After a very lengthy run of six full years, an RPG campaign I ran finally concluded. As much as I enjoy running games and helping to craft stories, it’s been a very long time since I was actually able to sit down at the table as a player, partaking in the stories and adventures, without knowing what’s around every turn. A friend graciously offered to run a game that was new to all of us, an episodic story taking part in the Monster of the Week setting. It’s a much less serious game than some of the heavy politics found in Legends of the Five Rings or Vampire: the Masquerade, and is straightforward enough for new players as well as open enough for us veterans to really have fun.
Instead of writing out-of-character campaign notes every week as we play – generally used to help recap what happened at the previous session – I’ve decided to write a more narrative interpretation of our game time, taking creative liberties here and there in order to make a story that’s interesting to people not actively playing in the campaign. Our first game is this weekend, and so I wanted to announce the new recurring story arc ASAP, particularly with the very weird set of characters we have at our table.
Think of Monster of the Week as a procedural sci-fi/fantasy TV show, along the lines of Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scooby Doo, or X-Files, where characters become aware of a reality much deeper, and more disturbing, than the one you and I know. The titular monster of the week could be a demon, or a vampire, or a coven of witches, or any number of other “goes bump in the night” kind of creature, and our plucky group has to solve the mystery, sometimes relying on otherworldly powers themselves to get the job done.
Since the game’s tone is fairly light, set in 1995’s Sacramento, the party is composed of characters that are a bit goofier, sillier, or at least more exaggerated than we would normally play, which I think will be a very nice break for us, having been embroiled in intense societal politics in our previous campaign. I want to take this opportunity to present our party, the gang of miscreants and outsiders who are aiming to defeat … the monster of the week.
Seth, the Spell-Slinger
An odd one, Seth seems particularly naive when it comes to the modern world. He gets a bit too much excitement out of common tasks like making coffee, going for a ride in a car, and eating popcorn. Nobody’s yet gotten to the bottom of exactly why he is how he is, but there’s no question in the group’s mind that there’s magical power in his fingertips, and that power has come in handy more than once to save the day. Currently dressing like a 1950’s Greaser, he’s begun to show interest in the local goth culture. Serves as a bodyguard to Ismene, an object of spiritual interest for Tammy, and a curiosity for Harry and Tommy.
Harry Kozlowski, the Flake
The world is a large, complicated, and often scary place. Made all the more sinister, Harry would say, by the shadow governments keeping the truth from the common citizen. With a bleeding-edge 486sx laptop and two (yes, two) cellular telephones, Harry is ready and able to spill the beans on what’s really going on, if anyone were to actually listen. It’s not that this forty-something lives in his mother’s basement by choice, it’s that only by staying there can he stay off of government-regulated watch lists. That’s also why he doesn’t have a car, or friends. He provides constant entertainment and insight for Ismene, has helped Seth out of some pretty nasty jams, and has a careful eye out for Tammy and Tommy.
Tamiit (“Tammy”), the Sekhmet Divine
Not everyone knows their purpose for being, and are thus doomed to wander the Earth, searching for meaning – not so with Tammy, who was placed directly by Sekhmet herself to restore balance and order to a world plagued by chaos. The sparks of divinity she shows are seemingly at odds with her penchant for Sacramento’s emerging goth scene, but perhaps she finds some measure of peace in the midst of throbbing bass and sweaty crowds. She serves as a calming, rational voice for Seth – whose name she does not particularly appreciate – and an object of intense, unrequited attraction for Ismene. Both Harry and Tommy see her as a true oddity, a creature to investigate and examine, when appropriate.
Thomas (“Tommy”) Lan Yun, the Initiate
Far be it for one to say that Tommy is ordinary. It’s more that Tommy is extra-ordinary, as straight-forward and plain an individual as one could ever hope to meet. Sharply-dressed, speaking thoughtfully, and never one to act out of turn, Tommy is too normal not to be hiding something. It’s not that he has special friends in a special club that do him special favors, and sometimes require special favors from him in turn, and not that he doesn’t seem to have access to special powers beyond human comprehension … except it’s exactly all of those things. Keeping an eye on Seth, he’s an enigma to Tammy, Harry thinks he’s important to watch, and Ismene certainly likes having the strong, silent type around.
Ismene Percell, the Snoop
Host of one of Sacramento’s most famous underground, late-night, public access TV shows – Pandora’s Box – Ismene is a purveyor of all things “freaky and wonderful,” making sure the public is aware, but not too aware, of the hidden mysteries bumping around town. With a crack team of editors (really, just a local kid named Xavier) and nerves of steel (at least while behind the camera) she makes sure every shot counts. It’s not that she’s the team leader, but she is one of the only group members to let the rest into their house. She has a huge crush on Tammy, likes having Seth around for his childlike wonder (and occasional magic), enjoys Tommy’s company, and has greatly benefited from Harry’s sometimes over-conspiratorial information.