Monday, January 9, 2023

Eastern Wastes of America: Afterpost

(Read the last chapter here.)

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. Any purchase made while using these links might benefit this website financially.

So that wraps it up for my Post-Apocalyptic experiment (Experiment? Yeah, right!), at least for now. When I began this campaign it was for the purpose of tying out the MicroLite20 system, specifically using one of the post-apocalyptic iterations. Originally, I was only expecting to make three or four posts. The reality?  The first post went up on March 17, 2021 and the campaign officially ended in December of 2022.  That’s a total of 21 months and 14 chapters, my longest campaign yet!

To be fair, I wasn’t focused solely on this one story for those nearly two years. I also posted two full Wretched and Alone games, one audio and one written; a Quill campaign (Halloween ‘21); a Delve playthrough that was posted as a video series; a Whispers in the Walls campaign (Halloween ‘22); and a separate video project unrelated to solo RPGs. Oh, and I also created and published a Hex Flower tool.  Whew!  I’ve been busy.

As I often do after a long campaign, I wanted to make a quick afterpost to offer some insights I had during the playthrough.


As I said above, one of my motivations for this campaign was to try out the OmegaLite20 system, a post-apocalyptic version of MicroLite20.  If you are familiar with DnD 5e you have a good idea of what the MicroLite20 system is like. It is basically a simplified d20 system. At the beginning of this year, in real life, I was asked to join a Dungeons & Dragons group playing 5e. Having played Eastern Wastes for most of the previous year I found it gave me the background I needed to transition into the “more complex” system much easier without excessive explanation by the GM.


This was the oracle tool used for Eastern Wastes. However, to call it just an oracle tool is really selling the system short. There is so much random information on this card, including character traits, sensory input, direction, word combinations, random loot, symbols (that you can define), and more.  You could potentially run an entire solo campaign using just this tool. You don’t even need dice.

The only thing that was lacking a bit in my particular game was the amount of “and/but” modifiers to my oracle responses. However, this may very well be because of how I defined the system. GMA does not have “and/but” responses. It only has an “Exceptional Yes” or an “Exceptional No”. I used these as an “and/but” trigger, randomly determining which modifier to use. Unfortunately, the number of “exceptionals” in the deck is rather low, so I had very few modified results. This could have been remedied by redefining the system. For instance, draw a second card and compare the d8 result. 1-2 is an “and” and 3-4 is a “but.”


For my investigation, I used a modified version of Ricardo Freggi’s Nine Steps and a Bloody Heart. This is a really nice system for running a solo investigation, but it also resulted in one of my biggest regrets of the campaign: what questions would I choose for the investigation?

In NSAABH’s setup, you need to ask three questions that require answering and several possible answers that will be eliminated one-by-one until you are left with the solution. The first two questions were easy: Who killed Alex and what was their motivation?  The last question was a bit trickier.  What was unknown about this scenario that would need to be explained? The best question I came up with was “Why was Ken at the intersection where they found the radio?” My potential answers were he changed his mind about killing her and left her alive; he got lost but eventually found the road; the plan was always to leave her for the animals; or he intentionally left her in an attempt to scare her.  There were several problems with these options.

First of all, unless he was the killer, the reason he was at the intersection was probably irrelevant and didn’t need to be answered at all as the real killer's purpose was still accomplished. The larger problem, however, was that the reasons were not mutually exclusive. This was especially the case with the “got lost” option. Ken had three possible reasons for leaving Alex in the cabin: let the animals kill her, just scare her, or give her a chance to live due to a change of heart (but not save her outright for some reason). Getting lost leaving the cabin could have happened in addition to any of the three. In fact, one of the other three had to be true as well. (Which is what turned out to be the case in Eastern Wastes. The cards revealed he got lost, but for story purposes, I wrote that the plan was to leave her for the animals).

The last thing that made Ken’s question problematic was that, without any witnesses, it would be almost impossible to know which of the four was true. Who would know if he intended to leave her to die or only scare her? Did he change his mind or was it part of the plan? Did he get lost or did he come down the road and just hop back into the woods to take a dump?  I did eventually come up with a partial explanation for this, but during the investigation, I had to dismiss incorrect answers primarily through the speculation of the people who knew Ken instead of with hard facts or information. I still don’t know what a better question would have been, but I do know this one wasn’t that great.


While I have posted several stories written in first person (It’s pretty much the default POV for journaling games), I found this perspective a bit more cumbersome for writing an open-world, multi-character narration of a tabletop RPG. I’m not unhappy with the result. I rather like the story and a few of the themes Alyssa explored. However, it certainly slowed down the process. Instead of just writing what happened, I had to think about how I can present the story from my main character’s point of view and understanding of the situation. To make it feel more like her voice, I had to layer in personal insights into what she was thinking, something that is not always necessary in third person unless it’s something I am intentionally trying to get across. Also, I can do a little more “hand-waving” in third person and quickly skim over unimportant events or conversations where in first there is more of an onus to pay more attention to these things, especially if it was important to Alyssa. All in all, unless I visit this world again, it is probably not a POV I will use for my major campaigns in the future.

And that brings to an end another successful campaign. What’s next for Tev? Well, I believe I will be revisiting my Tunnels and Trolls campaign next and continuing the story of Kage Gordain. However, don’t expect anything in the near future. Just as I had directed much of my leisure time to solo roleplaying over the past couple of years, I am now feeling drawn to my other projects and plan on focusing more on them this next year. I don’t know how much time I’ll have left for this, but I do know I have a lot of games and tools I want to try and more stories to tell, so I’m sure I’ll still be posting, just not as often. If you are interested in my other projects, you can find information about those using the link in the sidebar.

Thanks for reading, and good night.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Eastern Wastes of America: Chapter 14 - I Accuse

(Read the previous chapter here.)


Tools: Gamemaster’s Apprentice DeckNine Steps and a Bloody Heart 

[Scene 1, Tension Lvl:2]

We stood outside the old Pennsylvania Army National Guard Building which now acts as the  Mausdale Security Force’s Headquarters: Nate, Dorothy, Steve, Ernie (bound with Christmas lights), and myself.  Dale had gone into the building to speak with Clint Morrow, the head of the MSF. Since he insisted Nate and I leave town, we felt it was best if Dale go in alone.

The Old Pennsylvania Army National Guard Building

We drove to the MSF HQ immediately after leaving the cabin. The walk back to the car was uneventful. <To be fair, I failed to make any encounter checks.> The ride back was a bit cramped. Dale’s car was already full. Now adding another hoop meant Steve had to ride in the trunk with the top up.

We saw Dale exit the building first. He walked over to rejoin our group while behind him walked Clint and three additional members of the force: Kelli and two I hadn’t seen before: a hoop and a human female. The only weapon I saw was the large energy mace that Clint held with both his hands. but I wasn’t dismissing the possibility that the others had concealed weapons.

<For the sake of the remainder of the narrative I had to reveal the solution to the investigation. First, I made an assumption that the characters would follow. Next, I revealed any unknown cards. Finally, I used this information to direct the conversations, accusations, and any admissions or denials. For you the reader, however, I will hold the results until later.>

“I thought I told the two of you to leave town,” Clint said, addressing Nate and myself.

“You’re right,” I agreed. “And we were trying to do that. Steve and Dorothy here were showing us an abandoned cabin where we could spend a night or two. Yes, the same cabin where Ken Watkins took Alexandria Andrews.” I saw Clint’s face give a questioning look when I mentioned a cabin. “But while we were looking it over, someone started shooting at us. We discovered it was Ernie and were able to stop him.  We’re here now to turn him in.”

“Now why would he be trying to shoot you?” Clint asked in a fashion reminiscent of every small-town sheriff trope.

“To protect his brother’s reputation,” I explained. “Ernie knew that someone convinced Ken to set up Alex’s death to look like an accident. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know who. But Ken is generally well-liked in Mausdale and Ernie didn’t want us tarnishing that reputation. He prefers the story remain as a romantic get-away gone bad.”

“Is this true, Ernie?”

<A MND Comm skill check between Ernie and Alyssa determines Ernie’s response.  If he wins by 2, he denies. If they are tied or 1 point different, he says nothing. If Alyssa wins by 2, he admits his guilt.  Roll: A=18 E=Nat 20>

“They’re lying, Clint,” Ernie protested. “I know nothing about my brother wanting to harm Alex. I didn’t shoot at them.  They just jumped me. They’re just trying to get you to let them stay.”

“If you didn’t shoot us, then what caused these?” Nate asks our captive as he pulled his flex armor down to show Clint the rifle shot wounds.

“Alyssa’s right,” Dorothy added. “Ernie shot at all of us. He hit Dale as well.” She nodded at Dale for him to display his would as well.

As Dale did this, Steve continued. “And whether it’s true or not, that is the story Ernie told us about his brother.”

<Another MND Comm check between Alyssa and Clint to see if Clint believes the story. He only considers this because she is backed up by everyone else, plus A gets a +1 to her roll. A=22 C=6.>

“It appears their case against you is pretty strong,” Clint tells Ernie. “I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed. We’re supposed to be upholding the law. If you're telling the truth, that someone put your brother up to this, it would be in your best interest to tell us who that person is.”

“If I could, I would,” Ernie pleaded, accepting that continued denials were futile. “He didn’t tell me. You got to believe me. I asked, but Ken wouldn’t reveal the name of the person he was speaking with.”

“You sure you don’t know, Ernie,” I asked, tired of his ruse. “Back when you attacked us in the hotel parking lot you seemed pretty concerned that people might think it was you and your friends.”

“What are you getting at, Red?” Kelli asked, challenge in her voice.

Accepting the challenge, I said, “I think you know. You have been very vocal about us leaving things well alone. We know you hated Alex for stealing your boyfriend. We also know Ken was interested in someone, a hoop in fact, but didn’t have the guts to break it off with Alex. Was it you he was interested in? Would getting Alex out of the way make things easier?”

Everyone, including Clint Morrow, looked at Kelli waiting for her to respond.

“It’s no secret Alex and I wasn’t the best of friends. Yeah, that little witch swooped in with her charms and stole Charlie from me. And she didn’t stay with him that long before hooking up with Ken. She destroyed our relationship so she could have a month of fun before moving on. I don’t even know if she cared for Ken or was just using him to get in with his group of friends. After the bombs dropped and he changed, she didn’t seem as interested in him physically anymore, but didn’t want to break things off either. Ken came to me looking for a friend, someone who was going through the same things as he and could understand. He was cool and I did like hanging out with him. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say the thought of stealing Alex’s boyfriend from her felt satisfying. Karma, you know. But that’s all it was. A thought. I never planned to kill her or tell Ken to do it for me. In fact, if I thought there was something dangerous out there in the woods, why would I risk Ken’s life?”

<MND Comm challenge between Alyssa and Kelli to convince Clint who is telling the truth. Before the challenge, I rolled on my reaction table to see how he responds to Alyssa’s accusation and it came up with a -1 modifier to Alyssa’s roll.  I will say this is because she is a stranger to Clint and he is more inclined to believe the people he knows. A: 2+1MND+2Comm-1=4  K: 9+3 Skill=12>

“Don’t worry, Kelli,” Clint assures her. “I’m not arresting you on wild speculations.”

Turning to me, he continued, “We will take Ernie off your hands and see to it that he is dealt with appropriately for attacking all of you, but I think we’ve had enough of all this silliness about murder and conspiracies. You’ve stirred up enough already, I think it’s time you and your friend pack it up and head out of town as you promised.”

“Silliness? Conspiracies?” I shot back. “Ernie as much as told us Alex’s death was intentional. You’re not a great keeper of the law if you just ignore that.” <Does she accuse Clint of being involved? (even) No.>

<Reaction table to see how Clint responds: 7=Uncertain or confused. Sounds like middle of the road.>

“You are about to push me to my limit, young lady. Again, the best thing you can do at this moment is go back to the Thompson’s hotel, pack your things, and leave Mausdale.”

And with that, Clint, directed his people to take Ernie into custody.  Kelli gave me one last contemptuous look as she walked past.

“You might have everyone else fooled, but I’m not so blind,” I told her. “If you want to settle this, you know where to find me.”

“That’s enough, Alyssa,” Nate said, taking me by the shoulder and directing me to Dale’s car. “Let’s just go.”

Before climbing in the car, I gave one last glance back toward the HQ where Kelli stood watching, waiting for us to leave.

[Scene 2: Tension Lvl: 3]

<The set up for this scene involved several oracle questions and rolls.  I will reveal the results at the appropriate times during the narrative.>

Would she? Wouldn’t she? That was the big question for the night, but I wasn’t taking any chances. While everyone else got ready for bed, I prepared my room for the night. I moved a chair next to the bed, facing it toward the door. My spiked crowbar lay on the mattress within easy reach.  Instead of sleeping, I decided to get some reading in, specifically the supernatural romance I just picked up from the hotel’s lending library, Angel In The River. About the only thing I did as usual was to remove my jacket and clothes and put on a t-shirt and boxers. It might not offer as much protection should Kelli be stupid enough to attack me in the middle of the night, but it is a bit more comfortable. <Does Alyssa go to sleep? (even) No.  Is she wearing her protective clothes? (bad) No. AC:11>

After about an hour, I heard a click from my from the door to my room, as though the lock disengaged. As I reached for my weapon the door slowly opened and I saw Kelli peeking in, a lockpick gun in her hand. Seeing me awake, she threw the door open and lunged at me with her knife. <Alyssas Survival vs. Kelli’s Subterfuge.  Both equaled 21 so neither has any surprise or advantage>

Not having time to make a full swing, I thrust out and caught Kelli in the gut, doubling her over <11 damage>.  In retaliation, she swung wildly out and sliced my arm. <3 damage> Neither of us spoke. We had no need for words. They’d all been spoken already. Now it was time to end this feud with only one of us standing.

In the tight confines between the wall and the bed, it was hard to dodge and maneuver. This made it easier for Kelli to slip her knife under my defenses. Luckily, she mostly landed knicks and cuts. <6 damage>. I couldn’t get a full swing in myself, however, and had to rely on pummeling her with the rounded end of the crowbar. <5 damage, successful morale roll so she doesn’t flee>

My break came when Kelli staggered back from a hit to the face. With a loud grunt, I swung and struck her hard on the shoulder.  The white hoop crumpled to the floor and blood gushed out over the room's carpet. The Thompsons might not be renting this room out for a while.  <Alyssa’s final hit was for 8 damage, dropping Kelli to -6.  Alyssa does not attempt to pull her blow, which would only render her unconscious instead of wounding her with the added danger of bleeding out).>

At the same time, Dale ran through the door. “Are you okay?” He asked.

I showed him my wounds but assured him I was fine otherwise. Once he was certain I would be fine, he checked the body on the ground. “She’s still alive. Quick,” he said to Nate who just came through the door as well. “Go find my dad.  He’ll show you where the medical kits are.”

Nate left as I fell back on the bed, exhausted.

<Per an oracle check Dale planned to stay up and keep watch while Alyssa slept.  However, Kelli made a successful Subterfuge check to sneak past him undetected. Every two combat rounds I made a roll to determine if anyone heard the battle.  Each character had a different DC check depending on where they were and what they were doing. For example, Dale was awake but possibly out of earshot, so he needed a DC14.  Others who were asleep and not close to Alyssa's room needed a DC20.  Dale heard the commotion after two rounds but needed (d4) 3 turns to reach the room, meaning he didn’t arrive till the fight was over. Finally, because of Dale’s arrival, I didn’t roll on the death table for bleeding out since he tended to Kelli immediately.>

[Scene 3: Tension Lvl: 4]

Despite my best attempts, Kelli survived the night.  Harsh, I know, but I had no love for that woman . . . rabbit . . . whatever she is.  Besides, she probably had Alex murdered and would have killed me, given the chance. She was bound and detained in another room. In the morning Ross went to alert Clint to the break-in and attack.  Since there was no question that Kelli was the aggressor, the MSF Chief did not complain about the beating or defend her actions in any way.  He just cuffed her and agreed that some form of justice would be forthcoming.  He did, however, once again suggest that Nate and I leave town and not return.

Jesse agreed to drive us back to Sean Murphy’s farm when he went to fix the tractor. While we were waiting for him to swing by the hotel in his truck, Dale and Ross came over to say good-bye. Dale had a small bundle in his hands wrapped in used copier paper.

“I wanted to give you this,” he said, handing me the package.

The paper was taped together like a poor man’s birthday gift. Finding a seam I tore at the tape and pulled back a flap to reveal four paperback books. They were the four volumes of the Ernest Harding Aliens series that I saw on the book swap shelf, including the fourth volume, Aliens of the Stars, the one Dale said he was currently reading.

I gasped, knowing how rare it was to find a full physical set of any series.

“I can’t take these. They’re your set and . . . and you haven’t even finished Stars.”

“Yes, I did. Last night while I sat up keeping watch. Sorry about that, by the way. Kelli should never have gotten past me. But about the books, I know you really wanted to read the last two.”

“But this is the entire set.”

“If you have the last two, I thought there was no reason for you not to have the full set. Besides, I’m sure if you needed to trade them the full set will be much more valuable than just one or two random books.”

“You bet they will be!”

In a spontaneous show of gratitude, I threw my arms around Dale and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. Once I let go he sheepishly looked away.  In fact, if it weren’t for all the grey fur I may have been able to see him blush.

Jesse pulled up about that time.  Nate and I said our goodbyes and climbed into the bed of the truck. Once we were on the road, Nate pulled out a small package of his own. Instead of fancy copier paper wrapping, his was just a plastic bag holding a box.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Something I found at the WAmazon Marketplace down the road.  I had Ross drop me off there this morning before he went to the MSF.”

I opened the blue plastic bag.  Inside was an unopened Newton’s Cradle. 

“Oh my!  I can’t believe you found one.”

“Neither can I.  It was way back on a shelf in the store’s toy section. Probably has been there forgotten for months. I know it’s not as fancy as the one in the warehouse, but still, it’s a Newton’s Cradle. I guess they’re not that hot a commodity in the Apocalypse.”

“Eternity Restored!” I said, and flashed Nate a wide smile.

He put his arm around me and we settled back against the truck’s cab. I expected we’d be back on the road in a few days. But for now, it was nice to just relax and enjoy the ride with my new best friend.


Eric Noel sat on a bar stool in the Suds & Such, his paw wrapped around a glass of the latest batch of the local moonshine. The Flat-Visions mounted on the walls were dark and silent, local broadcasting having ceased with the attack. However, a PEECE sat on a shelf behind the bar playing old country tunes that had been loaded onto it. There were a handful of other patrons, including a couple of hoops at a table and one at the bar. Eric overheard snippets of conversation here and there and was comforted by what he heard.

News about the two strangers and their investigation had quickly spread throughout Mausdale, specifically their suspicions surrounding Kelli. Opinions were varied, but anyone who knew the accused admitted that they wouldn’t have been surprised if the accusations turned out to be true. 

Let them believe that, Eric thought. It was better for him since he was the only person in town who actually knew the truth.

Eric had grown up with Zach and Joann Andrews, Alex’s parents. They had been friends since grade school. He was one of Zach’s groomsmen and for years the three still enjoyed a close friendship. 

Once Alexandria was born, however, Zach began to change. He did not adjust well to the role of parent.  Alex’s father hated that Joann and he no longer had the freedom to do as they pleased without having to also consider their daughter’s welfare. Finances grew tighter year after year and Zach began sending more time at the bar instead of at home. He would get drunk, go home, and take out his frustrations out on his wife. Joann turned to Eric for comfort and the relationship soon grew into a full-fledged affair.  Still, Joann refused to leave on Alex’s account, believing an intact family was better for the young girl. 

Throughout most of her childhood and early teens, Alex was only a spectator in her parent’s fights, not a participant. However, As she grew older and started confronting her dad, his rage would often turn on her. Like her mom, Alex also found a sounding board in Eric. She would freely tell him how she hated the way her dad treated her mom and how it would just be better if he disappeared. Eric agreed, not only because it would stop the abuse, but it would also clear the way for him and Joann to explore their own relationship more openly.

That was when he decided to take of things himself.  After a long night of drinking, Eric led Zach out to the woods, shot him, and buried the body in a place where he was sure no one would find it.  After Zach had been missing for a few days, Eric “recalled” that Zach had made mention over the past several weeks about wanting to leave Mausdale. When Alex’s father didn’t return, both she and her mother assumed that he went through with that plan.  They weren’t upset that he was gone so they never looked into it too closely.

With Zach out of the way, Eric moved to take his place in their lives. Unfortunately, Alex wasn’t as eager to have a man in the house.  She saw her father’s absence as an opportunity for her and her mother to spend time together and bond. Additionally, she didn’t think it was healthy for her mother to get involved in another relationship right away.  She discouraged her from spending time with Eric and would insert herself as much as possible in anything they did. 

Eventually, Joann caved to the pressure and broke it off with Eric. You’d think the brat would have been a bit more grateful, as he had been a friend for years and stood by them all this time, even taking the role of father figure for Alex when Zach fell short.  Hell, he did her a favor, getting rid of her father, even though she didn’t know it. Well, he knew how to take care of the troublesome teen, and with Alex out of the way, he would be the one to comfort and care for Joann in her time of grief.

He had to be careful, though. It was no secret about Alex’s dislike of his and her mother’s relationship. If she went missing, people might start suspecting him.  No, Eric had to distance himself from the deed.  That was when he became drinking buddies with Ken Watkins, Alex’s boyfriend.

Ken was very susceptible to his suggestions that Alex may not be the sweet girl Ken thought she was. Eric started by questioning her loyalty, mentioning that he had seen her hanging out with other boys. Next, he shared rumors and stories he heard about her sleeping around. Then, when he had Ken convinced Alex couldn’t be trusted, Eric began to speculate that she may even have been involved in some minor burglaries that had occurred around town, his proof being items he noticed around the Andrews’ home that looked like the items that were reported stolen. Of course, most of what Eric told Ken was nothing but a bunch of hooey, but Ken believed it nonetheless.

Once the young man was sufficiently worked up, Eric convinced him that something had to be done to stop her. However, being a tramp wasn’t against the law and, since the bombing, there really wasn’t a legal system to hold her accountable for any crimes she may have committed. If she was to be stopped, or at least held accountable, they would have to do it themselves. And by them, Eric meant Ken.

He knew outright murder would be a hard sell. Too many consequences for Ken if he was caught. Understandable, that’s exactly why Eric was inciting Ken, to protect himself. But, if Ken could stage an accident? That might be an option. Eric knew the woods weren’t safe for someone alone who had little or no wilderness experience. What if Ken were to take Alex out to the wood and “happen” to get separated from her?  If she ran into a wild animal or something else, that would be a tragedy but hardly something that Ken had any control over. Who would know anything different without any witnesses?

Surprisingly, it took very little to convince Ken to carry out the plan. He was already angry at her because of Eric’s stories. Pair that with the fact that he wanted to get more serious with Kelli but couldn’t because Alex kept hanging around, and he was itching to get it over with.  Everything would be better once Alex was gone.

About a week later, Eric began hearing the buzz around town that Alex had gone missing. In fact, the news was better than expected in that Ken never returned as well, presumed attacked by some wild animal. Now Eric didn’t need to be concerned that Ken might start blabbing and point fingers at him.  The only wrench in the seemingly perfect plan was the guy and gal who came to town and started asking questions. However, since they directed suspicion toward Kelli and have since left Mausdale, it was looking more and more like he was in the clear.  Give it a couple of weeks and perhaps he might try rekindling the relationship with Joann.

“Sam!” Eric called out to the bartender.  “Gimme another.  I feel like celebrating!”

“Hmph, what’s there to celebrate?”

“Life, Sam. Life.”

“Have you looked around lately?” Sam asked, filling Eric’s glass from a mason jar full of clear moonshine.

“Yeah, I have. Think about it.  No government watching over us. Tech-West couldn’t care less about some backwoods town. We have a security chief with a bunch of wannabe deputies and no authority backing him up to enforce any laws.  For the first time, we are truly free. Opportunities are endless and our future is bright.”

Sam didn’t respond. Instead, he wiped up a few drops from the bar and gave Eric an if that’s what makes you happy nod.

“You’ll see, Sam.” Eric took a long drink from his glass.  “You’ll see.”


<The only fact about the investigation that I wasn’t able to fully determine was who was ultimately responsible for Alex’s death.  The last two possibilities were “A Town Leader” or “Alex’s Boss/Guardian”.  When I created the original suspect list I didn’t know exactly who the characters would be so I used generic descriptions except for Ken.  As the game progressed, I decided that “Town Leader” would be representative of Kelli.  While not an official leader, she was on the security force and had some authority around town to uphold the laws and standards.  For boss/guardian I leaned into the “guardian” aspect. While not legally married to Alex’s mother, Eric was beginning to fill the role of stepdad.  That was probably as close to a guardian as I was going to get in this game. 

Before the first scene of this chapter I determined who I was going to accuse of the crime (Kelli), then I revealed the answer to know who actually wanted Alex dead.  Turns out Kelli was innocent and it was Eric. So there you have it.  Kelli turns out to just be a mean-bunny with a chip on her shoulder and Joann’s ex is a cold-blooded killer.>

(Read the Afterpost here.)
Psalm 35:23-27

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Halloween 2022: Whispers in the Walls (Journal Prompts)

(Start this story here.  Read Journals 8-Conclusion here.)

As promised, below are listed the prompts for each journal entry.  Typically, when I play a free or “pay-what-you-want” game I share the original text. However, since Whispers in the Walls is a “Buy To Play” title (available on, I feel a greater responsibility not to reveal too much of the original game material, preserving their ability to sell the game to interested parties.  Therefore, in order to still give you the “behind-the-scenes” mechanics I will do the following. First, I will not reveal the number or suit of the playing cards drawn. Second, I will give a brief paraphrase of the prompt instead of the full text. As you read, please be aware that the original prompts are typically more detailed and suggest specific questions the player should answer in their journal.

Location/Journal Entry 1:
The location for this game is an old, abandoned classroom. Describe what you see, including decorations and any hints as to what was taught here.

Journal Entry 2: 
The room you are in has been transformed into a cave. Within the cave, you find an injured creature. Describe what you see and what happens.

Journal Entry 3: 
This room is shedding tears and crying. Additionally, it gives you insight into what is causing it grief.  What do you learn?

Journal Entry 4: 
Hands come through the walls. Why? For what are they reaching?

Journal Entry 5: 
The ceiling shifts and transforms into a blurry animation. Describe what you are seeing.

Journal Entry 6: 
Something rises up out of the floor. What is it? What do you find if you break it open? 

Journal Entry 7: 
You look in a mirror and see a forest scene. As you watch, the items in the mirror reach out and fill the room you are in and tells you a tale of a time before the tragic events you are investigating. What is that memory?

[Tev’s Note: I took a bit of liberty with this prompt.  I used the idea of a scene in the mirror and the suggestion that somehow you become part of the scene in the mirror. Also, I chose a scene that would represent a happy memory shortly before the closing of the school. Beyond that, however, I changed the forest scene to backstage preparation for a play that may have a forest setting, though I didn’t really mention that in the journal entry. 

One last comment about this entry, the “red” on the page is actually my own blood. I mentioned the narrator’s hands being cut, so it made sense there would be blood on the page. To accomplish this, I pricked a finger (using my diabetic blood testing kit), smeared the blood on my hands, and pressed and wiped them across the page.]

Journal Entry 8: 
The ceiling opens and a beam of light shines through, writing something on the floor. What does it write?

Journal Entry 9:
Thousands of dead bugs move across the floor to spell out a palindrome.  What is it?

[Tev’s Note: It is not easy coming up with a palindrome that makes sense within the context of a random story.]

Conclusion: (The prompt for the game’s conclusion is based on the number of the final journal card drawn. )

The walls are happy with what is happening here. Explain to them what you understand about the events you are investigating.  Do the walls let you go?

[Tev’s note: Instead of explaining my conclusions to the room, I obviously explained them to my client, assuming that by this time the school or other children have filled me in on some of the details of what is going on in the school.]

Final Thoughts: 

I'm always surprised at how these horror journaling games, whether it's Wretched and AloneQuill, or Whispers, actually do have an air of creepiness and foreboding, even though I am the one deciding what happens in the story. It's even more unexpected when, instead of following the game's suggestion to turn the lights low and put on some ominous music, I write during my lunch break in a well-lit office.

One of the strengths of Whispers in the Walls is its replayability. Sure, you can replay a Wretched and Alone game or rewrite a Quill letter, but the reality is, once you imagine a scenario for one of those games it's hard to picture it differently. Since you only use 9 out of 54 cards for a Whispers game, you still have 45 more potential prompts to explore. On top of that, with 14 potential game locations (Ace through King plus the Joker), every individual room can have up to 14 unique journal entries. You should be able to play the game numerous times before finding yourself stuck trying to come up with a journal entry that isn't identical to one that you've already written.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Halloween 2022: Whispers in the Walls (Journal 8-Conclusion)

(Start this story here.  Read Journals 5-7 here.)


(Click image for full size.)

Outside the Principal’s office. Class pictures hang on the walls. Children in neat rows, bleachers, obviously the stage in the cafeteria.

Suddenly a white light filled the room from above. Skylight? No. Just an opening in the ceiling. (Of course, always the ceiling.) I saw the night sky, a single star. Its light intensified. Formed a beam. Moving back and forth. Wherever it traveled it left a faint image on the floor. Writing:

To The Class
of ‘22
[Sketch of star with beam]

2022? This year? There’s no class this year.

I looked back at the pictures. The last one was labeled “Class of 2022” Was this there before?

The picture was empty but for a few children. One girl looked similar to a young Karin. The face of another, a boy, was unclear. But I know those clothes! It was my favorite T-shirt from a long-forgotten cartoon. Is that me . . . as a kid? Why?

The light was gone. Words disappeared. I stood alone in the dark . . . listening to the school whisper my name.

[Sketch of the class picture labeled “Class of 2022” with arrows pointing to Karin (?) and Me (?).]



(Click image for full size.)

Trapped! I can’t leave! 

Part of me doesn’t want to.

Door locked. Tried others. All locked. Can’t leave.

Out the windows ghostly children play on the playground. More ghosts walk through the halls. I lock myself in my classroom, to escape. My safe haven.

Movement across the floor. Carcasses of millions of dead bugs jitter from the corners and crevices of the room. Gnats, beetles, roaches.  Moved by some unseen hand they gather in the center.  Forming words.


[Sketched as though written in bugs]

They shift.  Reform into another palindromic phrase.


[Sketched as though written in bugs]

The school . . . 

          So empty . . . 

                   So alone . . . 

                              So sad.  

It has lured me here!

Captured me! 



(Click on image for full size.)



Subject: Karin


I hope you receive this. I asked the school to let me send one last message from my phone. I have no way of knowing its answer. Hopefully, you are reading this.

I wanted to let you know that Karin is fine. She is at South Creek Elementary. However, she can’t come home. But please! DO NOT come here! It would not be wise. I will try to explain but I doubt you will understand.

The school has a spirit.  Not one living in it, like a ghost, but its own, individual spirit. When the school was closed it longed for the life and laughter of the children who once walked its halls. As months turned to years it somehow grew lonely. It began changing. It used some power to decorate the rooms, just like the teachers and children did. It even turned the basement, a place the kids referred to as “the cave”, into an actual cave. But that wasn’t enough. It longed for the life of actual people.

Starting with the transients that would take refuge within its wall at night, the school would draw them in, enchant them. It reminded them of the carefree days of playing with friends and having all their needs taken care of for them. Before too long they wanted to stay and the building obliged, reverting them to their childhood forms and absorbing them. 

Next came Douglas Millhouse, the developer who bought the school and the property. Have you ever wondered why he never developed the land? It’s because the school enticed him on one of his visits to examine his purchase. It compelled him to leave the corporate structure and stress and return to the more wistful time of childhood. Oh, he goes by “Dougie” now.

More recently your daughter Karin joined their class. Her elementary school years, the years before her father left, were her happiest, and here is where she spent most of that time. The chance to return was too tempting an offer. But I can assure you, she is happy and safe.

As for me, I can’t fully explain it myself, but I am ready to stay. I’ve seen the greedy sides of life. How people cheat, steal, and lie. I’ve worked hard for little, tired all the time. It may have been naivety, but life was simpler as a child. I want that again and I’ve found it here. 

It’s time for me to go. The school is calling . . . pulling. Remember the good times with Karin. She loves you very much.


BTW, I’m going to be the king in the class play.

(Read the prompts here.)


Isaiah 8:19 (Relevance hint: NIV)