Monday, November 23, 2020

Shameless Self Promotion!

 Hi Ho Everybody!

This has been a very difficult year and I wanted to do something to lift myself out of the overwhelming feeling of malaise that has gripped me since this past April. Additionally, I wanted to re-invigorate my love of all things RPG and a little off kilter. 

Lastly, not going to lie, I need to make some extra scratch as my business has been hurt badly by our current global health crisis. 


I have just updated my game, The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show, available on Drivethrurpg!

The updated version corrects numerous spelling and grammar errors, clarifies certain rules, and adds in a few sample Puppet Characters to go with the Series Pitches / campaign ideas that are included in the book. 

I've been meaning to do this for some time now. I decided to do it now for all the aforementioned reasons plus one - I intend to make new product! 

I wanted to use this moment to announce my upcoming series of system-agnostic, Sci-Fi RPG e-booklets, 'The Barking Alien Guide Series' TM, beginning with 'The Barking Alien Guide to The Neraida Sector' TM.

Each product will showcase the planets in an area of space that can easily be placed into your Sci-Fi/Space Adventure game of choice. Within its pages, Barkley - the titular 'Barking Alien' himself - serves as your travel guide introducing you to each worlds' points of interest, native flora and fauna, culture, cuisine, and possible adventure opportunities. 

The idea is provide Gamemasters and players with worlds to discover and explore whatever their default theme or setting.

Maybe you have an adventure planned but haven't thought of an environment to set it in. Perhaps you are itching for an outing on a desert planet but you're not sure what to do once you're there. Peruse one of these galactic gazetteers and find your next stop for excitement, intrigue, and the best deep fried Szor'riz this side of the Pleiades Star Cluster! 

Stay tuned for more and keep it together anyway you can. 

We'll get through this. 

Peace and Love,

Barking Alien

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Long and Short of It

Recently, a few blogs that I visit regularly have posted articles about the joy of the long term campaign.

It started with this one from James M. over at GROGNARDIA, who was in turn inspired by this one by noisms' Monsters and Manuals. There is also this one from my good buddy Tim Knight at HeroPress

Like these gents, I too love a good continuous, no-end-in-sight RPG campaign, played out over the course of time measured not in sessions but in years. Just as the above bloggers have done, I shall shamelessly self-reference with this old post on the subject right here

With that, I'd like to take this opportunity to speak in defense of tabletop RPG's red-headed stepchildren: the One-Shot and Limited Series campaign.

One-shots and short campaigns get a bad rap among many old school gamers. Most ask why they should even bother? Think of the time and effort it would take to prep a really good One-Shot, perhaps learning the rules of a new game, creating brand new characters, just to play it once.

A session of a game that won't be revisited and doesn't link into a larger narrative isn't very appealing to a lot of us. How can one get invested in their character for example if they know full well they are unlikely to play them again? Can you get seeped into the world / setting in a single adventure or a set of short adventures if that's all there will be?

Granted, those are all good and legitimate points but please indulge me on some 'short' (see what I did there? heh) counterpoints. 

One-shots and campaigns of a purposely limited nature allow one to experiment with ideas and systems that offer a break from the usual game without having to commit to an entirely new long term obligation. Your group can try something, see if they like it, and then decide if they want to go all in. To this end, your investment is not as deep or intense as it would be for a long term game.

As the GM, you'll need to prep as you would for the first session of a ongoing campaign but without the need to weave in the dangling subplots that would lead to follow up outings. They can be there of course but they don't have to be. You also won't need to know much about your world beyond the adventure at hand, though of course it's always helpful to know what's 'beyond the map'.

This is where GMs like myself who run Star Trek, Star Wars, ALIEN, and other licensed properties have a significant advantage. I don't need to work out the setting at all because it is a known quantity in such cases. I just need to know where we are for the given one-shot session. 

GMs also need not memorize the rule mechanics in their entirety (not that you ever need to do that). Far better to have a working idea of the rules you'll be using and that you'll need to use a 'Cheat Sheet' or quick reference sheet for all the basic components of your game. Usually this means knowing how skills work, how combat is executed, what the feats or abilities of the PCs do, and that sort of thing. 

For example, a tip I've found helpful for Star Trek Adventures and ALIEN is to make an alphabetical list of all the PCs' Talents and an abbreviated description of how they function in game. It's not necessary list of all the game's Talents. It's over-prep, unhelpful and time consuming. 

I know, I know. But I can only do it once. 

As a player, it's not like everyone needs a copy of the rules, all the supplements, new custom dice, new miniatures, etc. That'd be a waste for what could be a one time use. Work with the GM to get a Player Cheat Sheet, as well as the aforementioned list of special rules, skills, or abilities. Copy down only the Talents or perks that effect your character. This saves time and energy and helps the GM run things more smoothly.

Now what is required on the part of both GM and Player is a mental and emotional investment that is on the same level as your ongoing games. Perhaps more in fact, as without a powerful buy-in and deep desire to make the game work, you could end up feeling all those negative feelings about One-shots already mentioned or alluded to; too much work for too little pay off. Nobody wants to feel that way, so everyone needs to contribute to the games success (a good recipe for a game of any length). 

Finally, I will say that some of the best games I've run in the past 15-20 years have been One-Shots or Short Term Campaigns. I've run some great long ones too but I have a powerful fondness for several games that went no more than a handful of sessions. 

I've run individual sessions of my own game, The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show RPG, some connected, most not, featuring the characters of The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock. 

I ran a Star Trek RPG one-shot an a local convention that people enjoyed so much we assembled an ongoing game of it that is now in its 5th year.

I ran a two session 'Visitors from Space' scenario set in the Dust Bowl - Depression Era of late 1920s/early 1930s Oklahoma  A group of total strangers from various walks of life become stranded together at a Motor Lodge during a dust storm and mysterious things begin to occur. Many of them were not what they appeared to be. 

I ran an online Mobile Suit Gundam based campaign that lasted about six sessions and fleshed out a side story of that setting I've wanted to elaborate on for over 25 years. 

My 8 session jaunt into the universe of ALIEN, my ALIEN FRONTIER campaign, was probably the best single campaign I've done in 10 years. We were only able to complete 7 episodes before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The players and I await the chance to play the grand finale. 

I've run two sessions of Ghostbusters, one in May of 2019 and one in October of 2020 that, while based on a 35 year old campaign with my friends from High School, hasn't been revisited since...well...since 35 years ago. 

A friend who'd never had a good experience playing Star Wars D6 prompted me to run a one-shot of that game last week and this coming weekend we're running another session because we had so much fun with it. Again, the first one was only put together because it bothered me that my pal hadn't played a game of Star Wars D6 - perhaps my favorite RPG of all time - that didn't suck. That is a wrong I could not leave un-righted!

In conclusion, I want to run an ongoing, multi-year, lots of players RPG campaign with all the slow burn goodness, character development, and world-building that only comes with hundreds of 4-6 hour sessions. Preferably 8 hours actually if we're wishing on shooting stars here. 

Until then...until that happens...I hope to run one-shots, two-shots, and six to twelve session campaigns as good as any mentioned above. 

Nearly every great series begins with a pilot episode but not every pilot is picked up as a series. 

Consider making great pilots.

Barking Alien

One more thing to note...

It is interesting to me that the dislike of the One-Shot seems to largely be the domain of the Old School Gamer. The New School Gamer, as evidenced by the vast array of indie/small press RPGs that are best run as one-shots or short campaigns, seem to love the concept.

More food for thought. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Lemme Tell You Something

Taking four hours and forty-five minutes and lasting a lifetime, the Ghostbusters RPG one-shot I ran on October 17th of 2020 was by far one biggest highlights of this largely dreadful year. It was definitely the greatest single gaming session I've had since...well, since the Ghostbusters RPG one-shot I ran with roughly this exact same group in May of last year

What is it that made and continues to make games with this group so amazing?

To begin with, I love these guys. They love me. We all love each other. I am serious. This is not just a gaming group or a group of friends. These guys are family. We've been friends through thick and thin, births and deaths, feast and famine for over 35 years. 

There is an understanding, a rapport if you will, that goes beyond that of the average gamers playing a game once a week. We can not have seen each other in years, not have gamed together in a decade or more, and be one hundred and ten percent certain that we're on the same page at any given moment. Without the connection we all share in the real world, this would be impossible to duplicate in a game. 

Additionally, perhaps because of our mutual long-term mutual understanding of and affection for each other, we see very positive dynamics in play. No member of the group tries to hog the spotlight. Every PC has every other PCs back. Immersion in the setting, characters. and situation is deep because everybody trusts that all the other players and the GM are taking the same approach. 

No one argues about rules, sights rules, or refers to the mechanics in any overt way unless absolutely necessary. The rules are the least meaningful part of our games and drawing attention to them breaks immersion. Add to this the idea that no one is concerned that the GM is out to screw them, they're not out to screw each other, and everyone is hoping the next great idea and not the next die roll is what saves the day. 

I've been in a lot of games in 2020 with a lot of groups, many featuring overlapping members but not all. In that time and among those experiences I've had some great games, some good ones, some that were only OK, and a few that make me contemplate giving it all up and taking on the exciting hobby of lint collecting.

Luckily, it seems that once or twice a year at least I will get the opportunity to see the craft at its fullest potential. I will sit down, in person or online, and interact with this band of brothers, fighting the good fight against ego, negativity, pettiness, and then whatever the game is about of course. 

Miss you guys already. Can't wait for the next excursion.

Which will be...Where No One Has Gone Before...

Barking Alien

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Something Strange in Your Neighborhood

Continuing my tale from the previous post, I will recap the second half of the four and three quarter hour Ghostbusters one-shot I ran on October 17th and then get to why this game worked so well in a third installment.

Bear with me please as this might be a little long. OK, really long. Thanks. 

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy...

We last left our blue collar boogie battlers driving their 'Ecto-Mobile' to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where an exhibition entitled 'The History of Halloween' was causing a massive spike in the already high Psycho-Kinetic Energy readings of this time of year. 

Pulling up to the front steps of the world famous 'Met', our heroes saw dozens of people fleeing from the area, all dressed to the nines. Some had burns on their clothes, some were soaking wet, and still others appeared to be coughing and weak.

The boys hurried up the steps, calling out to museum personnel and a few cops on the scene to get the civilians clear of the area. They then entered the Met to a conversation that made us all smile more than it should have. 

I described the layout of the place and posted the image above. Nearly all of the players had, at one time or another, been to the Met in real life, though for some it had been 15 years ago or more.

We got into a brief disagreement over the location of the Coat and Bag Check area, a room not clearly visible in the picture. Eventually, we realized that changes post 911 - and depending on where you entered the building - facilitated the need for two different areas for Coat/Bag Check that caused the initial confusion. This all lasted no more than a few minutes or so.

As soon as we cleared that up, with no further visual information (no more photos, no maps, etc.), my friend Will said, "So, if this is a special exhibit and it includes both costumes and objects, it's probably in the rotating exhibition gallery space straight head a bit and then on the left. Let's go!"

Here is a map, the actual floorplan of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's first floor and mezzanine areas from the official website. Note Exhibition Gallery 199, it's location identified exactly by someone who hadn't been in the Met in over 15 years and hadn't seen this map. 

THIS is the group I gamed with in my formative years. These guys!

As the Ghostbusters raced towards the exhibit room they passed and were then joined by the Met's Head of Security and the Chief Maintenance person, as well as the exhibit's Curator. The Met employees filled the guys in on what was happening so far.

Beginning about an hour and a half ago (coinciding with the PKE spike the Ghostbusters detected earlier), strange things had started to transpire. At first they were minor and mentally written off as being spooked by the exhibit and the season. Eventually things escalated, with objects flying about, lights flicking on and off, electronic devices dying, and [only moments before the Ghostbusters' arrival], four elements of the exhibition taking on ghostly qualities. Now, a whirlwind of supernatural force blew relics and patrons in multiple directions, pinning a security guard against the wall near the entrance. 

As the PCs aided the remaining attendees in evacuating the room (though they couldn't seem to free the security guard) they became aware of the four Spectres of Halloweens Past! Based on the names of the exhibition pieces they were called: (Left to Right): The Witch Ghost, The Skull Girl, The Creepy Clowns, and The Turnip Jacks. 

Robert Stadler, realizing these items were part of the donated Francine Lawson Collection, does a leap of logic and surmises that the Witch Ghost costume was one Lawson herself actually wore as a child. In fact, he believes that if he can get close and communicate with the entity he can get it to call off the entire incident. 

Dave Nelson immediately vows to cover Rob's moves into the room and Pedro Preguntas vows to cover Dave because if anything happened to him Pedro is sure he'd be blamed and near hear the end of it. 

Meanwhile, Alexander Thorton deduces that if this haunting and the paranormal activity at the Firehouse are related, these ghosts must be drawing power from the building to put on such a showy display. He and Gabriel Zimmerman decide to run down to the basement, accompanied by a few Maintenance workers, to shut down the electrical energy in the area, thereby limiting the Halloween ghosts' abilities. 

Rob Stadler goes into the room and prepares to 'fake out' the Jack O'Lantern Turnips and then dodge to his left. The Turnip Jacks fly right towards him and one breathes forth a jet of fire. Robbie does a flip, Dave moves in and blasts at the Jacks, and Pedro runs into the room to face the Jack O' Turnips up close and personal. The good news is Rob avoids being broiled alive and Pedro gets within punching range. Unfortunately Dave misses, creating a massive hole in the wall and getting the attention of the Creepy Clowns. In addition, some exhibition stands catch fire, creating a short wall of flames that prevents Dave from moving further into the room. 

In the meantime, Thorton and Zimmerman have run down the stairs to the lower levels, Maintenance personnel in pursuit, when they come across two more employees of the Met discussing the taking down of 'The History of Halloween' exhibit once the festivities are over. Apparently, someone didn't get the memo! Thorton instructs the two of them to gather the cases for storing the items back up right now and place them at the entrance to the exhibit gallery. 

Just then, the Skull Girl ghost, scared by the noise of the fighting upstairs, phases through the ceiling some distance in front of the group. She hangs in the air blocking them from reaching the door to the main 'fusebox'. As Alexander and Gabriel step towards her and in front of the various Met personnel, the girl begins to cough and wheeze as she asks seemingly innocent and curious questions about the pretty lights on their gear.

Powering up their Proton Packs they frighten the ghost, who responds in an eerie little child's voice followed by a whooping cough that blows Zimmerman a good 200 ft. backward! Thorton stands his ground and is only pushed back a tiny bit. The Met employees travel some 30-50 ft. back, some falling over. Within seconds, the Met employees begin to cough and wheeze themselves, some claiming to be short of breath, while others complain of a fever, chills, and/or feeling very weak. It was as if the Skull Girl's hurricane cough carried the side effect of Depression Era influenza. 

Back upstairs in the exhibit room, Robbie readies himself for a dash deeper inside and towards his target but waits until Dave can give him an opening. One of the Creepy Clown boys points at Dave and gets one of his brothers to join in as well as they start laughing at the Ghostbusters. The laughter is nearly deafening, causing fear and confusion.

Pedro charges the Jack O' Turnips, physically striking one with his Neutrona Wand and then shoving the weapon into the violent vegetable's 'mouth'. Firing his Proton Stream, the Turnip flash cooks from the inside out and falls to the ground inert, a disembodied green and orange mist floating where it had done so previously.

This distracts the Clowns, enabling Dave Nelson to grab a fire extinguisher off the wall and put out the flames in front of him. He then fires his cannon-like Particle Stream Thrower. It causes a huge hole in the back wall and two of the the three Clown ghosts start to rethink laughing at a former US Marine turner Ghostbuster. 

Rob then makes his move, ducking and weaving around objects sailing through the air, avoiding the remaining Turnips, and shouting to the Witch Ghost, "Francine! Mom says it's time to go home!"

The Witch Ghost turns and tilts her head as if trying to crane to hear someone far away. "What?"

"You heard me! Trick or Treat is over. It's time to say good bye to your friends and come home", said Rob, projecting loudly over the din of the action but less yelling then speaking calmly and a bit sternly. 

The Witch Ghost asked for ten more minutes in that way that children do when they don't want to go to bed. Robbie Stadler would have none of it and said so, though he added she could help her Mother set the table and after dinner they'd go through the treats they'd gotten. This seemed to please the Witch and she called to the others that it was time to go home. Halloween was over for now. 

Unfortunately, Skull Girl wasn't there to hear this and her visage became even more horrifying (and she wasn't exactly adorable to start with!). Unable to reach the electrical switches and reduce the entity's power level, Thorton came up with a mad idea. He made quick alterations to his Neutrona Wand, the Quantum Incarcerator, and attempted to generate an EMP blast to knock out the power. Meanwhile, Zimmerman was running back into the fray, charging up his Positron Field Generator to give himself a shield against the ghost. 

Thorton released the EMP and after a blinding flash of blue-white light, everything went dark. The other thing that could be seen was the largely transparent, red/orange-tinted, glowing sphere of Zimmerman's Positron Force Field. As he reached the others he switched the lever from defense to attack and tried to catch the weakened Skull Girl in a Positron Bubble. 

He missed. The Skull Girl shout/shrieked "PRETTY!" as she started draining energy from Zimmerman's Proton Pack! Just then, Thorton managed to restart his own Proton Pack and fired at the ghost, grabbing it in the peculiar pull of the Quantum Incarcerator's inverted stream. As the Skull Girl was forced to stop absorbing Zimmerman's power to fight against Thorton, Gabriel was able to drop and slide a Ghost Trap into place below her. He then added his own stream into the mix, finally catching the little horror in a Positronic Field. Between the two of them and some quick thinking (getting the Skull Girl to look into the light of the trap), the pair was successful in capturing the wayward wraith. 

Back in the exhibit room, after the Ghosts briefly say their good-byes, the Witch Ghost, confirmed as some sort of spectral impression of Francine Lawson, confides in Robert Stadler her love of Halloween and how sometimes she never wants it to end. Rob shares her fondness for the holiday but wisely notes that if it occurred every day we'd tire of it and it wouldn't seem as special as when it comes around once each year. 

Fading from this world, their manifestations laid to rest in a manner of speaking, the costumes and turnips revert to the common if historical objects they were and are quickly but carefully packed up in their proper containers. At that point Thorton and Zimmerman come up from the basement carrying a steaming Ghost Trap and the paper mache mask and old dress of the Skull Girl. As those too are secured, overseen by Stadler and Thorton, the Met Director, Exhibit Curator, and Marsha Krane, horror writer and current owner of the Lawson Collection, arrive to thank the Ghostbusters for all they've done. 

Pedro and Alex are suspicious that one of these people may be behind the event, knowing the consequences of having the items united at midnight on Halloween, but are convinced the group are more uninformed and careless than evil. Krane says she should have known, having done extensive research on Francine Lawson but her own love of Halloween may have clouded her judgement. She just wanted to share her affection for All Hallow's Eve with the public. Stadler comments on how much they have in common and after a bit of flirting the two decide to see each other again sometime soon. Robbie you ol' dog. 

In the background, while all this is happening, Nelson and Preguntas, with some help from Thorton and Zimmerman, try to figure out a way to get paid for all their work. Out loud they discuss things like 'paranormal negligence' and a failure to purchase 'ghost insurance' while setting up a supernatural themed exhibit during Halloween...


Next time, a behind-the-scenes look at why this was one of my best RPG sessions of 2020.

Barking Alien

Extensive research was done by yours truly to authentically depict the Met, the exhibit, and various other aspects of the story. I thought you'd all be particularly interested in some of my notes regarding the haunted costumes.

The Witch Ghost is a homemade witch costume with a paper mache mask and a hat and outfit made of good quality materials. Likely belonged to the child of a family of mild means, circa late 1800s.

The Skull Girl, aka The Tenement Ghost, was a homemade paper mache skull mask and a little girl's dress. The dress quality, style, and other elements indicated it was from a very poor family in the Depression Era, late 1920s to early 1930s.

The Creepy Clowns, also called 'Clown Bullies', were likely store bought costumes, among the first commercially available Halloween costumes in the US, average, middle class family, circa mid-to-late 1950s or very early 1960s. 

Finally the Turnip Jacks, also Jack O'Turnips and Burning Turnips, date back to the earliest history of the Irish settlers arriving in what would become the United States. Jack O'Lanterns were originally made from carved out turnips, based on the old Irish folktale of the clever but doomed 'Stingy Jack' who reneged on several deals with the devil. Using pumpkins didn't win favor until the 19th century. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Something You Don't See Everyday

Hey there blogosphere, 

Adam here with your furry ol' pal Barkley, coming to you practically live from the somewhat dusty Barking Alien blog with something to talk about finally. 

It's been very tough getting motivated to blog of late as life has been getting me down and gaming, which I count on to lift me back up, has been only OK at best. Things on the RPG front have been kind of lackluster and occasionally a little disappointing, so there just hasn't been any recharge of my largely depleted batteries. 

Then came Saturday, October 17th...

In celebration of my buddy AJ's birthday and the fact that this particular group hasn't seen each other all year, my old High School gang got together for another chapter of our Ghostbusters: The Home Office campaign, now over 30 years strong. 

We decided to meet up on Discord on Saturday the 17th for a four hour session that ended up running quite a bit longer and which was followed by another two hour chat. I will break down the session, note some highlights, and then talk about the deeper, more meaningful connections that made this session truly spectacular. 

We Came, We Saw, We Kicked its Ass - Sorta

The session began with each of our Ghostbusters dealing with the extremely busy month of October in their own way.

Ever since the initial Gozer Incident in 1982, the month of October has become the paranormal protection industry's equivalent of November and December for gift buying retail stores, with the 13th to the 31st being especially bonkers. Halloween day itself is the supernatural investigation and elimination equivalent of 'Black Friday'. This was only made worse by the appearance and capture of Samhain, the spirit of Halloween, in 1986.

Luckily, this year hadn't been so bad but it was still much busier than normal. Dr. Alexander D. Thorton was monitoring the levels of Psycho-Kinetic Energy in the region and making sure the Containment Unit, upgraded over the years, was functioning properly. Gabriel Zimmerman was fixing and maintaining the equipment from recent missions. David Nelson and Pedro Preguntas were driving back from Upstate New York having been away a few days to catch The Ghost Horse of the Adirondacks. Finally, Robert Stadler was...putting up decorations?

Yes, the fun-loving Robbie Stadler decided to perk up everyone's spirits (no pun intended) by decorating the old Firehouse HQ with both new and vintage streamers, plastic spiders, and cardboard cut-outs of bats. Luckily, he found some classic images printed on thick paper stock, shiny letters, and a picture of a pin-up witch from the 1940s. He spelled out 'HAPPY HALLOWEEN' over the kitchen table on the second floor, unironically referred to as 'the staff lounge'. 

With all this going on the group nearly forgot about a special event being held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This October, The Met (as it is known) was holding an exhibition entitled, 'The History of Halloween'. On display were various costumes, items, and other All Hallows' Eve holiday paraphernalia from the late 1800s all the way to the 1970s and 80s. The Ghostbusters had been invited to attend the closing ceremonies on Halloween night. 

Just then, a massive spike in the local supernatural energy readings made Dr. Thorton jump and he immediately started to analyze the data. Calling on Zimmerman to assist, the PKE burst seemed to originate from The Met itself! Zimmerman further refined the search to a single room and possibly only certain sources in that room. 

Just then Stadler turns to see that some of the spare letters he left in a pile had arranged themselves on the floor to spell out, 'THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC'. Letting each other know what was up, the Ghostbusters wondered if the Museum's spike in PKE was effecting the Firehouse or was the Ghostbusters own home base haunted! No time to ask questions, only to find answers!

Nelson and Preguntas return quickly thanks to some questionable driving decisions by Pedro and are filled in on what's going on. Nelson goes to his room and the lockers to retrieve his gear while the others take PKE Meters and Ecto-Goggles to the kitchenette area to find more clues. Nervous about the effects an onsite haunting might have on the Containment Unit, Thorton heads to the basement to make sure everything is OK down there.

What he finds is a power drain, not on the main, well protected generator, but on the numerous back-up generators, auxiliary batteries, etc. Meanwhile, Stadler discovers that the letters and the picture of the pin-up witch are active with PKE. Checking the name of the company that made the decorations, Village Print and Publishing, Robbie starts to form a theory. 

We cut to a scene in the laboratory/workbench area where the Halloween decoration of the lovely, red-haired witch is propped up on a stand with a half dozen clamps and electrodes attached to it as Zimmerman tries to determine the nature of the paranormal phenomena. The guys figure out that the PKE spike at the Museum and the phantom spelling are not directly related. Instead, a weak spectral presence in the decoration drained power in the Firehouse to spell out the letters as - Stadler suddenly realizes and exclaims - a Warning! The decoration is trying to warn us about the Museum exhibit? But Why?

The next round of RPGing and investigating reveals, largely thanks to Stadler's knowledge about Witches [and other classic supernatural entities that are not specifically ghosts], that many pieces in the exhibit collection were once owned by Francine Lawson, a female horror and occult writer from the early 20th century who went by the male pseudonym 'Francis Lake'. In truth, she was the wife of Samuel Lawson who owned, you guessed it, the Village Print and Publishing Company.

Francine, as Francis, was a noted authority on the occult and according to many stories an actual witch. When New York State had its own Witch Trails in the early 1800s, her family fled their upstate home to settle under assumed names in New York City. It seems that the collection of Halloween items had been in the family for many decades until it was sold off to a collector just a few years ago, a modern horror author by the name of Marsha Krane. Wouldn't you know it, it was Krane who had donated, temporarily, many of the objects and costumes for the Met's exhibition.

The boys in grey decide to turn on every light and power switch that have in the Firehouse to give the spirit of Francine Lawson enough juice to help them out a little more. Pedro Preguntas did some fancy electrical engineering to make sure the circuit breakers didn't blow. Seconds later the whole place is hit with a psychic whirlwind! It lasted but a few minutes and ended with letters slapped against a wall and held suspended by nothing for a few moments before drifting to the floor.  The words said:


As the team stared at the words in silence, Thorton suddenly looked at his watch. 'It's 10:30 pm! Everyone in the car! We're going to The Met!"

Preguntas: "I'm driving. I. Am. Driving."

Everyone: "Yeah, yeah. We know."

Nelson: "Shotgun!"

Thorton: "Oh drat. I wanted to sit up front this time."

Nelson: "Oh you can sit up front. I'm just letting everyone know I'm bringing my shotgun."

More to come...

Barking Alien