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What beverage would I suggest?

  • A nice sangria.
  • An old fashioned.
  • A Long Island Iced Tea.
by

Dread Scenario: SuperHuman

After running the games found in the Dread book, as well as a few adaptations from online sources and Tales of Terror, I was asked by a friend to create a Superheroish story for Dread. My idea was much more XMen than Superman, but he seemed pleased with the results. Check out Writing a Dread Scenario for my take on just that.



Premise: Inspired by tales of X-Men and Heroes and various mutants with supernatural abilities, scientists began experimenting with the human genome, splicing together a variety of DNA with ours. The results may have been accidental or intended (The work of an as yet unknown species? The master plan of a master being?) but the human race as we know it has changed forever.


Initially the world at large is excited by the "evolution" of humanity, our minds filled with movies and comics of the past, but reality sets in much too soon. We'd forgotten the truths found in the pages of the comic books- that super human abilities manifest in both the good and the evil. The human race has changed and so has the world. Now there is even more division, more distrust, and more political machinations.

Enter Dr. Beaumont, a renowned psychiatrist whose research on the "SuperHuman" phenomena has only been helped by the fact that he is categorized as one himself. His gifts of mind manipulation have helped tame some of the worst of the SuperHuman among us. When he disappears from the public eye under mysterious circumstances, relocating to a remote Colorado mountain cabin, both the SuperHuman and the human are concerned they have lost an international treasure. They all breath a sigh of relief when he continues to publish journals of his research, though he remains a recluse. The SuperHuman are especially interested when he claims to have found the cure for the inherent weaknesses present in, and specific to, each type of SuperHuman- simply through mind manipulation. Experiments to this effect have been completed and seem successful and Dr. Beaumont invites the SuperHuman community to apply to be in the first group to travel to his cabin and receive the treatment.

You have your own motivations for applying for this experimental treatment and are pleased when you are accepted as part of a very small group. You sign the release forms, pack up your things (agreeing to leave all forms of electronics at home, due to the necessary cleansing of the mind involved in the work), and make your way to Colorado and the place designated to meet with your group for the van ride up to the cabin.

GMs/Hosts Eyes Only. Players, do not read past the break. Spoilers!















Deception: Dr. Beaumont disappeared to the mountain retreat at the request of a former lover, whose daughter, Panar, he had been unable to help with traditional treatments. Her combination of shape shifting and mental abilities, along with sociopathic tendencies, proved too much for outpatient treatment and Beaumont agreed to seclude himself in a mountain cabin with her, in an attempt to reach the rational part of her mind. The area outside the cabin was lined with the entrails of a baboon and patrolled by two large Burmese snakes, former shapeshifters whose humanity had been blocked by Dr. Beaumont for the purpose of providing a "fence" for Panar. The water in the well had been contaminated with catnip, effectively dampening her powers until she could build up an immunity.



The treatment failed here as well, as Panar used the seclusion to work her own treatment upon Beaumont. As he connected to her mind and spirit in an attempt to reach her, she used her own powers to bind him to her, using his powers as fuel for her own. Her strength increases every time he uses his powers and she's chipped away at his ability to make his own decisions until she can influence him to do just about anything. It was she who convinced him to complete his "research" and seek out others whose powers she could steal, in order to better develop her skill and obtain enough power to defeat her weaknesses and escape the mountains. In order to defeat her during the final battle, the SuperHuman will have to choose not to use their powers and subdue or kill her as "normal" humans. The more they use their powers against her, the stronger she will become.


If the Tower Tumbles: There is room here for both character deaths and character control or madness, depending on the timing of the story.



Location: The story takes place in a remote mountain cabin, accessible via one long, winding road leasing up the side of a mountain. The grounds are patrolled by two large Burmese snake shapeshifters. Before reaching the patrolled area, visitors are met by large No Trespassing signs which become more threatening as they proceed.


The cabin itself is large and rambling, originally intended to be a spa like retreat for the wealthy and eccentric. There are many guest rooms, as well as a library, dining hall, hunter's game room, kitchen, and an indoor pool with sauna and changing rooms attached. It is in a state of disrepair, with only one housekeeper and one cook taking the place of a large staff. This old married couple reside in a small house located directly outside the patrolled area.



NPC'S:


Dr. Beaumont


Panar



Monsters- Burmese Pythons
Found in trees and near water. Excellent swimmer, good climber. 12-19 ft long. Native to Southern & Southeast Asia, common in Florida. Dark colored with brown blotches bordered in black. Like to hide in underbrush. Carnivorous- birds and mammals. Powerful, inflict severe bites or constrict. (Wikipedia)


Cookie- Cook
Mostly deaf old woman of small stature, likes to season her food with hallucinogens she's been hording in her cellar for years. Dine with caution.



Smitty- Housekeeper
Gruff, wizened old man who can barely keep up with his duties. Carries a large shotgun with him when on the grounds.




Act I

Opening Scene- The Van Ride (Intros)
The Hike to the Cabin
Smitty
Dinner

Act II

Group Therapy
Nightmares
The Treatment
Discovering Panar

Act III

Attack of the Hired Help
Beaumont's Secret Recordings
Broken Beaumont
Panar's Escape Attempt




Act I




Opening Scene: You each arrive seperately and are met by a grumpy bus driver in greasy clothes. He gestures with nicotine stained hands toward the open doors at the back of the worn van and grunts at you to toss your one allotted piece of luggage inside (have players describe size and shape to the GM/Host). When you've done that, he barks instructions at you. "Get in the van, take a seat, and shut up. I don't trust the lot of you." Once you're all piled into the van, he climbs into the driver's seat muttering about the things he'll do for a buck these days, starts it up and pulls out onto the road.


You all sit in silence for a bit, eyeing each other, until it becomes a bit much and someone decides to ignore the driver's advice and begin introductions. (Players introduce themselves to each other here, as if they were meeting on the van.)


After a long drive through winding mountain roads, the van pulls off onto a dirt road. A large sign on the side of the road reads, "Trespassers Will Be Shot". As you continue down the road, you come to another sign that reads, "I'm Not Lying." Next to it is a totaled car tipped on its side and full of bullet holes. The signs become progressively worse the farther you travel until you come to a small sign in the middle of the tiny dirt road. This one simply says, "Deliveries". The van stops and the driver turns back to you all and says, "You walk from here. Just follow the road. And I hope you wore good shoes."



The Hike to the Cabin: If they stay on the path, they'll be traveling a narrow dirt road. If they decide to leave the path, they'll walk through brush and high grass, the area strewn with rocks and large boulders.


False alarms to spook the group- Possible animal sightings/conflict with squirrels, elk, black bear, rattlesnake, and/or lizards.


At some point they will stumble across baboon entrails. Possible pulls to examine, determine they shouldn't be in Colorado, discover what animals fear baboons, etc. If someone falls in entrails and it can be tied into character fears or weaknesses, even better.


As soon as the cabin is in sight they will meet one of the two Burmese Pythons patrolling the area. A fight with pulls should ensue. Some luggage should be destroyed in the process, possibly even swallowed.


Smitty: Eventually Smitty will show up with a shotgun, ready to escort the group the rest of the way to the cabin. He'll fire a shot in the air to gain their attention. Whether they see him as friend or foe will be up to the group. A black kitten will accompany him, winding her way through the feet of the group, nipping at one of them. She will stay well away from any entrails or python remains. If one of the group managed to kill the python, she will be quite friendly to that person before nipping them. She will then scamper back to the cabin and Smitty will follow, barking at the group to come this way.

Dinner: The group arrives at the cabin, are directed to their rooms by Smitty, who proceeds to examine their luggage and pat them down for contraband. Anything he deems unacceptable is piled into a barrel, shot, and then set on fire. They are then escorted to the dining room and left to await their meal. Nothing has been mentioned of the Dr. so far.


Cookie serves dinner herself, giggling as she places the soup and salad on a sideboard with instructions to "Help yourselves. Oh, please do." And then disappears from the room. Any who eat will experience mild hallucinations. Design these to fit the characters and the tone of the story so far. SuperHumans may use their powers to battle this in themselves or others. At some point they will hear Smitty hollering at his wife about "playing that old trick again","keeping the food clean of it" and "if she discovers what you've done...".


Dr. Beaumont finally arrives with a platter of cookies (perfectly normal cookies), welcomes the group, thanks them for coming, and announces that they will be jumping right in with a group therapy session. (If someone asks to make an elective pull here, they could determine that Beaumont's demeanor seems a bit off. He's a little more stiff than the man they know from TV and scientific journals.)




Act II




Group Therapy: As Beaumont leads them down the hall to the library, the kitten runs through their legs and over their feet and settles in by the fireplace. The room is filled with wall to wall book shelves, the books covered in dust and appearing unused. Only one shelf is fairly dust free and seems as though it's in regular use. Upon inspection it will be noted that these shelves contain Dr. Beaumont's works only. If someone searches later, his journals may be found in a drawer in the corner desk and may give some insight into why he's really here.


Chairs have been placed in a half circle around the fire. One chair sits to the left of the fireplace, the Dr. claims this seat and asks the group to be seated. He asks for complete silence as they allow him access to their minds, in preparation for tomorrow's Treatment. Using situations from the character sheets, he brings them to times they felt vulnerable and asks them to live in that moment. Pulls can be made to keep from reacting or misusing their powers as their minds revisit these moments.



Dr. Beaumont then manipulates their mind to believe they are experiencing their weakness and notes their reactions. Again, pulls can be made to keep their bodies from reacting physically and calling on their powers to combat it. Although, the more they use their powers, the more satisfied the kitty.


The session is declared complete, with the promise that Treatment will begin in the morning. As they leave the room to head to bed, they find they are all humming, whistling or softly singing the same song- Brain Damage by Pink Floyd.


Nightmares: Allow the players to decide if they head to bed as ordered or explore. Either way, they will eventually all feel the world spin out of control and a group nightmare will begin. Again, ideas may be pulled from the character sheets, but a recurring theme will be a large, fat black cat, maniacal laughter, and that song. They will find themselves still in the cabin, but it will be a funhouse/haunted house version with corridors that lead nowhere, rooms that open into hellish scenes, cages upon cages of loud monkeys, ghosts of past memories, etc. They will try to use their powers but will think them gone. Whatever power they do use will be sucked up by Panar and contribute toward her strength as the story progresses. Towards the end of the nightmare, they will find a room full of cats gorging on a human and each will see themselves as the person being consumed alive. They will awake in a pile inside the "cat room", woken by the sound of Cookie shouting, "Breakfast! Get your lazy asses to breakfast!".



The Treatment: Whether the players go meekly to breakfast or stride around demanding answers, the Dr. will come on the scene, apologize for any side effects they may have experienced, and encourage them to follow him so the real treatment may begin.




He will take them to a large gymnasium size room which has been divided into 8 plexiglass type quadrants. One contains a tall stool with a folder and pen lying on the seat. A bullhorn is sitting on the floor next to a large black leather bag. The others each contain one weakness correlating to the characters. The players are instructed to their areas and told to use their powers against the weakness, fight through the pain, embrace it, etc. They will be encouraged to draw more and more power as they face their weakness, until they collapse from the pain. Pulls may be made here at various stages when they should give up and they refuse. Pulls may be made to gain some advantage but they will all eventually expell a lot of power and be weaker for all the false psychobabble being tossed around (After all, Panar is using the Dr. to steal their power, not truly heal them).




Discovering Panar: The Dr. will recommend they head to their room to rest and none will be strong enough to resist. As they make their way down the corridor, they will hear a loud roar but will be unable to place the source or direction. A few minutes later, a young woman will arrive on the scene. She is thin, with two stringy braids, wearing a drop-waisted navy blue dress and carrying a ragged teddy bear by one arm. She will stop in the middle of the hall and stare at the characters, as if challenging them.




Allow the players to react as they will. Hopefully they will discover her name and that she has been here going through treatment for "a long, long time". She will converse with them but will not be friendly (remember she's a sociopath). If any of the players have mind reading or emotion reading powers, they will be weak after Treatment, but if they make a pull they will pick up on the word, "Escape".




Act III


Attack of the Hired Help: The circumstances above will determine the motivations of Cookie and Smitty, but whether they are fighting to keep Panar from escaping or being manipulated by her to get rid of the player characters, they will come from either side of the corridor and attack the players. Smitty has a shotgun, Cookie has a large cast iron pan. If they are fighting against Panar, they will not use any powers they may secretly possess. If she is manipulating them, they may use some very weakened powers (as she as already sucked most of it from them). Players powers will be useable but weakened, and the more they use, the stronger Panar shall be (and the player characters less likely to survive this situation).


Beaumont's Secret Recordings: As Smitty or Cookie is defeated, he/she manages to whisper to one of the players, "She's no innocent. The secret's in the sauce."



Panar laughs at the death/defeat of the staff and scampers back to her room. Some players may follow. Hopefully some or all will go in search of the secret. If they head to the kitchen, they will find a cupboard full of bottles labeled "Cookie's Secret Sauce". Drinking it is not advised. If someone does, create some spur of the moment madness.


Once the bottles are removed from the cupboard, they will find a hidden compartment in the back. Inside this is a portable DVD player and several discs. On these discs they will see Beaumont recapping his sessions with Panar. These are addressed to a woman named Laura and are hopeful at first but he quickly becomes despondent. Her powers are too strong, she is the first SuperHuman he has discovered with two unique powers, and her mental manipulation may even exceed his. He becomes fearful that in his efforts to reach some area of compassion in her mind, he has allowed her too far into his. He wonders if his entrails fence and python patrol will be strong enough to keep her here and he finally admits he has failed, his only choice is to keep her away from the world at large. His last words "I'm so sorry, Laura. She's stronger than both of us but she lost the human part of her when she became super. Our daughter is a monster."



Broken Beaumont: At whatever point the players become a threat or a potential threat to Panar, Beaumont will appear in a last ditch effort to rescue her. She may turn on him, sucking up the last bit of his power as he tries to use it to manipulate the players. This could be a battle with a lot of pulls or a simple catalyst into the final scene, depending on the players and the state of the Jenga Tower.


Panar's Escape Attempt: After sucking up the last bit of her father, and empowered by the earlier Treatment, Panar will make her escape attempt (the reason she has brought the group to the cabin). She may use mental manipulation to get out of the cabin. Once outside she will shapeshift to a black panther. The characters will try to stop her, but if they rely on their powers, she will be harder to stop. Smitty's shotgun could come into play here, or other items the players may have brought with them. They should move far enough down the hill that the other python comes into play. This could be a threat to all or it could focus on Panar (that is why it's there). If the players use their wits rather than their powers, they will defeat Panar and be able to go home, powers AND weaknesses still intact. If they continue with their powers, they may destroy themselves and possibly the entire state of Colorado.

Questionnaires


Character 1


1. How did your powers develop when you hit puberty and why were you more excited about them than that hot blonde in your history class?




2. Inherent in every SuperHuman is a super weakness, something that diminishes your power and causes you pain. What is yours and why do you have such a difficult time admitting it exists?




3. You are legendary for what feat that you never actually performed?




4. Why are you nervous whenever you are alone?




5. What do you own only because of how it makes others think of you?




6. How can you stand there and act so proud of yourself after what you did?




7. Despite being required to use snail mail for all communication, you were one of the first to submit your application for this experimental treatment. Why?




8. Being SuperHuman has its challenges, among them the responsibility to use your powers wisely. Why is this lesson so hard for you to learn?




9. Is there anyone you feel safe with?




10. How do you feel about being SuperHuman?




11. How do you make a living?




12. What happened that night when the angry gang of "Originals" came after you?




13. What is your name?




Character 2


1. How did your powers develop when you hit puberty and why did you take such great pains to conceal the fact that you were SuperHuman?




2. Inherent in every SuperHuman is a super weakness, something that diminishes your power and causes you pain. What is yours and why do you continually find yourself drawn to your own weakness?




3. Why did you save the old woman instead of the child?




4. What do you carry with you at all times?




5. Being SuperHuman has its challenges, among them the responsibility to use your powers wisely. Do you believe this to be true?




6. She tried to love you but it just wasn't enough. What kept you from going after her?




7. Despite being required to use snail mail for all communication, you were anxious to submit your application for this experimental treatment and followed all of the instructions to the letter. Why?




8. What's most important to you- overcoming your weakness or finding true love?




9. What has been your greatest achievement so far?




10. How do you feel about being SuperHuman?




11. How do you make a living?




12. What item of clothing is your "signature piece" and how does it help you as a SuperHuman?




13. What is your name?




Character 3


1. How did your powers develop when you hit puberty and why were you disappointed?




2. Inherent in every SuperHuman is a super weakness, something that diminishes your power and causes you pain. What is yours and why are you obsessed with overcoming it?




3. How did you survive that encounter with the shapeshifter and why do you still feel guilty about it?




4. Being SuperHuman has its challenges, among them the responsibility to use your powers wisely. How are justifying your frequent misuse of this power?




5. Why did you give up your dreams of becoming an actor?




6. What is that one bad habit you just can't seem to break?




7. Despite your determination to overcome your weakness, you dragged your feet for weeks and nearly missed the treatment application deadline. You blamed it on the old fashioned requirement of using snail mail for all communication, but what was the real reason?




8. What do you keep in the shoebox under your bed and why is it so important to you?




9. Do you still miss him, despite everything else?




10. How do you feel about being SuperHuman?




11. How do you make a living?




12. Why do you insist on wearing that ridiculous costume and how does it help you as a SuperHuman?




13. What is your name?




Character 4




1. How did your powers develop when you hit puberty and why were you suddenly the most popular kid in school?




2. Inherent in every SuperHuman is a super weakness, something that diminishes your power and causes you pain. What is yours and why are you so desperate to defeat it?




3. Among your many awards, which is the one you really feel you have earned?




4. What is that thing and why can't you bring yourself to throw it away?




5. Being SuperHuman has its challenges, among them the responsibility to use your powers wisely. What is the worst thing you've ever done when being irresponsible with your power?




6. Why did you take the blame when it wasn't you?




7. Being required to use snail mail for all communication related to the treatment application seemed ridiculous to you, but you begrudgingly followed instructions because you wanted to be part of the initial group. Why was this so important?




8. When did you first discover that you enjoyed others pain?




9. Why do you dress like that?




10. How do you feel about being SuperHuman?




11. How do you make a living?




12. What is your greatest fear?




13. What is your name?




Character 5



1. How did your powers develop when you hit puberty and why haven't you forgiven yourself?




2. Inherent in every SuperHuman is a super weakness, something that diminishes your power and causes you pain. What is yours and how have you learned to deal with it?




3. What do people usually assume about you and why are they wrong?




4. When did you first begin to suspect that the Doctor's research was unreliable?




5. Does anyone else in your group know why you're really here?




6. Being SuperHuman has its challenges, among them the responsibility to use your powers wisely. Is this a lesson you have learned?




7. You held off on submitting your application for this treatment, carefully timing your required snail mail communication, and waited a day each time before mailing back the required documents. Why?




8. How do you react when someone says they wish they could be just like you?




9. You'd go without underclothing before you'd leave the house without this. What is it?




10. How do you feel about being SuperHuman?




11. How do you make a living?




12. You were 16 when your lover moved suddenly and left no forwarding address. It's been many years, why have you been unable to forget her?




13. What is your name?




Character 6


1. How did your powers develop when you hit puberty and why did it scare you?




2. Inherent in every SuperHuman is a super weakness, something that diminishes your power and causes you pain. What is yours and why won't you go to the zoo anymore?




3. When the world is against you, what one thing keeps you going?




4. Why do you feel that you aren't living up to the expectations that come with being a SuperHuman?




5. What creature do you love that most hate?




6. Being SuperHuman has its challenges, among them the responsibility to use your powers wisely. Why is this a lesson you will never forget?




7. You were delighted to be required to use snail mail for all communication regarding the treatment application and opened a new PO Box expressly for this purpose. Why the PO Box and why the interest in the experimental treatment?




8. What is it about your personality that some find hard to deal with?




9. That hidden bodice pocket you sew into all your clothing, what do you keep there?




10. How do you feel about being SuperHuman?




11. How do you make a living?




12. Under the tough girl exterior lurks something more. What are you hiding?




13. What is your name?




Character 7 (Optional character)


1. How did your powers develop when you hit puberty and why did your life immediately change?




2. Inherent in every SuperHuman is a super weakness, something that diminishes your power and causes you pain. What is yours and why are you so annoyed at the mere idea?




3. What would you consider to be your "guilty pleasure"?




4. How did you come up with your sense of "style" and why is it important you dress like that?




5. Whose grave do you send weekly flower deliveries to and yet won't visit?




6. Being SuperHuman has its challenges, among them the responsibility to use your powers wisely. How has this been proven true in your life?




7. Being required to use snail mail for all communication initially kept you from applying, but you soon changed your mind. Why?




8. He didn't react well to your developing powers. Why? How did you respond?




9. What keeps you awake at night?




10. How do you feel about being SuperHuman?




11. How do you make a living?




12. What is your greatest desire?




13. What is your name?