The Bigger Picture: Expanding “Lurker in the Sky”

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We don’t have a specified game-length in mind when we write our One-Page Scenarios. I played “Suicide Hour” with my wife and child, and the game ran about two-and-a-half hours. When Noah ran “A Newport Christmas” for four players, the game took three-and-a-half hours. Into the Darkness has used several of our scenarios (Thank you!) and slots them into a two-hour time period. It’s really up to the keeper, and, since we don’t define every aspect of a scenario, the keeper’s ad-lib skills. A keeper who is more comfortable going “off script” will naturally extend our one-page content for their players.

So what do I do if I’m not comfortable ad-libbing and going “off script?” Are One-Page Scenarios useless to me? Far from it my friend, far from it. Preparation is the key, and you can extend an evening’s game with a little additional legwork.

The following example, where I expand our recent scenario “The Lurker in the Sky,” contains spoilers, so if you want to play in this scenario, stop reading now.

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As a quick synopsis, the investigators stumble over pieces of a slain Elder Thing. The various pieces poisoned and warped the villagers who found them. The first piece is hanging in the branches of Center Tree, the scenario’s starting point. From there, the investigators find another piece in Farmer O’Neil’s field, and a third in Farmer Benson’s barn. Benson attacks the investigators, saying that something is coming to collect the pieces. Other villagers who have been stricken mad show up, also looking for the pieces. From here, the scenario rushes to its climax, primarily because we want everything to fit on a single piece of paper. A sentence suggests that the investigators might look for more pieces of the Elder Thing before the shoggoth arrives to claim them for itself. This is where we can insert more story bits to give us a nice four-hour-long scenario.

Perhaps the knife-wielding Farmer Benson happens too soon for a longer scenario, so let’s change it. Benson didn’t kill and eat his family, as written, but did something else, something creepy but not murderous. Perhaps he’s led a calf into the barn, slaughtered it, and painted crude pictures of Elder Things in blood on the barn’s interior walls. The investigators find him insane and gibbering in the corner. Returning to town, something is odd at the grocery store. Mr. Harley, the butcher, has thrown all the chopped beef and sirloin steaks into the street and has placed his piece of the Elder Thing in the glass case. He slices thin sections of it off and offers it to customers. If confronted, he attacks investigators with his butcher’s knife.

Remember that there are other villagers, contaminated by spores released when Goddard’s rocket struck the Elder Thing. This is a good time for them to show up. While investigators subdue Harley, Widow Barrett runs to the counter, grabs the piece of Elder Thing, and tries to escape. If the piece is taken from her and she is left alone, she unerringly drifts toward the next piece, which has fallen outside of town in the woods near Martin Grover’s moonshine still. This could be a nice red-herring, if you have time, as Grover and his sons try to chase the investigators out of his woods to protect his still. Or, if you want to remain focused, Grover has found the Elder Thing piece and is adding it to his liquor mash. His sons are insane from testing the resulting drink and armed with shotguns.

Now we have five pieces to find, and probably a healthy four-hour game. All the villagers affected by the Elder Thing cackle and mumble the same message, “Something is coming to collect…,” or “get the pieces to the collector.” Where will this collector arrive? An Idea roll might suggest any of the spots where the pieces landed: Center Tree, O’Neil’s field, Benson’s farm, Harley’s grocery, or Grover’s still. Do the investigators split up? Never a good idea. Ultimately it might not matter. If they hold on to the fragments of Elder Thing, the shoggoth collector will find them.

The conclusion can stay the same, offering the same choices to the investigators, but hopefully by adding a few scenes and locations you’ve got a more fully developed scenario with just a little effort up front. Find (or draw) a nice village map with outlying fields and forests, and you’re all set.

Don’t hesitate to let us know how it goes!

–Matt Ryan

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Reckoning of the Dead has a Patreon! If you like what we do and want to show your support, click the link and donate a few bucks a month. Don’t forget to follow the blog by clicking the ellipsis in the upper corner of this page! You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram @reckonthedead, and we also have a Facebook page.

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