Those Meddling Kids

My friends and I like to play Into the Odd as a one-shot RPG sometimes between our longer tabletop campaigns. It’s a great game for quickly generating strange, gruesome characters and going on a strange, gruesome adventure with no discernible end goal other than to make an amount of money not measured in pence.

Last year, though, I found myself thinking about how the episodic nature and wacky hijinks of Into the Odd reminded me of old episodes of Scooby-Doo. In translating the cheery 70s vibes of the aformentioned TV show into something like a dungeon crawl, I also brought in some warm-toned Twin Peaks goth vibes and some found footage tropiness, and this is the result.

In the spirit of Halloween, I’m posting it to share. Feel free to use and modify this; don’t sell it, or I’ll put on a rubber mask and make you believe your house is haunted. Full instructions below the cut.

MEDDLING KIDS: An Into the Odd Inspired Game for 3-5 players

The year is 1973, and you and a few of your best friends from college have heard about a mysterious haunting that you might want to check out. Luckily for you, you’re all well-prepared, healthy guys and gals with a van and a full tank of gas, and you know you’re ready to take on whatever this creepy location has to offer you. So let’s see who you are and what you brought!

…hm. Not the choices I would’ve made, but okay!

This game runs along Into the Odd rules, and is loosely modeled on the One Page Ruleset.

Directions:

  1. Roll D20 2X (optional first part) for Appearance.
  2. Roll 3D6 for Strength, Dexterity, and Willpower
  3. Roll D6 for hit points.
  4. Roll D20 2X for Equipment.
  5. Roll 1D6 for your money (in dollars). You used some of that money buying supplies for the trip, probably. What’d you get?
  6. You are already in your van, being driven by the person with the highest WIL in the group, towards either:
    1. The Foreclosed Mansion (being auctioned off in 3 days)
    2. The Abandoned Asylum (rumors of a gas leak)
    3. The Old Homestead (of one of your ancestors–the person with the lowest total ability points OR whoever has a companion.)

Now that you’re on your way, you should know that the rumors say that the place is REEEEEAL dangerous…but that’s just what people say to keep red-blooded American kids from having any fun, right?

# Appearance (Roll 2X) (optional)
1 Thick, luscious mustache
2 Poodle Skirt
3 Cute dress
4 Bell bottom pants
5 Warm sweater
6 Steel-toed boots
7 High heels
8 Leather jacket
9 Sideburns
10 Turtleneck
11 Long unkempt hair
12 Freckles
13 Glasses (very thick, and you can’t see without them)
14 Afro
15 Ascot
16 Uniform (postal worker, police or military)
17 Trench coat
18 Leather pants
19 Rubber rain boots
20 Lipstick OR tattoos

 

# Equipment (roll 2X)
1 Plucky Younger Relative (1 HP, Backpack of Chance)
2 Prosthetic Leg
3 Jerrycan of gasoline
4 Bottle of Sleeping Pills
5 Handcuffs
6 Rock Climbing Equipment
7 Chloroform (STR save or KO)
8 Hatchet (D6)
9 Stupid Dog (2 HP, 1D6 bite)
10 Pistol (D6)
11 Shotgun (D8)
12 Flashlight (Good)
13 Flashlight (Unreliable)
14 Bag of snacks
15 Ghost hunting equipment (Camera, tape recorder)
16 Fireworks (absurd quantity)
17 Boy Scout Handbook (Consult to roll WIL instead of STR or DEX if not in combat)
18 Acid (corrosive or drug)
19 Cigarettes and a lighter
20 Arcanum

For an Arcanum, roll a D20 twice. The first result is the object, the second is the description.

# Arcanum Description
1 Lightbulb …of confusion (3 ft)
2 Geode …infesting (+1STR, -1WILl)
3 Sewing Kit …of truth (3 ft)
4 Potato Peeler …glowing
5 Sabre …malicious
6 Keyring …mysteriously dark
7 Chess set …of chance
8 Frying Pan …full of liquor
9 Book …whispering
10 Cigar Box …calming
11 Backpack …of holding
12 Jar …bleeding
13 Sack …on fire (not hot, but will ignite flammable objects it touches)
14 Specimen …living
15 Doll …giggling
16 Music Box …poltergeist-haunted
17 Axe …demon-possessed
18 Kerosene Lantern …containing a recorded message
19 Candle …floating
20 Bell …of silence (3 ft)

 

# What’s down this hallway/in this room (First Floor)
1 A Portrait of a stern man holding a riding crop (D20G value, flip coin to Disturb Ghost)
2 A Trick Bookshelf (D6: 1-2 stairs leading down, 3-4 passageway, 5-6 stairs leading up)
3 A liquor cabinet, well-stocked
4 A gun rack containing antique single shot firearms (flip coin to see if they fire)
5 A grandfather clock that bongs suddenly and abruptly
6 A fireplace with a roaring fire
7 A staircase going down
8 A very friendly cat (2 HP) who seems to want you to follow him.
9 A single shoe, abandoned in the middle of a rug
10 A piano covered in dust, with a handprint in the middle of the lid
11 A haunted mirror (roll for encounter)
12 A trapdoor (roll DEX to not fall through)
13 The dead body of an acquaintance of a party member
14 Stairs going up
15 A mysterious scrawled message on the wall
16 Clawmarks
17 Black liquid oozing from the ceiling above
18 A rustling shape disappearing around a corner or down a staircase
19 A room that you had already been in, that shouldn’t be where it now is
20 A butcher block with a human leg on it.

 

# What’s down this hall/in this room (upper floors)
1 A four-poster bed with a woman in it (flip coin to see if she’s alive or dead)
2 An enormous bathtub filled with opaque liquid (black ooze or blood or slime)
3 A padded room
4 A closet with a false back wall
5 A room with the windows boarded up
6 A Turkish smoking den
7 A portrait with eyes that follow you (triggers an encounter)
8 A baby carriage that rolls a little when you come near it–is it the wind?
9 A cluster of shadowy figures arranged around a bed
10 A dripping faucet
11 A heavily secured door
12 A scratching sound coming from within the walls
13 A blood trail.
14 A seated effigy with real human hair.
15 A doctor’s bag
16 A laundry chute/dumbwaiter
17 A false eye or set of teeth in a glass by a bedside table (potential Arcanum)
18 The sounds of a child crying coming from further in
19 An Unexpected Encounter
20 A gaping hole in the floor (Roll DEX to not fall in).

 

# What’s down this tunnel? (underground)
1 An obvious tripwire that alerts an Encounter.
2 A shaft leading to daylight (safety)
3 A shaft leading to daylight (a trap set by Denizens)
4 Pit of black ooze that destroys what it touches
5 A glowing machine that merges anything put into it, usually in a horrible way
6 Big immobile brain in glass tank. Answers questions, very logical, no life experience
7 Men in suits and sinister robes worshipping at a dark altar. There is an Arcanum on it.
8 A stairway down. If you go down, roll an extra die for encounters from now on.
9 Nothing
10 A barricade with mounted guns (D10) pointing ahead.
11 A laboratory.
12 Abandoned tram station with broken-down tram. Dead conductor (D20 in belongings)
13 Dark lake with malicious prankster fish.
14 A vault welded shut. Can be blown open to reveal %DX10 in disgusting artwork.
15 A cell block.
16 A glowing purple portal that hums softly. Roll for encounter.
17 A cackling madman (2 HP)
18 Stairs leading up.
19 A flashlight abandoned in the middle of the floor, its light still on.
20 A room full of cameras and controls that clearly control the rest of the house upstairs.

 

# Encounters
1 A lost kid with a runny nose (1 HP) who demands money or candy to do anything.
2 An elderly groundskeeper (2 HP) with an implement (1D6) who tells you to leave now.
3 A Grey Lady ghost who doesn’t speak but does point (ominously? Helpfully?)
4 Lost Realtor (2HP, can of Cookie Scent Spray) who offers money to get him out of this.
5 Scared ghost who warns you about a worse ghost. “He’s coming. You should run!”
6 Guy in obvious rubber monster costume (2 HP, 1D4 Punch). Jumps out from behind things.
7 A rubbery-looking monster (8 HP, 2D6 bite). Jumps out from behind things.
8 Cultists (1D6 in number, 3 HP each, carrying 1D6 ceremonial knives.
9 Blind troglodyte. Usually a harbinger of a pack (Roll 4 or better to avoid a pack).
10 A Pack (of Troglodytes, spectral wolves, very large rats, similar.)
11 2 FBI agents (3 HP, 1D6 pistols).
12 Demented woman wielding an axe (1D8).
13 3 ghost hunters (2 HP, carrying lanterns and recording equipment)
14 A pair of hide-behinds (4 HP, 1D4 claws, faster than you.)
15 A hungry albino alligator (6 HP, 2D8 bite)
16 A puppy! (3 HP, 1D6 damage) (WIL save to avoid being bent to its will)
17 A very large slug (4 HP) with acidic slime (1D4 each turn until you wash slime off)
18 Malfunctioning Construct (1 HP, 2D6 lasers)
19 Southern Belle Ghost (1D2 damage, tenacious, can only be defeated using daylight)
20 Elder God (10 HP, 1D8 damage, tentacles, eyes, the works)

The table below is optional–you can have more of a free-form haunt without it, or roll at the beginning of the session (secretly, so the players don’t see) so that you can steer the other happenings or relate them loosely to the cause of the haunting.

You can also choose two or more, or have there be the ostensible cause of the haunting (what the characters heard initially) vs. the actual cause (what they’ll discover at the end.)

# So it turns out that the “haunting” was caused by…
1 A real-estate scam
2 A creature that had escaped from a nearby zoo or park
3 A cult bent on summoning an elder god
4 An attempt by the homeowner to get on TV/drum up interest in their B&B
5 The misshapen creation(s) of a deranged scientist
6 Eldritch swarm (a lot of mice, for example)
7 Problems with the HVAC
8 The ghost of someone killed in the house, trying to accuse their murderer
9 The house settling (into a burning sinkhole)
10 Demonic possession
11 The mad former groundskeeper, hiding in the house since he was fired 10 years ago
12 The house itself, made sentient through magic, science, or OTHER
13 A malevolent murder-spirit who just likes hurting people for fun
14 A group of teenagers who are trying to make a name for themselves as Investigators
15 The collective weight of the history of this ancient place
16 Aliens
17 A reclusive “former” inhabitant believed to have been dead for a long time
18 A mold that makes people go insane and see things
19 An elaborate series of tricks and gaffes like a haunted house might have
20 The ghost of something unusual (like an animal, alien, small child, etc.)

Some notes for the DM

  • The three scenarios differ a little in terms of how you’ll want to set them up.
    • The Foreclosed Mansion is a staple of the genre, and may be a good place to start.
    • The Abandoned Asylum should be a bit bigger than other settings and may take longer to investigate. The Abandoned Asylum is also likely to feel heavier than other places. Stories about asylums are stories about institutional mistreatment and despair, and so you may not want to play the asylum as purely funny, as you might another haunting.
    • If you’re running The Ancestral Home, you may want to treat the first few hours as “safe”, have the player whose family it is introduce a few family members (or make them yourself) and build atmosphere. You can place Arcanum and clues, and can hinder your characters if you choose by serving them Drug-Laced Meals or sending them to bed (in rooms that may be locked, haunted, or otherwise inconvenient.)
    • If you’re running The Abandoned Asylum or the Foreclosed Mansion, the characters may, conversely, have a hard time getting in. They may be stopped by a police officer who sees their van/gear and warns them not to go poking around. At the Asylum in particular they may run into locked gates or guard dogs before they even clear the front door.
  • There are other ways to expand on this universe. You can include the Towns that these locations are set in, which may offer other opportunities for secrets/plots/spooky happenings, as well as adding the sense of a building ominous conspiracy.

Header image via the Public Domain Review.

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