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:
'ITS MY COLLECTION
I NEED IT BACK
ALL PACKED UP BEFORE MIDNIGHT
OR HALLOWEEN NIGHT WILL LAST FOREVER'
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."
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...