Sunday, August 19, 2018

Chill: This is Halloween, Halloween, etc.

Yesterday we started a new Chill case with some new envoys! (We changed the player lineup because some folks were having trouble making it to the game consistently, which is something that always sucks to do, but like, kinda needs to happen if you want to keep playing.)

Anyway, new envoys:

  • Beth Anne Stallard, played by Jenn. Beth Anne is an All-American farm girl, cheerleader, very "normal" through and through...except she used to go have adventures with the monster under the bed. She isn't actually sure what that means in Unknown terms, or indeed, if it even happened, but she's always been a bit attuned to the Unknown and joined SAVE after taking a sociology course with Dylan Reeves (one of the other players' envoys). Her Drive is to be free.
  • Mohammed Al-Zaid, played Jerry. Mohammed was born in the US to immigrant parents (we're still working out where his parents were from). He was recruited by the CIA to be an "interpreter," which he discovered really meant "interrogator." He saw some pretty awful things over in the Middle East, just in terms of what people will do to people, and while in Syria he met Hayat Nejem and her mentor Mafuz El-Hasham. When he went back to the States, he decided to join up with SAVE here, and found the Boise HQ (his parents live here in Boise).
So, in-game, today is October 27, 2017. Jordan Ramsey checks her Facebook and discovers a status from a friend and former coworker that concerns her:

Jordan messages Wendy and asks to meet her for coffee; Wendy says she has to pick Giles up from preschool, but then she's free. They meet up at Crepe Scott!, a local coffee and crepe joint. Jordan notes that Giles (4) is tired and fussy, but calms a bit after he eats. They don't want to talk about this in front of Giles, so they make small talk - Wendy and her wife Janet are doing fine, apart from this "haunted house" dealie. Giles is excited for Halloween, or he was, at least. They head to a playground so Giles can run around, and Wendy explains the last week.

Tuesday, the power went out - she calls it a "blackout," but as Jordan notes, it was just their house that went dark. That night, Giles and Wenday saw spiders crawl out from under the couch - hundreds of them. And then, before Janet saw them, they were gone. 

Wednesday night, the power went out again (just at their house), but nothing else weird happened. 

And then yesterday, all of the books in the house that mentioned Halloween wound up on the kitchen table opened to the page about trick-or-treating. Wendy though Giles had done it, but he was napping. That night, the power went out again, but the TV stayed on and switched over to a horror movie. 

Jordan suggests she could have a look around the house, and see if anything's obvious amiss - maybe they're being pranked. They head home (though Wendy has to talk Giles into coming out of the climber; he does not want to go home, and she reports he's been very difficult to pick up from preschool of late). When they get there, Giles immediately scampers around back to his sandbox. Jordan asks if they'd like to come out to the ranch and have dinner, get out of the house for a while, see the horses. Wendy agrees, texts Janet to make sure, and then goes inside to get some stuff for the trip. Jordan walks around back to keep an eye on Giles, and finds him building a castle in his sandbox.

Jordan shows him pictures on her phone of Sweet Baby Jesus in various sweaters and some of the other animals at the ranch to get him talking (Giles isn't talkative at the best of times, and he's pretty obviously spooked). He finally opens up enough to say that something inside is "trying to scare him", but he doesn't know what and, of course, he's four, so the kinds of questions he can answer are somewhat limited. Jordan offers him a hug and picks him up, and the wind picks up, blowing loud and chilly around the house. Jordan uses Disrupt on Giles, just in case there's something actively targeting him, but nothing happens. She Senses the Unknown, and gets a Colossal success. 

The temperature drops precipitously around her. She senses an entity in or near the house. It's very powerful, and it's very unhappy with Jordan. She takes Giles and gets back to the car. She's definitely unprepared for this.

On the way back to the ranch, she makes contact with Willa Lane, who has some expertise with ghosts. She tells her to round up some envoys, as this has the potential to be a nasty one. Maybe don't use the newbies? Willa contacts Dee, but all Dee has on offer are the newbies - Edward and BB are both in California at the moment, Dylan is teaching, and Jeanie is recovering from injuries sustained by a scarecrow (actually Willa is, too, but they're healing). That leaves Blake Wheeler, Beth Anne Stallard, and Mohammed Al-Zaid. 

They all meet up at the ranch and have a quick powwow while Dee takes Giles and Wendy out to look at horses. Willa, hearing Jordan's report, says that it definitely sounds like a ghost, and asks about Giles' situation. Jordan tells them that Janet and Wendy adopted Giles about a year ago, but doesn't know anything about his before that. 

The envoys decide that maybe they could go check out the house while the Bliss family is here; that would keep them out of harm's way and give them a chance to learn more. Dee can definitely entertain them (that's what she does). They wait until Janet gets there, and Jordan notes that Janet is walking with a limp - she twisted her ankle the other day (but doesn't say how). Jordan talks to Wendy and Janet and offers to check out their house and make sure that no one is messing with them; Mohammed notes that he has some investigative expertise. The women agree (Janet seems a little hesitant), and hand over a key.

The envoys take a couple of cars and gear up. Willa points out that going in blind, it's better to take too much than too little. They arrive at the house and slowly approach the door. Jordan opens it, but then it slams shut and words appear on the door in blood: WHERE JILES

Beth Anne decides to approach this differently and sits on the porch, breathes deep, and uses her Leave the Body discipline. Willa, using Eyes of the Dead, sees her do it and can communicate, but the rest of the envoys can't (Mohammed puts her body in the car so that she's out of harm's way if things go south). Beth Anne pulls herself up onto the roof and peers in the window to Giles' room, but can't really see much from here. And then, suddenly, a woman's face appears in the glass - she's chalk white and has burning blue eyes. Beth Anne stumbles back and reports this to the others. Definitely a ghost.

The envoys reopen the door and enter the house, Beth Anne with them (she comes down from the roof; do note that at Beginner level at this discipline, she can neither fly nor pass through solid objects). The door slams again, shutting them in, and Willa notes that this means the ghost is telekinetic. The envoys decide to take a risky move, but one that's worked before: They'll have Willa use Voice of the Dead to summon the ghost into herself, and Jordan will use Line of Defense to keep it trapped. 

Willa summons the ghost, and Beth Anne sees her float down through the ceiling and settle into Willa. Willa, a Master at this discipline, remains conscious throughout the experience and immediately feels drugged and euphoric, as though she's on powerful painkillers. Jordan completes the circle, and Mohammed steps up to interrogate. 

He notes that the ghost's body language is deferent, yet defiant - as though she's been in this kind of situation before. He asks who she is, and she asks if he is a cop. Rolling the dice, Mohammed says he is, and she promptly refuses to talk to him and calls him "pig." She asks where Giles is.

Jordan tries to change things up a little and appeal to her obvious interest in Giles. The ghost tells her that she's "just trying to make it fun" and "show Giles how much fun Halloween is". She demands to know where Giles is, but Jordan won't tell her, and the ghost immediately gets defensive and hurts Willa. Willa feels pain start in her head and work downward, she feels trigeminal pain as one of her teeth cracks, and the others see scars begin near her ear. Jordan breaks the seal to use Disrupt and the ghost leaves Willa, but Willa collapses, badly hurt. 

Meanwhile, Beth Anne has been watching this, and realizes that the ghost is most likely what SAVE calls a poltergeist - a ghost that has, for whatever reason, attached itself to a child. She isn't likely to hurt the child deliberately, but she's very likely to do it accidentally, and worse poltergeists are powerful and impulsive. Willa, before the injury, has come to a similar conclusion - this ghost is telekinetic, but it doesn't need to throw things. It can kill by sheer Evil Way power. 

The envoys decide it's time to fall back, and she gets Willa to the car to get some medical attention. Blake and Mohammed stand by their car and wait for Beth Anne to return to her body, but Beth Anne decides to run upstairs first. She looks through Giles room and finds residue on the walls from other blood-messages, stuff that wouldn't be visible to the naked eye but that she can see as a "ghost." It's pretty innocuous on its face: "BOO! TRICK R TREAT! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!" but she does note that "Giles" is always misspelled as "Jiles." She leaves the room, and finds the ghost blocking her way. The ghost takes a swing and Beth Anne manages to duck out of the way. Beth Anne says she wants to help with Halloween, and the ghost softens, but still just demands to know where Giles is. Beth Anne says that she'll bring him back (in an attempt to placate the ghost), and the ghost says that if she doesn't, she'll burn the place down. 

Beth Anne flees to the car, and everyone heads out. Willa needs an emergency dentist and some good drugs...and she notes, once those drugs kick in, that this feels familiar. 

The envoys talk through their data. Mohammed guesses that the ghost may have become addicted to opioids following a dental incident; that might even have been how she died. Maybe she was Giles' birth mother? Mohammed does a little digging, but Botches the roll, and learns a lot about opioid addiction in Idaho, but doesn't turn up any likely candidates. Based on the ghost's clothes, she's contemporary, though, so that helps a little. 

Blake asks Darnell if there's a way to track opioid prescriptions, but Darnell says not unless you know the doctor or pharmacist in question, and even then it's iffy. The envoys figure that the ghost is fixated on Giles, not the house, and maybe burning the place down is preferable to the ghost killing someone? Not ideal, but hardly worst-case. In any case, they figure they'd better talk to the Blisses and make sure they don't go home.

When they get to the ranch, though, they learn from Dee that the women left an hour ago. They had to head home. Giles was getting sleepy. 

The envoys get back in the car and head out. Willa insists on going, though she's injured and drugged. This ghost is dangerous, and they're going to need her.