Friday, August 30, 2013

Monsterparts: Kingshead

So, uh, yeah. Monsterparts. This is a thing and it is great. Everyone I've spoken to who's seen it loves it in concept. We haven't played it yet. But we probably will and soon. I've been thinking about what kinds of places would exist in Monsterparts and what I would like to focus on myself.

I grew up in and have spent MOST of my life in New England. Between Connecticut and Massachusetts, these are the places I have called home. Thus, I have decided to construct my little test town in the unnamed northeast. One of those states that borders the sea, where salt-winds whip up over the whitecaps and great Queen Anne style houses of the old Sea Captains lean on crooked hilltops behind shields of pine trees that moan in the storms.

Travel up the crushed gravel roads that wind away from the Interstate until the wild hills and deep valleys encompass you entire. Keep driving, past the turn-off for the Beachman School for Girls and Boys that leads into the pine-shrouded valley. Eventually you'll come to Kingshead, the biggest town in or around this part of the state. Everything here is quaint and the place seems queerly stuck in the middle sixties. Cell coverage is spotty at best, so you might as well leave your cellphone in your car. This is the Travelers Guide to Kingshead.

Note: I started talking to my people about this. They have been contributing. This is a joint effort between us, so thanks go out to Alt-F4, Tux, and Tallstaff.

Population: 20,000
Settled: 1625
Incorporated: 1639
Government Type: Open town meeting
Public Schools: 8

Scenic Kingshead-by-the-Bay was first settled by the preacher Josiah Dolver in 1625. Together with his flock he erected a small church on the curve of what is now Kingshead Bay, though in those early years of the settlement it was known as Indian Bay. By 1639, when the town was incorporated, the Dolver Colony had spread out to encompass most of what is now known as Northbeach. There was brief and sporadic fighting between the townsfolk and the dwellers of the local Mashanquot Tribe beyond Indian Sound. Known for two brief but bloody battles during the Revolutionary War, the citizens of Kingshead were mostly loyalists who stationed British troops in the town. These quaint historical sites (the church, the location of the battles, and several old colonial farms and barns) are still in good repair and are kept up by the Kingshead Preservation Society.

The town is located on Kingshead Peninsula, a granite and marble abutment jutting out into Kingshead Bay. On its northern side lies Indian Sound, while the open sea lies to the south. Residents generally divide the town into six districts.

Kingshead has never been wired for internet or cellular service due to the difficulty of bridging the many little creeks, bogs, and environmental hazards that block cell service. The nearest towers are off to the south by some way, making it spotty in the best of times. To achieve a decent cell signal, one must climb up a hill or into a tree. For this reason, few residents of Kingshead bother with the damn things. As for internet, there's dial-up which comes through the wires, but its mostly confined to the Library, the James Club, and the computer labs at the various schools. If you really must have internet with a reasonable speed you're advised to use a Business Center at one of the cozy hotels of the area (such as the Captain's Arms or the Drowned Sailor).

Where in Kingshead do you live?
Roll a d8 or pick a region. You don't have to use the modifier rules for that region if you don't want to.

1. James Point - start with a really good James Club blazer or a really good James Club tie. Your safe place is hard to get to from other parts of town. Your parents imbibe a lot of alcohol and they don't always get along. You can't refresh your EP by eating with both of them—you'll have to get one or the other alone.

2. Northbeach - start with a pair of wire cutters or a beer or a skateboard. You have a key to get into your house even when your parents aren't home. They aren't home a lot. They're hardly ever home. Your safe place can't be in your house, but you can regain your EP by eating alone at the local diner. You're used to it.

3. Indian Sound - start with a bus pass and a flashlight. It's real hard to get down to the main part of Kingshead, but you got a couple safe places. One near your house or in it, one by the bus station, and another one downtown. A kid's gotta know where to go.

4-5. Midtown - Everywhere's close to home. Mom and dad are around a lot. You don't start with any extra stuff, but that's ok. You've got just about enough anyway.

6. White Hill - Your brothers and sisters all had to go to the Beachman School after a certain age. You've got a Beachman vest or a pin or a sweater. Other kids from the school are inclined to treat you better.

7. Church Street - You're right near Josiah's old church. It's a historical site, protected by the government. This is a really good safe place. You're also really close to the Old Church Graveyard. This is a really bad place. Start with an extra secret. You can't choose not to.

8. Outside the Peninsula - You're from one of those little towns near, but not too near, Kingshead. Start with a bus pass and five dollars as well as some peanut butter and jelly to make your own sandwiches when you're away from home.

People and things you might see in Kingshead
James Point
1. Truant officer Donovan, who sometimes takes kids downtown. They usually don't come back.

2. Old Lady Whitehead and her idiot son. He talks to himself sometimes, and once he was bleeding from a mysterious cut.

3. The Misters Reinwald, owners of Reinwald and Reinwald Funeral Parlor. They always go around together, and are never seen apart. Sometimes they laugh out of time, like a broken clock.

4. Mister Gershwin is old and decrepit, yet unusually spry for how he looks. Nobody remembers when Mister Gershwin came to Kingshead, not even the other oldsters, who remember him even when they were young.

5. Rabbi Mendel who teaches piano to all the local James Point kids. The parents don't like him, but his house is a safe place. He is trustworthy.

6. Hesther Green, who used to love the sea. After her yacht was wrecked off the Cape and her husband drowned, she stopped going out. She wears a kerchief over her head, and if you touch it she gets very angry.

7. Jack Lebrown, a valet at the James Club. They won't let him in (your mother whispers because of race) but he has a nice little caddy shack where you can hide. It's a safe place.

8. Phil Whitehead, a kid who flaunts all the rules. He likes to joke around but sometimes he pushes the jokes too far. Whenever he smiles, you can hear a sound like water quietly leaking from a faucet.

1. Mr. James, the Dogcatcher. He has a very thin moustache and sometimes he purrs.

2. Thomas the Lifeguard, who never seems to leave his chair. He stares all day at the ocean.

3. The Weather Man. He's homeless and hangs around on the corner and all the kids kind of stay away. He smells bad and has a mean grin, but if you give him cigarettes or money he may tell you a secret. He's never around two or more weeks in a row.

4. Gurty the Baker. He's real nice and sells sweets on the beach. He will sometimes give them away for free, or for a little bit of cash. Small sweets restore 1 EP, big ones 3. His shop is a bad place.'

5. Truant Officer Donovan (see above).

6. Mac the Fisherman. He usually keeps to the docks or his smelly gas-fume ship. He can see things other adults can't. If you're nice he'll give you a dollar for yourself.

7. The Hot Dog Man. He sells hot dogs down by the industrial parks. All the adults seem to think they're great, even though they have a sort of grey flabby color.

8. Fishsticks, who's always getting in trouble for skipping school and being blue. He's so blue. Sometimes you see him talking to some other kids. They go out at night together. In the morning they don't come back.

Indian Sound
1. Andrew Brady, an older teenager who drives his dad's 1965 Pontiac GTO. He's seen tinkering with the engine in the driveway often. Sometimes, late at night, you can hear the car start and drive away, but it's always back before dawn.

2. Skip the Marksman, who sometimes drives down the road with deer tied to his truck. You never see him go out into the woods, only come back.

3. Doreen O'Donnel, daughter of the Convenience Store Owner. She is always talking to people who aren't there. They say she's just imaginative, but she has this funny way of looking at reflective surfaces.

4. Elizabeth Curwin, who's as good as a mom to all the kids out at Indian Sound. She'll always have you over for cherry pie. Just don't bring too many friends or she'll get upset. Her house is a safe place as long as she is home.

5. The Sea Captain. He lives up in an old Queen Anne house outside the Sound. He's pretty lonely, so he'll invite you up any time. It seems like you only spend a few minutes in his house whenever you go, but every time you leave its already dark.

6. Ed Stark who runs the scrapyard on the edge of town. He buys scrap metal from all the kids and is generally friendly. A good way to earn some pocket change.

7. Cory, the Witness. He's a door to door religious preacher for some Evangelical religion that comes from the midwest. His eyes are just a little too big and his tie is just a little too straight. If he comes into your house, its a bad place.

8. Mrs. Groan, who lives all by herself. The kids always joke that no one would be able to tell if she died because her house is so messy and she's so fat. She never smells good. Her teeth are falling out. Her house is a bad place, but your parents feel sorry for her.

1. Mr. Gray the science teacher. He always has an odd smell about him, and his neighborhood is mysteriously devoid of dogs and cats, even strays.

2. Mr. Cimino, an old man from overseas. He has a bunch of numbers tattooed on his arm. He seems to understand some of what the children talk about. His house is a safe place when he is there. When he is out, it is a bad place.

3. Ms. Latcham the Librarian, who is warm and nice and keeps her hair all up piled on her head. When she's around in the Library, the front desk and her office are safe places.

4. Dottie Park, who used to work in New York as a high powered lawyer. Now she just smokes cigarettes on her porch all day. You can bum a cigarette from her if you're brave, but if her cellar door is open her house is a bad place.

5. Old Mister Whiskers, the neighborhood cat. Never seen in the same three week period as Mr. Gray. Mister Whiskers can be bribed to follow you. He can always sense bad places and bad things coming.

6. The Shadow Under the Bushes, which is sometimes here and sometimes gone. When you notice that its particularly dark over there by the edge of the sidewalk, you can sometimes hear the sound of broken glass crunching.

7. Carl Forrest, who's always coming to or from the library. He's careless and he might bump into you. If he does, one of the books in his stack falls to the ground and he forgets he's left it there. It has a midnight blue cover and the name of someone who went to your school in it, a long time ago. The words are all written backwards.

8. Maude, who wears her stockings askew and puts on her makeup wrong. When she talks, her voice is harsh and she sounds like she's just repeating back what other adults say to her. If there are no adults around, she says very mean things to you about your parents.

White Hill
1. The Reynolds house. Nobody has been seen leaving or entering this house, but after dark, there is the sound of a big dog that will bark at loud noises, or at you if you get too close to the fence. The dog is either in the house or the back yard but nobody has seen it either. After dark this is a bad place.

2. Betty, a middle school student. She wears coke-bottle glasses and a sweater that is a few sizes too large for her. She carries a notebook filled with illegible scribbles and never speaks above a whisper. If you talk with her very long at all, she'll tell you a couple secrets, usually about places but sometimes about people.

3. Kerry Weidler, the crazy cat lady. She's lonely and has lots of cats, but nice to you if you are nice to her. Her house is a safe place.

4. Becky, a six year old girl with a cat ears hair band. She's usually with her parents. If she stares at a house for too long, it is a bad place.

5. Jeffer's ice cream truck. He also sells hot dogs and polish sausages in a bun. So long as the calliope music is playing, the area around it is a safe place.

6. The Drain Man, who comes to clean the gutters and the drains and rotoroot the pipes. He smiles a lot, and shakes hands with everyone. He smells very clean and he likes to chat with your dad about tools for cutting and grinding up clogs.

7. The Cold Wind, which sometimes blows in from off the sea. Adults seem to act strange when it starts blowing - they stare out their windows and their lips curl up into grimacing smiles. Any house with its windows open when the Cold Wind arrives becomes a bad place.

8. Traunt Officer Donovan (see above)

Church Street
1. Elizabeth Aldrich, a well-dressed churchgoing woman usually seen only on Sunday. Generally harmless though she dislikes children. She'll yell at you if you're acting unruly. Nobody knows where she lives. Children she yells at usually start going to church for a while.

2. The Nuns of the Sacred Heart, who live near Church Street in a cold looking stone nunnery. They can be friendly, but some of them aren't very nice. If you can sit and talk with one, you can regain your
EP and forget a secret.

3. The Reverend Edward Haigh, who preaches at Josiah's Church on sundays. They say he has a glass eye, but you've seen it moving as though it were a real one, independently dancing from head to head while he preaches.

4. Mike McGary, the History Tour Guy. He's just a little too old to believe anything you have to say, but he can help in a pinch. He wears a tricorn hat when he's at work. When he's not at work, he's smoking in the graveyard of the Church or laying down at home. When he's in the graveyard, it's not a bad place.

5. The Bus from Parts Unknown, which carries the long-faced workers from outside Kingshead through town and lets them off by the Northbeach border. They're always in a hurry, and they don't like to be stopped by kids. The bus driver is big and fat and there are always tears rolling down his face.

6. Doctor Sagmore the pediatrician, who pats heads and backs and hands out lollipops. Sometimes the children he checks up on go strange and start to smell of sweet rot, but he never seems to notice or to mind.

7. Laurence Shipman, who smokes cigars that smell like turds and always seems to be grinning at you. He owns a little shipping business, but he never seems to open it as the windows are always dark.

8. Wiry Walter, who climbs down into the boles of trees and talks about an underground kingdom of tunnels and squirmholes that crisscross the neighborhood. He always wants you to come with him. If you look at him just right, you can see a strange light reflecting off his eyes.

Beachman's School for Boys and Girls
1. The Boys of Troupe 503, who wander the woods from time to time near Beachman's. The Principle won't let them on the grounds, but they like to come right up along the boundaries. Sometimes they offer things over the stone wall or through the hedges and want to trade. Usually they ask you to come outside to meet them.

2. Carry Loescher, who they say sleeps with the english teacher Mister Garvey. She's usually very bubbly, but its easy to make her cry. When she cries she gets really mad. When she's crying, the room she's in is a bad place.

3. The School Librarian. No one can remember his name. He wears a name tag, but everyone still forgets. It's hard to remember what he looks like. When you strain, you can just barely make out the edge of his jaw. He lives alone in a little house outside the town.

4. Horace the Janitor, who never looks anyone in the eye and always mumbles to himself. He might tell you a secret if you're nice to him. He might whisper a secret to you in your sleep if you're not.

5. Tony Scaripelli, who laughs to himself in his room when he's not in class. He gets a whole room to himself, unlike the other borders. You can hear his laughter from the rooms on either side. Sometimes it sounds like there are other people in there with him.

6. Mister Garvey, with his brittle smile and sunken eyes. He wants to teach you English, or else make you go back to class, or just talk about poetry with you. His shoes are always spattered with mud.

7. Terry Welsh, who thinks no one knows that he eats handfuls of dirt when other kids aren't looking. His mouth smells like an open grave. Being near him when no one else is around is bad.

8. The Principal, Dr. Larman. Any room he sits in is a safe place and nothing will bother him. Bad things don't like to be near him. His office is a safe place.

Things you might find in Kingshead
note: a new type of thing, a TELLING thing, which grants access to one secret above and beyond whatever secrets the character already knows. Telling secrets are not forgotten if the item is lost, but usually cannot be resolved without them. Telling items are creepy and dangerous, and cause a loss of 1 EP every night the player possesses them.
a James Club suit
a really good medallion depicting Josiah Dolver
a Dolver Church pamphlet
a packet of sweets from Gurty's
a ticket stub from the Paradise Theater in Northbeach
a bunch of skipping stones
a really good pair of glasses
a skateboard
a really good novel from the library
a telling book of the classics with a long-dead student's name in the front
a stone with a strange sign carved into it
a really good stuffed animal from the Northbeach carnival
a telling scrap of leather with secret words on it

Special things
The Captain's Pipe. When light and smoked indoors by a character who smokes (none of you kids who don't) the entire room becomes a safe place.

James Club Coin. Including this in your pay to anyone will make them reveal an important truth to you. They won't notice they've taken the coin.

Conch from Indian Sound. Holding this shell up to your ear lets you hear the ocean. If you give it to someone else and convince them to listen to it, they'll be hypnotized by the sound and you can do what you want for a while.

Special Grave Rubbings. Burn some of these to call forth ancient colonial ghosts who can walk through walls and spy for you for the space of one night.

Book of Hebrew Phrases. Speaking some of these phrases (if you can read hebrew) can turn a small house or several rooms into a safe place. Speaking some of them wrong (if you can't read hebrew or you aren't studious) can give you a new secret or maybe make the place you're in bad.

Old Wedding Band. When worn, adults seem to ignore you. The older they are, the less they notice you. For every day you wear it, you lose 1 EP.

Jasmine Lucifers. This book of matches from the Jasmine Lounge each produce a light as strong as the sun when struck and a scent like sweet jasmine. The book only has d4+1 matches in it.

Rusty Hedge Shears. Cut through a hedgerow anywhere in Midtown and think really hard. The tunnel you make comes out anywhere else in Kingshead (as long as it's outside). The tunnel can only be traversed one-way, and once no one is looking at it, it stops being there.

Father Cornby's Needle. You can make anyone be quiet. Touch the needle to their lips and tell them what you don't want them to be able to talk about. It can be specific, or it can be talking at all. As long as you hold the needle, they cannot countermand your order.


  1. Your blog is awesome! Particularly this post. Can't believe no one has commented. Keep writing!