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One of the biggest inspirations for the idea of GROOVY Ghastly Affair is undoubtedly the original “Dark Shadows” TV show that ran from 1966 to 1971. For many of us who love the show, spotting the frequent on-camera gaffes is part of the fun. Whether it’s a microphone clearly visible in the shot, a coughing cameramen, or even the occasional stage-hand who forgot to leave the set before shooting began, the mistakes add a distinctively charming element to the viewing experience. But to the characters that inhabit that fictional world, the “mistakes” would seem like inexplicably weird events. Thus I present the following table of uncanny in-game occurrences, for Presenters who would like to pay homage to the original Gothic soap opera, and introduce an element of “meta” strangeness into their games.

To avoid ruining the effect through over-use, the Presenter should introduce only a single Uncanny Occurrence into each Game Session – although, of course, a typical episode of the inspirational material might actually feature several obvious blunders! I think it’s best to play it all completely straight – the Presenter should simply state the Uncanny Occurrence as casually as possible, and actually make no attempt to play up its strangeness. Naturally, NPCs will always seem completely unaware of any Uncanny Occurrence, to the natural bewilderment of the PCs.

d20

Inexplicably…

1

the PCs hear a coughing sound, coming from no visible place.

2

the PCs hear some kind of muffled conversation occurring, with no obvious source.

3

the PCs hear the sound of crashing metal objects, coming from no place in particular.

4

an NPC starts speaking in a strangely halting manner, as if trying to remember some rehearsed speech.

5

an NPC is introduced (or states their age) as being in their early 20s, but they are clearly (at least) middle-aged.

6

all NPCs insist (and all visible records now state) that the current day is now actually 1 – 20 days later (or earlier) than what the PCs remember.

7

an NPC introduced in a previous Game Session now looks completely different. No NPCs will notice any difference, of course, and will think any PC who does is crazy.

8

an NPC is suddenly dressed in different clothes, despite there being having been no obvious opportunity at which they could have changed.

9

the PCs notice that an NPC looks exactly the same as another one previously introduced. Naturally, nobody but the PCs seems to notice.

10

a supposedly solidly-built structural feature (such as a door or bannister) suddenly wobbles as if made of plywood or pasteboard.

11

a disembodied hand is briefly visible in a PC’s peripheral vision.

12

the PCs notice that, for some reason, everyone is drinking coffee with everything, everywhere they go. Steaks, sandwiches, lobster – everything! Nobody thinks this is odd.

13

the PCs notice that there is no actual view through a window, just a painted cloth on the other side.

14

the PCs are in a bar, diner, or other place with a jukebox, and they notice that the music seems to consist entirely of the same three songs cycling endlessly.

15

a microphone on a pole becomes briefly visible above the heads of the PCs, but quickly disappears.

16

a PC looks through an open doorway, and the space beyond seems to be nothing but sheets of plywood held up with two-by-fours. But in the blink of an eye, the space looks normal.

17

the PCs notice a man wearing a blue t-shirt, either crouched on the ground or relaxing in a chair. Suddenly he gets up, runs through the nearest doorway (or around an obstruction), and completely disappears.

18

the PCs notice shadows cast by no discernible person or object.

19

the PCs briefly see what look like the front end of a camera, which then suddenly disappears.

20

there is a disposable coffee cup (blue, decorated with an ancient Greek amphora, and inscribed with the words “We are happy to serve you”) left in the middle of some incongruous space (such as an elegant drawing room, unopened crypt, etc.).

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