Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oct 29: The Crawlspace Mystic

So your printer is acting up?
Believe it or not, the Crawlspace "mystic" does not have to have psychic abilities, or be a Whacko, Character Type. Call them what you will: mediums, psychic healers, houngans and mambos, witch doctors, demonoligists, Mojo dudes and gals, UFO hunters, et al; it all boils down to a serious belief in the supernatural. Many are privy to Ritual Magicks from the rule book and have a few of their own. They are the ones who live for the paranormal events that are
 going on around them.

The Character, whether star or supporting cast, regardless of Type, gets a special Perk, Nose For Hokum. This Perk allows a +1 to any Draw when detecting a possible hoax. The mystic is often the butt of the joke as often as the expert when it comes to supernatural encounters. It's really not their fault, it's session's author/GM. The joke isn't always a hoax, though, and the punchline can be fatal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oct. 28: The Crawlspace Possessed

 The Possessed is a term describing when a person's personality, their very soul, some would say, is suppressed by a psychically powerful entity from the Great Beyond. Most often it is the Infernal beings that have the wherewithal required for this, but on rare occasions the spirits of mortals can do it as well. Those ghosts that can possess the living as a rule were not the nicest people to begin with. As usual though there is not hard set of established guidelines though in the Crawlspace universe.

An incorporeal being walking around in our world is similar to someone that would take the bus to the store making his way Mars. Things on the other side are meant to be there, some serious metaphysical dynamics are going on when it does occur. It really isn't a jog in the park being a demon banished from this plane of existence. The person possessed by a spirit is not only the harbinger of gory scenes about to happen but an offense against the ways of nature. And they usually bring all of their supernatural powers with them when they come to visit.

The would-be possessor requires the cast member under spiritual attack to fail two consecutive Nerve Draws each time it can wander upon the sands of our world's hourglass. The demon, or malignant spirit, is then assigned through a random Draw (Ace= One...King =13) a certain of points. The points equal how many Draws it can make before being forced back to whence it came. While on this mortal coil, with each failed Nerve Draws the Possessed can cause among Characters, it gains an additional Draw. Once all of the available Draws have been used up, the invader returns back to the Great Beyond and re-start the possession all over again. Many times demons would just rather kill their host and call it a day before all is said and done.

Though there is no real set way of expunging the not welcomed entity, the "Exorciser(s)"of the Possessed is guaranteed one Fame card for deciding to be so. The Player though has to decide whether it is going to be used during the play session, err filming, or stored on their Resume. How a possessing spirit is exorcised from this plane is up to the GM, though he or she, should be familiar with the "Learning the Name" ritual magick, on pg 26 of the rules book.

Oct 28: The Crawlspace Goblin

Let's take the phrase "ghost, goblins, and things that go bump in the night" and work with one that rarely gets covered in supernatural tales-- the goblin.Consistency is the hobgoblin of a little mind. With that in mind, the goblins that one encounters in horror works are not the goblins that one uses for sword whetting in fantasy tales. 

These kids were messing with garden gnomes.
These are often a variety of creatures from the Great Beyond, and removed of their friendlier make-ups as spun by folklore and fairy tales. It shouldn't surprise the GM/Director that Crawlspace's Not-Ever Land is a bit more than slightly infernal in nature. As a leprechaun looking after his magical charms is a homicidal creep, so the brownie cleaning the serial killer's house only wants milk and cookies brought home from his victim's kitchen. Gremlins are not cute little koala bears that go bad when wet, they are wire-chewing, metal rending, and turbulence-making little bastards that love to hang out on planes. You don't even want to know about dwarves that take in lost princesses.

In game terms, a goblin when its near a portal to its place of dwelling, it gets two cards in all of its STATS. It always has special magical abilities that are based on the folklore around it. There is always an Achilles heel though to creature, which the scenario author or its GM can improvise, because no two goblins are the same. 

This diversity of shapes and sizes that seems to make up goblin kind(?), is unified by a sense of playfulness and frivolity. Of course their mischievousness is most often fatal to the mortals that they like to toy around with. Still one thing cannot be said about goblins is that they don't have a sense of humor.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oct 23: The Last Breath

A person dying is a person getting closer to their god(s) or a lack thereof. It is at these times that the portents of Destiny can reveal itself to that person to present to the world around him, or her. That or maybe a person should be allowed to get the last word in a discussion every once in a while.

A Character making a point at listening to another Character's dying words gets a Fame card. He might be getting a hint as well but that is dependent on the GM/Director.

Oct 23: The Crawlspace Demon

I am not sure how to put this in a not alarming way, but demons are pretty bad-ass when it comes in terms of supernatural vileness, as well as potential power. Some say, if the Great Beyond was the ocean, the younger ones would be the great white sharks, while the average would be plesiosaurs, and others would be bigger. This could very well be why the spirits of the departed are always presented in such an awful state, maybe they're the small fish swimming around a reef always hiding from demons or becoming supper. 

Beyond the oceanic metaphor, experts, Crawlspace authors and GMs, don't know much (mostly because of their personal preferences per scenario). Indeed it is important for the Character to avoid preconceptions when dealing with these most dangerous entities. Here are some norms, though each is arguable depending on to whom you are talking to: 
  • Demons are terribly ethnocentric- some are compelled by Christ to leave, some are forced into boxes by rabbis, and others require Sumerian rites to be sent away. There are probably other ways for demons of less publicized ethnics.
  • Demons are bound to some sort of cyclic calendar. This calendar may be wholly idiosyncratic, but available in some grimoire somewhere.
  • Demons can read minds, but Objectivity (see Perks, in Crawlspace Deluxe) in a confronting Character really helps.
  • A demon's name is half the key to its displacement (see the "Learning the Name" ritual magick, pg 26 in the mentioned rules book).
Now just add water...
For the supernatural investigator, that is often a Character, a number of phenomena have been recorded.

There have been numerous cases where a demon is hidden within groups of spirits at especially haunted locales. It is unknown whether this, say, haunted house is created by the demon or if it is drawn to area because of the numerous spirits. In only recently noted cases where demons have been "dispelled" from the area, haunting activity is no longer noted to date.

Some demons seem to yearn for a place in the Here and Now (cute huh?), but are somehow prohibited. There are many cases of cults performing rites to welcome, invite, or somehow summon the entity. While the local fire department and police forces are not usually equipped to handle the cases, aging priests from obscure orders and professors emeritus from nearby universities, have been able to contain the threat by all accounts recorded.  

Prepubescent children of financially-affluent divorcees have been, at least as chronicled in recent years, the targets of something known as "possessions." "Exorcists have been brought in (ironically?) from the far reaches of the world to deal these cases. Of course, it might have been a way of funding the plane tickets home for the specialists when no one else wanted them back. 

More on the Possessed later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oct 22: Ouija Boards

It is a little known fact that there are staff "witches" that are paid to bless one out every one thousand Ouija boards coming out of toy and manufacturing companies. That is at least the ones from America, the UK, most of Europe, and Russia. The Chinese ones are just pressed cardboard and a silly shaped plastic widget thrown into a box. Of course, most of the time, whenever one of these keyholes to the Other Side appear in a Crawlspace game, it'll be one of those rarities. If the Characters have any sense, when they see a Ouija board they will run like hell into the backdrop and hope to be murdered by Bigfoot or be abducted by aliens.

It is amazing how many people worry about random folks that they encounter on-line, but have no qualms about popping into chat rooms for the dead and demonic on a lark at a party. In the universe of grade B horror flix, there are as many "trolls" on the other side of a Ouija board as there is in an internet forum about upcoming superhero movies.

The GM/Director can use the Haunted House random generator to develop a random spirit or two when needed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oct 20: Haunted House Hunting in Crawlspace

Haunted houses for impromptu Crawlspace sessions are like cheese dips at parties, very popular and easy to handle, if full of potential trips to the hospital. Besides having a matrix for developing these scenarios, I avoid having to worry too much about the roles of the Characters by making them a part of a reality TV show. This way the players, err Actors can essentially be themselves or not without me having to come up with back story for them. The players have to decide their roles, or an Open Draw will decide for them.

Camera- Though everyone and his brother has a camera on their cell phones, this is the dude, or gal, that insist on carrying a shoulder-carried "professional-grade" camera on his shoulder. This better photographic quality gets to show the Talent's faces as they react to stuff that he is not filming.

Tech, flunky- This is the guy that gets to put up all the stationary cameras, run cables, fill up the van's tank, get coffee and sandwiches, etc... etc.
Tech, master- This guy, because of his mastery of owning a van, gets to run the "control" area.
Talent, big shot- This is the biggest ego, err the star of the group. Usually the one finding cold spots next to air conditioning vents and electrical spikes next to power lines.
Talent, putz- This is the guy that has his cell phone camera out. Then he always gets scared and just misses filming whatever just scared him because his cell phone camera was on him looking scared.
Talent, color- Usually known as the "psychic" or the "empath," but can be a special guest like a site historian or someone once involved with the place.

The GM/Director starts everyone back at the studio and then the team gets a call. This will be a lead to a site. The type of area depends on a Draw:
Ace- An abandoned centuries-old mansion next to a cemetery (+2 for encounters).
King- The site of a murder or an fatal accident (+3 for encounters).
Queen-Jack- An old house with a well established family living there (+1 for encounters). 
Ten-Seven- An old hospital or a farm with a large house and stables and a barn (picturesque but no bonus).
Six-Three- An apartment complex, motel, restaurant, or a strip-mall
Deuce- A store or a fast food joint.
Joker- Draw again for locale but guaranteed encounters.

Once the gang is at the scene, the GM Draws for possible encounters:
King-Ten- Nothing
Nine-Four- An encounter that can be explained through regular means, but who wants to do that?
Three- Black card equals one encounter. Red card equals two encounters

Ace- Hearts equal a near complete apparition needing a favor, but it cannot speak directly. Clubs comes to wailing noises leading to clues to a murder. Diamonds moving items protecting hidden moneys. Spades an evil entity looking to kill someone or somebodies. 
Joker- A random Ace and two other cards. 

Types of Spirits encountered can determined according to the "Spirit Combat" rule on page 25 of the Crawlspace Deluxe rule book. A crafty Director can color things with another draw:
Three-Ten- An indigent Indignant ghost.
Queen-King- A Resident ghost that is easily researched and identifiable.
Ace- "The Infernal," see page 29 of the rule book.

Deuce- The Infernal posing as another kind of spirit.
Joker- A spirit that was killed by one of Characters playing in the session.

The impromptu plot can last for as many Drawn encounters as needed to make the night a complete session. Heck, I've had one that never saw a chair move, but the players kept things going for six hours. A haunted house or a haunted area can be very specific as well, but that varies from site to site. More on that later.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oct 19: The Crawlspace Witch

93.3% of all witches are female through ancient, powerful, and inexplicably sexist metaphysics. Technically speaking, only the Draw of Joker will allow a GM/Director to fashion a warlock. Any Character can have the spells and ability listed in pages 24-27of Crawlspace Deluxe, but the Witch has kind of moved beyond the book. These ladies, and the very rare dude, do not have to learn the supernatural abilities of the Hidden World. Around puberty for these individuals the abilities start to manifest themselves-- This is almost always at very socially awkward times, like in Phys Ed class.

 Actors can be cast as a witch for a game, err filming session. This can be determined as a Whacko character would be. They earn Fame cards for making up to two of their own "spells." One of these Fame cards can be appointed to the Character's Charm STAT for the session.

This creature's preternatural aspect makes liking her awfully hard for most people. When Characters first encounter one, there is an Open Draw, only the person with the card closest to the witch's Charm STAT will not be repulsed by them. Of course the Character that Draws the same exact card, hates her beyond reason, though usually the actor is encouraged to make up many reasons. In game play, this means Characters not liking the witch are at a -1 on any Draw when she is around.

It isn't a leap of logic to conclude that making long-term friends and dating tends to be very challenging for the witch. This is most likely why secret covens like to pop up when witches do meet one another. There tends to be a lot of fuss among witches when they finally encounter a warlock. Most of the time though, a witch tends to bump into supernatural entities which become her "friends" of sorts.

Notice the orb?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oct 18: Pitchfork Pictures

One of the main producers of the horror films that Crawlspace would-be stars find themselves living through (err acting in) is Pitchfork Pictures. This esteemed motion picture producer started in 1957 out as an English-speaking outlet for Radio Television Luxembourg Channel 17. When televised productions of Moliere and Euripides didn't bring in the expected audience counts, they decided to go Gothic horror. Despite being reputed for being lurid and exploitative, the firm has been around since.

The ever popular Count Vulgarr, the vampire known for being prettier than his victims, has had some seven scenarios (err films) . These films are known for being some inconsistent in the rules relating to the undead, but consistent in their effective use of camp and a bit of flesh to keep the crowds coming in.

When Crawlspace Characters are in a Pitchfork Picture production he or she will receive a Fame card for every three sequences that the actor works in somehow showing a bit flesh. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Oct 15: The Crawlspace Ghoul

You might not know this, but most ghouls have never even met a vampire. And while creepy sorts with ghoulish outlooks like to serve those guys, ghouls themselves aren't into eating bugs. They're into meatier stuff than insects and worms-- You know, like arms and legs. Having died and clawed their way out of their coffins also tends to make them not very photogenic, so answering the door when UPS shows up for a sleeping Nosferatu is very rarely in their job description.

Ghouls are folks that have reawakened after death and know only one thing, human flesh is delicious. This can happen because a curse that someone else cast upon them before their deaths. It can be karma for horrible deeds done in life by them. For some individuals, it can be sort of a family inheritance, say a hold-over from when Great-Great Grandmother consorted with devils to win a beauty pageant. 

As mentioned earlier, ghouls love human flesh. Not only do they like it, they need it. Eating corpses holds a ghoul together. The hungrier that one is, the more it decomposes. The fresher the flesh consumed, the more it does for them. When they are able to get sustenance from a living person, wounds heal and decomposition reverses, much of their living personality returns as well. Also as the body-eaters eat a corpse's brain he learns some of things that the meal knew in life. In Game terms, this means most ghouls have a whole lot of Perks.

Ghouls are hard to be around. Some sort of natural revulsion occurs when the still living sees one of the reawakened, no matter what kind of shape they are in. When the creature is almost human, every Character must make a Nerve Draw at 4. The hungrier it is, the more horrifying it becomes, so the GM should adjust the Draw likewise.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oct 14: The Crawlspace Werewolf

 Werewolves can be easily the most fun creature in any Crawlspace session, at least for the GM (err, writer-director) that is. Dude, or gal, turns into a ravenous beast with super-strength and speed, accompanied by wolf senses as well as sensibilities; then he gets to run around killing cast members. If all goes well, a couple of the Characters will kill it for the climax of the plot. 

Moonlight can cause all sufferers of cinematic lycanthropy to change into their wolf form. The more moonlight the smaller the chance of the afflicted making a Draw on Nerve to avoid the transformation  (Quarter moon, draw at 5; Half moon draw at 4; Waxing and Waning moons draw at 2; Full moon only a Joker). For certain individuals, their temper may trigger the change at any given time. 

Depending on the age of the werewolf, meaning how many flicks has it appeared in, it gets that many extra cards which is added to first its Physical STAT when in wolf form. It can only make Mental Draws at 1 though. When in human form, the Character gets a second card on the Charm STAT. In either form, the creature has the Is It the Sequel Yet no matter how many time it is killed, untill silver is used to kill it.

 The Stray
This variation of werewolf, retains its bipedal ambulation but can lope on all fours as needed. It also can make Mental draws at 2.

The Purebred 
 This sort of werewolf can turn at any time. It cannot not turn on a full moon. In its human form, it has an extra Charm STAT, but all Luck Draws are at -1. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oct. 9: The Libri Horrendus

The Horrendus Libri is said to have been written around 219 AD by the Mad Episcopal Lucas Of Antioch. While the other prophets of his time were arguing what was the true faith that would enlighten mankind in the Third century, Lucas was searching for more ancient truths. A prophet of the Arian faith, he wasn't happy, nor satisfied with the growing influence of the Nicene Christian or Catholic faiths of the world around him. Being fluent in Latin, the monk transcribed his native proto-Slavic language into a cypher where he could write down the mysteries that he solved. Delving past cryptic tenets of Judaism and eldritch pagan scripture, he unlocked horrible secrets. These secrets, more often than not, are best left forgotten, if not just left well enough unknown. Lucas is said to have lived until 999AD before a company of crusading knights stored his small castle, known as the Black Tower, and decapitated him. Later they burned his corpse to ensure that he could not somehow return. His written works lived on in the darker realms of occult study and the halls of under-funded academia.

It is also said that the man was able to cast sorcery or more specifically "grave-spawned magics of horrifying consequences" (according to Phillipus of Nicodemus IX) upon those that encountered him. Supposedly he lived on an island where the bodies of the dead buried there served him and acted as his body guards. It is believed that he is also the founder of many Satanic cults across all of the known world. During the legendary nearly eight hundred years of his life, it is said six copies of the unholy manuscript were completed. With the advent of the printing press, some twenty-two more issues of the dark work, entitled D' Libre Horribles, were reportedly cranked out-- a lot is said to have been edited out in these later works. 

This book, Le Libri Horrendus is at a glance a book full of gruesome and grotesque drawings, written in a secret code, with geometrical patterns that do not make sense. But for those that somehow get it, amazing supernatural abilities are just around the corner. In game terms, the Character can learn magical spells from reading it with a Mental Draw at 1, but suffer a -1 modifier on every Charm check per reading for that session.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Oct 5: The Crawlspace Ghost

It seems that ghosts, sometimes called "paranormal entities" by folks trying to sound scientific, require psychic energy from the living to still affect the solid world of the living. Hence the reason that they like scaring people all the time. In game terms, that means anytime a Character fails a Nerve Draw, the encountered spirit gains a card for a STAT that it can use throughout the session. If during the course of a game a ghost can possess the body of a living Character in a battle of Mental STATS, two victories on Mental Draws versus the target's successive failures. The possessed Character will remain so until a Luck at 1 Draw is made or until sunlight touches him.

More broadly, when it comes to the issue of individuals passed on into an afterlife, the producers of Crawlspace, like everybody else in the world, can only guess on the matter. In game terms, that means that the author/GM is free to ignore any suggestions here-- ghost story crafting is a very personal art. But that doesn't stop us from forming opinions and making generalizations about it anyway. One rule of thumb seems to be that it is better to be alive than dead. This is probably why all "manifestations" look so awful when the viewing see them. Assembled here are some categories somewhat agreed upon by various paranormal investigators (well script-writers, really).

The Newly Arrived
Most often this out of body consciousness has recently died and is unaware that it has died. It actually may have died sometime ago. These may include cast members as well, if the GM is clever enough to incorporate them into the story-- the Director should note, this sort of movie is only clever for one watching by the audience.

 This ghost realizes that it has moved on from the mortal coil, but has no idea, or inclination, to go anywhere else. Quit often they stick to areas where their family's bloodline is strong. Some like to act as guardian angels, others want to find a newborn to slip into and be reborn.

 This spirit is most likely tied to a locale, but more importantly to the event of its death. They tend to be the strongest encountered and have an agenda. Of course this agenda can't be communicated directly, so to things are going to go convoluted quickly, is usually an understatement.

Often called a poltergeist, sometimes something much more than that. This displaced soul is usually a harbinger of ill times about to occur. Whether it is bringing them or not is not exactly decided. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Oct 4: The Crawlspace Fortune Teller

Whether some Gypsy, the tea-leaf reader, an over-opiniated aunt, or that semi-employed uncle with a few too many beers under his belt, this encounter is more than just a little unsettling even in the friendliest of situations. This supporting Character thinks they know something that the starring cast doesn't. He is almost always wanting to share an opinion as unsolicited advice. While the optimistic might view premonitions as an edge in a game session, the wise should really just know better. 

If the fortune teller can draw closer to her Mental than the customer can draw to his own NERVE, she has gotten under that protagonist's skin. One doesn't just shake it off when a prognosticator does that. For three Scenes of the following game session, the Character is at a -1 on any Draw. These scenes are not necessarily consequential, though they are not entirely arbitrary.  When a fortune teller is able to read a Character, the GM will draw a card and make note of the suits color-- only the color, nothing else. During play, every scene that comes up, the GM will draw a card, that card is the same color, the Character with his fortune having been read will be unnerved. Good GMs will narrate a flashback to ensure that audience is truly feeling it.

The fortune told is not always a bad thing though. If the Character survives all three Scenes, three Fame cards are awarded. Depending on the session, this can turn things around for the rather cursed Character.