1d12 Mundane Things Accidentally Captured By Trail Cams.

Sometimes they get an awesome pic of a completely normal phenomenon. Roll 1d12 and consult the table below. (Yes I know MotW doesn’t use d12s. BUT I DO!)
Rural Outdoor Night-time phenomena:

Many paranormal investigators use trail cameras and other sensor data when tracking the supernatural.

Sometimes they get an awesome pic of a completely normal phenomenon. Roll 1d12 and consult the table below. (Yes I know MotW doesn’t use d12s. BUT I DO!)
Rural Outdoor Night-time phenomena:

  1. Owl.
  2. Plastic bag blowing in the wind.
  3. Deer.
  4. Cat- House cat.
  5. Raccoons.
  6. Dog.
  7. Cat- Large (Mountain lion, Lynx, etc)
  8. Ducks/geese.
  9. Human(s.)
  10. Party balloon.
  11. Bats.
  12. Insects in front of the camera/sensor
Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com

Mundane Plus +

Sometimes night time trail cameras and other motion sensitive devices pick up things that shouldn’t necessarily be there. In other words, something paranormal or otherworldly. Roll on the above table for the Mundane and then Roll 1d12:

  1. Apparition: Partial. Humanoid figure.
  2. Dark haired human woman in a white dress, beckoning the camera.
  3. Orb: Ball of light floating above the mundane. About the size of a basketball.
  4. Black eyed child. Looks right at the camera.
  5. Tall, dark, gaunt, shadowy outline of a humanoid.
  6. Extraterrestrial being: Gray. Seems curious.
  7. Apparition: Full. Humanoid figure in period garb. Can see through it.
  8. Hunched, dark silhouette of a humanoid. Possibly devil or demon.
  9. Extraterrestrial being: Other. Reptilian, Mantid, or other. Keeper’s choice.
  10. UFO. Obvious craft overhead.
  11. 12′ tall being similar to Sirenhead. Only no one heard anything.
  12. One of the Men in Black. Investigators can expect a visit soon.
Photo by Emir Anu0131k on Pexels.com

Thank you for stopping by. Hope these tables come in handy when things get quiet at the table. I appreciate you!

Tales of the DsM RVS for MotW RPG Part 4. Dead Wood and Dim Skies Over Des Moines.

3:00 AM did not disappoint. The trap cams at both locations went haywire. We have video footage from the cemetery of all sorts of movement and shapes. It’s like someone conjured every ghost in the place. The chainsaw carver’s booth was just as active, but our owl friend was blocking one cam and the other two were cut mysteriously. Hopefully the trail cams captured something.

When last we left our heroes Dan had talked Brenda into loaning out her van for the night and Tom had to work.

Sounds anticlimactic, we know. Chasing ghosts and Illuminated Cultists isn’t always about massive (propane) explosions and the good guys always coming out on top, as you’ll soon see. –Narrator.

Disclaimer: People and events depicted herein are fictitious and intended for entertainment use only. Any similarity to persons living or deceased is unintentional. There is no Des Moines Remote Viewing Society. This is a work of fiction. No one was harmed in the making of this blog.

Brenda’s Notes:

Dan and I had a very pleasant evening together in my van doing the surveillance on the Fairgrounds Cemetery. We spent the first half of the night napping instead of enjoying the Fair or anything else. We set the system to wake us up if anything significant happened. We all know the juicy stuff usually happens around 3:00 anyway.

Around midnight the trap cams at the carver’s booth went off and surveillance cams showed Julie apparently leaving late with someone. A little while later, an owl flew in front of one of the cameras. A little strange, but not necessarily paranormal.

At around 1:00 our system went bananas with activity in the cemetery. One of the mausoleums opened up and two small, red orbs floated out of it. Our cemetery trap cams went haywire. The orbs flew up near Camera 3 and suddenly our whole system failed. Dan and I have seen this phenomenon before around other paranormal events.

Against my advice that wingnut Dan went out into the cemetery with a GoPro and his phone to try to capture something. Before he even made it over the fence he was greeted with what can only be described as a yellow firework, as if someone shot off a large Roman candle and it just kept going. Whatever this thing was drained the batteries on Dan’s phone and the GoPro, chasing him back into the van. It hovered by the back door before circling the van twice and vanishing.


The electronics came back on a short time later. It didn’t stay quiet for long. Audio activity at the cemetery went absolutely crazy at 2:38 AM
. There were a lot of unnatural shrieks, murmurs and even some unearthly moaning. You just can’t make this stuff up sometimes.

I started getting another stupid nosebleed shortly after we heard the audio get intense. A voice in my head started trying to compel me to drive away. Lucky for us I’ve actually trained for moments like those. I was able to shield myself from any further contact for the rest of the night.

I think poor Dan thought I abandoned him, though. He kept asking if I was okay. I tried to explain I had to maintain a semi-trance state to keep the bad voices away. Not sure he believed me. He’ll learn.
— Brenda Hart.

Dan’s notes after 2:45 AM.
Screenshot from Fresno Nightcrawlers video for reference.

We had some pretty intense EVP activity around 2:30 AM and then Bren caught a nosebleed. She told me someone was trying to get in, so I locked the doors. I left one GoPro running up front and grabbed the other one in case something showed up at the back window. When I came back, Bren was zoned out in la-la land somewhere.

She mumbled something at me a couple of times. I figured she was doing RV or preventing someone from viewing us. Whatever it was, she left me alone for the rest of the night. Darn shame, too. I was enjoying her company.

3:00 AM did not disappoint. The trap cams at both locations went haywire. We have video footage from the cemetery of all sorts of movement and shapes. It’s like someone conjured every ghost in the place. The chainsaw carver’s booth was just as active, but our owl friend was blocking one cam and the other two were cut mysteriously. Hopefully the trail cams captured something.

Then the real excitement started when Herky the wooden pummeling Hawkeye showed up. This time he came straight at the back door, but I was ready for him. I unpacked my flamethrower and popped it on right before he got to the van. The fire discouraged him long enough for me to climb out of the van and run him down.

I have a very good video of me chasing the mascot down and beating him with an axe. I beat him down on the sidewalk. As we suspected, it was made completely of wood. I felt like I was being watched, so I climbed back in the van, turned off the fire and went back to the cameras.

What happened next defies logic. A couple of what are referred to as “Night Crawlers” wandered through the cemetery for about three minutes before disappearing into the direction of the Fairgrounds. They literally look like a pair of white pants walking on their own. Not sure what that’s about. Cryptids aside, we’ve got all kinds of other blips and ghostly images. We have a ton of footage to put up on the site and the YouTube channel when we’re done.

The next morning, I went to grab the remains of Herky, but they were gone. No ashes, just signs of where the struggle occurred and some wood chips. We decided to break camp before the cops came along and noticed the scorch marks behind the van. They always have all those pesky questions about, “what are you doing here?” and “Why are there scorch marks on the ground?”

Sleep and checking on my windshield are on the agenda before we do anything else. We’re going to go retrieve the gear from the carvers–Dan.

The next day local news stations broke a story about a large vulture seen perched on several local rooftops. Fairgrounds security reported “heavy fireworks activity” around the cemetery. There was also a national news piece about a crop circle formation in Northwest Iowa that had poor Tom freaking out.

He had three more nights at work before he could really go investigate. All Tom could do until then was review the footage from two nights prior and work on the website. Meanwhile he was going crazy watching MUFON feeds and talking to his friends in the organization. There have been sightings all over Iowa in the last week or two.

Finally, Tom got a call from the guy we call, “Big Lou.” His online name is BigLou42. He’s been around Dan and Brenda one way or another for years. He may have multiple avatars on multiple message boards/social media networks. We’re pretty sure he works for the government. Tom usually drives him nuts.

Lewis told Tom, “We’re watching you guys. You’re close to some things ‘They’ would prefer not get out.” He went onto mention, “Oh, and that website you’re building- don’t. You’re going to get visitors on your doorstep you don’t want to talk to.”

More next time. Thanks for being here!

Tales of the DsM RVS for MotW RPG. Part 3.

Dan has suggested we take my van tonight while his is being worked on. We know the trap cams at both stakeout sites were exceptionally active last night. I suspect our other cam footage will be revealing once we’ve had time to review it. Tom also noticed a spike in EVP and some other audio activity last night in the graveyard.

AKA Dan and Brenda’s wild night at the Iowa State Fair.

From Brenda’s notes:

We secured permission from Sutton to set up trap cams and take video from the chainsaw carving booth, specifically the vending area under the guise of trying to catch whoever stole the Cy and Herky Statues. Dan was left to monitor the whole affair.

Julie, one of Sutton’s assistants didn’t seem too happy about us poking around. Not sure what her issue was exactly. Thought I smelled something near the cash register that wasn’t sawdust. Reminded me a little of ritual incense.

Tom has to work tonight. He’s out of vacation for a while. I guess someone has to stock shelves. He was super helpful last night with everything that happened. He took care of me when I blacked out.

Dan has suggested we take my van tonight while his is being worked on. We know the trap cams at both stakeout sites were exceptionally active last night. I suspect our other cam footage will be revealing once we’ve had time to review it. Tom also noticed a spike in EVP and some other audio activity last night in the graveyard.

Dan has also asked for a remote viewing of either area. Of course he doesn’t understand the process or my abilities. After last night’s hemorrhaging from my nose, I’m not sure that’s a good plan. –Brenda Hart.

Built to accommodate Brenda’s Wheelchair.
Much more comfortable than Dan’s heavily damaged cargo van.

Dan was noticeably upset about the damage to the driver’s side of the van and the smashed glass. At least the front windshield remained intact well enough to get it to the shop. They stopped long enough to transfer all of the gear into Brenda’s shiny red van. It was considerably more conspicuous than Dan’s white Ford Cargo Van, but much more comfortable.

Dan also had patches of missing time, the same thing Tom experienced the night before. Neither man could explain what had happened within close proximity to the carver’s tents. Sutton’s assistants stayed extra late after closing, however. It was beginning to look like they might be minimally involved.

Dan and Tom had begun construction on a new website and it looked as if the group was going to need it soon. Brenda and Dan glanced through the cemetery trap cam footage to see what they had missed. Not only had the cameras caught a group of teenagers sneaking around the graveyard in the dark, but several blurry images of human figures at different locations.

By the time the crew had rested and reassembled, it was late in the evening. Tom had just enough time to reset all of the cemetery cameras before going to work. Dan went back to visit A.J. Sutton again and obtained permission to renew their stakeout there.

A new statue had disappeared during the night, much to everyone’s dismay. This time it was Billy the Buzzard, a mascot for a local restaurant. The lawn gnome Dan and Brenda had been monitoring specifically had been picked up early, shortly after the Fair opened, according to Julie.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Meanwhile, in a Northwest Iowa Cornfield, a large crop circle was discovered by a pair of local kids out joyriding in a tractor.

More on that next time.

Tales of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society.

This is night number two of the fairgrounds case with the missing chainsaw carver statues. We’re going back today to see if we can set up trap cams after they shut the booth down for the night. The footage from last night is pretty compelling stuff. Dan and I believe Tom may have gotten distracted while on duty.

Case 2. Dead Wood in Des Moines.

From the Journal of Brenda Hart, Secretary/Treasurer of the DsMRMVS.

Wanted to jot down some findings on our first two “cases.” I had to remind the boys that we’re not detectives and we’re not getting paid for any of this yet. I don’t think any of us are doing this for profit. More for truth, justice and disclosure.

This is night number two of the fairgrounds case with the missing chainsaw carver statues. We’re going back today to see if we can set up trap cams after they shut the booth down for the night. The footage from last night is pretty compelling stuff. Dan and I believe Tom may have gotten distracted while on duty.

Dan is replacing Tom on the fairgrounds stake out. We’re also rearranging some of the cams from the cemetery to the fairgrounds and vice versa. The cemetery has been a huge bust so far with some minor electromagnetic phenomena and a few notable EVPs. It will be exciting watching both locations from the van as long as Dan doesn’t get arrested.

Additional note from Dan about night number two:

Re: Cemetery next to the fairgrounds- we’ve gotten a few significant EVPs and a few electromagnetic hits, but no sightings or other activities. It’s Tuesday of the Fair and we’re hoping activity will pick up soon.

I’m swapping out with Tom on the stake out of the Chainsaw Carver’s booth. We got permission to put up trap cams under the guise of trying to catch the thieves. Noticed Sutton’s sales assistant, Julie, is big into Wicca. Could there be a connection?

Additional note: Someone removed all of the locks from the mausoleums in the cemetery today. Not sure who it is. His back was to the cameras in every shot. It’s kinda creepy and strange, but so far no other activity to report. Tom and Brenda are going to have their hands full tonight in the van with both sets of cameras reporting in constantly. Doubt we’re getting a lot of sleep.

The next morning, Dan returned to his van, the monitoring center for the operation. Both the driver’s and passenger’s side windows had been smashed with considerable force. There were fist sized dents down the passenger’s side. Brenda and Tom were huddled in the back with rear doors bound tight. Somehow the equipment kept recording.

Tom and Brenda were pretty shaken by what had transpired during the night. It was if two entities wanted into the van. Tom described a wooden fist going through the driver’s side window. Brenda went into shock and needed medical attention, claiming some force wanted her to leave. Tom’s Gopro didn’t capture anything beyond the van shaking violently and windows being smashed. It really did look like a wooden fist with black feathers went through the window.

From Tom’s Journal:
Brenda and I were nearly taken out last night. At about 3:00 AM Brenda suddenly went into deep trance and began bleeding from the nose. A short time later the van started rocking and the windows up front were smashed. Had Brenda been functional, I would have stepped out to confront whoever it was. At least the cameras in the fairgrounds and the cemetery kept going. Hopefully something productive will come from this.

Dead Wood in Des Moines for Monster of the Week RPG.

That night’s stakeout of the cemetery was manned by Dan and Brenda while Tom somewhat illegally wrangled his way back into the Fair with some surveillance gear and provisions. (The cemetery investigation is detailed elsewhere.) The next morning, the entire team reviewed Tom’s bizarre, inexplicable footage

The Des Moines Remote Viewing Society picked up their second “case” much sooner than expected.

It was a dark and stormy night at the Iowa State Fair on the Monday after the fair opened. The Des Moines Remote Viewing Society snagged their second unofficial case. They were walking around the fairgrounds together discussing the cemetery case, eating funnel cakes, and not taking anything too seriously. They stumbled upon an unusual flyer on their way by the Frontier Village.

The Strange Case of AJ Sutton, Wood Carver.

The Case of the Missing Chainsaw Carvings.

The crew wandered down to the Chainsaw Artist’s booth and took in the 1:30 show. The crowd peered on as a man turned a fairly ordinary hunk of log into a statue of an old farmer wearing a straw hat and holding a corn cob pipe. The artist’s only tools were five sizes of chainsaws and his imagination.

He buzzed and grinded away for over an hour and a half, taking a few breaks for water and to talk to the crowd. The artist, AJ Sutton, said the statues just appeared to him in the wood. It was almost as if the statues wanted to make an appearance on their own. Most statues were polished and stained after the show, then given to whomever commissioned them or sold at the Woodcutter’s Tent.

Birds, wolves, cats, as well as school mascots like Cy the Cyclone and Herky the Hawkeye were popular. The statues usually sold for around $65.00 or more.

After the show, Dan and Brenda talked to AJ backstage while Tom poked around the scene of the crime under the pretense of buying a statue. The empty bases of where the Cy and Herky statues were on display remained intact, almost as if the statues had walked off on their own.

“It happens almost every year.” AJ explained.

“Usually it’s just some college kids playing a prank,” he continued. “Watch. They’ll turn up trying to milk the Butter Cow in a photo later or magically show up at a concert on the last night of the Fair. Happens almost every year.”

Tom discovered one anomaly that didn’t make a lot of sense. Usually the statues were stolen with their bases. The statues weren’t balanced well enough by themselves to stand on their own. Yet there was no sawdust on the grassy ground near the scene. Tina, the girl in charge of selling the statues said there had never been an incident where the bases were left behind before. There was bare wood under where the mascots had been posed.

Further investigation revealed one of the Fair sanitation workers had seen two “young kids in what looked like mascot costumes” running away from the scene.

Dan’s “command center,” a 2012 Dodge Caravan loaded up with cameras and electronics for the cemetery stake out was pressed into service as soon as the group rounded out their day. A quick Internet search revealed several pranks from years past as AJ had described them. In every photo, the statues were still on bases and many appeared to be heavy enough to require two or more people to move them.

That night’s stakeout of the cemetery was manned by Dan and Brenda while Tom somewhat illegally wrangled his way back into the Fair with some surveillance gear and provisions. (The cemetery investigation is detailed elsewhere.) The next morning, the entire team reviewed Tom’s bizarre, inexplicable footage.

No obvious signs of tampering. The camera aimed into the statuary sales area turned itself off and on three times during the night.

It got freakier from there. A lawn gnome and the farmer in the straw hat appeared to move around the area random during the night. Each time they moved, they reappeared in different poses. Each time they moved, they were still on their bases in a different pose!

Tom said he didn’t see anything strange at the time. No EVPs. Thermal was normal. He also did not notice the camera shutting down for half an hour at a time. The next morning he observed the statues back in their original places as if nothing had happened.

Closer to morning two “kids in mascot costumes” were seen climbing the fence on the University Ave side. A state trooper followed up on the report, but did not find anyone matching that description. There was some damage to the fence where someone heavy had climbed over and apparently used a piece of wood to get around the razor wire at the top of the fence. No blood or serious damage, however.

Donut Hut across the street on University from the fairgrounds also reported a break-in and vandalization during the night. The only anomaly was the presence of wood splinters in the broken glass of their front window, but no bat or other piece of wood found at the scene.

To be continued…

Disclaimer: People and events depicted herein are fictitious and intended for entertainment use only. Any similarity to persons living or deceased is unintentional. There is no Des Moines Remote Viewing Society. This is a work of fiction. No one was harmed in the making of this blog.

Legal Stuff: For use with with Monster of the Week by Michael Sands. Monster of the Week is copyrighted by Evil Hat Productions, LLC and Generic Games.

Monster of the Week Author Michael Sands Cuts Indie Writers a Break.

I was blessed to receive an email from the author himself! Squee! He was kind enough to drop the link for his official policy, too. And the icing on the cake- the best news out of all of this- the policy is practically idiot proof.

Okay, this isn’t breaking news for some, but it’s cool to me.

I emailed Evil Hat Studios because I was curious about possibly publishing a season or two of Monster of the Week RPG on DriveThruRPG. I’ve seen other material for MotW on there and thought it might be cool. So, as a somewhat responsible writer, I started poking around and asking questions. I wasn’t finding a ton of stuff, so I emailed Evil Hat directly.

What I got was a response from Sean Nittner saying my request would be forwarded to Michael Sands. It’s not impossible, but it’s unusual to be placed in touch with an actual author. I almost fainted.

Turns out, Michael Sands has this great website.

I’m dropping the link to Generic Games here: https://genericgames.co.nz/

I’m also excited about Codex of Worlds for MotW now.

I was blessed to receive an email from the author himself! Squee! He was kind enough to drop the link for his official policy, too. And the icing on the cake- the best news out of all of this- the policy is practically idiot proof.

This policy is instinctual. It’s stuff I would do anyway. And it’s simple. I wish every game company would be cool like this. There aren’t pages of “Must Include” OGL documentation, legalese and corporate butt-kissing that has to go into everything.

THANK YOU MICHAEL SANDS!!!

Michael Sands ROCKS! All kinds of love for MotW!

The link to the official policy is here: https://genericgames.co.nz/third_party_policy/

Personal Note: I got an email from the author himself. Squeee!

Hearing from authors turns me into a drooling fanboy pretty fast. I appreciate it!

I have to say, it wasn’t long. It wasn’t super personal. But it always blows my mind when I hear directly from an author. All the fun of getting an autograph without the need for a restraining order against me. 😜 (j/k!)

I’ve heard back from other RPG authors over the years, and it always makes my day. Maybe in this era of Internet interactions, it’s easier. Maybe it’s because I can’t get out to go to conventions these days (and I live in Iowa where conventions are few and far between.) Someday I hope to get out to run games, shmooze, and go to seminars again a convention.

Still, please give Michael some support where/when possible. He’s one of the good ones! Thank you again for getting back to me, Michael.

I hope June is a happy and prosperous month ahead for everyone. Thanks for being here. I appreciate you!

Tales of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society (MotW TPG)

This is some of the backstory for my MotW RPG campaign. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is unintentional. This is a work of fiction.

Disclaimer: This is a fictional organization.

From the notes of Brenda Hart, Secretary of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society:

Aug 3, 2016: Making it official tonight. Dan, Tom and I are going to start looking into the odd phenomena occurring here in Des Moines. I’m new here, only having moved from Colorado a few short years ago after my husband died. Ironic that I’m the one with the most experience in the field and the only trained remote viewer of the bunch.

Dan is our resident parapsychologist and tech guru. We wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for him and his website, The Midwest Monitor. He lives here in Des Moines and has seen a lot of strange things, more as of late. Most of his journals are on video in one form or another going back to the early 1990’s. He’s done a lot of investigations of local haunted houses.

If Dan is our parapsych and tech guy, Tom Ross is the exact opposite. He’s our resident spiritually conscious conspiracy guy. His intuition has led us to the tunnel network. (More on that later.) He’s also convinced Des Moines, IA is a popular stop on the extraterrestrial superhighway and a visitors center for the Reptiloid population. He also things a lot of the local happenings are eyeballs deep in the Illuminati, Freemasons, Nosferatu, shadow government, demons, Men in Black and so on. Tom’s notes are regularly mailed to my address as additional proof along with copies sent to friends, relatives and a random PO Box.

We have an unofficial fourth member named Lewis. He’s strictly on the Internet and goes by Big Lou 42 on most things. He’s a nice guy, but a lot secretive. I think he might be former government or a shadow corp employee turned whistleblower. He doesn’t live here, but he sure knows a lot about DsM. We have other internet friends, most live in BFN Iowa, MO, or MN. The local MUFON folks know we’re around, too. Dan used to be a member.

Tonight’s meeting was very informal. We met at Dan Miller’s house for pizza. It was our way of getting to know each other. Dan recently caught onto some sketchy activity in the cemetery over by the State Fairgrounds. It happens every year when the Fair crowd starts coming around.

Some teenagers were out partying near the cemetery when they saw some strange lights and bizarre fireworks coming from within the graveyard. They may have been drunk. They might not be credible. But I did manage to dig up some old newspaper files from the 1970’s and early 80’s of similar sightings.

In 1993 four college kids attempted to hold a seance in the middle of the night with a Ouija board. A week later, one of the teens died of an apparent suicide, two in a car accident, and the fourth went missing a few short years after college having been hospitalized in a mental institution suffering from multiple delusions and a nervous breakdown.

This year we’re going to do a very passive stakeout with cameras, trail cams and night vision gear mostly off the premises. If things look promising, we might move closer in toward the last nights of the Fair or after it’s all over. I’m going to do a reading three nights into the stakeout to see if I can determine where the disturbance might be coming from.

Tom says he has a lead on a bunch of activity near the cemetery in Pleasant Hill. That’s probably going to be the next destination just because of the close proximity and similar reports. Should be creepy fun.

-End of Entry.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Have a great week. See ya soon!

It’s Friday the 13th!

What happens if Buffy Summers and her crew runs into a guy wearing a hockey mask and carrying a machete?

I think we all know what that means.
Monster of the Week RPG!

Monster of the Week by Michael Sands, Evil Hat Studios.

MotW Cover.

What? No, I promise I’ll behave this time and not get all gory and violent. My new trigger warning graphic is posted at the end of the article. I’ve tried to make the warning as obvious and broad-reaching as possible, but I’m still not 200% sure about the wording.

How much is too much in Monster of the Week? I think serious Session Zero conversations need to be had and the players most assuredly need to know where the Keeper stands on certain topics. Obviously it’s best to make sure things aren’t too gory, too many jump scares, or too disturbing for sensitive players. I’ve seen plenty of horror games fall apart because it just plain got too dark for one or more players. Nobody wants to show up every week just to get more depressed or creeped-out. Most of us can probably relate.

I think MotW is more geared for the high-flyin’, butt-kickin’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer style game. At least, that’s sort of what I imagine running as opposed to the dreary World of Darkness style game. No, not all Storytellers run a dreary game, but WoD has that tone sorta built into it IMO.

Knocking down “scary” vampires and kicking monster butt is great, but what happens if they run into that one guy?

I think we all know which guy I’m talking about. Yeah… Michael Meyers. Ha! No, Freddy Krueger. Wait, Chucky? Leatherface? Hannibal Lecter? No…

How was this guy not going to come up?

Most of us get the idea of the iconic Urban Legend serial stalker. That guy with the kitchen knife, machete or weed eater that literally tries to go after the whole cheerleading squad. I think it makes for awesomesauce bad guy material in MotW. Others may not. As a player I might be a bit unnerved by getting chased by our favorite hockey mask wearing psycho.

Guys like Michael Meyers and Jason Vorhees just keep coming in the standard issue slasher flick. There’s no stake through the heart or tranq dart that’s going to stop them for long. Some are far worse than others, having their own dimension to hide in when things get rough (Freddy, Pinhead.)

Buffy Summers- Jason Voorhees. Jason- Buffy. There, now we’re all introduced.

The heck with Freddy vs Jason. I want to see Buffy vs Jason. Some guy that’s short of needing locked and chained in a locker and drowned. In game terms, hes seemingly unkillable. Or at least permanently unkillable. MotW even mentions letting baddies come back if the group fails to use the monster’s weakness.

Personally, I think it’s frustrating for players to get their butts handed to them every week by the same bad guy. On the other hand, most Keepers love having a recurring villain that literally everyone dreads. The Keeper starts hinting that we might be dealing with a situation similar to one we’ve seen several episodes back.
Jack: It- it can’t be. We killed him. We literally watched him burn.
Keeper: What if he wasn’t human?
Serena: Copycat crime, maybe?
Keeper: Maybe. Some supernatural beings can come back, though.
Bob: He did eat three bullets, a shotgun blast, a sickle, two tranq darts, a katana, and got pushed off a cliff before the fire. Maybe he survived? Somehow?
Keeper: Bwah ha-ha. Did anyone actually find his body?
Group: <gulp!> Uh-oh. (In unison.)

Sometimes the best way to get rid of it is to change campaigns before the next session.

I hope it never comes to that. Jason is a villain that has survived any number of atrocities that should have killed a regular human being a few dozen times over. The MotW doesn’t have to be quite so durable. What if it’s a demon that can be cleansed? What if he actually has some sort of wolfsbane, cold wrought iron, garlic, or some other substance that can kill it. Has anyone tried a simple circle of salt? What about legit magic?

The point is, just because something seems unkillable, doesn’t mean it is unkillable. Personally, I like villains that have more lives than a Batman villain. But the players have to have a chance to come out ahead or break even. MotW villains mean business and not putting one down could spell disaster for the characters and innocents alike.

So, here’s to treading that fine line between safe and unsafe, sane and insane, here in the Twilight Zone…

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend! Stay safe. Be back soon.

Too much or not enough?

Monster of the Week: Continuing the Conversation

I’m loving Monster of the Week more every day. This game is well-designed and has so much to offer new Keepers.

Monster of the Week by Evil Hat Productions.

MotW is a fascinating RPG.

I really dig this game, but it’s taking a little bit of getting used to. Specifically, the Keeper’s section. I’m probably going to have to run a couple of mysteries before I get the hang of the system.

I still feel like it’s a little stiff and rigid from the Keeper’s side of the table. Then again, I’ve always felt that PbtA in general is a push toward GM-less roleplaying. As I say often, if that’s what you’re into, go for it.MotW would be a tough run without a Keeper because someone has to come up with all the cool monster and plot stuff, right?

I keep coming back to Page 131.

I actually think MotW is great for new GMs (Keepers.) They give you a play-by-play how to way to run a game session. They give all kinds of really solid advice on running a #ttrpg. The core book gives two mysteries and walks the reader through how to run them.

How awesome is that if you’re brand new? I would have loved this back in ye olden days. I’m still wrestling with it mentally now. It’s like learning to run a game all over again.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It’s the same thing I’m already used to doing, but I never referred to it as “using moves.” Up until this came up, I never had a strict list of principles to stick with in order to run the game.

My long standing way of setting up a campaign (*Oops! Not supposed to say, “campaign” any more. Now they’re “plot points.”) So, my long standing way of setting up plot points is episodic in format. I plan 24 sessions/games. At one episode per week that’s about half the year give or take. It rarely works that way, but that’s how I plan it.

My original planning for this game was to set up 24 episodes with pretty specific agenda. So, I hit rewind. It’s going to be more of a sandbox now, kinda like I planned Power Rangers RPG campaign. (Which is also still in the works, btw.)

I’m going to build a set of case files that the group can fall back on for clues and in-character advice. They’re following a group of three hunters that have vanished or moved off grid for mysterious reasons. Not really X-Files, but more like Giles’ school library in early Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The group’s mystery files won’t cover every mystery, though.

I already know who the first season BBEG looks like and what they’ve got going on. We’re going to touch on some real world conspiracies and paranormal events. I already know who most of my Bystanders, Minions, and Monsters are going to be. I have most of the behind-the-scenes stuff worked out. I think we’re still going to do episodes, but they’re going to be more like story arcs and done similarly to the way they’re described in the MotW core rules.

They have a very nice template worked out for writing mysteries. They walk the reader through all of the steps of mystery creation. It’s brilliant! Other game companies could learn from Michael Sands.

In short, with any game system, harvest what you like, pass on the rest. There is no one set way to run a game, as many, many of us have said. I’m personally just struggling to learn and adapt to the PbtA way of doing things.

I’m going to be dropping some of my mysteries on here, since I’m not expecting my players will read my blog. Bwah Ha Ha. I’ll put trigger warnings on the really gruesome stuff. I have an in-game calendar of events in my head, depending on which hooks get a bite. <“evil” Grognard Keeper noises.>

Thanks for being here all. I appreciate you! Have a great weekend!

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