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BoloOfEarth

Semi-Smart House Reactions

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First off, if one of the players in Just Cause, especially the players of Shadow Boxer or Malarkey, are reading this, please read no further.  I'm looking for some feedback and suggestions, and will have to reveal some info but don't want to spoil things for you.

 

Are they gone?  (looks around)  Okay, here goes!

 

Very early in my current Champions campaign, set in Boston, one of the PC heroes (Shadow Boxer) inherited a house that is semi-intelligent and has various mystic properties.  The hero team doesn't really have a base per se, so this place is the closest thing they have to one -- it's where they store stuff they don't want getting out and about, like powerful magical items and Cthulhu-esque tomes and such.  Its properties are:

  1. It is only visible to anybody whom the owner or then-current resident has taken there (or pointed it out to), in the same manner as Number 12 Girmmauld Place in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  As far as the PCs know, the only people who know where it is are:  the PC heroes, one hero's magical mentor, the lawyer who handled the estate, and a pizza delivery guy.  Probably a cable TV installer.  Oh, and Paddy McGinty, since he was the original owner who left it to Shadow Boxer, plus a supposed descendent of Paddy who moved into town.  (I say "supposed" because Shadow Boxer suspects the woman isn't who she said she is.)
  2. It has a room in the basement, kinda like Hogwarts' Room of Requirement, albeit without a potentially endless supply of potential rooms.  It can become a library, an armory, a regular-tools type workshop, a wine cellar, a dark arts workshop, a miscellaneous junk room, a danger room / workout room, and maybe a few more.  That's where the PCs store most of their procured magical booty.
  3. It appears to have some sort of mystic danger sense or somehow know what may happen in the future, at least if such things would affect it.  (When Foxbat turned a chunk of the city into a giant snow globe, the house knew about it beforehand and tried to warn Shadow Boxer.)
  4. The house "communicates" with the owner / residents by changing the pictures/paintings in frames.  For instance, during the snow globe incident, all the pictures showed snow scenes even though it was the middle of summer.  This manner of communication is obviously not very detailed.
  5. It appears to have emotions, such as fear -- when the supposed McGinty descendant showed up, the front door started sticking so it was difficult for Shadow Boxer to answer the knock at the door.
  6. It's self cleaning, and they haven't discovered this yet but the house is able to make simple repairs to itself, at least during times nobody is watching the damaged area.

 

Shadow Boxer also has a "follower" of sorts - more like a Contact, really.  If you have Blackwyrm Games' Algernon Files, he's the two-dimensional movie gumshoe/PI come to life (can't recall his name).  He can step into pictures or TV screens and talk to the people in them (a form of retrocognitive clairsentience).  That gumshoe lives at the house, though he does venture out when Shadow Boxer needs help on a case. 

 

To date, nothing has really happened at the house, except for the incident with "McGinty's relative" knocking on the door and chatting with Shadow Boxer.  However, in an upcoming adventure a powerful other-worldly being is looking to acquire something stored there, will eventually be able to get past #1 above and I'd like to know how the house might react. 

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I'm not bothering with Spoilers, because if the player has read this far, he'd just click on the Spoiler buttons anyway, and I'd rather people be able to discuss freely.

 

The powerful entity in question is Shadow Destroyer, who has just come to the campaign world from Multifarian World about a month and a half ago.  (Yes, the PCs are about powerful enough that they might stand a chance against  him in a fight.)  SD is looking for some of the Cthulhu-esque books that McGinty had collected and passed along to Shadow Boxer.

 

Another powerful entity involved in this is Nyarlothotep, who (in one of his forms) tricked another PC into stealing one of the magical books and giving it to him.  Through a round-about way, Nyarly recently found a way into one version of the Room of Requirement but not the one where any of the books are stored, and not getting there through the house.  To this point, he hasn't gone from the "room" (aka the pocket dimension) into the house itself, since he didn't want to warn Shadow Boxer that he's had this access.

 

I'm thinking maybe Nyarlothotep might use his access to let SD into the house, without telling him that the door also opens to other pocket dimensions as well (since Nyarly doesn't want SD taking the books and other magical booty).

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Oh, the house can also "communicate" to Shadow Boxer or anybody in residence by playing records on an old Victrola, or setting the station on an antique radio.  But I don't want any such communication to be too easy for Shadow Boxer to figure out (so no flipping between words on different stations to say something specific).

 

What form of warnings might the house give?  Maybe shadowy figures in the pictures / paintings?  Or something else?  What songs or old radio shows might it play?  (The older, the better as far as I'm concerned.)  The basement door constantly being locked?  Anything else?  I'm open to any suggestions.

 

 

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It's not that old, but "Eve of Destruction" is a fairly obvious tune to play on the radio.

 

You mention the "Harry Potter" series, but I also get vibes of The House with a Clock in its Walls (book, haven't seen the movie and won't), or The Face in the Frost, also by John Bellairs.

 

For old radio, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! <sinister laugh" Though since The Shadow was a hero, this might not function well as a warning. It might hint at a power Shadow Boxer might develop, though.

 

"The Chicken Heart that Ate the World," for old radio warning of apocalyptic danger? Or anything from Lights Out.

 

I will give this more thought.

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I've neither read nor seen The House with a Clock in its Walls, nor read The Face in the Frost.  But I'll take your word for it that they share a vibe.

 

Maybe a reading of Poe's Tell-tale Heart as a warning about the coming basement intrusion?  (I know there's no murder involved as in Poe's story, but it seems like the sort of thing that might pass under the players' radar at the time and then later seem obvious.) 

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The paintings all change to horror scenes, or Biblical apocalypse scenes. The antique Victrola, (or Edison Diamond Disk), starts playing Mussorgsky's Pictures an an Exhibitions, but only the scary ones (Cum mortuis in lingua mortua, Sepuchrum Romanum,  The Destruction of Sennacherib, or the Hut on fowl's Legs) There is one of those Mid eighties paperbacks of collected HP Lovecraft Stories with the unsettling covers is on the night stand. There is a dead squid or octopus in the fridge. mAde beds, become unmade for no particular reason.  None of the light bulbs in any closet works. The door into the room that Nyarlathotep has gained ingress, have a very sticky door. The radio doesn't receive Old Radio shows from the past, it's a radio, But it does receive strange noises from space or from impossibly distant, and faint stations. Of course sounds of creaking and settling.

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6 hours ago, DShomshak said:

You mention the "Harry Potter" series, but I also get vibes of The House with a Clock in its Walls 

 

HA!  :lol:   I was thinking the same exact thing!   :rofl:

 

6 hours ago, DShomshak said:

 

 

(book, haven't seen the movie and won't),

 

 

Didn't know there _was_ a movie.  I guess you're the wrong guy to ask if it was any good....?

 

 

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The library starts to stock itself with old H. P. Lovecraft books, along with Stephen King books (IT!, for example, along with the Dark Tower books) and copies of the Jojo's Bizarre Adventure manga (for the bizarreness, if nothing else). The record player plays episolds of Lights Out, no mater what record appears to be playing. If push comes to shove, and the need to warn is now, it plays "Flying Purple People Eater". The TV set starts playing old superhero cartoons...basicaly any Fantastic Four episold with Doctor Doom in it, or X-Men with Magneto, Appoplayses, or Mojo. Also books on Doctor Destroyer start appearing.

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20 hours ago, BoloOfEarth said:

Oh, the house can also "communicate" to Shadow Boxer or anybody in residence by playing records on an old Victrola, or setting the station on an antique radio.  But I don't want any such communication to be too easy for Shadow Boxer to figure out (so no flipping between words on different stations to say something specific).

 

What form of warnings might the house give?  Maybe shadowy figures in the pictures / paintings?  Or something else?  What songs or old radio shows might it play?  (The older, the better as far as I'm concerned.)  The basement door constantly being locked?  Anything else?  I'm open to any suggestions.

 

For music I would just run a constant stream of songs with a Shadow theme.

 

Cliff Richard and The Shadows - Move It

 

https://www.lyrics.com/lyrics/SHADOW

 

Shadow Waltz - Bing Crosby (#1)

Chasing Shadows - The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (#1)Henry King (#7)

Moonlight and Shadows

etc.

 

If you are going to a little more modern, this one may or may not be too over the top, depending if someone can recognize it or speaks middle Egyptian.

 

Nyarlathotep

 

Pictures can of course be Lovecraftian, even portraying Nyarlathotep if needed. Or even just silhouettes of tall thin men in top hats or the like.

Perhaps scenes of moon lit nights with shadows abounding? Maybe classical artists paintings that only have the colors of  red, purple and yellow?

 

- E

 

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17 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

HDidn't know there _was_ a movie.  I guess you're the wrong guy to ask if it was any good....

 

 

It came and went quickly, and with good reason judging by the trailer. The House now has a closet door that flies open to disgorge glowing CGI tentacles. No creeping realization that something is Very Strange and Very Wrong. Tart it up! Hit the audience over the head! Because we think kids are stupid! Typical Hollywood: They know it's a classic, but can't understand what made it so.

 

Dean Shomshak

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On 9/10/2019 at 11:52 AM, BoloOfEarth said:

Oh, the house can also "communicate" to Shadow Boxer or anybody in residence by playing records on an old Victrola, or setting the station on an antique radio.  But I don't want any such communication to be too easy for Shadow Boxer to figure out (so no flipping between words on different stations to say something specific).

 

What form of warnings might the house give?  Maybe shadowy figures in the pictures / paintings?  Or something else?  What songs or old radio shows might it play?  (The older, the better as far as I'm concerned.)  The basement door constantly being locked?  Anything else?  I'm open to any suggestions.

 

 

 

One of the paintings is of the cover of the first copy of Alarums and Excursions.

 

The next painting over is of the cover of Danger International.

 

The next painting is the cover of a first edition copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

 

The next is "It Came From Below".

 

I mean, the warnings are way more specific than anything the house has come up with before and are really impressive considering the clues were thought up by a house. But the heroes are probably going to focus on the "excursions" part of Alarums and Excursions rather than the alarm part. And focus on the "International" part without considering that another dimension is international. Not realize that something wicked coming this way is coming to this exact point in space rather than "coming" in general. And not realize that it came "from below" means from down in the basement.

 

Of course afterward, they'll feel like idiots for not figuring it out because the clues were so much on the nose.

 

You can go back to more vague clues after this adventure. The dimensional portal in the basement has been leaking enough magical energy that it temporarily boosted the house's intelligence so that it could give better clues than normal. Once the heroes close that up, things should return to normal.

 

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Old houses have so many ways to communicate that I'm amazed that This Old Sentient House is choosing paintings. Bo-o--ring. When my not-so-old house has a beef with me, well . . . 

 

-Enjoy your randomly varying shower temperature, loser! If you're really observant, you'll notice that you're being scalded and frozen in Morse code. 

--The Internet? No, I don't know where it went, either. You can have it back if you promise to look at the homepage your browser was just mysteriously reset to. What can I say? The router is me. 

--Yes, that mysterious cold draft sure is mysterious. Hey, did you notice the pages that I just blew all over the floor? Because I spent a long time picking them. Read 'em. Now. Before the roof develops a leak. 

--It sure is snug and warm and cozy in here ever since you updated security. Look, if you're going to be as dumb as Pavlov's dog, I have your dinner bowl and a bell right here. 

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The thing is, I don't want the warnings literally spelled out, so magnetic letters are out (unless Shadow Boxer has the idea of purchasing some and putting them on the fridge in hopes of giving the house a way to spell out warnings - but even then I'm not too fond of that).  But thank you for the suggestion.

 

I can't see why I can't just add books to the communication method.  Having, for example, Archer's suggested Something Wicked This Way Comes sitting on an end table when SB walks into a room, seems a good but semi-vague warning.  Maybe a coffee table book - Masks: Traditions from Around the World (since some sources claim Nyarlathotep has a thousand "masks" or different forms).

 

And while I'm guessing Lawnmower Boy was mostly joking, having SB's shower water being ice cold for no reason is an interesting way to say, "Hey!  Wake up!  I've got something to tell you!"

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