Every year, I put together a Halloween-themed RPG scenario to run sometime around the holiday. One year, my SAGA System scenario involved pumpkins used as gestation vessels for a new race of malevolent humanoids, featuring blood-filled pumpkins with teeth and bones caught up in their stringy innards. This year, the theme is good old-fashioned Samhain, the Celtic harvest festival.
I’ll say no more about it here, as I haven’t run this year’s session yet—that’ll happen on Thursday—and I don’t want to spoil things for my players.
If you want to read my rough scenario notes, though, you can. I’m offering them up here as a free 15-page PDF, complete with pre-generated characters to play with. My hope is that you’ll find some fun use for these notes, or even run the scenario yourself. This hasn’t been playtested yet, but I’ll offer up actual-play notes after I’ve run my session, if you’re interested.
It’s a pretty straightforward one-shot adventure using the GUMSHOE game system from Fear Itself. If you have The Esoterrorists or Trail of Cthulhu, though, you can probably still make this scenario go—the ability lists and mythologies are different, but the core GUMSHOE rules are much the same. You can probably get by. (I should point out that, as of this writing, you can get Fear Itself via the Doctors Without Borders bundle at RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.)
These notes are not everything I would put into this document if I were to offer this up for sale; it’s a rough draft at best. I don’t ordinarily make notes this robust for my own game sessions, though—I improvise a lot from an established situation—but I wrote in some detail to try and get some ideas across to you. (I’d add lots more to this to make it sing, if I had the time for that.)
Obviously, if you expect to play in this scenario at some point, you shouldn’t read these notes.
The comments section on this post is open for people who have read the scenario and want to comment on it, so:
The vibe I was after was something vaguely Hellboy-like, with supernatural monsters and a dose of folklore working together to create a spooky but not necessarily terrifying atmosphere. (In actual play, I expect to dial up the spookiness.) I’d be fine if my players imagined things in this scenario as drawn by Mike Mignola or Duncan Fegredo.
I drew most of my folklore for the scenario from a couple of books in my home library, but you could do worse than to read these Wikipedia entries before play: Samhain, Fomorian, broch, banshee, the Dagda, the Morrigan.
If I had more time, I’d include more details on the look and feel of the made-up island of Erin’s Point. When I run the game, I’ll be drawing on memories of the Orkney Islands and Iceland to create the North Atlantic weather, the windswept and grassy fields, and the vibe of the nighttime village, all but abandoned.
Finally, the title. I had half a dozen other titles, but I felt they gave too much away, so I went with “Harvest Night.” It’s okay.
If you either run this scenario, or are inspired to run something else after reading it, I’d love to hear from you. Drop a comment here if you like.
Here’s the PDF file: Harvest_Night-10-23-10