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Here at Game Geekery, I’m posting Part 2 of “Creating ‘Beware the Boogeyman‘” from the “Adventure Creation” series. Last week, I set down some very broad ideas on what the adventure might look like and who the PCs might be. This week I’m taking those ideas and making them more concrete, with an eye to eventually having what I need to run the game printed out in a nice, easy to read format.
Be aware that if you plan to play in this game at Gamex 2016, the below contains numerous spoilers!
Step 4 – Adding Detail
After Step 1 last week, the game was defined as, “As children sleep, they are vulnerable to nightmare creatures sent by the Boogeyman, who feeds on their fear. Luckily, every child has magical protectors to keep the forces of evil at bay.”
Step 2 expanded that a bit to be, “the Boogeyman sends his minions to attack children in the night, feeding off their fear of monsters and nightmares to make himself more powerful. To protect them, the Fairy Council ensures that every child has one or more magical guardians (the PCs) to keep the household safe while they sleep. But on this night, the Boogeyman’s attacks are unusually powerful… and he actually kidnaps the parents of certain extra imaginative children, a flagrant violation of the Eternal Laws. The Fairy Council responds by sending the PCs on a quest to the dream realm to confront the Boogeyman directly and rescue the parents.”
Somehow, those ideas need to carry a four-hour, six-player convention game. For me, that usually means five scenes, with a possible sixth that I can add in if the players are just ripping through everything and we don’t want the game to end like an hour early.
The game will begin in the children’s house as they’re sleeping and attacked by the Boogeyman’s minions, and presumably end with the climactic battle against the Boogeyman himself, so that’s two already. Those are both pretty combat-heavy, so for the third I’m hoping for some variety. After researching sleep and dreams online for a bit, I decide that the PCs must convince Morpheus, the god of dreams, that they are worthy to enter the dream realm in the first place before they can even embark on their mission. Halfway there!
In my reading (and Wikipedia addiction), I was also reminded of the wonderful poem “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll. A guardian dragon is always a good idea, so I guess the PCs will have to defeat the Jabberwock on their way to the Boogeyman? Speaking of, the Boogeyman is a nightmare creature that feeds on the fear of others for his own power… there should be a scene where the PCs need to overcome their personal fear before they face him, with each success and failure making him more or less powerful.
Finally, I always enjoy pitting PCs against twisted mirror images of themselves, and the dream realm seems the perfect place for something like that. I’ll keep that “in reserve” as a possible sixth encounter should there be time to squeeze it in.
That’s six scenes (well, five plus one). They’re awfully disjointed, though, so I spend a while trying to weave some kind of connecting narrative.
- At Home. The game begins in the family’s home, where the guardians (the PCs), patrol as they do every night against incursions by the Boogeyman’s forces… usually a Goblin with a nightmare to deliver, or an overzealous Tooth Fairy who tries to snatch extra teeth. But this night, the house is assaulted by not one, not two, but a full dozen armed Goblins who swarm towards the children’s bedroom with murder in their eyes. When the dust clears, the children are unharmed (hopefully!) and asleep… but their parents are missing, stolen from their beds. A representative from the Fairy Council arrives to ask the party to rescue them from the Dream Realm before morning when the children awake.
- Morpheus. Entrance to the Dream Realm is strictly enforced by the god of dreams and his army of Sand Soldiers. The Fairy Council can get the PCs to Morpheus (the portal is under the children’s bed), but they can’t grant them entrance. They will not only have to convince Morpheus that they are worthy of the task, but also to reveal the location of the Boogeyman’s heart. He cannot be harmed without it. Morpheus gives them a small hourglass filled with black sand… if they flip it and let it run down, it will take them to the Boogeyman’s Nightmare Palace. (He may or may not reveal that the Boogeyman is actually his brother, Icelus.)
- The Jabberwock. This wicked and ancient dragon has guarded the Boogeyman’s treasure in his hoard deep within the Tulgey Wood, beyond the slithy toves (corkscrewing badgers), the mome raths (green pigs), and the mimsy borogoves (birds of unkempt feathers). This doesn’t necessarily have to be a fight. It’s possible (though unlikely) that the Heart could be stolen, or that the good creatures of the Wood could be convinced to rise against the Jabberwock and join with the PCs. His hoard may continue other treasures as well that could help against the Boogeyman.
- Mirror Enemies. (Optional) If there is enough time, the party will be attacked by mirror versions of themselves, sent by the Boogeyman to delay them until morning breaks and the parents are lost forever. If not…
- The Boogeyman, Trials. Inside the Boogeyman’s Nightmare Palace, the PCs will find not only their children’s parents but other parents as well. For now, the love of their sleeping children protects them from harm, but once morning comes and the children realize their parents are gone the Boogeyman will have the strength to sacrifice them. The fear and pain of their children will then make him more powerful, so that the following night he can kidnap even more… and then more… and then more. When he realizes the PCs are in the palace, he will force them to face their fears in individual trials. If they all succeed, his stats stay the same… for each PC that fails, he gets +2 to all skills, +4 to all damage, and +2 to DR.
- The Boogeyman, Showdown. After the trials comes the climax, the final battle, when the Boogeyman and his minions try to kill the PCs once and for all. If the PCs defeat him, Morpheus will appear and banish him from the Dream Realm forever. To honor the PCs’ bravery, Morpheus will delay appointing another Boogeyman for one full night, so that not a single nightmare will be had. He will then return them home, where the parents will remember nothing (and the children will awake after a night of particularly wonderful dreams).
Not bad, I think. It still feels a little all over the place, but the game is set in a land of dreams — there’s a lot of leeway. I think I can pull it off!
Step 5 – Finalizing the Characters
With a better understanding now of the story, it’s time to get to work on finishing up the PCs.
First, though, I am changing the children from Billy and Sarah to Peter and Eva, children of Russian ancestry. This is because in my reading, I discovered things called Domovoi, which are mythical house protecting spirits from Slavic folklore. They caught my eye because they are said to be able to take on the forms of cats and dogs, so… perfect!
So far, I have basic versions of half the characters:
I may tweak them a wee bit, but that’s mostly what they’ll look like in their final versions.
The game prep is coming along well! The convention is not for another three weeks, and “all” I have left to do are three more PCs and all of the fiddly bits for “Step 6 – Final Details” (which consists mostly of getting everything printed and organized).
Once the game is fully prepped and ready, I’ll post everything together for download. Any thoughts so far on the storyline, characters, anything else?
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A behind-the-scenes look at putting together "one-shots," from idea and first notes to the finished adventure. Here are the five most recent posts, or select "View the entire series."
- GM Convention Tips
- Creating “Beware the Boogeyman” – Part 1
- Creating “Beware the Boogeyman” – Part 2
- Creating “Beware the Boogeyman” – Part 3
- “Beware the Boogeyman,” Post-Con Wrap Up