The Genre(s) of the Uncanny Highway

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Long time readers of this blog might remember that I originally conceived of the “Uncanny Highway” as a setting for GROOVY Ghastly Affair (a planned expansion to my Gothic RPG “Ghastly Affair”). As the setting evolved, however, I wanted it to reflect Groovy Era America in all its crazy glory, and not be confined to just places and situations that could be pigeonholed as “Gothic”. To the extent that it reflects any single genre, the Uncanny Highway is therefore best described as “Psychotronic”.

The critical term Psychotronic was coined by writer Michael Weldon, inspired by the movie “The Psychotronic Man”. It designates the type of movies that played in the urban grindhouses and suburban drive-ins of America, especially in the 1960s and 1970s (and into the 1980s). Some “Psychotronic” movies fall more or less comfortably within the Horror genre – other might be best classifiable as Sci Fi, Crime, or Fantasy. Other genres falling under the broad umbrella of the Psychotronic include Road Trip movies, Biker movies, the Nudist and Roughie films of the 1960s, Action films (especially those centered around cars), the Vigilante and Revenge movies that were especially popular in the 70s, and Psychedelic movies. Often, these movies mixed genres in unexpected ways – as in the Satanic Horror Biker movie “Werewolves on Wheels”. What all Psychotronic movies have in common is that they exist outside of “respectable” cinema. The typical Psychotronic film was made independently, with little in the way of budget. Although dismissed as “exploitation” by established critics, these so-called “trashy” films could often deal with themes every bit as important or challenging as the major studio films playing in regular theaters.

Encounters on the Uncanny Highway might be alternately horrifying, mind-bending, funny, and heartbreaking. There is no single story to be told, or even “right” way to run the setting. One group might decide to be a group of outlaw bikers raising hell from town to town. Another group might be a collection of lost and lonely souls wandering the road in search of real human connection. The first group may want to experience every bit of Seventies-tastic sleaze that the GM can throw at them. The second group, on the other, hand may be more interested in interacting with quirky NPCs, and prefer to avoid scenes of violence and degradation. The setting can be run either way (and many other ways as well). Rolling randomly on the Generator Tables can create a wild ride of Extraterrestrial cashiers, Vanishing Hitchhikers, and cannibalistic farmers – but by using the tables as selection lists, one can just as easily use the Uncanny Highway for pure role-playing in an Altman-style world of ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances.

Here’s two lists of movies to help you better understand the genre(s) of the Uncanny Highway, and the possible range of encounters that PCs might experience there. The first list consist only of movies made in the Groovy Era itself, before 1980. The second list consists of post-1980 movies that deal with the same themes. The flicks here range from grisly horror films to offbeat comedies. Many (especially those made after 1980) are even major studio ventures.

Pre-1980 Movies

200 Motels
Angels’ Wild Women
Billy Jack
Cannonball
The Car
Carnival of Souls
Convoy
Crash! (1976)
Desperate Living
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry
Duel
Easy Rider
Eaten Alive
Every Which Way But Loose
Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Hell’s Bloody Devils
Hideout in the Sun
Moving Violation (1976)
Night of the Living Dead
Phantasm
Pink Flamingos
Psycho
The Psychotronic Man
Race with the Devil
Satan’s Sadists
She-Devils on Wheels
Smokey and the Bandit
Something Weird
The Stepford Wives (1975)
The Getaway (1972)
The Great Texas Dynamite Chase
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
The Trip (1967)
The Wild Angels
Tourist Trap
Truck Stop Women
Up in Smoke
Vanishing Point
Walking Tall
Werewolves on Wheels
White Line Fever

Post-1980 Movies

Bad Times at the El Royale
The Blues Brothers
Breakdown (1997)
The Cannonball Run
Children of the Corn
Crash (1996)
Death Proof
The Devil’s Rejects
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Freeway (1996)
The Funhouse
Gas, Food, Lodging
Halloween III
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
The Hitcher
House of 1,000 Corpses
Kalifornia
Knightriders
Lost Highway
Maximum Overdrive
Monster
The Mothman Prophesies
My Own Private Idaho
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Natural Born Killers
Near Dark
Nope
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Phantasm II
Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea
Strange Invaders
Southbound
Thelma & Louise
Things are Tough All Over
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
U Turn (1997)
Wild at Heart
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A Sneak Peak at the Uncanny Highway Road Maps

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Fundamental to the “road-crawl” system to be presented in “The Uncanny Highway” book are a series of four directional “Road Map” forms. (Scroll down to see examples of each form.) There is a “North – South” map, a “Northeast – Southwest” map, an “East – West” map, and a “Northwest – Southeast” map. Each Road Map sheet is divided into 10-mile Stretches.  Spaces are provided on the forms to record the special Road Feature of each Stretch, and any Roadside Attractions present. Road Features can be anything from a train trestle passing overhead, to an entire Small Town. Roadside Attractions can range from Truck Stops to haunted Houses.

These Road Map forms allow Game Masters to keep track of the characteristics of each Section, and facilitate a spontaneous, improvisational and immersive style where the players can decide to visit or ignore anything they want. A central design goal of “The Uncanny Highway” is providing a structured system by which a group can sit down and play with little to no preparation – defining the setting, encounters, and plots as they go. Just use the appropriate Generator Tables (selecting or rolling randomly), write down the results in the spaces provided, and an easily referenceable schematic is created. Maximum groovy choices for Players, minimum headaches for GMs!

I’ve given you a “filled-out” example of each directional Road Map form. Notice how the “North –South” map form used for Section NJ 1 has its last four Stretches scribbled out. That’s because the Section is only 60 miles long, rather than 100 miles (like most Sections of the Uncanny Highway). See the little “highway shields” on the form? The one at the southern end of Section NJ 1 indicates that the road connects to Section NJ 2, which uses the “Northeast – Southwest” Road Map.

Notice the space for “Notes” on the form for Section NJ 2. It indicates that the Section ends in a bridge crossing the Delaware River, and that travelers will have probably have an encounter with the Jersey Devil. “The Uncanny Highway” contains a complete breakdown of each Section’s length, orientation, Predominant Terrain, and peculiar characteristics – including which legendary creatures are endemic to which Section.

The example below of the “East – West” Road Map defines Section KS 1, in western Kansas. Notice how there are fewer entries in the boxes for each Stretch, than is the case for Sections NJ 1 and NJ 2? That’s because Kansas is in the “Western Prairie and Rocky Mountains” region of the United States, and less densely populated than New Jersey (in the “Northeast” region). “The Uncanny Highway” book will show you the suggested number of possible Roadside Attractions, based on geographical region.

Last, there’s the filled-out “Northwest – Southeast” Road Map form for Section NV 4, in southeastern Nevada. Notice that, like Section NJ 2, this Section has particularly frequent creature encounters – in this case with Extraterrestrials.

These Road Maps work in conjunction with the custom Record Sheets for the various Roadside Attractions, Small Towns, Encounters and media outlets of the Uncanny Highway. But that’s a post for another time!

The Uncanny Highway” is scheduled for release in print and PDF later this year.

Hot Rods of the Uncanny Highway

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The following Generator Tables let you quickly define the appearance and performance of Groovy Age Hot Rods – whether owned by Player Characters, or driven by NPCs. Roll randomly, or use the tables as selection lists.

As far gas mileage goes, assume a typical Hot Rod of the 1960s and 1970s can travel 100 miles (or 160 kilometers) on a full tank of gas, and has a fuel efficiency of 6 miles (or 9.5 kilometers) to the gallon.

Coming soon: Generator Tables for Chopper Motorcycles and customized Boogie Vans.

Chassis / Body

d20.

The chassis is a customized…

1

1932 Ford.

2

AMC Javelin.

3

Cadillac Eldorado.

4

Chevrolet Camaro.

5

Chevrolet Corvette.

6

Chevrolet El Camino.

7

Chevrolet Impala.

8

Dodge Challenger.

9

Ford Model A.

10

Ford Model T.

11

Ford Mustang.

12

Four-door sedan.

13

Hearse.

14

Jeep.

15

Pickup truck.

16

Plymouth Barracuda.

17

Pontiac Firebird.

18

Pontiac GTO.

19

Two-door sedan.

20

Volkswagon Beetle.

Body Color

d20.

The overall paintjob is…

1 – 3

black,…

4 – 5

cherry red,…

6 – 7

flame red,…

8 – 9

deep red,…

10

deep blue,…

11

sky blue,…

12

green,…

13

lime green,…

14

orange,…

15

flame orange,…

16

teal,…

17

purple,…

18

violet,…

19

yellow,…

20

red, white, & blue,…

d20.

…with…

1 – 2

flames.

3 – 4

pin-striping.

5 – 6

wide stripes.

7 – 8

a racing stripe up the middle.

9 -10

a number on the sides. Roll d100 to determine number.

11

scalloped stripes.

12

stars.

13

thunderbolts.

14

pinup girls on the sides.

15

skulls on the sides.

16

eagles on the sides.

17

snakes on the sides.

18

writing on the sides. Use “Writing” table below.

19

American flags.

20

pictures of Jesus on the sides.

Writing (if any)

d100

Written on the side is…

1 – 4

Jesus Saves”.

5 – 8

I Sold my Soul to Rock n’ Roll”

9 – 12

Pure Horsepower”

13 – 16

American Dream”

17 – 20

Eat My Dust”

21 – 24

Church of the V8”

25 – 28

Highway Star”

29 – 32

Live to Win”

33 – 36

Peace”

37 – 40

Make Love Not War”

41 – 44

Sex-mobile”

45 – 48

Freedom Wagon”

49 – 52

100% American”

53 – 56

Rollin’ Thunder”

57 – 60

Bad to the Bone”

61 – 64

Devil Child”

65 – 68

Wonder Wheels”

69 – 73

Speed Demon”

74 – 78

Highway Lightning”

79 – 82

Steel Stallion”

83 – 86

Iron Chariot”

87 – 90

Fire Eyes”

91 – 94

Motor Voodoo”

95 – 98

Lost Horizon”

99 – 100

The owner’s CB Handle.

Body Work

d20. Roll 1d4 times.

The car noticeably has…

1

a rear spoiler.

2

a front spoiler.

3

cutout exhaust pipes in the front end

4

cutout exhaust with “zoomie pipes” that project out at an angle.

5

cutout exhaust with “weedburner pipes” that project out perpendicularly.

6

cutout exhaust with long “lake pipes” that run along the exterior body of the car.

7

a T-top.

8

no top.

9

a convertible top.

10

a “chopped top”, with a lowered cab roof

11

a “sectioned” body that has been reduced in overall height.

12

a “channeled” body that has been lowered to the ground.

13

so called “suicide doors” that are hinged at the rear.

14

scissor doors that rotate upwards.

15

shaved doors” without visible handles.

16

wheelie bars projecting from the rear

17

sunken headlights

18

been “nosed”, with all hood projections removed.

19

an extended front end.

20

no fenders.

Re-roll results that contradict previously established features.

Hood

d20.

The hood has…

1 – 5

a supercharger blower projecting from the top

6

a pronounced, forward-facing scoop.

7

a pronounced, rear-facing scoop.

8

been removed to expose the engine.

9

been removed to expose the engine, which has a supercharger blower.

10

an airbrushed design of an eagle.

11

an airbrushed design of an Aztec (or Native American) Warrior.

12

an airbrushed design of black panther.

13

an airbrushed design of a cobra.

14

an airbrushed design of a pinup girl.

15

an airbrushed design of a wizard.

16

an airbrushed design of the Devil.

17

an airbrushed skull.

18

an airbrushed picture of Jesus.

19 – 20

no obvious modifications.

Wheels & Suspension

d6.

The suspension is…

1

raised in the back, with rear wheels larger than the front wheels.

2

lowered in the front, but all the wheels are the same size.

3

raised in the front, but all the wheels are the same size.

4

lowered overall.

5

lifted higher than normal.

6

unchanged.

Tires

d6.

The tires are…

1

solid black,…

2

whitewall,…

3

white striped,…

4

red striped,…

5

gold striped,…

6

emblazoned with a white manufacturer’s logo,…

d8.

…and are…

1 – 3

standard width.

4

extra wide.

5

extra wide on the rear wheels.

6

extra wide on the rear wheels, but narrow on the front.

7

narrow.

8

narrow on the front wheels.

Hubcaps

d6.

The hubcaps are…

1

dog-dish.

2

spoked motorcycle wheels.

3

spinners.

4

magwheels.

5 – 6

unexceptional.

Speed

d8.

This vehicle’s top speed is…

1

140 mph. (225 kph)

2 – 3

150 mph. (241 kph)

4 – 5

160 mph. (257 kph)

6

170 mph. (274 kph)

7

180 mph. (290 kph)

8

190 mph. (306 kph)

Handling

d6.

With its its customization, the vehicle’s handling is…

1

Average.

2

Average, but the car is prone to breakdowns.

3

Bad. -2 (or 10%) Penalty to avoid road obstacles or make tight turns.

4

Bad, and the car is prone to breakdowns. -2 (or 10%) Penalty to avoid road obstacles or make tight turns.

5

Good. +2 (or 10%) Bonus to avoid road obstacles or make tight turns.

6

Good, but the car is prone to breakdowns. +2 (or 10%) Bonus to avoid road obstacles or make tight turns.

Where We Are on the Uncanny Highway

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It’s been a while since I updated this blog, and the reason is simple: I’ve been working on the Uncanny Highway book. I’ve been reorganizing, rewriting, and expanding the text for even greater usability. Right now, my editor/collaborator Wendy is editing the text, and we should be able to finalize it soon. Among other things…

  • There’s now an increased emphasis on the “The Ready Rules of the Road” as the system specifically designed for the The Uncanny Highway, while keeping the “meat” of the book usable with any RPG rules.
  • Some changes have been made to “The Ready Rules of the Road” themselves, which will be reflected in the upcoming release of Play-test Version B. Specifically, characters now have a Capability called “Mojo”. Instead of a “Saving Throw”, one can make a “Mojo roll” to resist Paranormal effects, avoid hazards, survive car crashes, and to avoid getting sick from eating at questionable roadside establishments.
  • I’ve further clarified the step-by-step procedures for preparing (or spontaneously creating) Sections of Highway, and for running game sessions set on the road.
  • I’ve added full support for Solo play on the Uncanny Highway.
  • The 140 named Sections of U.S. Route 28 are now fully laid out in easy-to reference tables, which include the length of each Section, and the predominant terrain the Section passes through.
  • I’ve added a full-color, two-page map of U.S. Route 28, which now also shows where the Uncanny Highway adjoins certain Uncanny State Roads – such as Pennsylvania’s “Hexerie Road”, and the “Megiddo Highway” that runs through eastern Washington state.
  • I’ve added information about regional American food, for an added level of verisimilitude.
  • More historical sidebars have been added.
  • A list of inspirational media has been added.

The basic design of the book will be intended to replicate the look and feel of a 1970s road atlas, with an emphasis on maximum readability and utility at the game table. This is not going to be an “art book” that you are afraid to get a coffee-cup stain on, but rather something that will look better and more authentic with wear – and with some “Make Love Not War’” stickers! I want you to write in the margins, doodle on the pages, and fully own the book. When it comes to physical game books, I am of the opinion that “used is beautiful”. So, we plan on bucking the recent OSR trend of collectible books with fancy bindings. For one thing, we’re planning a spiral-bound version of “The Uncanny Highway” – a binding that some may snobbishly dismiss as decreasing bookshelf-appeal, but which actually allows a book to be opened flat at the table, or folded in half on a page. As much as possible, we want to keep the eventual cost of the physical book as low as feasible. Game books are tools, and tools are meant to be used.

So, that’s where were headed. Or, at least, where we think we’re headed. Because, sometimes, the road decides your destination for you!

 

Ghastly Affair, The Ready Rules of the Road, and The Open Gaming License

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There has been much talk in the past week regarding the possible “de-authorization” of the Open Game License Version 1.0a. This is the current license agreement under which I have been producing my gaming materials. While there has yet to be any official news about this matter, the possibility that such a change is even being officially considered demonstrates that the License is no longer a viable option for small independent designers like myself.

I have decided that the Second Edition of “Ghastly Affair” will not be an OGL game, no matter how the current situation is resolved. I am convinced that, even if the worst-case scenario does not come to pass, the OGL can no longer be relied upon. Likewise, Play-Test Version B of “The Ready Rules of the Road” is being rewritten to remove legacy terms and material. Apart from including “The Ready Rules of the Road”, the system-neutral text of “The Uncanny Highway” never required the OGL at all.

Ghastly Affair” never functioned mechanically like the game described in the System Resource Document, using a fundamentally different resolution procedure. I merely used legacy terminology and concepts to make the game easier to learn for people familiar with Old School-style rules systems. The loss of the OGL as a viable license is an opportunity to make Ghastly Affair a more unique gaming experience. The changes I have already explored will make it a better fit for Gothic Romance and possibly even easier to play. Likewise, removing the legacy material from “The Ready Rules” makes them even better for the kind of casual, pick-up games they are intended for.

In the future, my gaming material will probably remain Open Source in some manner; but I have not yet decided what form that might take. However, I am thinking of some kind of license whereby others can freely release scenarios, supplemental materials, and rules hacks, without being able to just copy my stuff word-for-word and sell it as their own. It is perilous, however, to craft any kind of legal agreement without a team of lawyers. Just going with Creative Commons is an option, of course.

Look for “The Ready Rules of the Road – Play-Test Version B”, sans OGL, to be presented here in the very near future. Further updates about the future of “Ghastly Affair” will be forthcoming, once there is more clarity about the ultimate fate of the OGL.

Ready Rules of the Road Vehicle Record Cards – Free Download

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Don’t head out onto the Uncanny Highway without these convenient wallet sized-cards to record all the important information about your character’s vehicle – including the wicked paintjob and sweet custom features on their cherry Boogie Van!

 

 

 

 

Ready Rules of the Road Vehicle Record – Version A

Click to access ready_rules_of_the_road_vehicle_record_versiona.pdf

 

Comparing The Ready Rules of the Road and Ghastly Affair

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Some of you may be wondering how the “The Ready Rules of the Road” differ from the rules of my other game, “Ghastly Affair” – and why I’ve chosen to create a whole other game system at all. So, here are some explanations.

Some Comparisons Between the two Games

Both “Ghastly Affair” and “The Ready Rules of the Road” utilize the same basic dice system: roll a d20 under a target number equal to the rating of a relevant character Ability. In both cases, the rating may be temporarily modified up or down with a Bonus or Penalty to reflect the ease or difficulty of an action. One difference is that in “The Ready Rules”, a result equal to the modified Ability still succeeds – while under the current “Ghastly Affair” rules as written, it fails. (In the upcoming Second Edition of “Ghastly Affair” a roll equal to the modified Ability can also succeed, but at some kind of cost that makes it impossible to succeed again at that action for the remainder of the day).

Ghastly Affair” utilizes the six “standard” Abilities of Old School rpgs (Charisma, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Strength, and Constitution) and adds a seventh characteristic, “Perversity”. In addition, “Ghastly Affair” Player Characters have five “Special Abilities” and two “Weaknesses”, which are determined by their Character Class. On the other hand, PCs in “The Ready Rules of the Road” have twenty Character Abilities – but no Special Abilities and Weaknesses. Characters in “The Ready Rules” instead begin the game with five “Strong” Abilities (with initial ratings of 12), and two “Weak” Abilities (with initial ratings of 6). The “Average” score in the current version of “Ghastly Affair” is 9, while in the “Ready Rules” it is 10. (Average is being raised to 10 in the Second Edition of “Ghastly Affair“, however.)

Both “Ghastly Affair” and “The Ready Rules” have Saving Throws that are rolled like Ability Checks. In “Ghastly Affair”, a Saving Throw might be made against any of the character’s Basic Abilities. In “The Ready Rules”, however, only “Fitness” and “Psychic Ability” are used for Saves.

Armor Class in “Ghastly Affair” is, by default, a point Penalty to the Ability Check made by an attacker. In the “The Ready Rules”, however, the point value of a defender’s Armor is subtracted from all damage taken by them. (The “Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual” does mention using Armor Class as damage reduction as an optional rule.)

In both “Ghastly Affair” and “The Ready Rules“, almost all attacks do base damage of 1d6, plus the attacker’s Damage Bonus. Both system utilize Hit Points to measure the survivability of characters and creatures.

Ghastly Affair” characters have a Speed score, rated on a relative scale like other Abilities (from 1-20). “The Ready Rules” utilizes an absolute movement rate, instead, where human average is “Walking 50’, Running 200’”.

Ghastly Affair” is a Class and Level system, while “The Ready Rules of the Road” has neither Classes nor Levels (although characters do advance in power as they accumulate XP). The experience system for both games is similar, however. A “Ready Rules” PC with 20 Experience Points is roughly equivalent in overall effectiveness to a “Ghastly Affair” PC with the same amount of XP.

The current version of “Ghastly Affair” includes over 270 Preternatural Effects. “The Ready Rules of the Road”, on the other hands, trims that list down to just 30 Paranormal Effects – although many of those effects can vary in power and scope according to the amount of Hit Points expended by their User.

Finally, “Ghastly Affaircreatures have more defined characteristics (and thus larger stat blocks) than those in “The Ready Rules“.

Why the Two Systems are Different

The Ready Rules of the Road” are especially meant for the cross-genre “Uncanny Highway” setting. Originally, the” Uncanny Highway” was going to be a setting for “Groovy Ghastly Affair”. As the setting generators developed, however, it became obvious that I couldn’t stay “within the lines” of Gothic convention. So, I decided to create a streamlined game system especially for use on the Uncanny Highway – one which wouldn’t be so tied to the Gothic genre, and would facilitate casual pick-up games by allowing characters to be made even faster and more easily than is already the case for “Ghastly Affair“.

The rules of “Ghastly Affair” are specifically meant to replicate the events of Gothic fiction. The Special Abilities and Weaknesses of the Classes are designed so that characters effectively carry their stories with them. A True Innocent is always going to eventually blunder into some dangerous forbidden chamber, and will eventually faint at the sight of something horrible. The Mad Scientist will eventually face an Angry Mob, and the Bandit will wrestle with the consequences their Fame or Infamy. “The Ready Rules” are not tied to Gothic genre conventions, however. As befits characters on the American open road, Player Characters are completely in charge of their own fates – within the limits decreed by the Almighty Dice of course!

Some of the ideas explored in “The Ready Rules” are going to be incorporated in the Second Edition of “Ghastly Affair“, however – for example, setting the average score of Abilities at 10, and using Armor as damage reduction by default. The Second Edition of “Ghastly Affair” is going to include more random tables / selection lists for defining characters and their backgrounds, similar to those in “The Ready Rules” (but much more extensive).

For those of you awaiting the Second Edition of “Ghastly Affair”, do not fear – me and my editor Wendy are still working on it. For those of you who want to explore The Uncanny Highway without the Gothic baggage of “Ghastly Affair”, however, try “The Ready Rules of the Road”!

The Ready Rules of the Road – Fast Role-Playing on the Uncanny Highway

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The Ready Rules of the Road” is a fast and streamlined set of rules for roadtripping across the United States in the Groovy Era of the 1960s and 1970s. Have your own bizarre adventure across strange America – whether driving, hitchhiking, or riding your band’s tour bus.

The basic system is a simple “roll-under Ability” mechanic similar to that of “Ghastly Affair”. There are no character classes or Levels, however, but a single list of 20 Character Abilities. You can quickly and easily generate a name and groovy character concept using the included random tables. Characters might start the game able to create one of 30 concisely-described Paranormal Effects, with power levels appropriate to a modern setting. Plus, all your character’s essential stats can fit on cards the size of a driver’s license!

In just 22 pages you get:

  • a complete character generation and advancement system.
  • a comprehensive list of Paranormal Effects.
  • simple rules for car chases, car crashes, and automatic weapons.
  • stats for 25 types of NPCs.
  • 26 different animals and strange creatures.
  • 4 tables for generating stretches of highway, and encounters on the road.

Oh, and this Play-test Version is FREE! That’s because we’re getting you tuned-up to drive the full release of The Uncanny Highway book, scheduled for 2023.

I gotta tell ya’ that the Ready Rules of the Road involves Sixties-rific and Seventies-tastic Drive-in movie themes of vigilantes, drug use, imperiled runaways, dangerous psychic powers, hitchhiking hippies, demon-haunted roads, truck-stop prostitutes, reckless gun fights, gratuitous use of CB radio, driving non-electric gas-guzzling muscle cars at high speed, and people wearing plaid polyester leisure suits with absurdly wide collars! If any of those things offend you – or you are too young to watch a movie with them in it – this is probably not the game for you.

Don’t forget to download the Ready Rules of the Road Character Cards as well!

The Ready Rules of the Road

Click to access the_ready_rules_of_the_road_playtest_version_a-2.pdf

The Ready Rules of the Road Character Cards

Click to access ready_rules_of_the_road_character_cards_versiona.pdf

The Uncanny Highway Book – Construction is Underway!

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I’ve been silent here for the past few weeks because I’ve been working on preparing The Uncanny Highway for eventual publication. Many of the tables already posted on this blog have been reworked, reordered and expanded. Plus, there is an entirely new and comprehensive system for generating and keeping track of Highway Sections, facilitating completely spontaneous Road Trips across Groovy Era America. The body of the book will be more-or-less system neutral, but I plan to include “The Ready Rules of the Road” – a stripped-down and reworked version of the system used for Ghastly Affair – as an Appendix.

Doubtless there will be some adjustments on the way to a final text, but here’s the current contents listing (not including the many informational sidebars):

WELCOME TO THE UNCANNY HIGHWAY

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

ROAD CONSTRUCTION
General Characteristics of the Uncanny Highway
Sections and Stretches
Create the Starting Section
Example of a Filled-Out Road Map – Section NJ 1
Creating the Rest of the Uncanny Highway
Map of the Uncanny Highway
The Sections of U.S. Route 28 State by State
Table 1: Road Features of a Highway Stretch
Table 2: Roadside Attractions of a Highway Stretch
Table 3: Encounter Themes and Style of a Highway Section
North – South Road Map
East – West Road Map
Northeast – Southwest Road Map
Northwest – Southeast Road Map

DRIVING THE HIGHWAY
When the PCs Enter a New Section of Highway
When the PCs Enter a New Stretch
Remind Them to Refuel
Characters Must Eat and Drink
Visiting Attractions
Picking up Hitchhikers
Listening to the Radio In-Game
Reading Newspapers In-Game
Watching TV In-Game
Sleeping on the Uncanny Highway
Hitchhiking PCs
When the PCs Run Out of Money
When the PCs Commit Crimes
Settling Down
Pausing Between Sections
Improvisation
Table 1: Ordinary Vehicles on a Highway Stretch
Table 2: Road Events on a Highway Stretch
“You Can’t Get There from Here” – Leaving the Uncanny Highway
The Vietnam War and the Uncanny Highway

ABANDONED VEHICLES
Table 1: Abandoned Vehicle
Table 2: Condition of an Abandoned Vehicle
Table 3: Inhabitants of an Abandoned Car
Table 4: Items in an Abandoned Vehicle
Abandoned Vehicle Record Sheet

AMUSEMENT and THEME PARKS
Table 1: Amusement Park Name
Table 2: Amusement Park Sign
Table 3: Amusement Park Theme
Table 4: Amusement Park Enclosure
Table 5: Park Condition
Table 6: The Staff
Table 7a: Attractions
Table 7b: Carousel Mounts
Table 7c: Freak Show Features
Table 7d: Haunted House Features
Table 7e: Funhouse / Walkthrough Features
Table 7f: Tunnel of Love / Old Mill Ride Features
Table 7g: Stage Performances and Concerts
Table 7h: Midway Games and Attractions
Table 7i: Arcade Games and Attractions
Table 8: Game and Carousel Brass Ring Prizes
Table 9: Bathrooms
Table 10: Concession Stand Food
Table 11: Gift Shop Merchandise
Table 12: Ride & Attraction Events
Table 13: Shocking Facts and Secrets of an Amusement Park
Amusement Park Record Sheet

BARS and ROADHOUSES
Table 1: The Bar’s Name
Table 2: The Sign Outside
Table 3: Bar Exterior
Table 4: Bar Parking Lot
Table 5: Bar Interior
Table 6: Bar Patrons
Table 7: Smell of the Bar
Table 8: Bar Floor
Table 9: Cigarette Availability at a Bar
Table 10: The Bartender
Table 11: Bar Events
Table 12: Bar Drinks
Table 13: Bar Food
Table 14: Bar Attractions and Amenities
Sub-table 1: Stripper Names
Table 15: Bar Bathroom
Table 16: Items Lost on the Bar Floor
Table 17: Shocking Facts and Secrets of a Bar
Bar or Roadhouse Record Sheet

BILLBOARDS
Table 1: Apparent Purpose of a Billboard
Table 2: The Main Image on a Billboard
Table 3: Billboard Text
Table 4: Notable Characteristic of a Billboard
Billboard Record Sheet

CB BROADCASTS
Table 1: Identity of a CBer
Table 2: CB Radio Handles
Table 3. Topic of a CB Conversation
Table 4: Personality of a CBer
Table 5: Accent of a CBer
CB and Trucker Slang
Cb Broadcast Record Sheet

CHURCHES
Table 1: Apparent Denomination of a Church
Table 2: Size of a Church
Table 3: Architectural Style of a Church
Table 4a: Name of a Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, or Episcopal Church
Table 4b: Name of a Church (other than Episcopal, Catholic, or Orthodox)
Table 5: Writing on a Church Message Board
Table 6: Condition of a Church Exterior
Table 7: The Church Grounds
Table 8: The Actual Use of a Church
Church Record Sheet

DINERS, RESTAURANTS, and EATERIES
Table 1: The Sign Outside a Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Table 2: Exterior of a Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Table 3: Parking Lot of Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Table 4: Interior of a Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Table 5a: Cigarette Availability
Table 5b: Non-Smoking Section of a Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Table 6: The Food at a Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Table 7: Staff of a Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Table 8: Bathroom at a Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Table 9: Other Patrons at a Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Table 10: Shocking Facts and Secrets of a Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery
Diner, Restaurant, or Eatery Record Sheet

DRIVE-IN THEATERS
Table 1: Drive-In Theater Name
Table 2: Drive-in Capacity
Table 3: Daytime Use of a Drive-In
Table 4: Featured Movie(s)
Table 5: Drive-in (and Grindhouse) Movie Titles
Table 6: Drive-In Movie Characteristics
Table 7: Drive-In Concessions
Table 8: Drive-In Events
Drive-In Theater Record Sheet

FARMS and RANCHES
Table 1a: Type of Farm or Ranch
Table 1b: Farm or Ranch Market
Table 2a: Crops in the Northeast
Table 2b: Crops in the South
Table 2c: Crops in the Midwest
Table 2d: Crops in the Western Prairie and Rocky Mountains
Table 2e: Crops in the Southwest
Table 2f: Crops in Southern and Central California
Table 2g: Crops in the Pacific Northwest / Northern California
Table 3a: Livestock in the Northeast
Table 3b: Livestock in the South
Table 3c: Livestock in the Midwest
Table 3d: Livestock in the Western Prairie and Rocky Mountains
Table 3e: Livestock in the Southwest
Table 3f: Livestock in Southern and Central California
Table 3g: Livestock in the Pacific Northwest / Northern California
Table 4: Exotic Animals on a Farm or Ranch
Table 5: The Farmhouse or Ranch House
Table 6: The Family and Inhabitants
Table 7: The Barn
Table 8a: Other Structures on a Farm
Table 8b: Contents of a Greenhouse
Table 9: Farm Vehicles and Machines
Table 10: Notable Things on the Property
Table 11: Actual Use of a Farm or Ranch
Farm or Ranch Record Sheet

GAS STATIONS
Table 1: Gas Station Architecture
Table 2: Number of Pumps at a Gas Station
Table 3: Quality of Gasoline and Diesel at a Gas Station
Table 4: Gas Station Vending Machines
Table 5a: The Gas Station Garage
Table 5b: Services Offered by a Garage
Table 5c: Gas Station Garage Mechanic
Table 6: Gas Station Bathroom
Table 7: Also For Sale at a Gas Station
Table 8: Gas Station Cashier
Table 9: Gas Station Attendant
Table 10: Shocking Facts and Secrets of a Gas Station
Table 11: Gas Station Events
Gas Station Record Sheet

GHOSTS and HAUNTINGS
Table 1: Vanishing Hitchhikers
Table 2: Ghostly Vehicles and Riders
Table 3: Ghosts of Haunted Houses and Businesses
Table 4: Ghosts of the Countryside, Lover’s Lanes, and Parks
Ghost or Haunting Record Sheet

HITCHHIKERS and HITCHHIKING
Table 1: First Impression of Hitchhiker(s)
Table 2: Hithchiker Ethnicity
Table 3: Notable Characteristics of a Hitchhiker
Table 4: Stated Destination of a Hitchhiker
Table 5: The Hitchhiker’s Offer
Table 6: Real Intentions of Hitchhikers
Table 7a: Hitchhiking Result – Lone Female Hitcher
Table 7b: Hitchhiking Result – Lone Male Hitcher
Table 7c: Hitchhiking Result – All-Female Group
Table 7d: Hitchhiking Result – Couple, or Mixed Group
Table 7e: Hitchhiking Result – All-Male Group
Table 8: Potentially Alarming Situations when Hitchhiking
Table 9: Ride Offer
Table 10: Identity of the Driver
Hitchhiker Record Sheet

HOUSES
Table 1: House Style
Table 2: House Color
Table 3: Overall Condition of the House
Table 4: The Attached Property
Table 5: Notable Features of the House and Property
Table 6: House Inhabitants
Table 7: Cars on the Property
House Record Sheet

MONUMENTS, MEMORIALS, and SHRINES
Table 1: Monument, Memorial, or Shrine Subject
Table 2a: Monuments
Table 2b. Roadside Memorials
Table 2c. Religious Shrines
Table 3: Effect of an Offering at a Memorial, Monument, or Shrine
Table 4: Offering Informant
Monument, Memorial, or Shrine Record Sheet

MOTELS
Table 1: Motel Name
Table 2: Motel Architecture
Table 3: Motel Layout
Table 4: Motel Size
Table 5: Motel Vacancy
Table 6: Motel Front Desk Clerk
Table 7: Motel Room Cost
Table 8: Motel Amenities
Table 9: Motel Room Decor
Table 10: Notable Feature of a Motel Room
Table 11: Motel Room Bible
Table 12: Motel Vending Machines
Table 13: Motel Guests
Table 14: Motel Events
Table 15: Shocking Facts and Secrets of a Motel
Motel Record Sheet

MYSTERY SPOTS, or GRAVITY HILLS
Table 1: The Mystery Spot Sign
Table 2: The Anti-Gravity Effect
Table 3: Mystery Spot Amenities
Table 4: Mystery Spot Pay Toilets
Table 5: Mystery Spot Concession Stand
Table 6: Mystery Spot Souvenirs
Table 7: Mystery Spot Attendant
Mystery Spot or Gravity Hill Record Sheet

NEWSPAPERS
Table 1: Newspaper Name
Table 2: Newspaper Lead Story
Table 3: Strange News Stories
Table 4: Today’s Horoscope
Table 5: Most Notable Advertisement in a Newspaper
Table 6: Letters to the Editor
Table 7: Movie Reviews
Table 8: Help Wanted
Newspaper Record Sheet

NPCs
Table 1a: Female First Names
Table 1b: Male First Names
Table 1c: Female Hippie Names
Table 1d: Male Hippie Names
Table 2a: General American Surnames
Table 2b: Hispanic Surnames
Table 2c: Jewish-American Surnames
Table 2d: Chinese-American Surnames
Table 2e: Native American Surnames
Table 3: Zodiacal Signs
Table 4a: Most Memorable Characteristic of an Aries
Table 4b: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Taurus
Table 4c: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Gemini
Table 4d: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Cancer
Table 4e: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Leo
Table 4f: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Virgo
Table 4g: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Libra
Table 4h: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Scorpio
Table 4i: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Sagittarius
Table 4j: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Capricorn
Table 4k: Most Memorable Characteristic of an Aquarius
Table 4l: Most Memorable Characteristic of a Pisces
Table 5: NPC Stats
NPC Record Sheet

RADIO STATIONS and BROADCASTS
Table 1: Legal AM Radio Station Name
Table 2: Legal AM Radio Station Broadcasts
Table 3a: Talk Between Songs
Table 3b: Radio Contests and Prizes
Table 4: Shortwave Radio Broadcasts
Table 5: Ham Radio Broadcasts
Table 6: Bizarre Sermons On The Radio
Table 7: Bizarre Conspiracy Theories On The Radio
Radio Station and Broadcast Record Sheet

ROADSIDE MUSEUMS
Table 1: Roadside Museum Collection
Table 2: Architecture of a Roadside Museum
Table 3a: Outdoor Collection of a Roadside Museum
Table 3b: Shocking Facts and Secrets of the Outdoor Collection
Table 4a: Indoor Collection of a Roadside Museum
Table 4b: Shocking Facts and Secrets of the Indoor Collection
Table 5: State of a Roadside Museum’s Exhibits
Table 6: Other Patrons at a Roadside Museum
Table 7: Roadside Museum Concessions
Table 8: Items in a Roadside Museum’s Souvenir Shop
Roadside Museum Record Sheet

SMALL TOWNS
Table 1: Name of a Small Town
Table 2: Population of a Small Town
Table 3: Slogan of a Small Town
Table 4: The Local Landmark of a Small Town
Table 5: Main Industry of a Small Town
Table 6a: Basic Layout of a Small Town
Table 6b: Districts of a Small Town
Table 7: First Impression of a Small Town
Table 8: Predominant Architecture of Buildings in Town
Table 9: Shocking Facts and Secrets of a Small Town
Table 10: Ethnic Makeup of a Small Town
Table 11: General Disposition of Adults and Teens in a Small Town
Table 12: Pride of a Small Town
Table 13: Most Beloved Event or Celebration in an American Small Town
Table 14a: Essential Businesses & Establishments of a Small Town
Table 14b: Additional Businesses & Establishments of a Small Town
Table 15: The Local Cemetery
Table 16: The Public Park or Play Ground of a Small Town
Table 17: The Local Library of a Small Town
Table 18: The Local Lover’s Lane
Table 19: The Unsafe Teenage Hangout
Table 20: Town Politics
Table 21a: Dominant Organization of a Small Town
Dominant Organization Sub-table 1 – Odd Secret Societies
Table 21b: Covert Power Center of a Small Town
Table 22a: The High School Varsity Team
Table 22b: The Dominant Varsity Sport in a Small Town
Table 23: The Wealthiest Person in Town
Table 24: The Most Beloved Person in Town
Table 25: The Town Conscience
Table 26: The Town Bully
Table 27: The Town Scapegoat
Table 28: The Town Jezebel
Table 29: the Town Lothario
Table 30: The Town Drunk
Table 31: The Town Weirdo
Table 32: The Town Mastermind
Table 33: True Danger of a Small Town
Table 34: Current Events and First Encounters in a Small Town
Table 35: Notices Posted Around a Small Town
Table 36 Encounters on the Streets of a Small Town
Encounters Sub-table 1: Daytime, Warm Weather
Encounters Sub-table 2: Nighttime, Warm Weather
Encounters Sub-table 3: Daytime, Cold Weather
Encounters Sub-table 4: Nighttime, Cold Weather
Table 37: Up in the Sky Above a Small Town
Table 38: Recent Local Events in a Small Town
Small Town Record Sheets

SOUVENIR SHOPS
Table 1: Architecture and Decor of a Souvenir Shop
Table 2: Items for Sale in a Souvenir Shop
Table 3: Quality of Items in a Souvenir Shop
Table 4: Patrons in a Souvenir Shop
Table 5: Cashier in a Souvenir Shop
Table 6: Other Things to See in a Souvenir Shop
Table 7: Singular Objects for Sale in a Souvenir Shop
Souvenir Shop Record Sheet

STORIES FROM THE ROAD
Table 1: Men’s Stories
Table 2: Women’s Stories
Table 3: Local Legends

STRANGE ANIMALS and CREATURES
Table 1a: Encounters in the Northeast
Table 1b: Encounters in the South
Table 1c: Encounters in the Midwest
Table 1d: Encounters in the Western Prairie and Rocky Mountains
Table 1e: Encounters in the Southwest
Table 1f: Encounters in Southern and Central California
Table 1g: Encounters in the Pacific Northwest / Northern California
Table 2a: Appearance of an Extraterrestrial
Table 2b: Appearance of an Extraterrestrial Vehicle
Table 3: Unique Chimeric Humanoids
Table 4: Unique Chimeric Animals
Table 5: Creature Traits in Relative Terms
Strange Animal or Creature Record Sheet

TRAILER PARKS
Table 1: Reason to Stop at a Trailer Park
Table 2: Trailer Park Name
Table 3: Size of the Park
Table 4: Trailer Park Enclosure
Table 5: Trailer Park Amenities
Table 6: The Trailer Park Manager
Table 7: Notable Trailer Park Residents
Table 8: Some Average Residents of a Trailer Park
Table 9: Home of a Trailer Park Resident
Table 10: Items Outside a Trailer Park Home
Table 11: Community Activities in a Trailer Park
Table 12: Criminal Activity in a Trailer Park
Table 13: Shocking Facts and Secrets of a Trailer Park
Table 14: Overnight Events in a Trailer Park
Trailer Park Record Sheet

TRUCK STOPS
Table 1: Truck Stop Name
Table 2: Truck Stop Theme
Table 3: Truck Stop Parking Lot
Table 4: Truck Cargoes
Table 5: Gas & Diesel Pumps at a Truck Stop
Table 6: Truck Stop Mechanic
Table 7: Carwashing
Table 8: Truck Stop Restaurant
Table 9: Truck Stop Lounge
Table 10: Truck Stop Lounge, Restaurant, and Shop Encounters
Table 11: Truck Stop Bathrooms
Table 12: Truck Stop Bathroom Patrons
Table 13: Truck Stop Showers
Table 14: Truck Stop Bunks
Table 15: Truck Stop Laundry Facilities
Table 16: Truck Stop Vending Machines
Table 17: Items in a Truck Stop Shop
Table 18: Drugs Available at a Truck Stop
Table 19a: “Lot Lizards” at a Truck Stop
Table 19b: Face of a Female (or Cross-Dressed) Prostitute
Table 19c: Clothing of a Female (or Cross-Dressed) Prostitute
Table 19d: “Lot Lizard” Hopes and Dreams
Table 20: Truck Stop Pimp
Table 21: Truck Stop Rumors and Gossip
Table 22: Truck Stop Events
Truck Stop Record Sheet

TV STATIONS and BROADCASTS
Table 1: Legal Television Station Name
Table 2: Current Programming of a Legal TV Station
Table 3: Local TV News Stories
Table 4: Breaking News Bulletins
Table 5: Television Oddities and Signal Intrusions
Table 6: Programming of a Pirate TV Station
TV Station and Broadcast Record Sheet

UNMARKED ROAD EXITS
Unmarked Road Exit Record Sheet

WEATHER
Table 1: Weather Conditions on a Highway Section
Table 2: Precipitation Type
Table 3: Notable Weather Phenomena (Other Than Tornadoes)
Table 4a: Tornado Occurrence and Severity
Table 4b: Tornado Location and Duration
Weather Record Sheet

APPENDIX 1: THE READY RULES OF THE ROAD
The Players and The Game Master
Character Creation
Combat
Saving Throws (or Saves)
Character Advancement
Player Character Concepts
Paranormal Effects
Equipment, Possessions, and Expenses
For The Game Master: Resolving Common Situations
For The Game Master: Some Typical NPCs
For The Game Master: Creatures Of The Uncanny Highway

APPENDIX 2: THE UNCANNY HIGHWAY PLAYLIST

Legal Information – The Open Game License

The Horror Host – A Ghastly Affair Class for the Awful Eighties and Groovy Era

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This first draft of the Horror Host Class is intended for modern-era Ghastly Affair Sagas with a comedic edge. Humor has actually been a part of the Gothic tradition from the very beginning – besides out-and-out satires such as Thomas Love Peacock’s “Nighmare Abbey”, there are also moments of comedy in the original Gothic novel “The Castle of Otranto”. Even the “The Monk”, infamous for its gross-out horrors, contains intentionally funny situations. The 1980s, of course, were the Golden Age of Gothic Horror Comedy – including classic movies like “An American Werewolf in London”, “The Return of the Living Dead”, and “Fright Night”.

HORROR HOST (or Hostess)

You are a televangelist for the gospel of Horror cinema. Every week you lead your congregation of fans in late-night communion with the gods and goddesses of fright, who live now and forever in the movies. And as much as your fans love the movies themselves, they also love your skits and personal commentary. Sure, sometimes you treat the movies irreverently, or outright deride them. But you actually broadcast the flicks “legitimate” critics hate, and give them a life that they might otherwise never have.

Every Horror Host has a Broadcast Persona, and an Ordinary Persona. Your Broadcast Persona is the one that TV viewers see when they tune into your show, or meet when they encounter you at a Horror or Sci Fi convention. Your Ordinary Persona is the one you adopt when you must pay your bills, talk to your agent, or rent a motel room.

Which of your Personas is the real one? Are you the character your fans see on TV, who must sometimes pretend to be an ordinary person? Or are you an actor who must sometimes pretend to be a strange character? In truth, you are both a creature of the night and a denizen of the day, inhabiting the same body.

Use the Horror Host Class to create characters inspired by such real-life figures as Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, and Son of Svengoolie, or by such fictional Horror Hosts as Peter Vincent (from “Fright Night”), Medusa (from “TerrorVision”), or Zombo (from the TV show “The Munsters”).

HORROR HOST SPECIAL ABILITIES

DEMONOLOGY (+1)

Your encyclopedic knowledge of Horror movies (and fiction) makes you able to recognize the Powers of Darkness, and know how to defeat them. You can make an Intelligence Check with a +1 Bonus to know:

  • if you are facing a preternatural creature (even if disguised),
  • the type of creature faced,
  • if the creature is higher or lower Level than yourself,
  • the creature’s name, if it is famous,
  • a bit of information useful to defeating a recognized creature.

DUAL IDENTITY

Decide the names and appearances of both your Broadcast Persona, and your Ordinary Persona.

  • Your two Personas are the same height, and share the same Basic Abilities, but do not need to be the same apparent gender.
  • While you are in Broadcast Persona you can use your Preternatural Power – but will not be taken seriously by most people, or in most social contexts outside of a Horror / Sci Fi convention.
  • You can intentionally change Personas twice a day, but you always change into your Ordinary Persona at dawn.
  • Hit Point damage suffered by one Persona is completely healed when you transform into the other one.
  • Likewise, any Preternatural Effects (including Curses and diseases of Preternatural origin) are ended once you change from one Persona to another.
  • Your Broadcast Persona could be a zombie cheerleader, a sexy vampire, a fearless vampire hunter, a lovable ghoul, a creepy cowboy, a disco-dancing werewolf, or almost anyone else you can imagine people wanting to stay up all night to watch!
  • Note that while you actually transform from your Ordinary Persona to your Broadcast Persona (and Preternaturally manifest any necessary clothing), your Broadcast Persona always looks like makeup and a silly costume. Anyone who tries to remove off your apparent makeup, however, will find that it won’t come off for them – no matter how hard they try!
  • If your Broadcast Persona is monstrous, then monsters of that type will actually accept you as one of their own – so long as you don’t attack them or return to your Ordinary Persona! For example, if you are a “zombie cheerleader” in your Broadcast Persona, actual Zombies will allow you to move among them unharmed. Similarly, if your Broadcast Persona is a particular type of person (such as a biker or cowboy), people of that type will accept you as one of them, until you become your Ordinary Persona again.

LOYAL FOLLOWING (+1)

If you are in your Broadcast Persona, and in an area where your television show might be seen (or at a Horror / Sci Fi convention), you may make a Charisma Check (with a +1 Bonus) to see if someone you encounter is part of your Loyal Following.

  • You may attempt the Charisma Check as many times per Affair as your Level.
  • If the Check succeeds, the person recognizes you as the beloved Horror Host that makes their late nights complete. They will thereafter help you in any way they can – even if they had been previously sent by someone else to kidnap or kill you.
  • It is even possible for supernatural creatures who might conceivably watch television – such as Vampyres and Werewolves – to be be part of your Loyal Following!
  • Note that having a Loyal Following does not necessarily mean you are well-paid by your TV station!

PRETERNATURAL POWER

Choose a Preternatural Power from the list of Preternatural Effects in the Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual. You can even choose a Power normally reserved for Vampyres. You can use this Power only when you are in your Broadcast Persona.

  • Each time you use your Preternatural Power, you suffer Hit Point damage equal to its Level.
  • You should choose a Preternatural Power consistent with the concept of your Broadcast Persona. For example, if your Broadcast Persona is a “sexy vampire”, then choose a Power such as Hypnotism. If your Broadcast Persona is “fearless vampire hunter”, choose a Power such as Consecrate Object.
  • Remember that all the Hit Point damage you suffer from using your Preternatural Power is healed when you assume your Ordinary Persona – but then you also lose the ability to use your Power!

PROFESSIONAL ACTOR (+1)

When you are in your Ordinary Persona (but not in your Broadcast Persona), you get a +1 Bonus on Ability Checks to do such things as:

  • Give an exceptionally good acting performance.
  • Tell a passable lie.
  • Disguise yourself.
  • Remember things.
  • Seduce those who have seen your Ordinary Persona in an acting role.

HORROR HOST WEAKNESSES

BROADCAST OBLIGATION

Choose the title of your show, and a 4-hour block of time during the week when it is filmed. Your show could be broadcast live overnight on a Friday or Saturday, or actually taped anytime on a weekday. But you must always show up at the television studio up to fulfill your “Broadcast Obligation” – whether or not you also need to save the world that night.

  • If you fail to fulfill your Broadcast Obligation, you lose the ability to assume your “Broadcast Persona” (and use your “Preternatural Power”), unless and until you show up to fulfill it next week.
  • If your show gets unfairly canceled by some greedy corporate jerk you doesn’t understand the importance of what you do, your Broadcast Obligation is suspended. However, you must take the next available opportunity to get back on the air again in your Broadcast Persona.

FAN REQUEST

Before the start of every new Affair your Broadcast Persona will receive a Fan Request asking for your help. The person making the request is well-connected in your fandom, and ignoring it could be detrimental to your career. The request in this letter or phone call could become the beginning of the Affair to come – or a potentially dangerous distraction from it.

  • If you ignore your Fan Request you lose the Special Ability “Loyal Following”, until such time as you actually contact the fan and address their concern.
  • You may also get letters from fans who claim to be in love with you, but you don’t need to address those. In fact, it’s probably better that you don’t!

The contents of a Fan Request is determined with a d20:

  1. Please come to my school and make my bully stop harassing me.
  2. Please come to my school and show the girl/boy I like that I’m cool.
  3. Please come to my school and talk to the class during an Assembly.
  4. Please come to my house and convince my parents to let me watch Horror movies without sneaking around.
  5. Please come speak at our local Horror / Sci Fi convention.
  6. Please come march in a local parade.
  7. Please stop by my store or business.
  8. Please come see my movie.
  9. Please come by a local radio station for an on-air interview.
  10. Please appear in a commercial for my business (or charity).
  11. Please come and appear at a party.
  12. Please come by the local Police Station, because we need your help with a case.
  13. Please come help me fight a real Vampyre!
  14. Please come help me fight real Werewolves!
  15. Please help me, someone I love is possessed by a Demon!
  16. Please help me, I’m being targeted by Extraterrestrials!
  17. Please help me, my neighbor is a crazed Serial Killer!
  18. Please help me, my neighbors are part of a murderous Satanic Cult!
  19. Please help me, I’ve seen real Zombies (or Ghouls)!
  20. Please help me, there’s a Monster hiding in (or near) my house!

SUGGESTED ASSETS FOR HORROR HOSTS

Attractive to Fairy Folk, Beautiful / Handsome (even in Broadcast Persona), Charming, Gift for Languages, Good Driver, Good Singing Voice, Lucky at Love, Master of Disguise, Mechanical Genius, Musical, No Fear of … (something frightening), Sharp Eyes, Special Knowledge (choose field), Talent For Demonology, Well Spoken, Wily.

SUGGESTED AFFLICTIONS FOR HORROR HOSTS

Addicted to… (substance), Afraid of… (something common), Bad Driver, Bad Judge of Character, Bad Shot, Creepy Presence, Elderly, Has-Been Actor, Lame, Lost Love, No Head For.. (a common filed of knowledge), Perpetually Broke, Sensitive to Alcohol, Sleazy, Unlucky at Love.

INITIAL ABILITY ADJUSTMENT FOR HORROR HOSTS

  • Charisma +1, Intelligence +1.

HORROR HOST HIT POINTS PER LEVEL

  • d6 Hit Points at 1st Level.
  • You gain an additional d6 Hit Points per Level

HORROR HOST DAMAGE BONUS BY CHARACTER LEVEL

  • 1st Level: None
  • 2nd Level: +1
  • 3rd Level: +1
  • 4th Level: +1
  • 5th Level: +2
  • 6th Level: +2
  • 7th Level: +2
  • 8th Level: +3
  • 9th Level: +3
  • 10th Level: +3

TYPICAL STARTING EQUIPMENT FOR HORROR HOSTS

  • ordinary clothes.
  • latest issue of “Fangoria” magazine.
  • script for a B-movie, such as “Machine-Gun P.T.A. versus the Sorority Row Strangler”.
  • your first fan-letter, folded up in your wallet or purse.
  • SAG card.
  • driver’s license under your Ordinary Persona. (Technically, your Broadcast Persona is not licensed to drive.)
  • wallet picture of your family, with your ex-spouse’s face ripped away.
  • pack of cigarettes.
  • coffee, in a disposable cup marked “We Are Happy to Serve You”.
  • flask of whiskey.
  • bar napkin with a water-smeared phone number on it.
  • sunglasses.
  • makeup kit.
  • stake & mallet.
  • 1 silver bullet.
  • paperback edition of a medieval Grimoire, with numerous coffee stains.
  • pawn ticket for a piece of jewelry you hocked to pay some overdue bills.
  • small pistol.
  • ticket to an upcoming Horror or Sci Fi conventions.
  • van, hearse, or “bug” car, with a bad muffler.

ADVANCING IN LEVELS AS A HORROR HOST

  • 8 Experience Points to attain 2nd Level.
  • 4 additional Experience Points are needed to attain each Level after 2nd.

HORROR HOSTS IN OTHER TIMES

Naturally, the Horror Host is just as much at home during the Groovy Era of the 1960s and 70s as in the Awful Eighties. This is the era of such legends as Zacherly, Chilly Billy (who also appeared in “Night of the Living Dead”), and the original Svengoolie. A Horror Host in this era might work for one of the television stations along the Uncanny Highway.