Friday, October 1, 2021

Tricks & Treats: Jack-o'-Lantern Nightmare

Happy first day of Halloween! Have a free Halloween-themed one shot adventure you can run this month, built for use with a Lasers & Feelings hack called Tricks & Treats, created by Octava Oculta (Reddit username u/shardsofcrystal). It's an ultra-lite system fit for all ages or experience levels, and I made a kick-ass adventure for it last year during lockdown. Just follow that link, make a copy of the folder and its contents, and use the materials within to play a fun session of spooky adventure.

Here's the pitch: play as middle schoolers going trick or treating in your typical North American suburban neighborhood, encounter a big horrifying monster that the grown-ups are helpless to stop, use your noggin to save the day. Stranger Things is a really useful touchstone here, because it's the perfect balance of family-friendly adventure and supernatural horror. Basically, I aimed for "more tense and easy to take seriously than The Goonies" but "less violent and mature than Stephen King's It." When the monster is present, it should feel legitimately threatening, but at the same time, you won't see it tear a 9 year old in two pieces and spray blood everywhere.

At least, that's how I run it. It's your table, do whatever you like. Maybe you and your group would prefer a game where the monsters violently massacre the neighborhood, but you also decide that you don't want your players to get called a homophobic slur by a shitty 12 year old. Use your grown up judgment on what's best for your group and what you want out of the game.

A note on audience: hypothetically, you could run this adventure for a group of kids about the same age as the protagonists. Pretty easily, in fact, since it's such a simple rule system and the scenario is easy to grasp. However, I personally feel like the ideal audience is actually a group of adults, since much of the appeal of the adventure is 1) nostalgia, and 2) being able to laugh at the cringiness of middle schoolers.

In a couple weeks I'll be releasing my sequel to this adventure, so if you enjoy this one then stay tuned so you can run another one before the end of the month.


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