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Calvin Hobbes
Note: I don't know for sure that this IS how The Descent actually plays out. It's just a neat idea I had based on the commercial. Don't blame me for spoiling it.

Psych Assessment: A Shadowrun Adventure

The PCs are hired by a corporation to retrieve a spelunking robot that's malfunctioned in a deep pit in a nearby mountain. It's a small, cramped space that trolls wouldn't be able to fit in, so the party'd be better off with the other metatypes. They're given a whole bunch of spelunking gear, and a navdat/motion sensor. As they are climbing down, the light starts to disappear, forcing the group to rely on flashlights. Highlight that they really don't need weapons, runners who decide to bring them anyway are going to be fun for the malicious gamerunner. The astral space in the area is nasty in some way, preventing astral projection and making AP unreliable, but spells work fine.

As they are squeezing down, they become aware of presences following them, hungrily waiting. Ultimately, though, the real threat is that a bunch of paranoid, heavily trained and team-work focused criminals are putting themselves into a sense depriving environment, where movements out of the side of their eyes become Horrors, where a vaguely seen teammate looks like a shambling monster.

They come across the first recon team sent by the corporation, another local group of shadowrunners. The leader, the only one alive, tells them a story about a group of ancient demons, horrors laid loose in these tunnels, driving his teammates deeper as they pursued them. Eventually, he killed them all with an axe the team may come across later, and has been eating their bodies for sustenance these past two weeks. Teams that bring him along find him guiding the experiences that come next.

The threat is imaginary. Their paranoid minds have begun constructing ideas: go to the players and ask what precautions they're taking, checking critters or your notes to see if that will be effective, mumbling stats to vampires, ghosts, free spirits. The characters are hallucinating shapes from shadows, and the leader's descriptions and their own favored enemies finally give these things shape.

Eventually, when they reach the mission objective, they are pursued by a mass hallucination that forces them to turn on each other if they leave close proximity to one another, but if they do leave close proximity to each other, they're more likely to have experiences that disagree with one another and realize they're going crazy. And if they do realise this too early into the game (read: before one of them's dead), well, the next "hallucination" turns out to be a very nasty thing that's been waiting down here, typical bug hunt.

Maybe it's a feature of the caves. Maybe the corp dosed them with something and the navdat GPS they were given is recording everything that happens. Maybe it's just the effect that such a situation as claustrophobia has on them. Maybe the leader of the first team has actually been possessed by, or just is, a horror or shedim or something else equally nasty, and he's using his powers to keep the PCs clustered together.

I'm going to run this game tomorrow. I'll come back with what happens.
Can't believe it's taken you guys so long to get this film. We got it last summer!
[QUOTE]And if they do realise this too early into the game (read: before one of them's dead)[/QUOTE]

So, you plan to kill a player character, and your planning is all screwed up if no one dies?[/QUOTE]
Calvin Hobbes
For players, it's not a horror story. I can't set the game up to actually, honestly terrify a group of people who realise the difference between real/unreal. The threat of actual character death is a very scary realisation for players who've spent four games adjusting to their characters.

The team:

Chicago, a former pop idol turned shadowrunner after her career fell apart. Gunbunny.
Dawson Hicks, a career extreme sports dude with a rebuilt skeleton and muscle replacement.
Doc "Running Claw" Holliday, an orkish hacker cowboy-poet with 4 cyberlimbs.
Leah Arkady, team's aspected mage with a personality scrubbed away by chemicals.

The entire group went to the meet, took the company spelunking passage, and went straight to the hole. All of them agreed not to bring a weapon and then secretly brought roomsweepers and predators with them. At the four hour mark, they start to see the phantoms, and every attribute they asked about was applied to them.

(In order to represent the lack of ability to see, I asked them every time to ask about something in particular, like "skin color" or "number of arms" and so on, thereby allowing them to develop the image with each other, because they then started to share the sights they saw.)

And, as it turns out, two of them died. Doc chased a phantom, hit a very threatening stalactite with their flashlight, and fell down a hole while trying to make it back to the group. This was described as two phantoms grabbing him from the ground. Later, as they kept going, they found his twisted and mangled body. Leah began to hyperventilate, and Chicago became convinced that this was all an experiment by the corporation. They come across Burke, and Chicago's medical training instantly led her to conclude he'd killed the rest of the team.

As Burke convinced the group that the corporation had no idea what these things were, Chicago started to warn they should kill him before he got too close. She pulls a gun, everyone gets pissed because she brought a gun and they thought they were the only one to think of it, but she accused Doc of having brought it and scavenging it off of his body, which they all accepted.

Eventually, Chicago shot Burke.

As they kept going, Chicago became convinced Burke was following her, and the entire group decided that the phantoms were actually the people that they'd killed, and this was some kind of indian burial ground situation. Naturally, the ghosts became characters from the last couple of runs, whispering that they'd be coming for them at midnight, fifteen minutes away.

Finally, they reach the robot, and as they spread out to explore the cave to see what had damaged the robot (answer: the fall, but they didn't have rotorcraft b/r). Midnight strikes, they all pull guns, which is now totally okay. Noises start to come at them, and chicago and leah begin laying down covering fire, killing Hicks as he approached the hole (who was told he's torn down by razor-like phantom pains.

The rest of the group hears him screaming as he dies, and the grab the probe and start dragging it away. Hicks, thinking that he's being overtaken, sets off his explosives, collapsing the tunnels. Leah, an electronics expert, looked at the probe and figured out how to watch its video feed, and realised what they'd done. She just very quietly erased the feed without telling the group, and declared very confidently that they'd killed the ghosts. Everyone else accepted this, but still heard the whispers.

After that, they managed to climb out against difficult odds, and completely believed that the corp (Masterson Polytechnical) used them to feed an ancient demon. They're considering retributive justice.
Sounds like a good story. I don't think I would have liked playing it, though. That is, unless I was one of the survivors. wink.gif
And here I thought it was a run based on the old PC Game.
Wounded Ronin
Someone actually GMed something very similar to this and I was a player in that game. Actually, the setting never worked. As I recall, the character I was playing was supposed to be a MMG-toting combat vet, so I made him say that in the situation we were facing with poor visibility and so on the biggest threat to the team would be friendly fire, and that therefore we should all stay extremely close. Since we never split up, we never had the chance to blow each other away.

I feel so awesome for pwning the scenario.
Dread Polack
QUOTE (Witness)
Can't believe it's taken you guys so long to get this film. We got it last summer!

You're in the UK?

I just saw this movie. The RottenTomatoes rating was over 80%, and my hopes were a bit overly high. I'd say that it was a solidly good B horror flick. I would have liked it more if it was a little more believable and had fewer horror-flick cliches.

Dread Polack
I am.

Yeah I can't say it quite lived up to the hype, and I hated the ending (although I gather it's been changed for Americans). Though to be fair it is better than most of the competition, IMO.
Dread Polack
True. I love horror flicks. Good horror flicks, that is. This one did a pretty good job of setting up, and was pretty intense and fairly believable most of the time. Compared to most of crap "horror" which is mostly gore and startling images. Movies don't scare me, because they're movies, and not real. My mind can't suspend that seperation, so scary movies have to be more than just that. They need to surprise me and catch me off guard with ideas I never would have thought of. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. The Descent almost did this.

Dread Polack
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