Sunday, December 29, 2013

Welcome To Saw Hill: A Scenario for Dread

without further ado...

Welcome to Saw Hill

This Dread Scenario is a mash up of elements of the Silent Hill series of video games by Konami, as well as elements from the Saw series of movies. I had been kicking around the concepts for years, but was never fully able to merge them with an appropriate game system. Dread allowed me to run this adventure and focus on the atmosphere and story, rather than the hard numbers and rules. For that, I am forever grateful

Game Blurb:

What happens when you find yourself drawn to a modern day ghost town that refuses to let you leave?
How do you escape a walking nightmare that only has vengeance on its mind and is willing to destroy anything in its path to get it? Try to find a way to survive and a way out as a power struggle occurs that can only be described as Hell on Earth.


Saw Hill is a small town that was founded in the late 1800's (1867 to be exact) in West Virginia. The town sits on the side of a large hill. The town was a triple threat economy, which had a lumberyard, and ore mine, and a foundry to refine the ore into usable materials. Unfortunately, the area came upon hard times; there was a termite and bug infestation that ruined the lumber in the area, and several cave-ins, fires and flooding shutdown the ore mine. Of course, that led to loss of jobs and without the mine, the foundry closed as well. Without jobs, the population underwent a mass exodus, but a few stragglers still live in Saw Hill.

The geographical layout of Saw Hill:

The North Sector: The hill is a large wooded area that holds several varieties of trees for the lumberyard on the northern most edge of the hill top. The tree cover is dense and lush and tends to make travel up the hill very dark. The hill also holds an ore mine that lies on the western edge of the hill. This area is more barren then the rest of the hill and is accessible by a long dirt road that runs up the hill in a zigzag pattern. Both the lumberyard and the mine sit abandoned, though there are still lots of equipment and machines in the work areas.
Where the hill ends and the town begins, there are three streets that run west to east and intersect each other at the ends of the streets. These streets are the residential homes of the people who live in Saw Hill and could afford to buy homes. There are at least 10 homes on each side of the street, but it's a roll of the dice to find if anyone lives there. The houses that are abandoned are still in good shape and appear that someone still lives there. The southernmost residential street is the boundary of the North Sector, with it's back directly to the back of the shops and buildings on Main Street. The ends of the residential streets also mark the boundaries for the east and west sectors.

Main Street: Main Street is the epicenter for the town. As such, this street does not belong to any sector. This central street runs the length of the town and is the only viable way in or out of the town (on the west end of the street). On the north side of Main Street, there are small shops and places of business, though none of the buildings are taller than 4 stories high. As you go further down the street, the city hall and police station sit in the central-most position on the street, then followed by a few more shops and municipal buildings.
On the south side of the road, there is a large steel paneled barrier fence that is rusted and weather-worn. The tops of each panel rarely match up with each other, but a passer-by can clearly see the smokestacks and upper levels of the foundry that lays just beyond the barrier. There is a gate that allows access to the foundry compound on the easternmost end of the street, which is only padlocked and loosely chained.
The ends of Main Street mark the boundaries for both the East and West Sector.

The South Sector: The entire foundry compound is the southern boundary of Saw Hill. The seven buildings that make up the old factory are weatherworn and dilapidated. There are some attempts to keep people out of the buildings with rusty chains and locks, but the age of the gates and the disrepair of the buildings can barely keep anyone out anymore. There are numerous machines and equipment still inside the foundry walls, and some of the things still work. The biggest feature of the old structure are the two smokestacks that tower over everything in the compound. They still appear to be in good condition, even though they are discolored and covered in soot.
Beyond the foundry past the gates and the fences, there is only a steep cliff to the south. This cliff drops a few hundred feet to the bottom of the ravine in which the hill and town reside. There is no safe way down the ravine, and this cliff should be avoided at all costs.

The East Sector: The eastern portion of Saw Hill consists of one road that intersects the residential roads, Main Street, and then terminates at the gate on the eastern end of the foundry. There are three main buildings that are on this road. At the northernmost end is Saw Hill School. This school houses all grades from kindergarten all the way through high school. The central-most building on the street is an old church with a graveyard nearby. Past this, on the eastern end of the street is the Saw Hill Hospital, which sits opposite the foundry (and close proxy to the graveyard.)
These three buildings are some of the oldest in the town, and with the exception of the church, are not much in appearance. The school and hospital are two story buildings that are made of brick whose color has been stripped away by the wear and tear of the years. Playground equipment for the kids at the school is rusty and in disrepair. Windows are broken and boarded up with plywood. Only the church and its grounds still hold a glimmer of its former glory.
Beyond these buildings is an extension of the graveyard, whose layout looks like a capital T. beyond the graveyard is a continuation of the cliff as is becomes flush with the hill.

The West Sector: The end of Main Street on the western end of the road turns into a long winding road that hugs the side of the hill. This road is the only entrance and exit to Saw Hill, and is home to the local landmark, the “Welcome To Saw Hill” sign. The road curves and bends as it holds onto the hill, and it does so for miles. It is at least ten miles to the next “sign of civilization” after visitors pass the welcome sign on the way out of the town. On either side of the road, there is either the immensity of the hill, or the depths of the ravine.

The Back Story:
Michael is a ten-year-old boy who lives in Saw Hill with his father, Roger. For the father and son, times couldn't be harder. Michael's mother, Patricia, was killed in an auto accident a few years ago, and the pressure of the incident has proven to be too much for Roger. Add in the fact that he is not able to find a proper and stable job in Saw Hill, and the whole situation has turned Roger into a hollow shell of a man. Roger drinks to excess almost every night, and he cannot deal with the emotions that he is dealing with, so he takes them out on Michael. There is yelling, and there is some physical abuse going on, which only sends Roger away feeling more miserable and spiraling deeper into his depression and drinking.
Michael is growing more desperate to find some resolution to this problem, or at least a little help for his father. Anything to stop the beatings. One day, he is on his way home from school, but for some reason decides to head into town on Main Street to kill some time before he goes home. It is during this time that he comes across Lilly Rose, an old woman who lives in the old hotel on Main Street. The locals say that she is a gypsy who came to Saw Hill to sell her odd wares, and they generally dismiss her as a crazy old woman.
The old woman sees that the child is in some sort of trouble (she can sense it) and engages Michael in conversation. Michael opens up to Lilly Rose, and explains everything to her, and iterates that “all he really wants is for him and his father to be happy again”.
The old woman eyes the child intensely, and senses that what Michael is telling her is the truth. She decides to help the only way she knows how; selling one of her wares. She produces what appeasrs to be a small music box and holds it in front of the child. Michael is a bit cynical as he wonders how such a box will help him, but Lilly Rose tells him that this box once belonged to a very powerful Indian Shaman many years ago, but doesn't really know what the box does or how it works. She does know that she senses that the child needs it, and it will give the child what he wants. However, she can't give it away.
Michael eyes the box and the old woman conspicuously, his eyes darting between the box and the old woman. After a few moments, he finally caves in and pays ten dollars for the box. He puts it into his backpack and heads for home.
After another terrible dinner with his father, Michael returns to his room. He reaches underneath his bed and removes the box from his hiding space. He holds the box close to him, and can feel a soft vibration from the box. He wonders if what the old woman said about the box is true, so he places the box on the floor, reaches behind the box and begins to turn the key to wind the box. After a moment, the box is wound, and he opens the box.
An hauntingly beautiful tune begins playing on the elaborate mechanisms of the music box. Michael closes his eyes and begins to think of the wish that he and his father will be happy again, but he is interrupted by a loud shout coming from his father who enters the room after hearing the odd music.
Roger looks at his son, and angrily asks where did he get the box. Michael is hesitant to answer, but the father is persistant and pulls the child up with his shirt. The stench of stale beer is on the breath of Roger, and it makes Michael cry. The child knows that when his father is in this state that he is likely to strike him. Michael tells his father that he spent his own money on the box, and that it's his. Roger doesn't like the kid's answer, slaps the boy, then throws him to the ground.
Duning all of this, the music box continues playing its odd tune, but there is something also audible under the melody of the tune. There is a pulsing humming that comes and goes, but becomes louder and louder with each pulse. A slight vibration begins to cause the box to tremble on the floor with each pulse.
Roger grabs a nearby baseball bat. Michael scrambles to a corner and stays there, petrified by the fear that his father is going to beat him with the bat. Roger does not advance on the child, but rather
goes to the music box. He raises the bat over his head, and without hearing the objections of his screaming son, he bashes the box with the bat.
For an instant, time slows down. The box breaks into several distinct pieces, and things around the room are affected by an unseen pulse of energy. Items twist and convulse, darken and distort, but all of this goes unnoticed by Roger. However, Michael is an unwilling witness to the whole disturbing scene.
As everything in his room and house begin to rot and rust. He feels a throbbing pain behind his eyes. He clenches his head, rolls into a fetal position, and cries out as the pain increases. Michael also falls victim to the taint coming from the broken music box. He become “The Dark Boy”, an inversion of his persona, with all the ugliness of the life that he's been going through in his life, while the true persona of Michael is pushed deep down inside The Dark boy's empty soul.

The world erupts into chaos. Light and darkness intermixes and repels each other. The world changes and separates itself from all other know dimensions of consciousness. The chaotic rift grows and envelopes the entire town, but only entraps a few select individuals, for these individuals are the ones who can undo the chaos. For these individuals, the town of Saw Hill has become a desolate lonely place, devoid of all other life, until the darkness comes, and things transform to living nightmares.

The Main Characters and Their Current Situation.

Michael/ The Dark Boy:
Michael is a ten-year-old boy with brown hair and brown eyes. He's usually whimsical and imaginative as most children are of that age, but his current situation with his father has taken a toll on him. It's his wish that has caused the situation that he is in now, and he's becoming more aware of that fact. He realizes that the only way to escape and fix things is to fix the music box and let it play the tune again. Hopefully it will reverse things, but he can't act directly, since his real persona is stuck inside The Dark Boy.
The Dark Boy is Michael's rage and frustration made flesh. He appears more as a specter than a boy. His appearance is similar to Michael's true features, but darker hair and eyes with skin that is soiled and black-veined. The Dark Boy is mischievous and threatening, but will not openly attack unless his own existence is threatened. The Dark Boy does not want the music box to be fixed. He wants to stay where he is and watch Roger deteriorate more and more. His motives are clear, and he will do whatever it takes to make sure that Roger suffers totally and definitively.

Roger is a balding man in his mid-forties. He typically has a grease monkey look, often wearing overalls and perhaps a smear of dirt on his face. He has leathery skin from smoking, and he smells of alcohol.
Roger is a good man, but since the death of his wife and the lack of a steady job, he has become a violent drunk whose own cycle of behavior only deepens his void of destruction. He does genuinely care for Michael, but his frustration continues with the fact that he can't support his son.
When Roger broke the music box, the effects were tainted and caused the whole town of Saw Hill to slip into a pocket dimension and isolate itself from the rest of the world. This is his punishment, and everything that happens is this isolated dimension is designed to destroy him.
In the time that this imprisonment has been occurring, Roger has discovered that he has some control over the evil occurrences around him. He has developed a “power” that augments his own engineering skills and knowledge. He is able to make handy gadgets and traps to help him out of sticky situations. Unfortunately, this is not to his advantage, but rather a curse that the Dark Boy has placed upon the father. For further information, see ROGER's CURSE section for more specifics on how this malady works.

Lilly Rose:

Lilly Rose is the old gypsy woman that sold the music box to Michael. She has been caught up in the tainted surroundings, due to her direct link to the box. She is a woman in her late sixties, with gray hair that is matted down with soot. Her face is wrinkled, and covered in spots and dirt. She has a small hooked nose and shiny dark brown eyes. She walks hunched over and wears a dress made of shoddy patches.
She has sought refuge in the town church, and she is the one that uses the airhorn when she senses the darkness coming to take over the town. She rarely leaves the church, and even more rarely allows company to come into her sanctuary. She is the only person in Saw Hill who can have an understanding about what is going on and how it can be fixed, though her knowledge of the box is very limited.

Sakura Suzuki AKA Suzi Sakura

Suzi is the wild card in all of this. She has no previous history with any of the characters, or the rest of the cast. The reasons why she is here in Saw Hill in the first place are completely unknown to her. All she knows is that she lives far away from the town (Host's choice, either San Francisco, Japan, or some other place) and that she is locked in her own home and can only escape via the air ducts in her home, which take here here. She is looking for keys for the locks that hold her captive in her home, and she can only stay for so long in the shadowy world of Saw Hill, often fading from existence when the transformations occur and reset.
(Note: This character is a support character and really does not advance the story. She's designed as a direct nod to Silent Hill 4: The Room, and as she is looking for keys for her predicament, she may also help the characters look for their solutions. She is a lifeline to the outside world, and she can be useful to the characters is some no-so-obvious ways. Her only link to this scenario is the box, because if she sees it, she may recall a painting that used to hang in her family's home of one of her ancestors, perhaps royalty, and they had the music box in their hands.)

The Environment, The Transformations, and The Curse

the environment of Saw Hill goes through intermittent changes, and the world shifts in dramatic and terrifying fashion.
The Cool World is the safe area that the characters will try to get things accomplished before the nightmares return. The town appears foggy, with a temperature in the mid 50's (f). it is quiet with a perpetual snow/ash fall to muffle sounds further. Visibility is about 25 feet. The air is cool, with it either being damp of dry (depending on Host's choice or location in the town) with a hint of the scent of smoke in the air. A few random encounters with the walking nightmares can occur here if desired, but it should be advised that it should occur later in the session after the first or second transformation cycle has occurred.
The Transition happens occasionally when certain triggers are tripped during game play. (more info on the triggers will appear in a later section). When these triggers occur, the sky darkens quickly and gradually. The surrounding walls will corrode/rust/peel like skin flakes or burning paper in the wind. Things dissolve as the temperature spikes suddenly. It becomes hot, with the air either becoming moist or arid (depending on Host's choice or location in the town) with a temperature jump to high 90s or low 100s. The scent of smoke or even sulfur becomes overwhelming. During this period an air siren can be overheard throughout the town (Lilly Rose) and any semi-functioning electronics will squeal and emit static.
The Hot World is Hell on Earth. Metal surfaces are often hot to the touch. Organic substances coat walls and floors and appear to bleed or secrete fluids, twitching masses that writhe and sweat. There is a steady clamor of metal and machinery, the smell of Sulfur and smoke is almost nauseating. Water is prone to boiling, and the walking nightmares are searching for souls to torment.

Transformation Cycles

Transformations occur when:
-players learn something new or vital
-players get “close” to an NPC
-players ger close to a clue or an item.
Transformations end when:
-confrontation/conflict is resolved
-distance from clues/items/NPC's are gained

When a Transformation Cycle ends:
-a reward should be given, usually in the form of knowledge, information, clues, or items.

In effect, an entire scene can take place in one full transformation cycle. The players come across a character in the cool world. They are about to find out something important when the world goes through it's transformation to the hot world. As conflict is resolved, the world returns to the cool world, and they have a better understanding as to what is going on.

Roger's Curse:

Roger' background in engineering is the basis for his curse. He thinks that he can control the “Powers” of the dimension he exists in by making traps and gadgets that help him manipulate the space. Each trap that Roger creates tends to sink into the floor or the environment around him in order for the effect to take place.
Roger is wrong about his power. It is not his power, but rather the power of the Dark Boy and the ploy of his ultimate doom. Every time that Roger makes a trap or gadget to “help him”, he loses humanity and health, and parts from assorted machines (gears, bolts, wire, etc.) begin to grow inside him like tumors and shrapnel that make their way to the surface of his skin. The more that he uses his “power” the more handicapped he will become. But, it will become easier for him to use the power. If he was just to throw a bunch of parts on the floor, they would sink into the ground and the desired effect would take place, as long as Roger desired it.
Inevitably, continual use of the power will ravage Roger's body and he will take the form of one of the Walking Nightmares. The only way for Roger to fix himself is to stop using the power, and solve the problem trapping him and the others there in this dimension. In other words, he has to fix the music box.

The Walking Nightmares:

The walking nightmares inhabit the hot dark world phase of Saw Hill. They are twisted visions, vaguely human in nature, and are designed to inspire fear and a sense of lethality. The creatures can be attacked in combat situations, but it should be known that their numbers are many, and they can't be destroyed, only delayed. A good gamemaster can use these monster to direct players into certain situation and to different areas, and should spring the transformations on the players at the most opportune times for real terror to set in.
now, there are no real guidelines for these creatures, and it should be said that the GM can really use his sick and twisted imagination to make his own creatures as he sees fit. The key thing to remember about the creatures is that they are only as scary to the players as their descriptions allow. The GM should feel free to embellish on the the details of the creatures, keeping in mind the five senses and how the players perceive the monstrous entities. How do the creatures move? What do they sound like? What things make them so twisted and deformed? Do they give off a bod odor as they move? The sky is the limit on this one.
I've run this scenario a few times, and have made a bit of a list of things I've used. This is no means a definitive list, but can act as a guideline for further ideas.
Types of Walking Nightmares:

Shambling Torso: one of these is in the movie adaptation of Silent Hill. It's an armless, featureless creature that has dark pulsating skin think with dark veins. It waddles uncontrollably on twisted legs, and it's main attack is a jet of black bile that burns like acid, which it spews from a ragged cavity in its chest.

Twisted Child: also appearing in the Silent Hill franchise, these creatures appears as naked sexless children with taut gray skin. Their facial features are twisted at odd angles, and their eyes burn with a dull orange-red glow, like dying embers of a flame. They cry out in deformed wails similar to cries of a baby. Their arms and legs are malformed, and they are unsure of their footing like those of a toddler. They can be fast moving, or deliberately slow, and sometimes their arms end in a scalpel like appendage.

Dragging Beast: this is any type of medium sized creature, but smaller rodents in swarms can work just as well. These creatures have been stripped mostly of their skin or fur, and are covered in a bloody mucous. They have lost their ability for regular movement, and are forced to drag parts of their misshapen bodies on the ground, leaving a discolored trail behind them. They call out in twisted variation of their natural sounds. If provoked, they can often attack with tooth, nail, claw, or even tongue.

Razor Wire Tendril: the first inanimate object that has become a walking nightmare. Perfect for industrial environments, the tendril is a combination of wires that wrap together to form a snake-like creature. The creature makes no real noises except for the hissing of the wires sliding across surfaces and floors. The tendril can ensnare and drag victims, cut them, burrow and drill into places, and can alter its form with as little or as much wire as needed.

Bladed Maw: A humanoid creature with the head of a crocodile-like lizard. Scaly and slimy in apppearance, the maw is lined with teeth set and odd angles and sizes. The maw produces a bite that rivals that of a hydraulic press, and can pretty much break anything in two. It's hands and feet are clawed, and the creature can switch between bipedal and quadrupedal. It may also be able to climb on walls like many of its lizard like decendants.

Blood Pustule: these creatures appear at first as a small, pillow-like sac that slowly expands to house a humanoid creature inside of the sac. The sac, a sickly whitish-gray is constantly covered in bloody mucous, but is resistant to damage, the creature is free to move within the sac, but never leaves the sac. The creatures cries out in awful muffled tones. If destroyed by supreme forces, the sac erupts and sprays everything in its vicinity, which often leads to the spawning of more of these foul creatures.

Twisted Nurse: Another Silent Hill icon, the sleek sexy bodies of a nurse from every man's fantasy topped with the twisted flesh nightmare of a featureless face. These can be placed in any location, thought they really lend themselves well to any medical facility. Their movement are fluid, but they move at odd angles and often change levels and postures to take up more room than what their slender frames allow.

Spectral Cage: Making an appearance in Silent Hill: Origins, this hellish nightmare is a free-floating rusty cage. Though it appears harmless, the cage can be very dangerous and cause severe lacerations or contusions if a character is hit hard enough by it.

Rotting Dog: Dogs in horror setting are terrifying, and even more so when there is clearly something wrong with them. Whether they're zombies, falling apart at the seems, bodies broken and guts handing out, or just horrible parodies of what a normal dog is, with giant maws and row upon row of teeth. The fact remains that a game is not complete without one pack of these.

Creating the Big Bad: I turn to pyramid head/ red pyramid for this one. There is always a giant singular master involved in one of these games. A creature that is set apart from all other based on his size, his determination to chase the characters across hell, and a distinct and unmistakeable look. For this game, I didn't want to rip off pyramid head, so I made my own. However you want to use this character is fine, even if you want to totally ignore using a big bad in your game. Whatever works for you.

Blockhead: (example Big Bad) Blockhead is a 7 ft tall slender male. He wears torn and sullied coveralls much like a mechanic would wear. His right hand is encased in a large concrete block, though his fingers and thumb retain much of their mobility. The rest of him remains normal, despite the sickly pallor of his skin and thick veins that run just beneath his skin. The most outstanding feature of Blockhead is indeed his head, which is a standard cube of concretem which is featureless, except for distinct cracks and chips in the concrete, and there is some barbed wire anchored it what would be the base of his skull near the back of his neck with the remainder of the coil wrapping around his left arm in several tight loops. The creature walks with defiant strides, though his posture is thrown off to the right side because of the heavy weight of the concrete.

Running the Game: a basic Framework

this is just a general idea as to how to run the game.

The Arrival:
based on the questionnaires, each player is going to have some reason to get to Saw Hill, so each character will set out on their own to get to the small town. As they get closer to the town, it will get dark, start to rain, and as they just about cross the only bridge into the town, they'll see something dart in front of them across the road. We can assume that each player will have their own vehicle, so this will cause a crash and a blackout. Such things that could dart out in front of the vehicle could be the boy, the old woman, blockhead, the man, etc., but it should foreshadow something that they'll encounter in the town.

After the blackout, the group will slowly wake up to a world of gray (the cool world). They are all together, stranded on the only road leading into the small town. There is no effective way out of the town now until the game is completed. They will find themselves walking on foot through fog and soot. One of my personal favorite touches is for the characters to see a large darkening shape off on the side of the road, and they find the iconic “welcome to saw hill” sign.

The group comes into the small town, deserted and covered in soot. As they make their way down the main road in the town, they will see The Dark Boy in the distance. The boy want interact with them at all, but will probably lead them into a building (not the church) or down an alleyway, somewhere where the players will be isolated and somewhat enclosed. That’s when the sirens should sound and the skies should darken.

The first transformation should be very descriptive. Explain how things corrode, wilt, peel, twist, or melt. Use the five senses rule to describe every sensation; temperature change, a bad smell and coppery taste, the sound of metal and steel, and the horrific visions of both the transformation and the arrival of the walking nightmares. This will be the first time that the world will shift for them, so make sure that it as horrifying as possible for them. Introduce the players to several walking nightmares, either a pack of the same type, or three or four different ones. Let the players scramble for safety or fight, but don't damage them too badly. This first encounter sets up further encounters down the road, so there’s no real need to rush this encounter. let it unfold naturally, and let the world shift back to gray when you think the time is right. After the shift, reward the players with something; some needed or helpful items, a cryptic but valuable item (like a part of the music box), or even a clue to a place they need to explore. Again, let the scene unfold naturally.

Deeper exploration of the town will bring the group into contact with each of the main players stuck in Saw Hill, one at a time. Though there is no real specific way to do it, my personal preference is to meet the father, the girl, and then the old lady so that she can reveal exactly whats going on.

The Father: the father will be in a workshop somewhere in the small town, possibly in the foundry, his local residence, or a mechanic's shop. He will be working on a trap to try and escape the town, but obviously that's not going to happen. Nor is the father expecting company, so he will turn his attention to the group and use the trap on him. There will be a world shift during this encounter, signaled by the sirens. The powers of darkness will allow him to escape, much to the chagrin of the characters as they will have to escape the father's trap without a good confrontation with the father. They will inevitably escape the trap, minus several pulls from the tower, but that's the point of this encounter.
This will also be the first time that the group gets their first cryptic reward, a part of the music box, which they will need to assemble (and assemble correctly) to end the game. THERE ARE FIVE PARTS TO THE MUSIC BOX; THE CENTER SPINDLE, THE GOLDEN NEEDLE, THE MUSIC DISC, THE WINDING KEY , AND THE MUSIC BOX. The music box itself is in the possession of the old woman. Other than that the other parts will have to be found after the other encounters.

The Girl: this encounter is purely optional, but it's helpful if the players start to get a little bit lost in their objectives. Suzi is a good backup for groups that want to fight the nightmares, and can fill the group in on more of the inner workings of the town's curse. Suzi is looking for keys to the locks in her apartment, so she has her own agenda and should not interfere with the main storyline in any way, unless she really needs to help out in a pinch. When the group meets here, there will be a world shift into the dark hot world, complete with sirens.. She will battle with the nightmares, and will not require pulls since she's an npc. After the battle she'll hand over one of the key components of the music box before she resets to her apartment.

The Old Woman, at some point, the players will realize that they need to get to the church, since that is the place of origin for the sirens. They will have a hard time getting into the church, since the old woman has the place barricaded, but she'll reluctantly allow the players in, just as another world shift begins. The players will find some semblance of sanctuary here, and the old woman will be able to fill the players in on the background of the music box and the back story of the father and child. If presented with any one component of the music box, she will look horrified, realizing that a broken music box means a broken wish, which is the core of the problems in saw hill. She'll be able to plan out that the music box needs to be put back together. She won't have the music box on her at this time, but she knows where it lies..just outside the church in the nearby graveyard.

Allow further encounters to unfold naturally, if your players want a longer gaming session. It's ok to delay direct rewards of music components if they want to deepen the exploration of the town.

A secondary encounter may be necessary with the father if his curse deepens, perhaps the music disc or the golden needle are stuck somewhere in his face or body, jutting out of the skin like a compound fracture. Some serious gusto and intestinal fortitude might be needed to extract the needed items, without killing the father. Of course, we know that the forces of darkness will never let the father die. Not without suffering for all eternity first.

The final resolution:
the crescendo of the game hits when all remaining components are finally collected and are ready for assembly in the church. Is it at this point that the dark boy will make his ghoulish appearance in the church. He will taunt and torment the individuals who are assembling the music box. One by one, he will enter the minds of the characters, taking them on a flashback to a darker time in their lives (see the questionnaires) and will force them to make pulls to see if they can break the hold that the dark boy has on them.
The dark boy can be hurt and slowed by conventional weaponry, but it won't kill him. The only way to banish him and the darkness is to rebuild the music box properly and play the music box's song.

There are three possible outcomes:

  1. rebuild the music box: if the players are good enough to put the box together properly, without the help of the old woman, the entire world reboots, the nightmares go away, and the father and son are able to live peacefully. Best possible ending.
  2. The old woman: if she helps in the rebuilding of the music box, the world reboots,the nightmares go away, but the divide between father and son is greater than ever, and the two can no longer coexist peacefully ever again. If the old woman dies, the whole scenario starts over again with the group starting out on the gray road. Both of these are bad endings.
  3. The father: it is possible to kill the father deliberately, whether by direct malice or by extraction of parts. If the death is deliberate, without concern for the father's preservation, then the hot world disappears, but they players are stuck in the cool world forever, doomed to walk a spirit like realm forever, even though they can leave Saw Hill without incident. Another bad ending.

The wrap up: characters who have died, their names will appear on headstones in the nearby cemetery. If all goes to plan and the best possible ending occurs, the main characters should be able to get on with the rest of their lives, without incident, but the npcs that they interacted with will have no recollection of the events of Saw Hill

general notes:

each questionnaire has a question about their fears, their darkest moment, and a specific question about why they are going to Saw Hill in the first place. It is imperative for the guide to keep some notes handy when these questionnaires are filled out, so that the final moments of the game with the dark boy can go off without a hitch and build maximum tension.

If your into playing music with your games, find the music of Akira Yamaoka, especially his stuff from the Silent Hill franchise. It's the perfect mood setter for this game, and I spent much time crafting this game to his music.

I would highly recommend the use of the siren to denote the beginning of the world shifts, especially as they begin to speed up in frequency. There is no better look on a player's face than that of pure fear and panic once they hear that ear piercing shriek of the siren. Here's a link:

thanks for putting up with the wait on this one. This is probably the best scenario i've come up with. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Welcome To Saw Hill Q8

  1. How well do you usually do on hunting trips?

  1. Why do you do charity work?

  1. You're a bit of a pack-rat. Why do you have so much stuff?

  1. Why do you have a G.E.D. instead of a Diploma?

  1. Why do you think you were the victim of so many bullies?

  1. Which Character do you think reminds you of a childhood friend?

  1. Why are you so afraid of being alone?

  1. An old gypsy woman once tried to sell you a box, but you politely refused. What did she say to you before she left?

  1. Why do you always have to be perfectly groomed before you leave the house?

10) What is your name?

Welcome To Saw Hill Q7

1) Who was the most influential person in your decision to take up medicine as a profession?

2) Why were you the person who “could get people things” in college?

3) What items do you carry around in your pocket for good luck?

4) why did you start to steal things for no good reason?

5) Why did your ex-spouse hire a hitman to kill you?

6) For which character do you harbor feelings of jealousy?

7) Why do you fear the dark?

8) What do you know about this symbol? Have you ever seen it before?

9) What physical feature do you think is the reason that the opposite sex finds you attractive?

10) What is your name?

Welcome To Saw Hill Q6

  1. What class in high school did you find that you had an instant knack in?

  1. What was the most miserable day in your life?

  1. What items do you put in the back of your vehicle, even if they seem out of place?

  1. You have natural leadership abilities, but why do you always take the “back seat” and let the less qualified take over?

  1. Why do you feel your mom's sickness is you fault?

  1. What other Character do you find physically repugnant?

  1. Why do you lack motivation?

  1. Why do you feel the need to go to this party in Saw Hill, when you dislike the host?

  1. Why do wear colored contacts?

  1. What is you name?

Welcome To Saw Hill Q5

  1. How much did you pay attention to your father when he showed you how to take apart an engine?

  1. Describe your childhood. What about it stands out?

  1. What do you always carry with you for comfort?

  1. Why are you depressed when it gets gloomy outside?

  1. Why do you hate church so much?

  1. What character do you find untrustworthy?

  1. Why do bugs creep you out?

  1. You have reoccurring dreams about a small town, and you're always getting lost in one of the town's buildings, Which one is it?

  1. you were from a very normal family. Why did you change your look so radically?

  1. What is your name?

Welcome To Saw Hill Q4

  1. Why do you like computers so much?

  1. Why do you never talk about high school?

  1. What three items can you not live without?

  1. Why do you connect with children better than adults?

  1. Why were you institutionalized for over a year, yet you told no one?

  1. Which one of the other characters would you not want to help you in a life threatening situation?

  1. What family member lives in Saw Hill that you haven't talked to in over a year?

  1. When do you hear the voices talk to you?

  1. How did you get that scar, and how does the opposite sex feel about it?

  1. What is your name?

Welcome To Saw Hill Q3

  1. Why do you prefer logic puzzles rather than crossword puzzles?

  1. Why are there people in your hometown who worship the ground you walk on?

  1. What do you have in your pockets right now?

  1. Why were you voted “Most likely to live underwater” in high school?

  1. Why have you turned your back on all your closest friends?

  1. Which one of the characters do you consider a kindred spirit?

  1. What are you addicted to, and how bad is it?

  1. You grew up in Saw Hill, and swore never to return once you left. Why are you breaking that promise?

  1. What's up with your wardrobe? Why is it so drab?

  1. What is your name?

Welcome To Saw Hill Q2

  1. What Profession did you excel at, before you quit to work at your minimum wage job?

  1. Why did you run away from home, and have never returned?

  1. What is your most cherished belonging, and why can you never leave the house without it?

  1. What was the most inappropriate time you broke out into an uncontrollable fit of laughter?

  1. Why do you hold a deeply seated hatred for men/women?

  1. What other character would you like to beat up in a dark alley?

  1. Why do you fear maladies such as blindness and deafness?

  1. You dream about a foggy road with a road sign that reads “Welcome to Saw Hill” below the sign lies a broken music box. What garbled song does the music box play?

  1. Why did you get a tattoo and what does it look like?

  1. What is you name?

Welcome To Saw Hill Q1

1) How did you get started dabbling in "breaking and entering"?

2) Why were you in jail?

3) What items do you keep in your "in case $#!+ happens" backpack?

4) Why do you watch the history channel more than the nightly news?

5) Can you tell me about the day your sister drowned?

6) Which one of the other characters do you feel is unworthy of your friendship?

7) How long have you had migranes? How severe are they?

8) You have heard rumor that Saw Hill is a modern day ghost town. What's your motivation to visit there?

9) Why do you dye your hair every few weeks?

10) what is your name?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

i've been a lazy, busy bitch

sorry about the distinct lack of posts lately, i've been a very busy man with work and what not.

i've been learning to cope with things and working such long hours, so i've learned how to deal with everyday life and make some things good again.

anyway, i made a few promises a while back, so i need to finish these things soon,

1) my long awaited Welcome To SAW HILL posts for dread will finally be getting up here. im real close to finishing, so it;s time to finish these things.

2) my daughters solo Qags in a bag recap will be up here soon.

i just want to make it clear that so far work has been claiming my life, and will continue to do so in 2014, so if i can get something up here once a week, ill be happy. bear with me, and keep gaming,


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Qags-in-a-bag: SOLOing like a boss!

Saturday, my oldest daughter and i headed to Con on the Cob in Hudson OH. it was time to feed my brain.

now, i had missed the event registration deadline to run events, so i was out of my comfort zone for this one. additionally, i was taking my daughter to a "party con" known for its after hours debauchery, so this only added to my slight tension. that and the fact that there really wasnt much for me and my daughter to play together.

anyway, after getting our tickets, we found a "He Man and the Masters of the Universe" game in the con book. something we could play together! so we bought tickets...but the GM never showed up.

sigh...this is why i run events...because i know it would be done right.

so i took it upon myself to entertain my daughter the best way i!

we played games of King of Tokyo, CHOMP, 1000 blank index cards, and QAGS-In-A-Bag.

my daughter solo-ed an entire adventure. i'll tell you more about it later.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Feeding Frenzy/ Great White Hunter/ Going Rogue

three things to pass along.

1) my feeding frenzy card expansion is mow completely finishes, and i havea deck of cards completed and ready for use. they will make their debut alongside CHOMP! at Con on the Cob this coming weekend.

2) I am typing up the roles for closing the beaches and dispatching Capt. Shaw and the OKRA, which are called the GREAT WHITE HUNTER rules, just because of feeding frenzy using a few cards that only go into play when that rule set gets used. i have reference cards and the feeding frenzy rules ready to go for this weekend.

3) and just when you think things would be settled down, when the project is done there is another lightning fast brainstorm. i'm now throwing out ideas for "Going Rogue" which will be a small deck of cards to change the game round after round, at it will also launch the solo rules of play as well. coming soon, but still down the road.

now, let me get back to making flyers and handouts for this weekend. i'm very busy.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

CHOMP! Feeding Frenzy cards.

finally! they're done.

now to print the dang things.

this was a much needed step to increase the depth of this game. it adds another dimension to the game as the sharks can now interact, and often screw each other over.

there are 18 cards with three copies in the deck. only a few can be used if the great white hunter rules are being used. 54 cards in all.

with cards like Kid with a Fin, Strange Weather, and Chumming the Waters (to name a few) eating people will never be the same. although my artwork is a little weak, it lends itself well to what i'm doing and get s the point across.

on to the next phase.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Project Mako Playtest #1

i just finished a several game session of my shark game with my kids, one being a 14 year old and a 6 year old.

we played three games, and each time someone different won because the beaches closed and point totals were tabulated.

my general notes on the games.

1) sharks have every advantage, but they must take advantage of it-- they are faster moving (5 squares) than swimmers (3 squares) and  surfers (4 squares)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Feeding Frenzy Underway

i have two decks of cards to build this week. one is a replacement victim movement deck that only uses North as a designation, just to see how that works.

the second in my Feeding Frenzy Expansion for the players to use. now i'm having some questions about how many cards i should have in the deck, as well as how many duplicates of each card i should have. as of right now i have two cards made, with 3 duplicates of each. 6 cards down. i'd like to do 30 cards, but thats way too low. might take the shot for a complete 54 card deck.

here's what the back looks like. the artwork is done by myself (for now), and that artwork will be used for the actual Feeding Frenzy card in the set.

additionally, i have some brand new shark dice heading my way, so that's going to kick up the cool factor for my game too. more to come people!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

CHOMP! Feeding Frenzy

i'm amazed that this is quickly becoming a developers diary rather than a place for games, but for now, so be it.

i've been kicking around some ideas for Feeding Frenzy, the set of cards players can use against each other for more depth for CHOMP!

for you, here are some quick sketches of some artwork for some of these cards. remember, i'm not artist, but i hope i get the idea across
i assure you, the best is yet to come.


CHOMP! gets a wonderful, horrible idea.

so my wife knows that i'm on some weird "Shark Kick" because i'm constantly online looking at shaks, ships, scenes from jaws, etc. not to mention the anount of time i'm spending each day painting cutting and gluing things.

so last night she looks at the things that i have on the table, gives me that trademark "i don't want to know what you're doing" look, but blurts something out semi-sarcastically.

"where are all the body parts?"

"what?" i asked back. i wasn't sure i heard her right.

 "like arms and legs. if you have sharks, you should have body parts."

i was quiet for a second, then started to laugh a bit uncontrollably. my wife looked at me as if i had snapped.

i smiled back. " i know what i'm going to do. i'm gonna use them to track points. i'll have a chewed up hand with only three fingers to denote 3 points. then i'll have two leg sections that are chewed up cross over each other to make a number 4 and denote four points."

she laughed a bit too, then left the kitchen, so i could get back to my project.

i'm no artist, but i did find some clip art, and with a few reworkings, i've managed to come up with these. the real question is, are these too over the top for this game? do these make you a bit uncomfortable and add too much "downer" to an otherwise light game?

                                                               three points

                                                                 four points

mind you, these are really rough, not to scale, and in no way indicative of final decision. would love your input on this discussion.

until next time.