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If a stationary head in a jar is horrifying, imagine what it would be like to encounter one rolling toward you, thirsty for blood.
This is a street-level one-shot scenario for the wee hours of the night.
The PCs are heads in jars. That being so, they will need some pretty intense obsessions to keep them active. The average person, faced with life as a head in a jar, will despair. The PCs are too driven (and out of touch with reality) to do this.
Act One: This is Absurd
The characters wake up. They are heads in jars. They weren't heads in jars before, they are pretty sure. They're on a shelf in a dusty janitor's closet. There's not much to see besides a mop and each other.
Encourage roleplaying and in-character conversation in this point, though nobody remembers how they got into a jar, nor how they lost their bodies.
If the PCs bang themselves against their jars, they can fall harmlessly to the floor (they're on a low shelf). However, they will be disoriented and perhaps nauseous, depending on their Speed rolls.
The door is, um, ajar. It's open wide enough for the PCs to roll out.
Act Two: Doing Something About It
The closet belongs to an accountant's office. It's as dusty as the closet; there's no carpet. Blonde secretaries run screaming from the PCs.
It should be difficult to see where one is going, and also to get there; the PCs have little practice in this form of locomotion. The office is on the fifth floor.
When the rolling and screaming has run its course, the PCs catch a glimpse of the janitor. Hopefully they will bet that he knows something.
The janitor is idly and ineffectually sweeping the floor. He has his back to them. PCs with Notice might see scars on his arms. When they see him from the front, they will definitely notice his eyepatch(!).
When they do see him from the front, one of the PCs (just pick one) remembers him vaguely from somewhere.
The PCs can opt for stealth, rolling silently behind the suspect as he makes his rounds of the office, completely oblivious to the screams. Or they might attack the bastard, which will do little damage.
If he notices them, he will be visibly irritated, and return them to their shelves, mumbling to himself all the while. When they are back where they started, he will lecture them briefly on having better manners in the future, and return to his work.
If the PCs noticed the scars, give them some more Notice rolls for the closet. It contains a small, open cardboard box filled with razorblades.
The PCs can plead their case before the janitor. This is, in fact, their best chance of getting a grip on the situation. The janitor isn't the sharpest razor in the box, and he will quickly explain everything:
His name is Tom, and he's an Epideromancer (explain what that means; this is a street game). He has a major beef with one of the PCs (the one who remembers him), and decided to get himself a major charge to go with it, hence the missing eye. He spent the charge by making that PC a head in a jar, as punishment for whatever she did wrong. Tom found her in the middle of a busy street and spent the charge. The rest of the PCs were bystanders; Tom rolled a 01 on the magick roll, and the magick had a serious overflow. He picked up the jars and stashed them away, not really thinking about witnesses, and is now trying to go back to his pathetic normal existence.
What did the PC do? She kinda remembers Tom now; She was driving home late one night, and crashed her car into the side of a rusty shack. The shack fell over with a groan, but not before a dusty old man came out of it and started yelling at her. She sped away, hoping to avoid legal trouble. Now that she thinks of it, he did chase her far too well for his age...
Tom tells the same story; he tears up in anger at the memory.
Act Three: Resolutions
This can end several ways.
- The PCs leap off the shelf, reach the box of razor blades, and somehow overpower Tom. Then they threaten him until he takes out his other eye and restores them to normal. If your game has been getting sillier and sillier, this is a pretty good ending.
- The PCs beg and plead until Tom generates another major charge and restores them to normal (all except the offending PC, who deserves no compassion as far as he's concerned). This is the least ridiculous happy ending.
- The cops arrive (or the PCs call them somehow) and cart the PCs off. Don't tell them where they're going -- leave it hanging. It's weirder that way.
- Tom gets so angry he accidentally or deliberately smashes one of the jars. Describe what happens to this PC in minute, creepy details. Abandon all pretense of humor. End the game with everyone looking at each other, and at the horrible, dead thing on the floor.
- After the PCs plead their case, Tom grows remorseful, but is not willing to maim himself enough for another major charge. Instead, he puts the PCs in the basket of his bicycle, and takes each one home to their family. End the game by describing each PC's spouse or mother hugging their jar joyously and saying "thank God, thank God, we thought something horrible had happened to you...
mooshified | profile | Jul 12, 06 | 5:34 pm
Wow. It's like David Lynch and Samuel Beckett got together and wrote an Unknown Armies scenario!
For some reason this makes me want a "living head in a jar" of my own. You know, as a conversation piece.
Yeah I love this one. completely blindsides the players.
ervae | profile | Jul 15, 06 | 7:36 pm
This is fantastic...it is 'the' scenario for the occasion were a player cancels for a campaign game at the last minute or something stupid happens and you only have an hour to game suddenly etc.
Great idea for a one-shot! Thanks!