I recently acquired Kids on Bikes: Strange Adventures Vol 2 (SA2), and the new modules are so exciting I decided a new campaign was in order. I rounded two local players who also enjoy Kids on Bikes, and off we went on a new adventure. This time I wanted to take the game in a new direction and chose to use the “Students on Scooters” module from SA2. I feel like having the players play teenagers in college offers a lot of narrative options we didn’t get when playing younger kids.
This periodic actual play summary series will serve as both a record of this ongoing campaign and the shenanigans our students find themselves in at college. It also serves as a way to showcase the game system itself and the types of stories the system can be used to tell.
Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
Trope: Laid Back Slacker
Edward Eric Edmunds III “E3”
Hometown: Akron, OH
Trope: Popular Kid
Fraternities/Sororities in good standing: 23
Fraternities/Sororities on probation: 3
Student body: 34,642
Newest School: Smithers School of Computer Science
What’s the Rush?
1988 Academic Year, Fall Semester, Early September
The introduction to the overarching campaign has them attending Austin College in the fall of 1988. To add to life’s stress, they are also pledges to one the nation’s few co-ed fraternities, St. Anthony’s. St. Anthony’s was founded elsewhere but established at Austin College in 1931 as a service organization during the Great Depression. Chapter One of the campaign, “What’s the Rush?” places Savannah and Edward in the middle of the fall rush and all that it entails. This is where their story begins.
Late one night, fourteen students assembled in the basement of St. Anthony’s Hall. Before them, are several upperclassmen dressed in floor-length robes and wear masks. Each mask portrays the face of one of history’s great leaders. One steps forward. They can only presume it’s the chapter’s president, Maeve, her mask is that of Cleopatra.
“We are a fraternity that seeks to aid those around us and support one another. Our values are service before self, stand for the weak, and respect that which we cannot see. Pledges must be able to uphold those values. Each of you has been paired with one other pledge for tonight’s trial. In a minute, you will each be hooded, and your hands bound as a sign of humility. You will then be taken to a pre-designated location with your partner. There, it will be explained what your trail is. Fail in this, and you are not a worthy pledge for St. Anthony’s. Succeed, and the doors of this and all other chapter houses will be open to you.”
Their adventure begins…
A short trip to their final destination ensues, during which Edward makes several vain attempts to strike up a conversation with the person seated next to him, not knowing if it is another student or an upperclassman.
The golf cart crunches across gravel and other debris, finally coming to a stop. Savannah and Edward are then escorted a short distance where they are unbound and their hoods removed. They’re left momentarily standing there in front of an old, dilapidated building. Their escorts stood behind them robed and masked, Churchhill and Queen Victoria. They are ordered to turn around.
“Your trial is simple, You will enter Stimple Hall in just a moment, and for the next five hours, you will remain inside. Only when the sun begins to rise will you leave and join us as a full member. Leave early, and your time with St. Anthony’s is over.”
Our intrepid students enter the building to find it is indeed in a state of renovation. Debris litters the floor, doors creak, and the building seems to have a presence all its own. As they begin to explore the building on a room by room basis (they are veteran dungeon crawlers after all), they continue to find more evidence of renovations underway. Despite Savannah’s reluctance to the overall situation she now finds herself in, she begins to talk with Edward, ever so slightly while they continue to explore.
It’s here that things begin to get weird for the pair. They both begin to fail Grit and/or Brains rolls, which cause them to think they are seeing and hearing things around them or elsewhere in the building. It seems Savannah is far more susceptible than Edward at first, but he too slowly begins to succumb as the night wears on. At one point, Savannah believes she is seeing blood oozing down a wall on the first floor. She later begins to hear voices in her head. Edward thinks she’s a little batty when she seemingly talks nonsense to thin air.
It’s through these weird shared experiences they begin to form a bond of friendship. It appears to be tenuous at best, and time will tell if it will last, but at least they are bonding. Their night only gets weirder as they make their way up to the second floor of the old building. It’s up here where Savannah, at first and later, Edward, comes into contact with a ghost named Edna. Edna makes contact first by manifesting as vocalizations, then slowly as an ethereal apparition of a young woman in a nurse’s outfit. One might think running into a ghost would be a scary experience, but our stalwart pledges steeled their nerves and passed their Grit rolls. Edna needs their help locating her missing necklace and briefly explains that over the years, “They” have sent many to help her, and none have been successful. Savannah is immediately reluctant and overly snarky too boot. Once Savannah works through her pretentious and holier-than-thou attitude, she and Edward agreed to look for it since they are stuck in the building for several more hours.
Our intrepid students quickly make short work of locating Edna’s missing necklace in part due to all the construction and Edwards, fantastic Brains roll (double exploding die). Once the necklace and it’s accompanying pendant is located, Edna instructs them to place it where she was buried so that her spirit could finally be set free.
As the sun begins to rise, Savannah and Edward exit the old Stimple Hall and are meet once again by their escorts. This time the masks are removed to reveal they are, in fact, upperclassmen they have met before. Knowing that they need to return to their dorms to sneak in a power nap before classes, they ask if there was a cemetery associated with the old nursing school when it was converted into a Tuberculosis ward. The upperclassmen look at each other and speculate that there might have been one behind the building, likely a potter’s field. Edna, sensing they’re on the right path, begins to give the visual clues as they hastily try to locate her grave. They eventually place her necklace on the spot they believed to be her unmarked grave behind the building. As the necklace is placed, Edna declares, “I will return.” before she falls silent in their minds.
So what’s really on? In reality, what has happened is, the ghostly spirit of Edna Stimple, a nurse who used to reside in this building has made contact with Savannah and later Edward. Edna died of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1914. During her last hours alive, another nurse shamelessly stole her necklace and locket. This other nurse later succumbed to consumption as well. Knowing her time was short and unable to pawn the necklace and other stolen goods, she stashed them for safekeeping—they became lost to time. As a result, Edna’s spirit has neither been able to rest since 1914 nor been able to make contact with anyone living that could find the necklace. Every so often, “They” send a group into the building with the hopes of making contact with Edna. Some are successful, but most are not. Those that are are unable to locate her necklace and put her spirit to rest. Edna has been haunting and causing trouble at Stimple Hall since her death in 1914.
So, who are “They”?
What does it have to do with St. Anthony’s?
I guess we’ll have to play to find out, now won’t we?
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