Sunday, April 24, 2005

Editorial: You Can't Keep a Good 'Zine Down

We're back! And though it's April, it's far from April Fool's.

It's a long story, the core of which is, "Real Life got in the way."

Our former Managing Editor got promoted at his day job and a got a contract to write the Harry Dresden RPG based on that ever-popular implementation of Fudge, FATE.

To make a long story short, nobody on the team had the time to step into the Managing Editor's shoes, and I didn't have the time to recruit and train another ME. So Fudge Factor has languished while waiting for me to finish my second Bachelor's degree and get my life back. Lo, and behold, that time has come, and here we are! I'm stepping into the Managing Editor's shoes for now, though I expect that will be relatively short-term.

You'll notice a radical change in the way we're doing things here at Fudge Factor, and it's not just the new look.

We're leveraging Blogger as our publishing platform (with some back-end tools where we manage the editorial process), which will help eliminate the problems that come from only the Managing Editor having all the tools and templates to publish the issue.

We've switched from a monthly format to something like a weekly format. I say "something like" weekly, because we may post news items and editorial columns outside the weekly schedule, but no matter how many news items and editorials you get, you'll always get one "real" article every week. The number of articles we're publishing isn't changing, you'll just be getting them one at a time instead of in a big lump once a month.

If you prefer a monthly format, you can still read Fudge Factor that way. Just visit the archive for the most recent month. I'm working on importing all of our back issues into the format, so you can take a look at the archives now, if you're curious.

Want to be notified when we update? You can subscribe to the Atom or RSS feeds via a news aggregator, such as Bloglines. Or you can subscribe to a notification-only email list by sending a blank message to announce-on @ fudgefactor .org.

How ever you choose to read and keep track of Fudge Factor, welcome back! We're glad you're still with us. And if you've thought about writing for us, now is the time to do it. Fudge Factor is nothing without its authors, and we need you as much as ever now that we've gone weekly.

Read the full article...

Ghost Hunters of New England

Episode 117 of FPI

Written by: Bradford Younie
Artwork: Thomas Denmark
Cartography: Anna M. Dobritt

"Now Playing" and the Now Playing logo are trademarks of Carnivore Games.
Copyright 2004 by Carnivore Games.

G.H.N.E. is an episode of the FPI "TV show" setting for the Now Playing Roleplaying Game. It requires the Now Playing core rulebook from Carnivore Games in order to play it. Now Playing is available at your local game store, as well as online at http://www.carnivoregames.com/. As a reader of Fudge Factor, you can take advantage of a special discount at http://www.carnivoregames.com/ff_offer.html.


The Ghost Hunters of New England

Based in Worcester, Massachusetts, the G.H.N.E. is a group of part-time, amateur ghost hunters. They are a small, but active group that has investigated a large number of ghost sightings in the New England states. Not nearly as well organized as the FPI, they have still managed to produce some useful results. They are also better known in the area, because unlike the FPI, they keep a high public profile, having been interviewed by several news stations and being showcased in at least one documentary.

Our FPI chapter has never given them much credit.

History of Porterville

The town of Porterville was established in 1753 by Bernard Porter. The town was located midway between two other larger towns, and so it began to grow quickly. By 1780, it had a population around one hundred people. Although the land surrounding Porterville was not good for farming, their location along the road between larger towns made it a convenient stopover for travelers. The town was never destined to become large, but the small population made a decent living there.

Things took a turn for the worse, however, in 1799. Three women were tried for witchcraft and found guilty. Before they were put to death by the town's elders, they managed to put a curse on the townsfolk. Since then, people began to die of mysterious illnesses, accidents, and many went insane. By 1810, the town had disappeared from all records. No one went there and there was no record of what befell the town since. It was a town that was lost in time.

Since then, there have been reports of ghostly sightings in a section of woods in Southwestern Massachusetts. The Ghost Hunters of New England (G.H.N.E.) has identified those woods to be the likely location of the old town.

The G.H.N.E. Expedition

Recently, the G.H.N.E. researched the lost town of Porterville and discovered clues pointing to its location. According to their data it is in a large section of woods in southwestern Massachusetts, which is owned by a man named Albert Colburn. When approached, Colburn not only refused to give the G.H.N.E. permission to enter the woods, he actually slammed the door in their faces. Undaunted, the G.H.N.E. team decided to sneak in anyway and spend the weekend looking for and investigating the old town. Mr. Colburn is bound to a wheelchair and lives alone. There is no way he can go into the woods and stop them.

About midday into their investigation, they found the remains of the town. Immediately beginning their study of the town ruins, trying to identify the various building remains. The team spent the night, figuring that if there were ghosts, it would the best time to find them. They found ghosts all right... more than they had bargained for. The ghosts preyed upon them, haunting and taunting them. Of the four members of the expedition, two died by mysterious "accidents," one was injured, and the fourth cracked under the terror. Unknown to them, because they all spent the night, they are now bound to the town by the curse.

The Witches

The three women were real witches. They were also very beautiful and independent. They refused to marry and lived with each other in a small house on the outskirts of town. The townsfolk would not put up with free-spirited women and when someone witnessed them performing a ritual, they were quickly arrested.

The townsfolk, in their anger and hatred, chose not to burn or hang them, as was usually the case for punishing witches at the time. Instead, they kept them prisoner in the sheriff's barn and abused and tortured them. They were never allowed to leave and never formally put to death. The sheriff, and a few other prominent members of the town, were responsible for their treatment and they kept it secret from rest of the townsfolk. They all thought that the witches were executed in the woods so as to keep any curses away from the town.

The sheriff and his cohorts made a grave mistake. They underestimated the power of the witches. They thought that by keeping them in separate stalls in the barn, they would not be able to work together and perform any rituals. They were wrong. The witches put a powerful curse on the town that no one was allowed to leave Porterville while they were kept prisoner. This was a powerful curse that meant that anyone who spent the night in the town was from that point on unable to leave it. If they tried, they would suffer from a mysterious and tremendously painful illness until they returned. The worst part, however, was that the curse held the people to the town even after they had died. Their ghosts remained to haunt the town, and could only be freed if the witches were freed from the town. Unfortunately, the witches were never released or executed, and they eventually died in captivity. Their bodies were buried under the stalls in which they had been imprisoned. The curse cannot be lifted until their remains are removed from the stalls.

The Acts

FPI runs in four acts to emulate a one-hour drama. The following sections describe each act and the beats required in each. How you work out the scenes is up to you and will be based on the actions taken by the cast. The teaser will be given to you as a fully planned scene, and should be run pretty much as is.

Teaser

Scene One: Teaser Set: FPI Chapter HQ
Boston, Massachusetts
Monday, May 24, 2004

The cast is at the chapter headquarters when the phone rings. It is Catherine Trumbell, a member of the Ghost Hunters of New England, a group of amateur ghost hunters. The cast has had dealings with them on occasion and are on relatively good terms with them.

After the usual greeting, during which Catherine sounds shaken, she announces the reason for her call:

"I have a problem that I hope you can help me with. Have you ever heard of the legend of Porterville?" (The cast has not) "Well, back in the early 1800's, the small town of Porterville in Western Mass disappeared without a trace. Actually, it was just that there was suddenly no news from the town and it was forgotten. Anyway, no one knows whatever happened to the inhabitants, and it's shrouded in mystery.

"Well, we think we found it. In fact, that's where the rest of the group is right now. They went into the woods on Friday and were going to just spend the weekend. Now it's Monday, and I haven't heard anything from them. I'm getting worried. Can you help me find them?"

If the cast suggests calling the police, she'll say, "I... I can't. You see, the site of Porterville is on someone's private property. He wouldn't let us go there, so the group snuck in. If we call the police, they'll get in trouble for trespassing. I figure you guys would be just as interested in checking out the town as we were, and you're... well... better equipped than us. Will you please help? I know where they went in and I have a map that should take us to the old town. Please. Their families are starting to ask where they are and I can't answer them."

If pressed for more details, she explains that she'll meet with them in person to go over the whole thing.

When she hangs up the phone, we cut to the FPI intro and a commercial break...

Act One: Missing Friends

This act contains all of the events that take place before the cast enters the woods. It is important that most or all of the following beats occur.

Beat One: Catherine meets with the cast and provides details

Catherine meets with the cast and tells them everything she knows about Porterville and its legends, which includes no more than is described in the section "History of Porterville" above.

She will, of course, come with the cast on the expedition.

Beat Two: Meeting with Mr. Colburn

This is not technically necessary, but can add to the plot. What happens during this meeting depends completely on what the cast does and says. Just play Colburn as he has been defined.

Beat Three: Researching Porterville

If anyone does any research on Porterville in the town of New Haverly, where the woods in question lie, they may find out some more information. Anyone doing research must specify how much time they plan to spend on the task. That will have an impact on what information is gathered. Then, each researcher must make a Research skill test. The following information can be found based on the time spent and the result of their Research tests. The information stacks, so that if the researcher spends two hours working, he will learn everything listed in the row for one hour as well as everything in the row for two hours spent.

Time Spent Fair Research test
1 hour The same general information regarding the town that is described in the section "History of Porterville" above and described by Catherine in Beat One.
2 hours The story of the witches described in the section "The Witches" above.
Good Research test
1 hour Everything that could be learned in 2 hours with a Fair test.
2 hours A description of the location of Porterville places it somewhere in Mr. Colburn's private wooded property.
Great Research test
1 hour Everything that could be learned in 2 hours with a Good test.
2 hours In 1809, a pregnant woman named Victoria Porter left Porterville and died of a mysterious illness. Before dying, she claimed that witches placed a curse on the town.
Superb Research test
1 hour Everything that could be learned in 2 hours with a Great test.
2 hours Before she died, Porter gave birth to a healthy daughter who later married a Nathaniel Colburn.
Legendary or higher Research test
1 hour Everything that could be learned in 2 hours with a Superb test.
2 hours Porter warned people to stay away from Porterville lest they fall victim to the curse. "Only the dead live in Porterville," she has been quoted as saying.

Beat Four: Arrival at the trail to the woods

Barry, one of the members of the G.H.N.E. team that had investigated Portersville, had told Catherine where they were going to park and the location of the trail they were going to take. The trail goes into the woods within site of an old country road. Barry had parked their SUV in the parking lot of a public campground that has not yet opened for the season. The parking lot was no more than a half a mile from the trail. They could not park on the side of the road near the trail because they were trespassing on private property and they did not want to get caught.

The trail begins at the entrance to the dark and dense woods. The trail is dark compared to the bright sunlight outside the woods, but no flashlights are necessary during the day. The trail was once a main road, but is now an overgrown trail, no more than five feet wide, and with patches of grass growing in it and tree roots sticking out in places.

Act Two: An Expedition

This act covers the cast's trip through the woods to find the old town of Porterville. It will show that the G.H.N.E. expedition had gone down the trail, and they will see and experience things that will set the tone of the rest of the episode.

Beat One: Signs of the G.H.N.E. expedition

On the trail, the cast sees signs that Catherine's group had been here. Their footprints can be found in the dirt and they find a pen that Catherine identifies as Barry's. The tracks are all a few days old. They can estimate that they were made on Friday.

Beat Two: A ghostly figure crosses the trail

About a half an hour after the cast began their hike down the trail, one of the male cast members will see the figure of an attractive woman crossing the road about one hundred feet ahead of them. The woman is clad in a simple dress of a style approximately two hundred years old. She has long, flowing black hair and pale skin. She stops to look at hikers, and meets the gaze of the one who saw her. The character stops dead in his tracks as he stares at the woman for a moment, then the woman smiles warmly at him and walks swiftly into the woods and out of sight.

The cast member who saw her got the distinct impression that the woman was attracted to him. The Director must make a secret Will test on behalf of the character with a Difficulty Level of Good. If the test passes, then that is all that happens. If the test fails, he has been Charmed by her, and will want to go to her the next time he sees her. She will definitely try to lead him into a trap later during Beat Two of Act Four.

The cast member who sees the witch will have seen her to some detail, but will still notice that she seemed a bit dim and transparent. The rest will see her before she disappears into the woods, but they will not see any detail at all. To them, she will look like a shadowy figure. If they all didn't see it, they might have thought they were just seeing shadows or a trick of the light.

Beat Three: A big branch falls across the path

After hiking for about an hour, the cast hears a large "crack!" A huge branch breaks away from a tree that stands next to the trail and falls heavily onto the road directly in front of them.

Everyone in the cast must make a Fair Dodge test or be struck by the branch. It is large and heavy, and its weight and momentum gives it an Offensive Factor of 2. Anyone suffering 4 or more damage is also pinned by the branch. It would take the remaining cast about ten minutes to rescue their friends from the branch.

The branch is very healthy, but it had broken away from the tree as though something very strong had torn it off. There is no sign of anything that could have caused this to happen.

Beat Four: The word "Die" is drawn in the dirt of the path

There are no tracks around the sign, aside from those of the previous G.H.N.E. expedition. However, those tracks are old. A Fair Notice skill test will assure any cast member that the sign is fresh. There are no tracks that could be linked to the one who drew the sign.

Beat Five: Arrival at the Porterville ruins

The trail finally ends at the opening to a large clearing. A large rock sitting next to the trail at the edge of the clearing has an inscription in it. The inscription is old, and weather-beaten, but is still readable. It reads

Welcome to Porterville
Est. July 10, 1753
Pop. 110

As soon as the cast passes this rock and enters the clearing, any Sensitives in the cast will be besieged by a very large number of voices. These are the voices of many of the town's population and they are all ghosts. Not all the ghosts in the town will be speaking at once, but there will always be at least thirty or forty of them at any one time. The most that the Sensitives can make out is a feeling of anguish and desperation, and can only catch a few snatches of words. These words are only "Help," or "Please," or "Beware."

These voices are difficult to endure. They are constant and the Sensitive cannot block them out without meditation. To meditate, the Sensitive will need to get comfortable and make at least a Great Concentrate skill test. This test must be repeated every hour within the game. If the test ever fails, the meditation is lost and the voices flood back in.

For every hour that the character spends with the voices in her head, she must make a Fair Will test, or become more unnerved. She should be encouraged to roleplay this mounting anxiety every time she fails a test. If she fails five tests, she will break and become like Deb Kramer (see below for additional information). After the episode, she will need at least one month of psychiatric treatment in order to recover.

If the Sensitive manages to meditate, she can remove one failed Will test per hour of successful meditation. Thus, if she has failed three Will tests, but then manages to successfully meditate for two hours, it will then be as though she had only failed one Will test.

Act Three: Porterville

Beat One: Expedition's camp and equipment is found

The expedition had already managed to record some tapes, but they are destroyed. They appear to have been stomped on. The laptop computer is intact, but does not contain any data gathered during this expedition.

Deb Kramer had destroyed the tapes. The tapes contain the voices that have been plaguing her ever since she arrived, and she felt an overwhelming need to quiet them.

Beat Two: Oddities about the area

Everyone will get a "creepy" feeling about the place. It will take a Good Notice skill test to realize the cause of this feeling. It is because there is no sound of any living creature...no crickets, no birds, nothing. This is a town inhabited only by the dead. If the cast does not realize it right away, they may make the Notice tests every now and then until they do.

Beat Three: Being watched

As the cast explores the area, each will get the feeling that they are being watched. It will start with hearing the occasional sound of footsteps in the woods nearby, but not seeing anything when they look. Sometimes a cast member will see a person standing in the woods out of the corner of his eye, only to see nothing when he looks directly at it. After experiencing one of these phenomena, the cast member will have the feeling that he is being watched.

Beat Four: Finding Deb

Deb Kramer, the G.H.N.E.'s own Sensitive, has cracked. She will be found huddling in one of the cellar holes under a section of flooring that had not yet fallen in. She is shaking, and incoherent. She will not speak for quite a while, and will even appear to be unaware of anyone's presence. When touched, she will scream and thrash as if struck or stabbed, and terror will be in her eyes.

She has had the voices of every ghost in the town, all one hundred of them, speaking to her ever since she arrived at the site. They are all calling to her, pleading for help. Among the jumble of voices, she can hear the mocking laughter of the witches. They will call to her to come to her death. She cannot deal with all the voices and their pitiful pleading. She cannot block them out, and it has driven her insane.

She is dimly aware of the cast's presence. If they put a drink nearby, for instance, she will drink it once they have left her alone. They will come back to see the cup empty. However, she will not talk, but will rock back and forth in her huddled position. If the cast talks too much to her, she will suddenly start wailing "Shut up! Shut up! Please, shut up!" and she will cover her ears as she rocks.

Beat Five: EVP and EMF

Test Result Phrases Heard
Fair "Help..." [male voice] "Come here..." [female voice]
Good "Please find...free..." [male voice] "Help you. Help you." [female voice] "...must trust..." [female voice]
Great "...to me. Come to..." [female voice] "Witches...find..." [male voice]
Superb "Help us...free us...you..." [male voice] "Find...free...witches..." [male voice] "...[a cast member's name]...Come..." [female voice]

Electromagnetic Frequency meters will register moderate activity at any given time. During times of spiritual activity, such as when a character sees a ghost, the meter will read high.

The cast can walk around with tape recorders to try to catch Electronic Voice Phenomena. The cast must roleplay this, acting out the scenes with all dialogue they will make while recording the tapes. They only need to show a sample of what they do; the actual process would take an hour or so in the game.

Catching EVP requires a Parapsychology skill test. The following table describes what the cast will make out of the Extremely Low Frequency recordings. For each skill test result, the cast will have caught all of the words and phrases given for each worse result. For instance, if the cast member made a Good Parapsychology test, she will have heard everything in the Fair row of the table, as well as in the Good row.

Act Four: Witches

Beat One: Ghosts walk at dusk

At dusk, when the shadows deepen, the ghosts become more bold and visible. The cast will see them, never close by, but always looking at them. Some will simply stand and watch only to disappear if any of the cast come near them. Others will wave, as though beckoning for the cast to follow them. These will try to lead the cast to the barn.

If anyone tries to follow these ghosts, the witches will try to stop them by pelting them with rocks, dropping tree branches in their way or on them, or by appearing and trying to "warn" them. One will point to the ghost that they are following and say "Beware."

Beat Two: The witches beckon

The witches will appear whenever a cast member is alone or when only one is looking its way. Only one will appear at a time and will use its beauty to appear friendly and inviting. If possible, it will try to lure the cast member into a trap.

The witch will attempt to Charm the character. A charmed character will not be aware of anything that is going on around him and will focus all his attention on the beautiful ghost. This is how Nate died. He was following the witch, oblivious to where he was and did not notice that she "walked" out over a cellar hole. He fell in and broke his leg. Then, the witch knocked a heavy beam down onto his head.

Beat Three: The Sensitive speaks

This beat should only happen if the cast has not figured out how to break the curse and is not attempting to follow the ghosts.

Deb suddenly begins speaking. Her face takes on a blank expression and a ghost begins to speak through her:

"Help me. Help us. Help you. Witches. Find. Graveyard. Find. Barn. Find. Free witches. Bewaaarrre..." The last word trails off, and Deb slumps unconscious. She is okay, but has passed out from the shock of the experience.

Beat Four: The graveyard

The graveyard will be the witches' last stand. When the cast gets to the graveyard, the three witches will already be there. They are joined together and will be in the process of raising several corpses from their graves. Already some have begun climbing out of their graves. The cast will need to run through the graveyard to get to the barn, which can now be seen about fifty feet beyond the end of the graveyard. At least two of the zombies will be blocking their way when they get to the other side.

If the cast does not try to go to the barn during the night, and are trying to wait until morning, the witches will still raise the zombies, which will then slowly shamble after the cast, even if they are still at their camp.

Beat Five: The barn

The barn's remains are within sight of the graveyard. Anyone at the graveyard who looks around will notice it, but only if the character's actor says he is looking around. It is possible that a ghost is leading them to the barn. In this case, it will be immediately obvious because the ghost will be pointing at the barn.

The bones of the witches are in three shallow graves under the remains of the stalls they had been imprisoned in. If a cast member makes a Good Notice test, he will find them right away. Otherwise, it will take him a few minutes of searching to notice the graves. In any event, the cast will find the graves. They must race against time to dig up the bones and get them all out of the stalls before the zombies reach them.

If the episode is running quickly and you want to prolong it, you can require that the cast must remove the bones (or at least the skulls) from the town itself in order to free them. This is not necessary, but can add more action and excitement to the game. The ghosts can help make them understand what to do.

Once the last of the bones have been tossed from the stalls, the cast can hear the wailing screams of the witches as they fade into nothingness. The zombies suddenly drop like marionettes whose strings have been cut. The ghosts that led the cast to them smile at them, wave, and then fade. The voices in the heads of all the Sensitives whisper thank you's, and then go silent.

Tag

Now that the curse has been lifted and the evil has left, the cast is now left standing in the ruined barn with the remains of zombies lying around them. It is dark and still somewhat spooky, although they can all feel a sense of relief. Slowly the sounds of crickets and other animals return.

The cast will find Barry trapped under a tree that had fallen on him. One of his legs is broken, and the other bruised, but he is otherwise okay. Once he feels the evilness lift, he will begin to shout for help. The cast will hear him.

If they choose to visit Mr. Colburn, he will at first be angry to hear of their trespassing, but will lighten up considerably when he hears about what they have done. He will then tell his story.

The Supporting Cast

These are the various characters that will be met along the way. One of them is actually already dead, but the entry will describe what Catherine knows of him. It is quite likely that the cast will ask her what he was like so that they can do a better job of finding him.

Catherine Trumbell

Attribute Trait Level
Brawn Fair
Agility Good
Stamina Fair
Reasoning Good
Perception Good
Will Fair
Skills Computer Use (Good), Cryptozoology (Great), Dodge (Fair), Drive Car (Fair), First Aid (Fair), Nature Lore (Good), Notice (Fair), Occult Knowledge (Good), Parapsychology (Good), Research (Great)

Catherine is the G.H.N.E.'s head researcher. She is more timid than the rest of the group, and usually does not go in for the actual ghost hunting expeditions. She is the one who does most of the up-front research and is always available by phone while the group is on location. She is a schoolteacher by trade, teaching eleventh grade U.S. history at a local high school. She is smart and book-learned, and that is where she gets her great researching skills.

Although the thought of going to Porterville frightens her, she is loyal to her friends, and wants to make sure they are safe. She will go, but when things get bad, she may need to make Will tests to keep her cool.


Nate Thurston

Nate is currently dead. If the Director chooses, he could be one of the corpses that the witches raise to attack the cast.

Nate was the impulsive member of the G.H.N.E. team. He was the outdoorsman of the group and was always the first one to enter the haunted houses. He had an iron will and strong constitution. Nothing scared him. He still was not scared when the ghostly witch beckoned to him. He was seduced by her beauty and by the desire to solve the mystery by himself. He followed her blindly as she led him to the ruins of an old house. Because he was charmed, he was unaware of where he was walking. As she floated out over the cellar pit of the ruined house, he walked right to her and fell into the pit. He was badly hurt by the fall, and then a large beam fell and crushed his head.

Deb Kramer

Attribute Trait Level
Brawn Fair
Agility Fair
Stamina Fair
Reasoning Good
Perception Great
Will Fair
Skills Computer Use (Fair), Concentrate (Fair), Cryptozoology (Fair), Dodge (Mediocre), Drive Car (Fair), Hypnosis (Good), Notice (Fair), Occult Knowledge (Good), Parapsychology (Good), Research (Fair), Ritual Séance (Mediocre)
Power Sensitive
Fault Overconfident

Deb is the group's Sensitive. Her abilities are not as acute as Jelena's, but she usually can sense any spiritual presence that may be nearby, and she has spoken to a few ghosts during her experiences with the amateur group. Although the sensation is never pleasant, she puts up with the "creepy feeling" she gets around ghosts in order to be the amazing and mystical Deb the Ghost Sensor.

She was quite definitely in over her head in Porterville. She found that she could not block out all the ghostly voices that filled her head, and she eventually cracked. If she is eventually rescued, it could be months or years before she is ready to leave the psych ward, and even then, she will never be the same.


Barry Hampton

Attribute Trait Level
Brawn Good
Agility Fair
Stamina Good
Reasoning Good
Perception Good
Will Good
Skills Computer Use (Fair), Cryptozoology (Fair), Diplomacy (Fair), Dodge (Good), Notice (Fair), Occult Knowledge (Good), Parapsychology (Good), Research (Good)
Gifts Always Keeps His Cool

He is the levelheaded member of the G.H.N.E., and is therefore the group's leader. He always manages to keep his cool, even in the worst of situations. When a tree fell on him in the woods, he kept his cool and laid low, hoping that if he didn't attract attention to himself the witches might leave him alone. Apparently, the witches either thought he was worse off than he was or they planned to get back to him. Whatever the case, they never bothered him after the initial attack. Unfortunately, he was also not able to get out from under the tree and his leg was broken.


Albert Colburn

Attribute Trait Level
Brawn Mediocre
Agility Fair
Stamina Fair
Reasoning Good
Perception Good
Will Good
Skills Bluff (Good), Computer Use (Good), Dodge (Terrible), Notice (Good), Knowledge Porterville (Great), Parapsychology (Fair), Research (Good), Sense Motive (Good)
Faults Handicap (paraplegic)

Albert Colburn is descended from Victoria Porter, the only woman to have ever escaped Porterville after the curse was raised. She was pregnant when she left and gave birth to a healthy baby girl before she died of a mysterious illness. That girl married a man named Nathaniel Colburn, who was Albert's great-grandfather.

His family has owned the property containing the old remains of Porterville for as long as he knows. His family has kept the secret of the curse and has worked hard to prevent anyone from entering the town, and thus falling victim to the curse.

When Albert was young, he was in a car accident and had lost the use of his legs. He is now bound to a wheelchair. Ironically, this has saved his life. Because of his handicap, he was not able to go into the forest, and thus had been spared by the curse. All of those in his immediate family have died from the curse and he is the only remaining caretaker of the secret woods.

He will not willingly allow anyone to enter the woods, and will be openly hostile to anyone who does. He has been known to enter the trail and chase people out with a shotgun, as long as he does not have to go far down the trail.

However, if the cast comes to him after they have the curse lifted, his attitude toward them will change. He will be relieved and will be friendly toward them. He will thank them. Living so close to Porterville, he has heard the witches beckoning to him and has, on many occasions, been tempted to try to go there. He will be grateful to anyone who manages to silence those voices.


Paranormal Beings

There are three types of paranormal beings in this episode: the witches, the ghosts, and the zombies. This section will describe their game stats, and how they are to be roleplayed.

The Witches

The three witches, in life, were both loved and hated in the town of Porterville. They were loved by many of the men because of their stunning beauty and sexuality. The women, and some of the more conservative men, hated them because of their open sexuality. Some believe that the townsfolk never really had proof that they were witches.

However, regardless of any proof the townspeople may or may not have had, they were indeed very powerful black magicians. They were the cause of much suffering and trouble in the town, although the people did not know it. They were so powerful, in fact, that they were still able to cause much harm even after death.

Powers

Affect Physical Objects: Each witch can push, lift, or break objects. They can only affect one object at a time, and only as though they themselves were physically handling them. For instance, a witch can pick up a rock and throw it as though she was solid. Their "strength" has been heightened after death; so that they can break large branches from trees, move small boulders, etc. Each witch can only affect one item at a time, and this will cause a strain on her. After a heavy exertion, she must wait at least a half an hour before doing anything else.

Raise the Dead: All three witches must form a circle and perform the Raise Dead Ritual skill. Each one must make a test of this skill. The average result of the skill tests will determine the number of zombies raised, per the following chart:

Average Skill Result Legendary Superb Great Good Fair Mediocre Poor
# of Zombies 10 8 6 4 3 2 1

The Ghosts

The ghosts have no stats and no powers. These are all the victims of the curse. They can become visible now and then during the night. Some can do so during the day, but mostly they can just make themselves heard (footsteps, voices in EVP, etc.). They cannot actively go against the witches, and communication with the living is extremely poor and difficult. Instead of maintaining hard-fast rules for handling the ghosts, the Director is encouraged to go with what is dramatic.

The Zombies

Attribute Trait Level
Brawn Great
Agility Poor
Stamina Superb
Reasoning Poor
Perception Fair
Will Poor
Skills Brawl (Good), Dodge (Poor)

These zombies are actually nothing more than corpses that have been magically animated and are essentially puppets being manipulated by the witches. This means that they feel no pain, have no free will, and move very sluggishly and slowly.

There are only two ways to stop a zombie: destroy the ones who raised it or make it physically unable to continue chasing you. The former would destroy the zombie, making it revert back to the lifeless corpse that it was. The latter would not destroy it, but would just make it incapable of harming you. For instance, if you chopped off its legs, the best it could do is to crawl after you with its hands. This would pretty much render it harmless. Obviously, the first option is the best.

Zombies are not affected by Wounds the way living creatures are. They do not suffer any of the penalties for Light and Severe Wounds, but they will still take the Wounds. So, if a zombie receives two Severe Wounds, it will receive an Incapacitated Wound. However, it will never suffer the -2 penalty caused by the Severe Wound.


The Sets

Not all of the sets described in the episode are detailed here. For instance, the FPI chapter house where the Teaser takes place does not need to be described. The trail through the woods is also very self-explanatory, and there is no need to detail all of its twists and turns. All of the important sets, however, are fully described below.

Leaving Porterville

Any attempts to leave Porterville once they have entered it will result in their sudden and unexpected return to the town. It will appear to them as though they went full circle around the globe. For instance, if they walk straight through downtown Porterville and head down the road that leads out of town, they will walk for a little while, and then suddenly find themselves entering the town again from the same direction that they originally entered it from. It would appear as though they had just gone in circles. This phenomenon will occur in every attempt to leave the town until they manage to lift the curse.

Porterville Main Street

The main street of Porterville now looks like little more than a large clearing. The clearing is oval in shape with the trail entering on one end and leaving on the other. In the center, where the town square used to be, are three large trees. Along the edges, there are the large cellar holes of the various buildings that once lined Main Street. Bits of old walls still exist on some, and a few even have part of the old flooring intact. Most, however, are merely just rectangular pits filled with the rotten debris of a house and its contents.

The Director can decide the condition and contents of each of the cellar holes. Deb Kramer will be hiding in one of these holes, in a corner under some intact floorboards.

The G.H.N.E. campsite is in the town square among the three trees.

G.H.N.E. Camp Site

The campsite is made up of two pup tents that are facing each other. Between them is a small campfire, now burned out. The following clues can be found in the campsite:

The fire has been out for at least two days.

There is no sign of a hasty departure. There is still food and other provisions out and ready. It is as if they had just disappeared.

The notebook computer is in one of the tents. It is in working condition, but the battery only has about 15 minutes of charge left. The tape recorder is connected to it, but all the tapes are smashed around it and there is no data from this expedition on the computer.

Graveyard

This is a small graveyard that contains most of the population of the town. The old tombstones are weather-beaten and often difficult to read. Many of them stick out of the ground at odd angles.

The ruined barn and other house ruins can be seen from the graveyard.

Barn

This is where the three witches were imprisoned, and their remains are still buried here in the very stalls in which they had been kept. The roof and most of the walls have long-since fallen in. All that is left are a couple of the corners and about two feet of wall around the perimeter. The barn contains the following items:

Animal Stalls

These were meant to be used for horses. Three of these, however, were converted into makeshift jail cells to hold the witches. They replaced the normal stall doors with large iron gates. These are now lying useless on the ground in front of the stalls. Remains of the roof and stall walls litter the floor, but they are otherwise empty.

Caved in Loft

The entire right-hand of the barn is buried in what had apparently been a hayloft that had caved in over the centuries. There is nothing of any value underneath it.

Tools

There is a hoe and a garden rake. The teeth of the rake are made of hard iron as it is designed for digging up dirt. The head of a pickaxe is lying on the ground under some old planks, but its handle is broken about two inches from the head.

The Graves

Three of the stalls have shallow graves in them. These are where the remains of the witches are. The graves must be uncovered, dug up, and all the bodily remains removed from the stalls for the curse to be lifted. The amount of time required for this is up to the Director, but should be timed for dramatic effect.

Read the full article...