell.

·         And the resulting Brainchild is a ruthless and remorseless killer.

·         Its powers grow when with more belief and went hunting a believer, and subsequently shrink when faced with Skepticism.

·         This makes them only as powerful and as able as one thinks they are.

·         It has a simple drive to stalk and kill, but gossip, rumor and superstition can alter the way it acts and alter its behaviours as it hunts.


Sidebar

·         There is some setup required for using this creature.

·         One needs to get some rumors started and see where they go, and alter its tactics, abilities and behaviours based on how the players perceive these rumours. How they support or reject them.

·         Simple examples given are something like “I hear the Beast of Chimney Hill can walk through fire unburnt!” or “Woke with a pounding headache. Old Selby’s Dog must be lurking about again.”

Appearance

·         While we have some vicious looking artwork, it does not necessarily look like this.

·         From what I’ve gathered it really would take on any form suggested in the rumours. Such as a dog or a beast!


Mechanics


Patreon Lounge Social Experiment

This started on January 26th. This is being recorded on March 5th. It’s been quite a ride.


Part 1:

You are monster hunters, travelling from town to town, eking out a meagre existence doing dangerous work. The trouble is...the highest paying gigs are few and far between...and you barely get by on quelling the local wolf population instead of hunting a menacing werewolf or clearing a dead body from a local well instead of facing down a malevolent water spirit....


But today you've heard something quite curious...actually you've heard many curious and conflicting things from travellers on the road.


There's a small backwater town along a popular North to South trade route that also happens to sit between two budding local industries (a quarry & ironworks to the east and good fishing to the west), where the gossip probably never ceases and superstition is pervasive.


You've come across these sorts of towns before, and most just bicker about their neighbours and are careful to put the right effigies in the windows or light the right number of candles on the appropriate holidays... This one has rumours of a killer on the loose. But not just any killer...one with entirely too many attributes, abilities, and areas of expertise. They are both refined assassin and vengeful apparition, depraved necromancer and acolyte possessed by a demon, a bored fishmonger's wife and a quarrywoman's spurned lover. Any and all of the above, and more.


There's too much on the eager tongues of traders coming down the trade route to ignore.

Poll #1: What do you do?

·         A) Head straight to the town of Middlesrill?

·         B) Skirt around the town to River’s Quarry?

·         C) Head for the banks of the Piker’s Bay?

o   Poll #1 Result: A) Head to the Town of Middlesrill

§  Suspicion 1: There’s a spurned lover in River’s Quarry

§  Cam suspected the poll itself had a hidden agenda. Such as picking the Quarry leaned toward the Quarrywoman’s spurned lover. I didn’t plan anything that, but now it could be part of it because of their suspicion.

§  Scott picked Quarry because he figured the workers were more “salt of the earth” folk.

§  PJP assumed the Quarry was dangerous and thought talking to the locals in town was the wiser option.

o   I had to really push everyone early on to give me some extra detail “show your thinking for your votes” was the theme.

o   I eventually asked Cam to spur them on, cuz Cam caught onto what I was up to very quicky.

Part 2:

You enter the town of Middlesrill. A small but bustling hub for travelers, locals, and the outskirt laborers. It quickly becomes obvious how the town got its name: a small rill (or stream) that runs through the center of a wide main road, bisecting the town. Longstanding tradition is that you do not drive your horses or carts too near the rill, and it is well maintained by the locals with beautiful stones and flower beds along its edges. Despite it being small enough for a quick hop over for most anyone, there are frequent foot bridges to cross the rill. And if you wish to cross to the other side with a larger and cumbersome load, you need to reach the edge of town first before you can turn around and onto the other side. Currently, however, all the foot bridges are blocked, meaning you need to do the same even if on foot! Why?


Because of the many effigies that line the rill this time of year.

A rather out-of-usual-season Harvest Festival has begun! Where celebrations across the area can spring up any time of day and when the feeling strikes. On the eastern side of the rill, you see effigies mostly carved from stone, and on the western side made with driftwood and old fishing line and nets. And dotted throughout are effigies made from anything that can be spared or is beyond repair. They take human-shaped forms or that of various beasts of the land, sea, or sky. An old shoe serves as a beak, the broken legs of a stool for the legs of a wolf, or a tattered hand fan repurposed as the fin of a sea creature. There appears to be no consistent shape among them. Some are beautifully crafted...most are crude but effective. All are evocative in their own right.


There is stark difference in the architecture on each side of the rill as well, the western is well suited with simple wooden shacks and structures, having a distinctively and stereotypical shanty look all about. And Eastern side's buildings are sturdier (if only in appearance), with some obvious stone foundations and even the occasional entire stone structure, as if carved from a single rock.


The people milling about town do not seem to have been halted in their daily tasks or celebrations by the rumours that have travelled down the road. At any moment a group a people will start dancing a jig to an old folk tune in a wide circle, halting all traffic for several minutes and then head back to their stalls or wagons. Or a crowd will gather around a local who fancies themself an orator, standing on a stone slab or lobster trap reciting a fanciful story or fairy tale.



Poll #2: Where are you headed? What information are you seeking first? And most importantly…Which side of the Rill do you walk down first?

·         A) Seaside

·         B) Stoneside

o   Poll #2 Result: Head to Seaside

§  Suspicion 1: PJP is intrigued by the houses made from a single stone.

§  Suspicion 2: PJP also thought that perhaps crossing the stream was akin crossing a barrier into another world. A sort of liminal space or transition.

·         Possibly even referring to fae/vampires no able to cross running water.

o   I think this is actually I asked and needed Cam to spur things on. I didn’t get much response beyond the unsureness of what I was doing.

o   Partly the fault though is because I was giving everyone no choice but to vote. It was an interesting thing: the so-called ‘players’ didn’t know what their freedoms were, so the assumed they had none.

§  This changed eventually, very much ahha

§  Goes to show that structure in a game gives you freedom more than it limits you.

o   Encouraging discussion was a slow grind.

Part 3:

Torn between marvels offered from both sides, both obvious and obviously hidden, you’ve chosen a trip to the Seaside. After all, few tell taller tales than those that brave the open and uncaring sea. And like a drop in the ocean, every tale contains a grain of truth within it. Or so such superstitious types might have you believe.


The shanty buildings of Seaside scream function as much as tradition. Designs in architecture vary based on what must be personal (and sometimes questionable) taste, but all seem to at least serve a basic purpose: repel the worst of the weather or circumvent it at the very least.


The flow of Seaside is like a school of fish, quick and chaotic from within, but instinctively coordinated when seen (and understood) from afar. The twisting alleys and non-linear roads make for expert navigators among the colloquially adored and maligned (in equal measure) Seastreet Urchins. The stilted buildings closer to the water provide shelter for all manner of what the tide (or a hurricane) may wish to leave behind. And the Fish Market features each, either, both and much, much more.


Amidst the random breakouts of revelry, you catch a glimpse of the rumour mill at work. Now in the town proper and surrounded on all sides by the currents that power it, there is an anxiety that hides behind the many masks worn by the folk here. And when it flares…well that’s when the dancing and singing and chanting and storytelling begins.


You might expect nothing less from a small and superstitious town such as this, especially during festival time…were it not for the palpable effort put into hiding it behind ‘tradition’.


The wind carries two distinct things: 1) the typical aromatic ensemble of a fish market and 2) the whispers of suspicion and fear, kept at a low utterance. Not because they are harmful to speak aloud, but for fear of evoking evil through mistaken incantation.


You find as you are immersed in the hustle of Seaside there are many avenues to hear such whispers more clearly. There is of course the classic Inn & Tavern, the sort of place where many people of every station may come and go throughout most of the day and night. Next is the docks, where from sun up to sun down stories are exchanged in intervals that match the pace of boats docking and putting to sea, and goods loaded and unloaded.  We can’t forget the Fish Market itself, where all manner of monger spends most of the day hawking their catch and wares, but with frequent breaks that inevitably become a vehicle for spreading local news. Or one could simply sit and wait for a street-side performer to stand tall and regale onlookers with a traditional tale of stone and sea…It's mid-morning, and this is where your quest truly begins.


Poll #3: What do you do?

·         A) Hit up an Inn & Tavern for some local goss?

·         B) Head to the Docks and catch the import and export of sailor’s tales?

·         C) Walk the Fish Markets where information is yet another commodity?

·         D) Sit tight and hope what you seek appears on a street corner?

o   Poll Result: Walk the Fish Markets.

o   No particular suspicions, but PJP mentioned her experience in a Korean Fish Market and how it was filled with bored and loud middle-aged women with all the hot goss.

o   I chose to use this…


Part 4:

Walking the Fish Markets is all you’d expect and more. Busy, loud, briny, rude. Dirty, smelly, fast-paced, sticky-fingered. Of course, there is plenty-o’-creature from the sea hanging about for sale, but many artifacts and treasures that have come down the roads, and even some stalls selling stonework from across the rill.


Hands on purses you wander around, weaving through crowds that surround a hawker here and a costermonger there.


“Come on then, take a closer look! I ain’t got a bite as vicious as the Beast o’ Rill. Step on up, I can’t afford to cover delivery now, can I? Come in close! I’ll not rend your flesh, just your fat for me candles! Ohh I’m just kidding darling! Brighten up! Gotta stay bright in these darkest of days! Step on up friends!”


You hear all sorts of these kinds of calls and cries along the winding stalls. And before long a sudden scuffle breaks out next to you and resolved as quickly as it started. You turn to see what’s happening and a Market Guard has one of the famous Seastreet Urchins by the wrist and dangling a good foot off the ground.


Struggling to wrench herself free, the urchin starts flailing and kicking while the guard just gives a laugh.


“Alright ya little shit, settle down.” The guard sets the girl down on her feet, but doesn’t let go right away.


“Careful friends. These little curs got fingers as sticky as the Middlesrill Mudman.”

The urchin suddenly jerks her arm into freedom and takes off into the crowd. The guard is shocked for a moment, but let’s out a hardy guffaw.


“But they’re slippery as a mudslide too! Keep your peepers peeled and purses close!”

He gives you a wink and wanders off on his beat again.


Stepping away from the crowd for a moment and into a side street, you find yourself comforted by the quiet. Checking your extra pockets for anything missing…just in case…now that the noise pollution is significantly less you catch the sound of a group of old fish wives gathered around and telling a tale.


Incurable gossips like these sits in two opposing camps at all times: they can’t wait to spread the ‘news’ of the day to whoever will listen…unless its someone not openly invited to listen. Eavesdroppers are met with a cold glare, a wicked hot tongue and (worst case) a rusty fishhook to a pretty face.All in all, you’ve heard and had enough of the fish market. It’s now midday.


Poll #4: What do you do?

·         A) Head to the Docks?

·         B) Find an Inn & Tavern?

·         C) Abandon Seaside altogether and check out Stoneside?

·         D) Risk eavesdropping on the Fish Wives….?

o   Poll Result: Eavesdrop on the Fish Wives

§  Suddenly everyone got bold and ideas came out of the woodwork

o   Suspicion 1: Povo thought there was something suspicious about my description of everyone having “extra pockets”

§  I asked Cam to question this, because I could not follow the line of thinking…Povo seemed to suspect that…the extra pockets…might contain weapons…?

§  Options offered up were…pocket knife, Ring of the Ram, pocket sand, horseshoe, packet of salt, Roll of thread and Mirror.

·         Scoot added: Wand! Knuckle dusters, a Taser and a .38 snub-nose.

o   Suspicion 2: Scoot picked up on the Middlesrill Mudman, suspecting it might be a type of local Bogeyman.

o   Suspicion 3: PJP figured the Beast o’ Rill was one and the same as the Mudman. Mentioning the Rend and it being slippery as well as sticky.

§  She then very accurately started to suspect that the creature changes based on the belief of the people around. She referenced the show Supernatural, but I could not find which creature it she was talking about (she could not recall it either).

§  She also wanted to “Push the Big Red Button” and jump over the Rill. I think she forgot that there are foot bridges that cross it all the time. OR she thought actually jumping it would have a different effect? Either way, this was exactly what I was hoping for: overthinking and suspiciousness because of missing information.

o   Suspicion 4: Dr. T thought the relationship between the Market guard and the Urchin was suspicious ahah Povo added that maybe they run a scam together.

§  PJP didn’t consider it, and figured it was just a way for me to drop Mudman. She was right ahha But still, another good example of the players overthinking.

§  Dr. T added that maybe it was just an indicator that I’ve read Oliver Twist. I have not. Ahha Just a coinkydink I think.

Part 5:

I’ll start by asking you to pardon the following stereotype: They say that the wrath of the Nine Hells is closely modeled off the results of a woman scorned.


Though such a description might not fit every corner of the world, it certainly does for here and now. You’ve entered a quiet aside from the busy marketways and done your darndest to eavesdrop, but busy bodies like these also have busy eyes and keen ears. How else would they acquire the best gossip there is to be had?


Oh, sure you caught a little bit of what they were saying. Snippets like: “…you can’t make a stone float on the sea…”, “…that’s what the ritual was all about I heard…but it all went wrong…” and “…to think she’d take such a risk for love…only to end up a…”


That’s when you are caught in their net. As they all turn toward you with cold glares and hot, wicked tongues: “Thieves! Pilferers! Robbers!” And swooping brooms comes down all around your heads. Some of you are stunned, some of you try to shake it off and explain yourselves amidst the flurried bristles, someone simply runs. And whoever does the latter finds the Market Guard standing at the end of the alley, truncheon in hand…with a wicked look.

The women keep battering the rest of you with insults and more join in with their own long-handled sweepers. “You’ll pay the price for your nosy-ness! The Beast o’ Rill has a better nose than you! It’ll sniff you out for all your sins!”


And the Guard clubs the runner and binds their hands. Dragging them off before the rest of you can scramble away.


Poll #5: Who was it that ran?

·         A) Gabe

·         B) Povo

·         C) Dr. T

·         D) PJP

·         E) Scoot

o   Poll Result: Dr.T…by unanimous vote. He literally voted for himself.

o   Scoot put forward the reasonable explanation that Dr. T was they were only one that was really vocal about not eavesdropping, so he figured he was the first to nope the fuck out of there.

§  Oddly enough… it was around now that I realized Dr. T didn’t even vote on the previous round despite trying to avoid the eavesdropping.

§  It’s amazing how these things fall together sometimes.

§  I decided to refer to Dr. T as Unnamed Character in order to stir up some frustration. I believe it worked.


Part 6

Unnamed Character has been scooped up by a corrupt market guard and is missing. The battering the rest of you received by the Fish Wives has subsided and they've abandoned you to your embarrassment, and under threat from the additional guards that joined the kerfuffle and dropped clubs on a knee or two and a billy on a noggin...or three.


It's all but clear that the women and the guard were in on something together and there's "a biscuit's titty you can do about it", as one of the most crone-iest of them put it. A phrasing that's not exactly as clear as the message...But hey. You're new in town. What do you know about the local colloquialisms?


Your pockets were of course emptied (no matter how many 'extra' you had). And with a little more information in your repertoire (however vague), and down one companion (however cowardly) you've got more on your plate to deal with than ever before (for better or for worse).


But where to start? You've lost a piece of the day now during the recovery of the corrupt brutality. It's now Late Afternoon. You may figure Unnamed Character won't be held long and get out on their own. But that could mean being held at least through the night.


Maybe you could get them released!...but considering corrupt guards and all...what little cash you had left is now in the hands of your recent assailants. A bribe doesn't get your very far without the cash to back it up. If the former is true enough, you could keep seeking out your supposed foe-of-superstition and find reward it its defeat. That could buy your friend's freedom!


It's a hard luck moment, with a hard choice to make.


Poll #6: What do you do?

·         A) Try your luck at the docks before the workers finish up for the day?

·         B) Check out the Inn & Tavern and rest your weary, beaten joints while taking in the day's gossip?

·         C) Head to the other side of Town and see how fast news travels from one side of the Rill to the other?

·         D) Whatever it is you're looking for, you need Unnamed Character for their expertise in an Arbitrary Skill. Find the local Barracks & Jail?

o   Poll Result: Jailbreak!

o   Suspicion 1: I referred to Dr T as Unnamed Character in the poll. Which prompted PJP to ask if they could all name their characters…I sent her 3 shrugging emojis and said nothing…which led her to suspect everyone were amnesiacs hahaha

o   Suspicion 2: At this point Tekale pointed out he was not included in the previous vote for who got caught…so I came up with a new plan on the spot messaged him saying he was actually pulled away and replaced with a Faceless Stalker replica. He bought into it and is now in charge of making sure the others pick strong things to believe in, but also trying to make them unprepared to handle them, if at all possible.

o   Suspicion 3: Tekale also began wildly speculating that the ritual vaguely mentioned may have gone wrong when sacrificing something and resulted in a now-nondescript monstrous creature.

§  Also thinks the Guards are part of a slave operation and Dr T’s unnamed character is going to be sold off.

§  Part of his suspicion was how the fish wives treated them.

§  PJP backed this suspicion up with suspicions of the fish wives.

§  They both latched onto the mention of the lover from part 1 and the ritual, PJP even loosely suggesting some hag territory ahha Beautiful

o   Suspicion 4: Tekale really started finding reasons to not save Dr. T ahha Mostly gearing toward being able to get the job of monster killing done without wasting time or continuing to get on the bad side of the town.

§  Povo mentioned they aren’t salaried employees or anything….and then he called my town the real monster…how dare he!

o   Suspicion 5: PJP jokingly asked if they were so desperate for work that they maybe dreamed up the whole thing…haha too good

§  Povo said he that that would be a little too mean of me….turns out I’m meaner haha

o   Suspicion 6: The timing of the Almagmite episode caused PJP to suspect that was the creature they were looking for, but then she noticed there was no mention of Teleportation. Teleportation Circle is a Ritual however (if not the Teleport Spell)…

o   Fun Tidbit 1: I forbade Dr. T from engaging while away from the party, and they told everyone they can’t speak…but sent a message in morse code haha It just read “AM SEPARATED FROM THE PARTY!”.

o   Fun Tidbit 2: Everyone else collectively decided Dr. T was the Healer.

o   Fun Tidbit 3: PJP really was gunning for “violence and civil disobedience”. Including getting bombs and trying to pull the jail bars out with a horse cart and ropes. And even better (according to her) starting a good ol’ fashioned riot.

o   Fun Tidbit 4: At some point Povo made a Mulan song reference and joke. PJP thought it was obvious. And then Duncan was thoroughly shamed for having never seen the film.




This is where I suddenly had very little time. Work got crazy and it was a struggle to keep track of what I was doing. But I was having a side conversation with Dr. T about what was happening during their incarceration.


Part 7


Freeman

You aren't with the party anymore!

But you are in prison. Which means you are in a cell with other people, next to cells with other people. You're a bit roughed up, but conscious. And there's no shortage of ruffians sharing this living space.

Everyone's snipping at each other, or swapping outrageous stories as to why, how and where they were caught and cuffed. As you gather your composure you find yourself in a cell with a couple others, and the rest of the cells are far enough apart that the only danger is within one's own. The place is dimly lit by the iron-barred windows that appear to be around ground level above. You catch a conversation that slowly begins to involve most and eventually all of the prisoners here. All of their attention anyway, if not their piece.


Ruffian: "Alls I'm saying is it's good luck the new guy is in 'ere! It's nearly before too late!"

Thief: "What're you on about? It's crowded enough and they ain't even cleaned the mud buckets for days!"

Quack: "You idiot. 'Cuz it's Harvest and there's more dangerous mud than's in those buckets!"

Ruffian: "Exactly! We got just the right amount to protect us come sundown!"

Thief: "And what number would that be....?"

Ruffian: "...ermm..."

Banker: "Thirteen. And he's right...it's the 'magic number' as they say. Thirteen is the number the Beast loves most! Without it, it flies into a rage."

Thief: "Absolutely none of that makes sense...How can a beast love a number? And where does it even find it? It must be in a rage all the time without one. You all are fool's for even believing in such nonsense."

Quack: "Oh yeah? And we're supposed to trust logical line of thinking of a common cutpurse?!"


The conversation breaks out into argument among the cells, and you sit in a corner with a dull ache all over.

Dr T

Hmmmm Mmk First, was I arrested and roughed or did I just wake up here with a hazy memory?

How many days have past?

Is everyone here local or are they from the neighboring areas?


Freeman

First, Arrested and roughed up. You were never knocked out, just overpowered and effectively kidnapped.

Still the same day. Now late afternoon.

You would assume most in the prison call Seaside their home, but it's possible some work on Stoneside or once lived there.


Dr T

Oh and have I heard anything about this beast before?


Freeman

Only from the local gossip so far. Usually referred to as the Beast o' Rill


Dr T

Does anything they’re mentioning ring a bell? Like the harvest and the numbers?


Freeman

You know it's Harvest Festival season. It was obvious when you first entered town. The number is entirely new to you.


Dr T

I wanna chime in, “ey, I was sent here to hunt down monsters and beasts. To do this, me and my affiliates need as much information as you can provide.


Freeman

Banker: "Oh you a fancy monster hunter are you?"

Quack: "You don't hunt this one sweet cheeks. It hunts you!"

Ruffian: "Yeah, but it won't if you stay here. Look around ya! There's fourteen of us now. It's ascared of things in fourteens!"

Thief: rolling his eyes "I thought you said it was 13..."


You look around to do a head count...sure enough…you are 14th member added to the cells.


The Banker starts to count himself...and once he realizes they overshot their count...his eyes widen with panic.


Dr T

I hold my hands up, look I’m willing to leave to shore up the numbers. I’m also willing to kill a hunter, it’s what me and my crew do. But I need more info than a banker that can’t count and a thief that can. What can you tell me about this monster? Is it corporeal? Bestial? Does it fly? Is it tied to a Harvest or a celebration of a deity?


Freeman

Banker: realizing his count "Oh no... we’re screwed now..."

Ruffian: "Enough of your questions...who put you in charge any how?"

Quack: "The Beast isn't any of those things and its all of them! It's whatever it needs to get you! You think these bars or even these walls can stop it?!"

Thief: "...only the number the 13 makes it powerless..." shaking head sarcastically

Ruffian: "I said shut it! All of you! This one made us 14. I can make us 13 again!"


The Ruffian takes a step toward you. He's big and tough and mean. You look around desperately as all eyes are on you. They are all wondering if your death will keep them safe. Even the unbelieving thief doesn't look like they are about to take the chance. You spot a small, high window with bars in it. People pass by along the market ways constantly. No one outside is paying attention, the window maybe high above you, but it's at ground level for them. You're gonna need to cause an awful lot of ruckus if you want anyone to look this way. Or find a way to turn this crowd on someone else...


Dr T

Why does 13 hold this beast at bay? If it can be anything it needs to get you why would a group stop it? Surely a group of a baker’s dozen is capable of explanation with their superstitions. My dad always told me it was bad luck to be superstitious. You better give me a reason to be afraid of before this big gentleman right here resorts to violence over a stranger.


(As he approaches, I want study his walk. Which foot he starts with, which hand he favors. Possible limp, scars from previous injuries I can exploit. Studying him the same way I would a hunted monster.)


I never claimed to be in charge, nor do I wished to be. I just want to kill this creature and be on my way.


Freeman

You see the Thief perk up a bit at your lines of logic and reason. There's an appreciation in his gaze. But still he shakes his had with a smirk. He realizes already what dawns on you now: logic and reason are not what whips up people like this into a panicked frenzy. Nor does it calm them down. They aren't interested in explaining themselves...just making the right number fit. Self-preservation above all. And they've entered mob mentality mode.


Except the thief...who speaks up: "I doubt any of them were even born with the intelligence to answer you sensibly friend. Not even the wisest father or the kindest mother could've gotten through to this one." He points at the Ruffian, who then turns on his heal to face the Thief. You check his gait and balance within the sudden shift. He's a big one. Built for quick and unerring brutality. But he's not much for stability on his feet...nor endurance in a prolonged scuffle.


Quick and ruthless is his game, and with his supportive audience...a complete lack of fear of you and terrified as a babe of "the Beast" is his edge. The thief has regret written all over his face. He's made himself a secondary target now...but maybe that's your edge. You and thief’s...


Dr T

You seem obsessed with preserving the number, I’m more than happy to leave, I’m sure this big man is more than capable of such a feat given that these bars don’t provide safety as you stay. Maybe the odd one out here isn’t the one that was added, but the one that doesn’t fit in the crowd? One that isn’t part of the esteemed group. It seems only one of you in these cages is guilty of a crime. One of you seems to be capable of counting and another doesn’t. One of you isn’t all up here while the others see reason. One of you is physically present while the rest seem, unremarkable.


(I want to make a point to point out each individual, singling them out as I use them as examples separating the idea of safety in numbers to individual unsafety.)


Or maybe, if you’re wrong about your own safety, you’re just prey in a cage, waiting for death because you sought safety in a number. And believe you me, a beast, monster, creature, or humanoid being always goes for the biggest throat first. Especially one that can’t keep his balance.


(I want to lick kick the back of his knee. Not hard, I don’t want to cause excessive injury, but just enough for one knee to touch the floor, even just for a moment.)


Freeman

As you start and continue through your speech you see all but the Thief grow in rage and eagerness to see you dead. But as soon as you kick the Ruffian behind the knee, the Thief lunges with incredible speed, drawing a hidden shank and plunging it into the Ruffian's chest. And just as he does his facade falls away to reveal strange humanoid shape nearly devoid of features. It seems almost formed of clay...or mud…and it gasps a hoarse dying cry.


The Thief gives you a nod and says "Good work! Now their '13' is naught but 12!" And the rest of the prisoners shed their disguises and being to scream and shake and roar! All of them, save the Thief, are Faceless Stalkers. And you've created a rather appropriate 'ruckus'.



You've voted to bust Dr T out! And when you reach the small ramshackle prison, you see a small crowd gathered around one side of the building. No windows or doors are visible on this side, but the crowd seems to be looking down and pointing toward the ground. As you push your way through you see a low foot-level window previously described! Your pal and a random ragamuffin about to go toe-to-toe with a slew of monsters within!


Poll #7: What do you do?

·         A) Bust down the front door of the jail

·         B) Shove your way through the crowd and try the window?

·         C) Call to the gathered citizens for help?

·         D) Fuck this noise! Abandon Dr T and regroup.

o   Poll Result: Option B, with a swing vote from Dr. T himself.

o   No Suspicions: Work really got away from me at this point and the current vote was really just about a plan of action. But there was some hilarious banter going on

§  Mentions of potential references to Spy Kids 3 (I’ve never seen any of them ahha)

§  Scoot was somehow accused of being a corrupt coal miner (but like an employee and not a shareholder and somehow still the evil one).

§  He’s also been accused of having paid with his own money to be on the podcast, and PJP was jealous. I feel like we owe her a game at this point ahha

o   Action ideas: PJP was really digging at how much gear they had lost in the fish wives kerfuffle. Toying with material component ideas for spells and naming herself the Druid of the party ahah

Part 8

As you come away through to the other side of the crowd to see your companion in danger, so too do his instincts turn to the only means of escape (however unlikely). He looks through the small, barred window and sees you all gazing down on the scene of monstrosities about to lunge.


With quick thinking (and a swing vote) he screams “Run! We’re all gonna die!” and the crowd’s curious anxiety quickly turns to terror and fear. A sudden panicked scream from within the crowd and they begin to scramble and run away. And your all find yourselves with a little more literal wiggle room to face the obstacle before you.


With fewer casualties at risk, one of your crew (PJP, I totally made it PJP) launches a fire spell beyond the small bars to create a new panic inside. The Faceless Stalkers are singed and burned and immolated in varying degrees, shrieking, and flailing. And suddenly the Thief within grabs hold of your healer (the Unnamed Character) and bampfs out of the room and into the street, translocating the both of them to safety.


The thief gives you all a nod and a wink and takes off running with the immediate opportunity to do so.


Within a couple breaths the sound of an alarm bell begins to sound out of the Jail and the dispersing crowd is about to be countered with a flood of paid authorities. And you are left with the sounds of footsteps speeding away in all directions...and the unsettling sound of cackling and crackling within the jail as the monsters burn.


The workday is over, and it’s officially the start of Evening.



Poll #8: What do you do?

·         A) Sit tight and explain yourselves? (You never know what further knowledge lies within those jail cells).

·         B) GTFO and hide out in a Tavern for now? (They are probably plenty crowded by now)

·         C) GTFO and hit the docks? (Maybe someone is left around...but fuck it, maybe you just wanna charter passage outta here at this point.)

·         D) Maybe now is a good time to actually GTFO of Seaside and see if Stoneside is a more reasonable place?

o   Poll Result: Option B - Hide out in a Tavern for now? (They are probably plenty crowded now)

o   Disagreement 1: Povo wanted to sit tight in case their gear was retrievable. Scoot disagreed because “I ain’t talkin’ to no cops.”

§  Note: I never explicitly took their equipment. I only mentioned that their pockets were emptied. Even reminded them of this. But they persisted in believing it.

o   Action Idea: PJP wanted to maybe track down the Thief that aided them and hoped they would also be in the tavern.

§  Povo also suggested splitting the party to find gear and gather gossip. He was promptly shut down.

§  Tekale gently suggested maybe they don’t even wanna finish the quest ahha

o   Suspicion 1: Tekale referred to the Beast and Dr. T questioned whether or not it even is a beast given the strange Faceless Stalker connection.

§  Povo further claimed the town itself was the real Beast ahah

o   Suspicion 2: The above suspicion had PJP asking all kinds of questions:

§  Why were their Faceless Stalkers at all?

§  Is the whole town Faceless Stalkers?

§  Do the Guards specialize in capturing them?

§  Why was the one guy not a stalker?

§  Does that mean he’s innocent (as far as a thief goes)?

§  Is he somehow worse?

o   Suspicion 3: PJP also starting making notes in a .doc to try and navigate what’s happening. (Damn she’s good. Get that lady a microphone and a spot on the pod!)

§  She started to reflect back on the whole Harvest festival and creepy the whole thing is. Especially the random breakouts of revelry connected to a strange air of anxiety throughout the whole town.

§  Scoot mentioned the Dancing plague of 1518. I hadn’t even thought of that ahha Love me a subconscious coincidence.

§  Also PJP pointed out the line about the Beast being able to “sniff out your sins”

·         TBH I forgot I had even wrote that at this point ahha

o   Suspicion 3: PJP also re-mentioned my line “whispers of suspicion and fear, kept at a low utterance. Not because they are harmful to speak aloud, but for fear of evoking evil through mistaken incantation.”

§  She was very unnerved by this one it seemed.


Part 9

You’ve sought refuge from alarms, guards, and aberrant dangers. What better place to lay low than among the taller and louder heads of a tavern filled with workers ready to drink their fill, discuss the day’s labour…and otherwise avoid the things pitted in their stomachs and firmly pinned to the backs of their minds.


Doing your best to track down the Thief that came to your aid, based on some subtle inquiries and a keen and wary eye of your surroundings, you suspect they entered the very oddly named establishment of “The Grey Fontanelle”.


It is plenty crowded and with a wide range of backgrounds. So-called unsavory types by the looks in their eyes, good honest workaday roustabouts by their generous mirth, and all manner of below, above and between by their clothes, their posture, their coin purses and their conversation.


Quickly ducking into the crowd, the game of musical chairs is played all around you as people come and go, to and from bar and street. It takes little time to sneak into the seats of a shared table to gather yourselves, and perhaps gather information.


With empty pockets however, a necessary nerve-calming drink is not exactly at your fingertips. However, there are many openings in lively chats that are going “round for round” as they spin their yarns. And plenty of drunks flashing coin and looking for someone to annoy with their stupors, (often willing pay for a round to make it happen, though you see few accept this transaction more than once).


You’ve not spotted your friend in Thievery just yet (if they are here at all), but there is moment after moment of reprieve in here, and gossip more plentiful and freely given any part of your day so far.


It is now Dusk.


Poll #9: What do you do?

·         A) Casually join a group of chinwaggers, find yourself a free pint or two, and try to glean anything to point you in the right direction (or any direction)?

·         B) Take on an inviting posture for one of the drunks, allow them to sit and by a round, and see what they’ve gathered from what is probably the entire room so far?

·         C) Sit tight (and drinkless), keep your eyes peeled for the Thief and your ears open to the peals of rumor all around you?

·         D) You’ve had your breather, and maybe things have settled down outside. Head out of the Tavern and elsewhere in Seaside?

·         E) Though you can’t be sure when things have calmed down, maybe it’s worth the risk now to head to Stoneside before the day is done?

o   Poll Result: Join a group of chinwaggers.

o   PJP was all about some free ale. And also continuing to try and find the thief.

§  Though she suspected it they were the type to found you rather than you them.

o   Povo was all about blending in with a drink.

§  He suspected I was steering them toward Stoneside. Not quite sure why now. I had almost made it an option when it vote was about moving to a new location.

o   Tekale wanted to wait to see if someone came to the group. Referencing being beaten by a group of old ladies.

o   There was another reference to all their gear being stolen by Povo. Again. I never said that  ahahhah



Part 10

Nudging your way into a group for a chit and chat is not terribly difficult, but getting a word in edgewise is a whole different story. You hear tale after story, are the butt of jokes and bystander to wisecracks, and witness insults and cajolery both veiled and boldfaced.


But nary a person speaks a word of the so-called “Beast o’ Rill”. And in the oddest manner no one properly engages you. Sure, you found your hand around the handle of a mug or two when the rounds came along. But it’s as if you were noticed…but not quite acknowledged…


And it’s too little too late when you yourselves notice…and then acknowledge…that the words in the room have begun to escape you. You cannot discern a phrase, let alone the turning of one. Not a word, or a garbled string of letters.


Instead, there is dull and deafening murmuring all around. And no one will look at you…Why could that be you may wonder? Is it impossible incantation? Is it something in your drink? Is it unseen magic overloading your senses? Is it all the above? And more?


Everyone in the room turns and their murmurs audibly swoop with them. All face one direction and they part from each other to make a path. A path that leads to the Thief. Only it is not a Thief. It is something else entirely… And it is singular and horrible and staring at you. Ready. It can only be your quarry…It can only be what you seek…however much you may now wish you hadn’t.


There is no Poll this time…There is no vote.

What do you see? What does your gut tell you it will do to you? How will it do it to you? What...if you could’ve prepared better…would you have readied to face it?


Tell me everything you believe. You must come to some common ground. Like a good team, you are different parts of the same whole. So too must this creature be… mustn’t it?


Oh and by the way…you (didn’t) guess[ed] it…

It’s Midnight


·         PJP immediately suspected Midnight was a monster itself, like a personification of death, and blamed it on her “JRPG Brainrot”.

o   It being Midnight and the creature now revealed also spurred her back to the idea of it existing in a liminal space.

o   She continued to suspect the creature had led them by the nose all day. And it angered her ahha

§  In reality it was more following them as I improvised the story, then sorta showed itself in the Thief (though I never specified they weren’t separate entities), and finally revealed itself.

·         Povo insisted it’s the Beast o’ Rill they see. He gave the vague setup of the party they slowly created for themselves (a Caster, a Healer, a Fighter, a Thief and himself as the FNG (fucking new guy) who is ‘replaceable’).

o   He then volunteered to walk up to the creature and tell it to ‘shove off’.

o   He thought it obvious the creature feared the party.

·         Dr. T was suspecting that the entire town were monsters a la Wickerman 1973.

o   Which led to suspicions of DnD-style Mind control of some kind.

·         Povo further suggested that the Beast runs the town. And that the “Good Thief” was its nemesis.

o   If the Beast was able to have them captured, it could have had them killed too. But it didn’t or couldn’t.

§  This seems to be at the root of Povo’s suspicion the beast fearing them.

·         PJP was intrigued by the mind control idea but countered with “why then are the people of the town afraid”. Maybe the mind control is limited in its capacity?

o   What she then focused on was that the creature was obviously messing with their senses.

o   She also questioned why it hadn’t killed them already. Does it only come out at midnight? Has something been stopping it? Does it not actually want to kill them?

·         Povo continued to insist it was afraid of them and their power.

·         Dr. T supported the idea of the entire town being monsters. And that it could only come out at Midnight on this specific day, which is why the entire town was scared.

·         Tekale chimed in, attempting to influence the decisions of the rest like a good little minion of deceit!

o   He suggested the creature Feasts on Fear and that it creates uncertainty through magic or alchemy.

o   It brings your wildest fears to life.

o   Has isolated the group and is manipulating their senses.

o   And is forcing the group to focus on it instead of everything else around.

·         PJP thought it an interest theory overall and agreed it might be very true right away.

·         Tekale further suggested it has multiple forms, one with vicious fangs and teeth, and the other to hide in plain sight, such as being the Thief.

·         PJP was still is unsure it was truly the Thief at all and suspected that it’s maybe just a ruse here and now.

o   This is because she didn’t think the Faceless Stalkers would attack the BBEG/the Thief they worship inside the prison.

o   She then suggested the monster could maybe possessing the Thief’s body.

·         Povo still insists its scared and that’s why its ‘imitating the thief’.

·         Tekale said fear makes the brain taste yummy ahhaha

·         Dr. T was at this point confused about who fears who.

o   He straight up accused PJP for having fallen for the monster.

o   Also said they couldn’t rule our that she might actually be the monster, or the FNG (Povo) could be.

§  They then jokingly roleplayed Povo betraying them for a little bit ahha

·         Povo called for Scott’s opinion, which Scott just responded with calling himself dumb and saying he has no idea hahah

o   But then he supported Tekale’s idea of the monster feeding on fear saying “A monster that feeds on fear would keep a town full of monsters.”

§  Scoot has his profound moments from time to time.

·         PJP responded with confusion of having fallen for it (I don’t blame her haha)

o   Then she supported the idea that the creature existed to sow fear and confusion.

·         Scoot and PJP further went in on the Possession and/or Change Shape options.

·         There was some casual mention of my cruelty for having done all of this ahha

·         Dr. T wondered if it’s shape or form might appear different to each individual.

·         PJP and Tekale both locked into Shapeshifting and Controlling the population through fear.

o   Tekale insisting it has a ferocious true form to justify the “monster” aspects of its nature.

·         After all this, PJP is still stuck on the liminality idea at Midnight, and Povo is still stuck on the Creature fearing the party.

o   Tekale does not support it being afraid. After all they were all beaten by a group of old ladies and taken by the town guard.

o   Povo counters with the old ladies actually being a Witch Coven, and suggests the party was easy on the guards.

·         Dr. T recalls the obsession with the number 13 now while in the Jail cell.

·         Scoot now decides to reach into a pocket plane and pull out a bunch of AR15s to put the thing down in a hail of lead and smoking casings ahhahah

This is where I cut it all off and left them hanging.


You've discussed much, speculated a lot, disagreed on a few points, and agreed on a few more.

 

The majority seems to have agreed the creature has the follow features:

·         Shapeshifting or Possession abilities

·         Control through Fear and Confusion.

·         Increased Strength through Fear and Confusion

·         Power over your senses, possibly through illusion magic.

 

Other features that were considered but not overtly shot down were:

·         Ferocious beast-like claws or fangs

·         Strength and/or Weakness due to a Liminal nature.

 

Suspicions that are not a feature of the creature, but are connected through the town:

·         The entire town could be either thralls or worshipers.

·         The old ladies were maybe a coven.

·         Something, something, number 13?

 

And this is where my cruelty really comes in... We're done. You get no results for this Social Experiment here and now. You'll have to wait until Episode 120 of Encounter This! to see the results.

 

This started on January 26th. This is being recorded on March 5th. It’s been quite a ride.


Homebrew

Introduce Cam

Nickname: The Legend


·         Ability Options from Player Suspicions

o   Forced Dancing/Revelry?

o   Illusory Aura that causes the players to believe their gear is missing?

o   Aura that causes a distracting murmuring sound? A la Gibbering Mouther?

§  Maybe something crazier like when the creature is surrounded by low murmuring sounds (like a crowd, or worshiping cultists) causes it to be Concealed like under the effects of Blur.

o   Scent (Sins) Imprecise/Precise?

o   An Ability to mess with senses

o   Forces Frightened or Confused conditions? Aura or Stikes?

o   Feeds on Fear: Maybe gains a extra damage when it has its own Frightened Condition?

o   Liminal Space ideas?

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