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Wednesday, April 30

Skinwalker: Introduction

This scenario, “Skinwalker,” is from the Call of Cthulhu supplement “Dwellers in Shadow” by Michael Szymanski from Triad Entertainments. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

  • Game Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
  • Hank “Guppy” Gupta (Smart Hero) played by Joseph Tresca (http://www.creepyportfolio.com)
  • Jake “Blade” Iron Shirt (Strong Hero) played by Matt Hammer
  • Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero) played by Joe Lalumia
  • Kurtis “Hammer” Grange (Fast Hero) played by George Webster
  • Sebastian “Caprice” Creed (Fast/Smart Hero) played by Bill Countiss

Skinwalker is a scenario that’s big on ideas and poor on execution. The presentation is a big jumble, which makes it difficult as a GM to follow. There are actually two protagonists here, a Navajo “witch” and the thing he has unleashed. Both have similar abilities that involve taking people over by wearing their skin. Which is pretty creepy…

This is another scenario where the main antagonist has a shapeshifting power that it never uses to its advantage. For example, the Skinwalker possesses a woman’s skin, but since he can’t imitate voices, this immediately takes on a comedic Bugs Bunny image of a mousy secretary speaking in a deep baritone and smoking a stogie. The human villain doesn’t seem to have much in the way of goals either, besides being evil. The excuse for why he does so many ridiculous things (like undressing and dressing his victims) is that he’s insane. But he’s apparently insanely dumb; the first thing the witch does is appear as a wolf and warn the agents off.

Really? Seriously? He’s insane, he kills people, but he’s going to WARN the heroes off before they even suspect him, like a cartoon villain? Screw that!

There’s also a suspect whom the PCs are supposed to investigate because, well, because the town folk think he’s a little weird. The shape-shifting villain doesn’t capitalize on this means of diverting the investigation; in fact, he doesn’t even seem to be aware of the association.

Then there’s the Skinwalker itself, which doesn’t seem to have a plan other than to reproduce. In fact, the scenario is a little too fixated on the birthing that will take days to happen, without providing a narrative climax for when it should. So of course, I decided the PCs are going to find it right when it’s about to give birth.

To make this scenario more interesting, I cribbed from a popular horror movie and had the witch and the Skinwalker go on the offensive. Once the witch is spotted dumping skinless bodies, he pulls out all the stops and tracks the investigators, trying to figure out which one has the skin that fits him best. He walks around town in a form suspiciously like the person he wants to frame for his crimes, intentionally throwing the agents off his trail. And things spiral from there.

One other convention that I used to represent Coyote’s influence: I decided in this episode whenever the shape-shifting critter was on their trail, Blade would hear a song on a nearby radio. And in this case, it’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Frank Sinatra. Because Sinatra’s creepy. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:25 AM


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