I ran a custom designed one shot at Gen Con. Despite the convention originally scheduling my table in a private room we had to relocate but that was ok because we found a room that was completely unoccupied. It ran over by about an hour and even then it was amazing! My experiences with this game have been odd to say the least. I set the game in a real small town out in the middle of nowhere in Utah… a random player in the game that moved into my room to find space ended up having family from that town. He expressed surprise that anyone would have any interest in the town. I couldn’t help myself. The deeper I dug into the town the better a setting it was so I had to. After relocating I found that my players were all somewhat experienced in the game and it ended up being one of the best sessions I’ve ever run. Sorry… I had to share.
Could you please provide more scenario details?
Absolutely, I wasn’t sure how much people would actually care to read.
Each of the player characters were custom built high school students. I have made 6 for the players to choose from but the three we ended up with were the band geek (custom archtype), the academic, the artist and the seeker. The setting was literally based off of the headlines I found going on in and around the town that I chose. Because the town is small the school there only goes up to fourth grade so they are forced to take a 45 minute bus ride to a town north of it. There is a small monarch butterfly sanctuary in the northern town that was created by a volunteer and a teacher but because it is the summer they have to get volunteers to maintain it. Each of the kids was given a reason for why they were being forced to do community service/summer school in July. The academic was there acting as a tutor to pad his resume for college. The artist was there because she had struggled to maintain focus while in class and her grades had required it. The seeker had simply skipped to many classes and was attending summer school to receive enough credit to graduate. And finally the band geek was making up for time she had missed because of an illness during the school year. After allowing the players to determine what relationship they had with each of the other characters and then we began. The scenario is designed around themes of growth and hidden mystery so I start that by allowing them a chance to rp a little at the monarch sanctuary and then they all have to take the bus back to town. The bus driver is a cantankerous ■■■ who resents having to transport the children. As there are only two roads that lead back to town and the highway is under construction he is forced to take a mountain road. Naturally the bus hits something and the driver gets out to investigate, leaving the teens on the hot bus for as long as they decide to hang out. I play up the heat (the town is in Utah and in July Utah is usually in the 90s at least) if they don’t climb out to investigate when the bus driver is gone for a while. I planned out several different routes and possibilities that eventually end with them travelling through the mountainside. The fun thing about the town I chose is that there is an abandoned metal refinery nearby that has all kinds of graffiti on it. I should add I’ve got pictures from the refinery, the town, the graffiti (of which there is some really fun mystical sounding stuff) and I provide pictures for each of the characters to get into the mood. I pepper the journey through the wild with subtle hints things aren’t quite right and once they reach the refinery I begin to double down. They find an unlit bonfire at the refinery and they begin to experience things that are even more overtly not right. Hallucinating, interacting with things and people that aren’t really there etc. What the characters don’t know is that the local church (A LDS church) that basically runs the town is a cult that mistakenly worships a Hashmallim. The teens have been lead to the refinery to act as sacrifices to help the leaders of the church break the veil and obtain the godhood that the Hashmallim promised them. Of course this isn’t destined to end well for either the teens or the town but no one is aware of this. The characters in my group managed to get as far as the refinery and they even started to break the veil and discover some of the mystery but when the cultists started acting for real they ended up being picked off one by one. It was quite the ride for everyone though I can’t do it justice without sharing my branching plan. I’m actually thinking about writing it out in a more organized way so I can share it with others.