Monsterparts: the Knights of Pemberton St.

edited August 2013 in Story Games
Ok, so, first, here's Monsterparts:
This is a simple but beautiful concept + context for a D&D-alike game by Pearce Shea. It's about kids facing horrible dark forces that the grown ups can't or won't see, and it's amazing and you have to read it. I fell in love (became obsessed) with it before I even finished the first paragraph, and decided to start designing a campaign for it.

I'm calling that campaign the Knights of Pemberton St., and I wrote up some quick and dirty OD&D-based (with a couple mechanics borrowed and stripped down from my own Madlands) rules here:

So now I'm working on designing Pemberton Street itself. In addition to houses that all the people live in and at least one really big abandoned spooky house, it needs stuff. Like:

A bridge with a river that's much deeper and faster and colder at night

A wishing well that's dried up at night and leads somewhere unpleasant

Some woods

An old, defunct water tower

Old, disused, walled-off tunnels that used to connect various cellars to a bomb shelter

A castle that is only there if you walk a certain route

And what else? Any ideas?


  • Sorry, I'm not a D&D player, so I can't help you with your query, but I just wanted to say, lovely illos (on the blog) dude! Did you do them yourself?
  • That first link is Pearce Shea's blog, not mine (mine's the second one). He put artist credits in there somewhere, some of them are Edward Gorey and the others are new to me and I already forgot who they were.

    And you don't have to be a D&Der to be helpful here! Any creepy cool thing that could be in a neighborhood going cosmically Wrong, anything from your childhood nightmares, anything that belongs in Lemony Snicket or Ray Bradbury or Edward Gorey, it could all be useful!
  • All rightey!! I'll get my (creepy) thinking cap on :)
  • Marshall, I like your harm track for Pemberton St a lot! Especially the way you integrated the "rested" condition.
    I also like the Get Along stat and the AWish way you're establishing it, and it makes me think "why don't I play this setting as a *World hack instead"?
    (I'm finding the whole concept very attractive! But I also need to find a way to play with it on a smaller timescale than an OD&D campaign.)

    Catty, the yellow-background pictures on Pearce Shea's blog are Post-it Monsters by John Kenn: here's a gallery, and you can buy a book of those.
  • Thanks, Rafu! The damage track and Get Along mechanics are the ones taken from my D&D-in-spirit-but-not-implementation game Madlands (which got its development stymied a while back by computer issues, and I haven't yet overcome the inertia to get back to work on it). The AW-ishness is a coincidence (sort of -- both Vincent and I arrived at the concepts by way of Poison'd), but yeah I totally acknowledge the similarities. And you could totally play this with a *W hack; it's just that I'm personally more interested in old school D&D.
  • Ornate streetlights which look like old gaslights, but are (one would assume) automated, with a movement sensor or something. Not only it's scary when the lights go out just behind you, but all too often they go out at the wrong time, right when you're there — or they light up for apparently no reason, since there's nobody standing there… or…?
  • Walled gardens, with walls just high enough you can't look inside.
  • A rusty playground, overgrown with weeds, where no kids go play anymore. By night it becomes a meeting place for shady, scary people.
  • An abandoned construction site turned junkyard, just off the main street: a graveyard of rusty bicycles, dead refrigerators and opened cans, occasionally turning alive with unsettling noises.

    A church, dark and tall and pointy, with a tall neo-gothic bell-tower, overlooking an actual graveyard. It's probably abandoned or not in use — or, at least, not the place kids are taken to on Sundays.
  • Yessssss. Awesome.
  • Because I'm terrible at staying on task, I sat down with a notebook to brainstorm locations and features, and instead made magic items:

    Tragic Eight Ball - like a normal magic eight ball, except it's accurate and it's far more verbose and far less sane. 2 in 6 chance to give a non-answer ("this line of inquiry bores me. ask again later, perhaps after bathing me in sanguine fluid if that's not too terribly much to ask") in which case the charge isn't used up

    Pair of antique ivory dice - when rolled on the floor, they come up snake eyes when something Wrong is near, or boxcars when something is hidden in the room

    Silk top hat with the top busted out - when you look through the hole, you can tell if items are Special because they have a gentle green glow

    Lightbulb, hand painted with a strange prayer - when held aloft, lights up by itself, and the light is visible only to the holder and anyone they are touching

    Fountain pen - if you place it near a writable surface and speak someone's name, it will write down their current whereabouts

    Blue tea - bottle of blue liquid that tastes like sweet iced tea. Renders you impervious to cold

    Kite string - anything you tie it around becomes lighter than air
  • More locations…

    A school for "special needs" children. The window panes are of smoky dark glass, and the pupils are never seen outside.

    The shop of a clockmaker. Thousands of clock hands point at different times. The old man used to be amusingly absent-minded, but not he's turned hostile to children and plain scary.

    A pet-shop and curiosity shop, run by a very eccentric couple. They sell snakes, poisonous fish, tarantulas, giant bugs and all manner of scary things, dead or alive.

    A car-repairs garage which, whatever the reason, always happens to be closed when you go there by day, but is often open for business and eerily noisy after dark. The owner is a big, scary man who actively chases kids away.

    A pond, connected to the river through underground pipes. It used to be called a "scenic spot", but now the trees there are as naked as time-bleached skeletons, except for one huge willow, and all the ducks are gone.
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