Monday, 22 April 2013

Ebon Eaves: Chapter I

Our first session by Hangout lasted about three hours. Details of the town are in the Prelude post.

  • +Paul plays Father Aaron, a Devout. He is a Presbyterian priest, sent to Ebon Eaves for being difficult and asking too many questions. He wears formal vestments, has an open face with bright eyes, and is of slim build.
  • +Annette plays Amy Hearst, a Librarian. She's recently come to the town of Ebon Eaves to open a new library. She wears formal garments, has an open face with clever eyes, and has a lithe frame.

Sunday

Amy's staying at the Partridge Boarding House, run single-handedly by the aging Mrs. Partridge, and home only to Amy and an unsociable old woman with dark eyes and milky-white skin. It's a Sunday, and despite not being particularly religious, Amy decides to bike to the church to hear Father Aaron's first sermon. It's foggy, but many other people are headed in the same direction.


After the sermon, Father Aaron greets his new parishioners at the door, including Mayor Wilson and his large extended family. Johnny Wilson, the mayor's twelve-year-old son, saw the ghost of Old Pope Manley at the Manley Manor a few weeks back. He asks the preacher how to deal with ghosts, but Father Aaron tells him there's no need, as they don't exist. The boy looks dubious. Aaron and Amy exchange a few words, and part ways. Amy decides to go for a bicycle ride along the stream, and after finishing his duties Father Aaron heads to the local tavern to seek some lunch.

A man on a ladder is repairing some of the lights out the front of the inn. A table of farm-hands quiets down as the priest enters, and talk softly among themselves. Father Aaron joins Julian Marlow, a dour, leathery old man sitting in the corner. Marlow seems unimpressed by all the talk of ghosts.

Riding along the road following the stream through town, Amy is waved down by an enthusiastic young lady, Marjory Debnam, a murder mystery enthusiast who recognises her as the new librarian. They discuss the haunting at Manley Manor, and decide to go up there to take a look in the light of day while providing moral support for each other. Marjory is reluctant to get too close to the eerie old boarded up house, but Amy pokes around a bit. She goes as far as the front porch, where she finds a piece of recently-cut copper wire. She tries to find out if there's a hidden wire connecting the house to the town's power supply, but instead from a certain point near the house she hears a hum which she theorises might be caused by a generator. Unfortunately the narrow window into the cellar is grimy, and she can't make out anything in the darkness beyond. As Marjory's courage is starting to evaporate, they return to town.

After the afternoon service, Father Aaron also decides to take a look at the Manley place. Around the back, he finds a reasonably new lid from a gasoline can lying among the leaf litter. Intrigued, he returns to town, deciding to see if he can find any records or historical accounts at the library when it opens tomorrow morning.

Monday

Amy is up bright and early; not even strange old ladies and cold fog can dampen her enthusiasm, for today is the day she opens her library! It's not a separate building in its own right, but a repurposed side-room of the Town Hall, now full of shelves, tables, and books. There are also some locked filing cabinets of council records that have been moved in here to free up space in the offices. Marjory stops by and brings some morning tea. Father Aaron also visits, and together he and Amy search the shelves for some accounts of local events.

They find a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings, which started about nine years ago, covering a series of disappearances. At first they were seen as individual cases, but soon the reporter was treating them as related events. Overall six men disappeared from the town; about half turned up dead, and the other half remained unsolved. Pope Manley, of Manley Manor, was one of the missing men. There were also news articles covering the class action of Rain vs. the U.S. which led to a large compensation payout for the victims of illegal government experiments in the town.

Father Aaron and Amy decide to check out the Manley Manor at dusk, to see if they can witness the lights. From the town, the mansion is concealed by thick trees, so they have to head up the driveway to take a closer look. In the gathering gloom, some of the lights are flickering on and off, sending silent beams across the clearing from between the boards nailed over the windows. They try the front door, but it's been nailed shut. They try the back door, but Father Aaron receives a nasty jolt from the metal handle that throws him backwards! He also learns that this door is locked.

They consider their options for entering the house - levering open the front door, bypassing the booby-trapped back door, or squeezing through the narrow window into the basement...



The first session started pretty slowly, which I was expecting, but I found it a little frustrating as a Keeper to try and figure out how to make Keeper Moves straight off the bat. I didn't want to jump out and yell "look weird stuff!" right away, but at the same time needed to prompt the players towards the mystery. I guess in the end I tried to do a little foreshadowing and announcing trouble until the players started asking questions.

Part of the problem, I think, was that most of my prep work was to do with those involved in conspiracies, who are not likely to be the most forthcoming about their motivations. I floundered a little trying to come up with a good way to ease into things, and eventually introduced a couple of improvised NPCs to talk about the weirdness with.

Once the PCs started poking about the haunted house, though, things really picked up and I felt the game mechanics engaging. Having re-read the introductory player info, I just need to keep in mind things like the generally weird behaviour of the townsfolk, and think of some ways to weave important NPCs into the PCs' life.

>>> Chapter II