We had a number of set pieces that the Art Department pre-prepared; some were designed to be discovered at specific times or when specific trigger events happened – others were waiting to be discovered. Some of these were part of the ghost effects; here are a few of the others.
Uncle Godfrey’s Room
The master bedroom of the house is something that the characters got into later in the weekend for private talks with the apparently terminally ill Uncle Godfrey. It was evident from the surroundings that Uncle Godfrey had been undergoing some sort of experimental surgery (this was Nicholas trying to find a way to stave off his degenerative neural disease).
Not only was there surgical equipment liberally strewn around the room, there was also a mechanical breathing device, and the smell of old chloroform.
Set Piece Deaths
There were two set-piece deaths of stooges, and one improvised. Firstly, Edgar Northmoor was found underneath a fallen chandelier, crushed to death. Secondly, Clayton Northmoor was found hanged from a rope of knotted bedsheets in the early hours of the morning. For the third death, Sergeant Billy Burridge made peace with his history as an arsonist, set himself on fire and walked into the flames of the Burned Man.
At the end of Christmas dinner on Saturday evening, just after the crackers* were opened, there was a crawling, scratching sound and the dining tables began to shake (using our fantastic vibration speakers hidden inside Christmas candles). The doors locked themselves, and the room was plunged into darkness. Then the players heard the ghosts, one after another, piled on top of each other; the sound of gas-masked breathing and of war in the trenches; children screaming and crying; the cracking and shifting of ice; a baby crying; a couple arguing; fire burning…
This event is what we termed the Overture. Essentially it was us saying “It’s now Saturday evening and darkness has fallen. Up until this point your characters have been able to write the things they’ve seen and heard off as hallucinations or tricks of the mind. But now all bets are off.”
*Each cracker actually contained a deep and dark secret about some other member of the family.
The end scene triggered at the point that the players discovered the bones of Edmund in the walls of the old kitchen; after they’d convinced Nicholas/Godfrey of the truth of his curse. At that point we had nearly all the players in one room, and so controlled their viewpoint very tightly – through the window they saw the Green Lady approach, to be met by two red-coated soldiers, one Edmund, one Nicholas. There was reconciliation between them (see our Theme), and they started to walk away; then gouts of flame shot up and Nicholas was dragged down to hell. A black cloth fell, and then we ran the credits.