Roleplayer #24, June 1991

Combining GURPS Horror with The Prisoner

The Village is a Frightening Place

by Christopher Burke

The heroes just tackled a fierce vampire. Even though she got away, they still foiled her plans and learned enough so that she won't be a threat if she ever comes back.

That night they are awakened by a roar, and the piercing scream of a victim. They rush to the window to discover . . . a giant bubble named Rover chasing a curfew breaker. The scene outside their window is unfamiliar, and they can't get outside! They're trapped . . .

In the morning, they are each summoned to the office of a man who introduces himself as No. 2. "We want information," he says.

If it is getting harder to scare your players when they encounter the supernatural, turn the tables on them with a GURPS Prisoner adventure. Let them learn something they should not have learned – something they "were not meant to know." Whether the investigators discovered the daytime resting place of a vampire or witnessed the mystic ritual for summoning Ancient Ones, there are those who would benefit greatly from the knowledge.

Someone – part of the Cabal, or a Cabal foe – wants this information, and what better way to extract it that to bring the PCs to the Village? The PCs will be removed from their normal world to a world of the full-blown supernatural. They need not snoop around to find unearthly creatures – the monsters are out in the open and doing all of the snooping.

It may not be the "real" village of The Prisoner, but it could be. On the other hand, maybe the Cabal elite are cult followers (or even the producers) of the original program. But the big difference is that the Cabal has the resources to pull out all the stops in scaring and studying the PCs: scientific advancements, magic, psionic abilities, villagers who howl at the moon . . .

Everything inside the PCs' heads is fair game, and they will remain "guests" of the Village until they escape, reveal their knowledge, or die. Of course any psionic could read their minds, but No. 2 may not want this. He might believe mind-reading is unreliable; he might be afraid of damaging the PCs' brains before getting the information; or perhaps he is doesn't trust psionic abilities, or those who have them.

New Villages

The setting need not be the original Village; any isolated area is fine. In fact, the PCs don't even need to know that they are prisoners . . . until it's too late. Circumstances beyond their control can leave them stranded in some small remote town where everyone and everything is a little bit odd, but nothing is too abnormal – at least not at first.

For example, while headed to an investigation, the party stops at a service station for directions. A kindly old man named Smith with an eye patch and a wooden leg points them in the right direction and even gives them a map of the area. About an hour later, as they're wondering if the old man knew what he was talking about, the car breaks down, and they have to push it two miles down the road to a small town.

Once there, they find the natives are somewhat eccentric. The sheriff goes fishing every day during lunch, but there are no bodies of water nearby. The town mechanic took the week off to visit his sick aunt – who died four years ago. The assistant mechanic turns out to be a bumbling clod who can't find the wrench in his tool belt, but manages to dismantle the entire engine, "lookin' for the trouble." The PCs are stranded as they wait for replacement parts to arrive.

Slowly, the party notices other eccentricities. Black cats have white stripes painted on them. On the 13th of the month, nobody uses ladders, and all mirrors are covered. And for such a quiet town, the people enjoy a very active night life.

The intrepid PCs will no doubt continue to search for ways to get out, only to have the rug pulled out from under them every time. Meanwhile, No. 2 is observing and can pick them apart at his leisure, revealing himself and his manipulations only when he chooses. Maybe he's also the one controlling the owls . . .

A crossover Horror / Prisoner storyline lets the party visit the Village for an adventure or two before allowing them to leave and continue their ghost-and-goblin escapades. And if they learn some more secret, valuable knowledge, they may be invited back. That is, if they ever really left . . .

(Back to Roleplayer #24 Table of Contents)

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