Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More Kids : Schauermarchen - Act One


More Kids

I ran this game for our board game group, The Finer Gamer Things Club, and I was very happy because this game had a lot of first time players in it.  The game had Rocky, Jovan, Mitch, Myna, Christian and Karen in the game. What I didn't tell Rocky was, I was connecting this to the first time we played this game.

The story opened with the town of rust with low hanging clouds of black smog. Occasionally, one can hear the sounds of waves.  The days are cold and damp. The place feels dead.  Still. Abandoned. There's a Victorian touch to the look of things.  Cobblestones dot the ground. Lamp posts flicker on as night falls.  All the wood looks charred black.  At the distance the sounds of garbled voices and a strained piano can be heard. No one seems to be about.

At least not until night fell.  

With the coming of darkness, light begins to fill the village. A building marked as an orphanage is where Piper (played by Myna) wakes up.  In her short shirt and long pants, she finds herself in a cold metal frame of a bed.  She sits up startled as she realizes this is not her room. A break at the window allows moonlight to shine in.  Other metal cots are nearby, and other children are sleeping in them. She looks around and sees the junk scattered all around the floor.

A voice screams at the distance.  As Piper tries to get off the bed, the metal frame scratches against the floor with a terrible shriek.  That sound wakes another kid in the room.  Kim (played by Karen), in her long sleeved and ruffled white night gown, wakes from the terrible sound after hearing it.  She realizes she is no longer in the United States in fear. She bangs her head accidentally against the metal of the bed, bruising her cheek.  Piper walks up to Kim, asking if she's okay, but that ends up making Kim scream in shock.

M (played by Mitch) wakes up to the sound of the scream in her jogging pants, t-shirt and hoodie. She realizes she's suddenly gone from the sofa of the friend she was staying over at Boston. She hurries off the bed and tries to find the source of the scream, consumed with the fear of wondering where she had gone.  As she gets to the window, she hears more screaming. She peeks out.

Piper calms Kim down, and helps her up to her feet. The two look around and hear the muffled screams outside.  They turn to the turn person in the room and see M, peering out the window. Piper holds Kim's hand and walks towards M. Kim, however, pulls back as she does not want to move. There is a door at the far side of the room and three more empty beds.  M sees four or five other kids running down the street. Some of them in shorts, but some in very old school nightgowns and bonnets.  They all run, terrified and screaming, away from a man in a black suit. The man looks ancient, with white skin that looks luminous in the dark. He grins the whole time as he walks down the road, calmly moving after the children while he holds a cane in one hand, and something being dragged behind him with the other.  M turns and sees the other kids.  Piper approaches the door, but Kim still refuses to move. M whispers to them there's a man outside. Piper tells them to calmly follow her.  They get to the closed door and hear running sounds and muffled voices. Piper opens the door.

Elsewhere, another pair of eyes open. The kid, Joey (played by Jovan), in hershirt, sneakers, hoodie and shorts, panics for a moment thinking her friends carried her while she was asleep in the car and placed her somewhere to freak her out.  But as she looks around, she realizes he's somewhere else.  On her left, Billy (played by Rocky) sits in a state of utter shock.  "I'm here again."  He knows he's been here before. He's fought his way out. He's gotten all the way to the cottage before.  But somehow he's here again.  When Joey asks where they are, Billy shushes her to keep quiet.  They hear voices outside their door yelling that people should run and get away. A scream erupts nearby.  Billy cups Joey's mouth closed and tells her that they cannot help them.  "No body will help you," he hisses. Foot falls run past their room. Doors slam shut. Billy looks around and sees one more person in the room.   A young girl is hugging her knees.  Her clothes look quite old and embroidered. Billy nudges her and she looks up, responding in an unexpected way, "Who art thou? What art thou wearing? Doth my father be near?" She claims to be an only child and her manner of speak suggests she is from a strange and different time.  Billy peers out the window and sees the Grinning Man dragging a boy behind him.  The Grinning Man was just in their building!

Billy groans that it is exactly the same village he remembers, with the Baker's building, the Butcher's building, the Candlemaker, the Glassmaker, the shoemaker... and further stands the Cemetery, the Woods, and the Hill where the Manor stands.  Billy can't quite remember what happened at the Manor.  He does remember the color Blue somehow though.

The girl wonders which part of her father's estate the place is and even asks Joey if she is one of the new servants.  The girl worriedly asks if this is no longer Brighton. Billy reminds them no one is coming to help them but themselves.  A door opens in the distance.  Joey introduces herself to the girl, Elise, and to Billy and asks what Billy knows.  Joey wonders if they can fight the Grinning Man, but Billy admits there's no fighting him.  Elise asks them why they speak so strangely.

In another room, before everything else, Josh (played by Christian) was just at home. In his white shirt and black shorts, he fell asleep watching television and now has woken up in this dark terrible place. In front of him, an old man stands in a black suit with a wide, horrible grin on his face.  Before he could scream, a hand clamps over his mouth from behind him, reaching from underneath the frame of the metal bed. The Grinning Man doesn't seem to see him and starts walking away.  He steps out of the door and leaves.  Josh tries to turn and glance but his weight shifts against the metal bars causing it to squeak.  The door silently slides open again as the Grinning Man peers and looks around.  The other kid under the bed bolts out and flings something in his hand at the Grinning Man, hoping to distract him!  But even as the things scatter to the floor after hitting the Grinning Man's face, barely distracting him.  A glint of metal sparkles in the darkness and suddenly the other boy goes totally still as the Grinning Man hooks the other boy through the head with a terrible curved meat hook.  Josh stays completely silent, screaming inwardly as he sees the Grinning Man drag the other boy away by his head.   Josh looks around, and now alone, he drops to the ground and tries to stop trembling.  Josh hears another scream.  He waits a few more minutes and slowly tip-toes towards the door.

Kim, Piper, and M slide open the door to see the door across from theirs slightly opening.  They close theirs quietly.  Not seeing Josh opening his own door.  He looks down the corridor and hears more people somewhere moving in the dark.  Kim explains to the others there's another door that opened.  Josh hears their whispers and starts whispering out, "Hello."  The girls aren't decided if they should answer.  The wood groans as Josh steps out onto the corridor. Kim tells the girls not to open the door.  Piper and M however feel they should open it and motion for the boy to join them into the room.  Wood groans once more.  Josh asks where they are and they all admit they don't know where they are.  M tells them of the terrible man outside. Josh explains the man was in his room and that he couldn't see him but he could hear him.  He admits the Grinning Man killed the other kid in his room. The girls wonder if the Grinning Man is blind.  Piper begins to worry that they're going to die. Kim peers out and sees the Grinning Man still walking calmly towards the hill at the end of the road.  "Does this mean we can go out?"  They don't know where to go but Josh thinks they have to go anywhere but here.  Piper and Kim agree that the forest might be a better place to hide. Josh looks for anything that can be used as a weapon or a tool or a light source and finds only a metal bed pan.  M reaches to grab the metal bars of the bed to try and wiggle a bar free, but the others panic and tell her to stop as she's making noise!  Kim sees the Grinning Man stop at the end of the road.  She ends up yelling in exasperation for them to stop making noise!  Josh hurries to the window and peeks out too and sees the Grinning Man heading back.

Billy and the others hear the others yelling.  He looks at Joey and Elise and tells them they have to run out now.  Joey is arguing about finding something to eat first, or supplies, but Billy just runs without waiting.  Elise runs after him, choosing to trust him.  Joey stays in the room, unwilling to move.  But she changes her mind at the last second and runs!

Kim, Piper, M and Josh hear just outside at the corridor more heavy noises of footfalls. Josh starts grabbing them, telling them they all have to go! They push the door open and start to move as quickly as they possibly can.  Piper grabs the bed pan and runs out into the corridor.  Billy and Elise run full tilt down the corridor.  Joey chases after them and as she's about to ask why they're not being quiet, she slams into someone who just ran out of a doorway.  Joey clips off against the door and slams onto the wall.  "Damn it! Why are you so clumsy! Who are you!" Joey screams at Josh, who is trying to whisper apologies.  Josh picks Joey up and tells her they just have to go. Joey looks up the corridor intent to ask Billy for help only to find he's already gone. As is Elise. The other girls show up and help pick Joey up.  Josh, tense, babbles about needing to go and hide and run and Joey shuts him up by telling him, "You talk too much."  Joey quickly introduces herself and asks what they have. Piper admits she has a bedpan, that's it. M admits she can run fast. Josh reminds them the old man is coming. Joey tells them if they stay quiet and leave everyone else to make the noise, they should be able to get out of the building.  A scream tells them the Grinning Man has arrived down below. Kim whispers to them the buildings they saw outside.  Piper thinks they should head for the forest. M and Joey feel they should head for the shops, to find what they can rummage.

Down the stairs, the door slides open as the Grinning Man noiselessly walks into the room.  Billy freezes and presses against the wall, unmoving. Some floor above him, the wood groans from shifting weight.  The sound of hushed whispers carries down the walls.  The Grinning Man begins moving up the steps without making a sound.  Billy holds his breath and tries to not make any noise whatsoever. The Grinning Man begins to walk straight towards Billy but does not notice him at all. The Grinning Man walks past the boy and continues up the stairs.  Once the Grinning Man is out of view, Billy begins to move but one of the wooden steps creaks!   Rather than let the fear take over, Billy leaps forward and runs!

Back upstairs, Joey tells them to all be as quiet as much as possible, maybe staying near the walls to stay quiet. "One by one, as the wood doesn't look sturdy." As they approach the staircase and begin quietly moving down one by one... as Joey reaches the next landing, she sees the Grinning Man heading up the steps.  Joey signals M to be careful. M then tries to signal Josh.  All the kids stop and go quiet.  Pressed against the wall, Joey thankfully makes not a single sound and is not noticed.  The Grinning Man stops for a moment though, and turns to look at Joey.  M sees the Grinning Man staring straight at Joey and feels the fear grow. M holds her breathe too and tries not to move.  The Grinning Man walks away from Joey and begins to approach M.  Josh sees the Grinning Man heading straight for M.  M realizes he can see her!  As the Grinning Man reaches for her, M drops to a squat to avoid the hand but the Grinning Man grabs her and she faints in his arms!  Kim sees this and she tries to grab M's arm to pull her away.  Joey screams as loud as she can to try to distract the Grinning Man.  Piper hurls the bed pan far away to try to also distract the Grinning Man!

The Grinning Man sniffs M, but then turns to look at Joey, then the place where the pan fell. The Grinning Man seems confused, drops M, then digs into his pocket for something!  Kim pulls M back away from the Grinning Man and begins backing down M, ignoring the fact she's leaving bruises on M.  Joey breaks to a run with the two others.  Josh watches the Grinning Man, unwilling to move and be noticed. Josh whispers to Piper that they must find a different route.  That they must go the other way.  The Grinning Man pulls his hand out of his pocket and flips a coin.  He then looks at it, then looks upstairs towards Piper and Josh.  The two decide to hurry upstairs before the Grinning Man sees them. Joey, M and Kim hurry down stairs, ignoring how loud they are as they try to get as far away as fast as possible.

The group runs onto the street, and Joey calls out to Billy. But Billy ignores her as he runs towards one of the shops.  Joey starts chasing after him, believing he seems to know what he is doing. Billy reaches the door, shoves it open and watches the small black spiders darting away as he forces it open. He sees the scattered junk on the floor and realizes they do not look familiar to his last visit here.  He searches for a metal candlestick or anything that may prove to be useful and lucks out on a broken candlestick.  There are large metal vats chained to the floor which may have been used to create candles.  He thinks it would be safe to stay here. Joey and Kim continue to drag the unconscious M and hurry past another house with the signage of a large loaf of bread.  Joey sees the other building, which has the sign of a Pig and a Cleaver. "A butcher shop!" Joey realizes, "Wait for me. I just need to get something from the butcher's shop." Kim stares at Joey as she rushes off, and Kim shakes her head. Kim decides to continue to the Candlestick Maker's shop with M.

At the butcher's shop, Joey steps inside and sees the refuse, broken tiles, and the junk scattered all around the floor. She finds another young boy searching the room with his wooden stick.  The stick has a jagged piece of metal tied to it like a spear. When Joey asks who he is, the boy responds coldly, telling her that it doesn't matter to make friends now when the best thing to do is to throw the other kid out to survive. "This is my place. Go away," he growls. Joey tries to duck under the spear and rush forward. But the boy keeps the spear between them, stabbing into her shoulder and forcing her to step back. Joey asks to just get something, but the boy insists everything inside is his.  The boy starts mumbling to himself that he's been here for four nights.  Joey explains she just wants to help her unconscious friend. The boy suggests Joey give the unconscious friend to "him".  "That would buy you a night." Joey shakes her head in disgust and warns in the future, she won't help the boy if the boy ever needs help.  The boy spits back, "See if you last four nights."  When Joey looks back, however, there is no sign of Kim!

Raising the broken candlestick, Billy looks at Kim who drags M with her. Kim admits she has no idea who the unconscious girl is and hurries inside to look around as well. Kim brushes spider webs away and reveals a large accordion-like machine with handles.  Kim asks if Billy knows what it is, and Billy admits he doesn't as he's never made candles before. Kim tries to break it free from the ground and it depresses to release a blast of air that tosses the dust and spiders onto the air!  Billy peers out the window and sees Joey staring back at him.

Back inside the house, Josh and Piper try to move silently around the corridors.  They see the Grinning Man emerging behind them, following their trail.  Josh and Piper hurry down the stairs, no longer trying to be quiet as they decide speed is more important. As they reach the second level, however, they see a kid peering from the door asking for their help. The kid claims he cannot move. Piper and Josh stare at each other, not sure if they should go and help. Josh tells the kid to follow them and starts to continue down.  Josh looks up and cannot see the Grinning Man right now, but he cannot hear him following either.  "We have to go..." Josh tells Piper, "So sorry.."  The two hurry down to the ground level, hearing the kid above still calling for help, but then the kid's words are abruptly cut short and then... silence.   Josh feels the great weight of guilt for leaving the kid behind. The two look around and they opt to head down the road. Neither feel safe about the forest.  They hurry towards the first building and it shows a large bread icon on the signage.   They hurry to it and see there's already someone inside.  The person is shoving large bags with flour against the door to bar it shut from the inside. Piper tells Josh it might be best not to force themselves inside. Josh looks back and there's no sign of anyone so far. Piper looks at the next building and they see it has a Pig with a Cleaver as the sign.  They both hurry to it to peer through the window and they see a boy with a makeshift spear in his hands.  He seems to have found something and acts triumphant. The boy raises his hand up to see it in the light and it is a metal hammer. Josh tries to say hello, but the kid instead responds to Josh's words by flinging the spear at his direction!  The spear misses Josh and he tries to calm the boy down, telling him the Grinning Man is still at the building.  The boy admits he thought it was the girl again and tells Josh there's nothing else here that looks useful. He thinks other were here before. "Where are we?" Josh asks. The boy admits he has been here for four nights and has no idea where they are.  But that every night more kids appear. Piper tells Josh they should go, but Josh seems insistent to talk to the boy. Piper focuses on the conversation, totally oblivious to the fact that down the road, the Grinning Man has now emerged and begins to noiselessly approach them.

Back at the Candlestick Maker shop, Kim wipes away the spiders. Joey arrives, angry that the others didn't wait for her. Joey asks if there's anything useful in this place and begins looking around. Kim looks around as well to see if there's anything of importance in this place. Joey finds something useful! A box of matches with two match sticks inside.  She looks around more and finds a nub of a candle, around two inches high, and a bit of wick.  Billy admits he found a bit of a candlestick. Kim couldn't find anything useful. Joey feels a bit hungry, but Billy admits hunger is the least of their concerns. Joey asks them what the plan is, with Kim wondering if it would be safe to hide here. Billy admits he thought he was out of here, but now he's back here despite whatever he did last time. Unfortunately, he does not recall what he did the last time.  Billy wonders if they're supposed to go up the hill to the house there.  Joey finds a sack to place the stuff inside and M finally begins to wake up, screaming the moment she wakes up.  Kim slaps her to shut her up. "Let me go! Don't cut it! Don't take it!" were the words she uttered from her nightmare, which was her strapped to some kind of bed and the Grinning Man above her, pulling a curtain to reveal tools with strange odd marking on them. One of the tools he takes is like an egg-beater, with spinning and dancing blades.  He slowly turns it as he brings it towards her stomach.  M asks what happened and they quickly recap the events. M asks where the other kids are and Joey admits they got separated.  M asks if the Grinning Man is following them and Kim decides to check by peering out the window.   Billy feels it seems obvious to go to the house, but it seems like everyone tries to go to the house. Kim peeks out and sees the Grinning Man closing in on the two kids currently standing outside of the Butcher's shop. Kim ducks back down and tells them the Grinning Man is there!  They all duck down to hide. Joey peeks out and sees the Grinning Man closing in on the two who are distracted by someone in the other shop. Joey runs out of the shop, screaming, and run back into the shop - hoping the scream distracts the Grinning Man just enough for the others to hide. But as she runs out, she cannot find the breath to scream. She stares at the Grinning Man and despite the distance, she feels he's staring straight back at her. Grinning at her.

The kid tells Josh and Piper that they should just abandon a child to the Grinning Man. When the Grinning Man gets a child, it walks away and just leaves them alone for a night. The kid refuses to explain anything else about the other places in the area, however.  As they pull away from the kid, they see Joey in the distance, and they notice the Grinning Man at the street, already halfway the distance to get to them.  They start running, widening the distance from the Grinning Man as they follow Joey back into the Candlestick Maker's place. Inside, M and Billy find a backdoor and consider their next move.  Kim sees the Grinning Man, and despite the three rushing towards them, she decides to shut the door closed.  Josh tells them they should just run. Joey however thinks they can overpower her.  Piper agrees.  The three shove against the door and push it open despite Kim's attempts to keep it closed. M tells them about the backdoor. Billy finds a greenish ring near the backdoor, probably a copper ring that has turned green from rust. Joey tries to block the door with anything that can be used to block it. Piper hurries to help him.  Kim breaks into a run, darting out the back door to head for the woods.  M tries to help find what can be used to block the door as well, but there aren't anything of suitable mass to bar the door shut. M asks them if they should run instead. Josh tries to hide behind one of the vats, hoping to see he will be noticed there.  Billy sees Kim dash out and he runs out.  Joey thinks there's space behind the vats, and she asks them if they can trap the old man in the vat.  "I have matches! Maybe we can burn him! Like Hansel and Gretel against the old witch!"  M keeps muttering there's a back door. A peek outside the window by Josh, however, reveals no sign of the Grinning Man. M decides to stay close to Joey. Joey and Piper discuss luring the Grinning Man to the vats. "Let's burn him into a giant candle!" Joey grins.

M glances past them all as they discuss options and realizes in terror the Man in Black is already standing in front of the open doorway. Noiselessly, the Grinning Man begins to walk towards them.  M runs for the back door as she screaming, "Black man!" They all turn and see the Grinning Man closing in, close enough to grab them! Josh runs out the back door. Joey shuts her mouth and ducks down behind the vat. Piper breaks into a run for the door. The Grinning Man is still staring at Joey's direction, despite her holding her breath. M runs for the next building, with Josh following behind her. Piper looks back and sees the Grinning Man going near Joey. Piper finds a wooden slipper on the floor. Joey maneuvers to keep the vat in between her and the Grinning Man, and she pulls him into the vat.  The Grinning Man tumbles in but his hand grabs hold of Joey's hair. M and Josh approach a shop with a Lantern on the front. They hurry to it. Josh tries to glance as far as he can at the opposite end and he sees a cemetery on one side and at the other side, two more buildings, and a forest before a hill. At the top, a house waits.  Josh opts to follow M.

In the woods, Kim and Billy move through the tall trees and ignore the cold winds blowing at them. They soon realize it is too quite. No rustling sounds.  No insects.  But it is total silence. Kim follows where the wind is coming from and moves in that direction. They soon find a tree stump suggesting a woodcutter is nearby, with the significant shape of axe cuts against the wood. Kim searches for any sign of the axe when a whisper tells her to stop. The voice warns her she is too close to one and that if she moves, she might trigger it.  The "it" turns out to be a bear trap hidden in the dry leaves! The voice warns the traps are too heavy to move and that another kid tried to move it before and it snapped and killed him.  The voice claims the traps call the Woodcutter, and Kim asks if that is different from the black man.  The voice asks her to be quiet.  Kim tries to find the source of the voice in the woods, but instead she sees a small cottage in the distance, almost invisible in the woods. She looks further and fails to find any sign of the source of the voice.

Billy looks around the woods as well, moving slower as he remembers the woods having traps.  He tries to find if there's a path of some sort but fails to find anything. Kim slowly approaches the house, despite the voice warning her not to go there as that is what they want. Kim asks the voice to show itself and in response, someone descends from the top of the nearest tree and sits on a lower branch.  The boy is covered in scratches and scars, with long hair shrouding his face. Kim asks how long he has been here, and who he is, but the boy just climbs back up the tree. Kim approaches the tree, looking for handholds if there's any means to climb the tree. Kim is able to climb but as she pulls herself up, she realizes it is a good place to hide.  She realizes from up there, she can see the glinting parts where the bear traps are in the woods.  She has just been lucky enough to be avoiding them by chance.   She sees someone else in the woods, an old man who seems to be carrying a sack behind him.  He walks towards the cottage. The sack behind him squirms as if something inside is moving.

Billy hates that he's back here. He enters the forest carefully, watching each place he places a step. He hears the sounds of someone else in the woods and he drops to the ground to hide as a man emerges with a burlap sack on his back.  Billy can hear the man humming as he walks. "Stop squirming, you will only make it worse," the man growls.  Billy waits for the man to walk out of sight. Kim tries to get Billy's attention from above.  The old man stops, noticing someone at the tree.  The old man however also notices Billy not too far away. He asks what the kids are doing here in the woods. Neither Kim nor Billy answer. The old man tells them to leave while they can as the Woods are no safe place for them. He tells them to seek the path leading to the house by taking the road where the woods are lighter. The bag struggles.  The old man tosses it to the floor and it grunts as it hits the floor as he kicks at it and tells it to behave.  He points them back towards the road, but Kim admits she doesn't want to go back there. The old man admits no one wants to be here, but if they're lucky they might be given a thing to do, while they are stuck here. Both Kim and Billy stare in horror wondering if the old man just admitted he used to be a kid as well here.   From the cottage, a female voice murmurs, "Hungry..." The old man heads for the cottage.  Kim decides to sneak behind him and follow him.  Billy returns to the road, watching every step if not taking the very same steps he took earlier.

Back at the Candlestick Maker's cottage, Piper rushes forward and uses the geta to hit the Grinning Man's hand to force him to let go of Joey's hair. The sound of brittle cracking fills the air. Joey is able to wrestle free from the Grinning Man's grasp thanks to Piper's help and she shoves the Grinning Man into the Vat.  She tries to tie the legs together with the thread of wick she has and as the Grinning Man squirms, he plants his other hand on the edge of the vat to try to lift himself back out.  Piper shoves the Grinning Man deeper into the vat until only his legs are jutting out.  Joey lights one of the matches and successfully lights the wick around the Grinning Man's legs.  The fire begins to rise, spreading very quickly to the pants and the skin as if they were made of paper.  The hand of the Grinning Man juts out, clamping on Piper's face to try to pull her inside with him.  Joey bum rushes Piper and they both tumble to the ground.  They see the fire rise and the smoke erupting out of the vats.  But not a single time do they hear any sound from the Grinning Man save for his nails raking against the sides of the Vat.  The spiderwebs in the ceiling catch the embers as smoke fills the chamber.  Joey and Piper hurry back to their feet and run, leaving the cottage.

Outside, Joey looks back, and sees the legs of the Grinning Man fall into the burning vat.  No sign of him can now be seen.  The smell of smoke spreads out to every cottage.  The children all feel a sense of hope.    M and Josh arrive at the Glassblower's cottage and they see a long steel metal tube visible inside, but the room is filled with shattered glass.  With the smoke and fire consuming the Candlemaker's cottage, more kids begin to emerge from the nearby buildings - drawn to the scene by the dancing flames.  The kids seem to be from various countries, various nations, and worse... various eras of time.  Children from all over the world. From various points in time.

Emerging from the forest, Billy sees the burning cottage and hurries up the road, aiming for the path leading to the house.

Kim approaches the cottage and peeks through the cracks.  There, the old man has gone inside and reaches for something from his belt, then hits the bag.  After the wet pulpy sound, the bag has stopped moving.  The woman's voice tells the old man she's very hungry. The man shoves the bag towards the woman and Kim wonders if she should follow inside.

End of Act One

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