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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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This game occurred in 2010. I posted about it in /tg/ afterward, it seemed to be popular, and got archived. I keep getting e-mails about it even today, so I've decided to share the adventure once again.

It was my creepiest and most epic horror campaign ever, one I will likely never be able to top even if I tried. Please note that some of the youtube links may not work now; I'm just copy-pasting the old story and some of the pics from the original thread that I saved.

Original thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/12130366/

And now, ladies and gentlemen: Martian Death Quest.
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I'm recalling this as best I can from memory, so forgive me if this is fragmentary and basically a "highlights" reel.

I was GMing an RPG with five players. I wasn't using any official system, and other than inventories and general physical condition, the players had no character stats to keep track of. The dice had little use, beyond rolling to see if they noticed something or discovered something useful.


Inspired by the above scene from 2001, I crafted my scenario. It was the year 2158, and the third manned mission to Mars discovered a faint radio signal that potentially indicated intelligent life coming from inside Mons Olympus. Another expedition was mounted with archaelogists, professional excavators, and more to unearth the tunnels beneath the mountain and find the source of the signal. Disaster struck; a cave-in killed some of the explorers and trapped the rest. Rescue was impossible before they all eventually suffocated after wandering hopelessly through the catacombs beneath Mons Olympus.

The five players and a team of NPC's would be sent to Mars to assist the surviving researchers at the base camp in investigating the disaster, recover the dead, and possibly continue the exploration in hopes of discovering the source of the mysterious radio signal.

I, of course, insisted that to keep everyone in character as astronauts, the players had to wear gas masks I'd found for ten bucks apiece online (cheaperthandirt, I think) to simulate wearing a spacesuit. I then proceeded to completely fuck with their heads.
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Once they arrived on Mars, they immediately became suspicious of the survivors in the base camp because they were reluctant to disclose information and actively avoided the newcomers. The players quickly decided that they were all covering their asses to avoid blame for the tunnel collapse.

Once they began investigating the collapse, however, it was discovered that the cave-in may have been deliberately triggered. All radio logs and research notes from the day of the collapse and the day before and after were gone, purged from the computer. One of the survivors said it must have been deleted on accident, or that there was a computer glitch. The players now suspected murder, especially once they came across the diary of one of the dead astronauts and found that she had been having an affair with one of the others on the exploration team, which was found out by her husband... the basecamp supervisor and one of the survivors.

After some exploration and thoroughly convinced they were playing a sci-fi murder mystery, the players discovered another entrance into the catacombs beneath Mons Olympus and went inside, leaving two NPC's to watch the basecamp and taking the other three with them.

That was the last time any of them experienced anything vaguely normal in the game.
i remember this story OP
Once they entered the tunnels into the mountain, I "enhanced the atmosphere" by turning out the lights, leaving the room lit only by a couple candles on the table and the screen of my laptop. I also turned up the thermostat just enough that they would be uncomfortable.

The tunnels of Mons Olympus were the same red stone as outside, but as they went further and further into the tunnel it became obvious that it was artificial, until they eventually decided to brush the dirt off the walls and floor, revealing red stone bricks and tiles, decorated with odd designs, like a cross between crop circles and mathematical symbols. They debated whether they meant something or were merely decoration as they continued into the tunnels.

I then revealed that this deep underground, Mars' atmosphere was dense enough to carry sound and they could hear a strange vibration. Further into the tunnels, they began to hear strange static and noises on their radios, which they theorized was the signal they were investigating.


I had an mp3 of this playing on endless loop.

After exploring the tunnels, they finally found signs of the previous expedition...
Oh shit, son.
I have to be in bed soon, but pro-fucking-ceed.
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A flashlight lay in the tunnel, dim from low batteries. It had been lying there for the months it took for the follow-up expedition to reach Mars. Continuing further, they noticed footprints in the sand littering the tunnels and marks on the walls indicative of handprints. Eventually, they came to the caved-in section and discovered the arm of a spacesuit sticking out of the debris, its occupant long dead. Except for debris and some tools, there was no sign of the rest of the bodies, so they continued into the catacombs.

By now, the players were feeling somewhat claustrophobic. The gas masks, the noise, the warmth, the darkness, and my descriptions of the tunnels and the feeling of being buried under miles of stone had them all squirming in their seats. They were ready for the next bit of mindfucking.

At least this time you don't have to wait several hours while I write it all out.
I changed the recording that had been playing on loop to a new one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7E_GVDdyYs

One of the players, attempting to look for clues as to which tunnel the survivors of the cave-in could have entered noticed that one of the NPC's was missing. No one had noticed his absence and looking around for clues, they found eight sets of bootprints leading up the tunnel into the cave-in area... and only seven leaving. The eighth set of tracks disappeared somewhere inside the muddle of footprints in the room where they had walked all over looking the place over. There was no sign of him anywhere, and the dense stone made it impossible to send radio signals very far. He had simply vanished.

Four of the players began testing the floor, suspicious that he had fallen in a sink hole, while the fifth immediately declared shenanigans and told the others that I had tricked them into a Call of Cthulhu campaign. Eventually, they gave up on finding the NPC and after arguing over whether or not they should return to the surface or keep searching in the tunnels, they continued deeper into Mars' hidden depths.

Poor bastards.

Make sure you play the videos while reading, assuming the links still work.
Deeper into the tunnels they went, debating over whether the disturbances in the sand-strewn floor were footprints left by the previous expedition. A discarded rock pick lying in the tunnel settled the issue. They were disturbed to find blood on the end of the pick, though there was none in the tunnel. The pick was put away in a pack as evidence for the investigation and they continued.

After a while of fruitless searching, one of the NPC's, the only female in the group, said that she could hear strange sounds, like scittering, scratching noises. None of the players and the other NPC could hear any noises and they attempted to convince her that it was just her imagination. She remained unconvinced, but tried to tough it out.

Further down the tunnel, a broken piece of plastic, transparent and curved, lay in the tunnel along with the dried remnants of an unknown fluid, which didn't resemble blood. After examination, the plastic was decided to be a piece of a helmet faceplate; it and samples of the dried substance were collected and they continued down the tunnel.
brb, gotta pee and grab a soda before I continue.
I forget what led up to it, but they eventually came to a chamber that split into three tunnels. Lying in the room was one of the previous expedition members, his spacesuit a distinctive burnt orange color while the players had grey suits. This detail became important later.

The man had obviously been murdered, hacked to pieces with tools like the rock pick found in the tunnel. His suit was shredded and his faceplate shattered. The body within was almost mummified from the dry conditions and thin atmosphere.

The female NPC began to freak out again, claiming she could hear "them". The others tried to calm her down, but she would have none of it; it was panic attack time, and she was getting the fuck out of there. She kept screaming about how she could hear "them" and that the walls were pressing in on her, the ceiling coming down to crush her. She was getting claustrophobic (so were the players, by this point) and at one point tried to take off her helmet, claiming she couldn't breath. The players managed to convince her that this was a bad idea, but she refused to go further into the tunnel and kept trying to go back the way they came.

The self-nominated leader of the expedition put his foot down and told her that they were going on ahead. If she wanted to go back, she would have to do it by herself. In the dark. And if she disappeared like the other guy, no one would ever know.

This got her to chill the fuck out and stop hyperventilating, and after a while they began arguing over which tunnel to explore next and why the guy had been murdered. Interestingly, the body couldn't be identified; the name patch had been removed.
I don't think this is actually a quest thread, so by putting Quest in the subject field, a large portion of potential readers may have filtered this using thr catalog.
My bad. Yeah, I really should have. Hindsight.

The noise over the radio changed again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80Ngl2RY8sA

By now it had the players seriously uncomfortable, and one of them asked if he could "turn his radio off" (i.e., get me to stop playing the recordings). I told him no, unless he didn't want to be able to communicate with the other party members. There was also some bitching about being unable to snack with the gas masks on, but not much. They were too creeped out.

After doing a search, they found what might have been drag marks down the tunnel on the far right. They chose to go that direction, ignoring my "subtle" hint that they could split up (with the guy who was convinced it was secretly a Call of Cthulhu campaign repeating "never split the party" over and over). Well, if they didn't want to split up...

Suddenly, coinciding with a loud burst of static over the radio, there was an earthquake. Marsquake. Whatever. Rocks, bricks, and sand fell from the ceiling, and the floor opened up behind them. One player fell through and the opening was quickly plugged by debris. The rest of the party tried frantically to dig him out, but I informed them that the ceiling was too unstable now and they could all be buried. A faint radio signal from him informed them that he was alive, and thought he could see stairs in the distance with his flashlight. They raced ahead to rescue him.

He was not alone.
This story is creeping my Carls.

We named the game Martian Death Quest in the original thread. Hence, the title.
This next part was hard to pull off while talking the other players through their hurried rescue attempts, but I passed notes back and forth with the player separated from the party.

He was partly buried by debris, but able to dig himself free. Unfortunately, his tool kit was buried somewhere and it had his duct tape, which he needed because the tunnel collapse had torn a hole in his suit. At this rate, he would suffocate in minutes.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, nearby was a pair of bodies from the previous expedition. One was mutilated like the first body, but the other was intact, minus dried blood and bits of gore from the other body smeared across its surface and faceplate. Apparently the one man had murdered the other, then sat down in the tunnel and slowly suffocated as he ran out of oxygen. I informed the player that the atmosphere was thick enough he wouldn't suffer decompression too badly if he quickly swapped suits and stuck his oxygen tank in the other suit. He did so and was now wearing the (orange) suit from the previous expedition, which didn't have a tear in it. This accomplished, he continued toward the stairs he had seen and I basically had him sit out for the next hour or so, just watching the other players.
Meanwhile, the other players and their two NPC's were rushing ahead (fools) and suddenly...


I played as loud as possible, by the way. All the players clutched their ears and made WTF statements. They then noticed that they had seven party members when there should have been six.

The missing NPC was back, and he couldn't understand what all the excitement was about. He hadn't gone anywhere, he'd been with them the whole time. Of course, he didn't remember the dead body, the branching tunnels, or the cave-in, but he swore he'd been with them the entire time. The players were divided between believing him and killing him on the spot for likely being an eldritch abomination.
At this point, the players decided not to kill him, but they did arm themselves as best they could. Two had rock picks, one had a prybar, and the fourth had the one thing guaranteed to instantly penetrate a spacesuit: a giant nail gun that embedded eye hooks into solid rock for them to clip safety lines to in case they had to go a steep hole or climb. It wasn't a projectile weapon, but press it against something and pull the trigger...

The three NPC's were similarly armed, one with a cutting tool resembling a chainsaw, except with a rotary saw that was designed to cut through stone and metal in the event of a tunnel blockage. Half the players immediately began trying to trade weapons with the NPC, who refused to part with it. Paranoia had well and truly set in.

The Uranus recording was back, incidentally.
Anyway, after some more argument amongst the players, they decided on an order for them to continue down the tunnel in, with the guy who had vanished and reappeared in the middle, where he had two players and an NPC in front of and behind him, in case he tried something. He was understandly freaked out about why everyone insisted he had vanished and were so suspicious of him.

As they continued down the tunnel, they suddenly hear a female scream over the radio, which the signal triangulator indicated had come from BEHIND them. The female NPC was the rearmost person in the party. They all spun around and... she was right there, looking behind her, wondering who had screamed.

This had everyone shitting bricks, because the only other women who could possibly be down there with them had been the two on the previous expedition... who had both been buried in the cave-in and died months earlier. After some debate, which included the female NPC insisting she not be last in line from now on, they decided to backtrack to see if they could find the source of the scream. All they found was the cave-in blocking their path. They couldn't raise the lost party member on the radio. They had only one choice, to continue deeper into Mons Olympus, becoming increasingly paranoid and freaked out.
I still have the gas mask, by the way. All my players kept theirs as souvenirs. We still talk about it now and then.
The recording on endless loop changed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MvrduueveI

The fact that this shit is real radio waves from the planets in our solar system had been pointed out and didn't help the players relax any.

They eventually came to a branch in the tunnels, and had zero indication from me as to where to go. Still no contact with the lost party member. They arbitrarily picked left.

After several minutes of wandering down the tunnels, they found the glove to a spacesuit from the previous expedition, along with a broken compass. They didn't bother retrieving them, now intent only on finding their missing comrade and finding a way the fuck out of Mons Olympus and back to the surface.

As they continued, the symbols carved in the stone bricks and floor tiles gradually began to resemble vaguely humanoid figures, and the tunnel widened, until they stepped into a chamber that was so large they couldn't see the walls or ceiling with their flashlights. The female NPC was whimpering and kept muttering something about "whispers" and the scratching noises, but refused to elaborate when the others questioned her.

Performing a search, two of the players saw what they thought was movement, but I indicated that it could also just be shadows from their lights playing over the features in the room, such as row of waist-high stone pillars they found. Each one had the vague impression of a face, like the Face of Mars, carved into the top, but it was very vague, difficult to convince themselves it had been deliberately carved and not simply the shape of the stone.

Further search revealed a flight of stairs leading down, and they suggested this might be the stairs their missing friend had mentioned. They descended.
They reached the bottom of the stairs and found the tunnel branching in a t-junction; left, right, or forward. Calls on the radio revealed nothing. The female NPC was, by this point, thoroughly around the bend, clutching her prybar and crying to herself, begging the others to just take her home. They just ignored her now, and she meekly followed where ever they went, afraid to be left behind.

There was a strange, almost mechanical rumble and the floor vibrated, sand falling from the ceiling, but the tunnel remained intact. The incident coincided with a burst of static over the radio before the usual ambient spooky shit continued to haunt them.

Now another player, not one of the two who thought they'd seen movement earlier, was seeing things in the corners of his eyes, not finding anything when he turned to look. The players, sitting in their chairs and hissing through their gasmasks, were obviously experiencing the same thing as they sat in the flicking candlelight. Excellent.

They chose to split into three groups going in each direction down the tunnel (one NPC in each group, with the guy who vanished and came back in the group with two players in case he tried something) and they would walk fifty feet down each tunnel and then return to the stairs, reasoning that if their lost member had seen the stairs from where he had been laying one group would find him if they had descended the same stairs.
All three parties went fifty feet down their respective tunnels, saw nothing but more tunnel with no sign of their missing comrade or the cave-in, and return to the stairs.

I informed all three groups that there was no sign of the other groups at the stairs and they were alone.

There was some quiet swearing from all around the table. The "missing" player had been allowed to remove his gas mask while he was out of play and was smirking at them as he drank a Pepsi. I told him to finish his soda and put the mask back on, because he was coming back into play soon.

The next half hour or so was complicated as fuck, as I passed notes to all five players (well, four notes, as two players were together) informing of their progress down the tunnels. Coincidentally, after returning to the stairs and finding no one, all three groups had decided to travel down the middle tunnel (which is when I resorted to passing notes to prevent them from collaborating out-of-character). This shit got ridiculously complex, and I forget what all went on, but here are the relevent details...
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By now, all five players were scared for real. The sound changed again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AVHXMLDvWA&feature=related

The missing player, wearing his scavenged spacesuit, was unarmed and wandering down the tunnel alone, climbing the stairs and emerging into a chamber which had another dead body in it, this one also mutilated and the name patch missing. He noticed something shiny on the wall, however, and went to investigate. It was the tip of a rock pick, embedded between two bricks, and scratched into the stone beneath it was a message in english. As he began reading it, he noticed movement behind him and a dim glow. Scared, he turned off his light and stood motionless in the corner, hoping he wouldn't be seen if he held still. There was nowhere for him to hide in the room.
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While the lost guy was standing motionless in fear, one of the players (the one who got stuck with the girl) entered a chamber and found a mutilated corpse from the previous expedition lying on the floor. Then the girl moaned in terror and backed against the wall, gibbering and repeating over and over, "that's not real, they're all dead, they're all dead, that's not real, it can't be real, they're all dead-"

He glanced around the room and then noticed the orange suit from the previous expedition standing in the corner, covered in blood and bits of gore. How was it standing upright? Was it leaning against the wall? I informed him that he had just seen the suit/corpse shift its weight on its feet.

He immediately ran across the room, pressed the bolt gun against the back of the helmet, and pulled the trigger, shooting an eye bolt through the helmet and into the skull within. The suit and its contents collapsed, the faceplate covered in blood and gore inside and out.

I passed a note to the missing player informing him that he had just died, but not how. I also did not inform the other players how he had died. I didn't allow the dead player to remove his mask or leave the table for another twenty minutes afterward, so the other player wouldn't put two and two together.
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The background noise changes again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC0h4ttvLlw&feature=related

The party with one player and the non-vanished male NPC then came across a dead body in a grey spacesuit... one of theirs. The name tag was gone. The suit had been ruptured by punctures in the chest and back. They weren't able to identify the body because of the polarization of the faceplate and spiderweb cracks on it (and didn't think to remove the helmet; idiots), but now they were seriously on edge. They continued around the corner and came into a chamber with two dead bodies from the previous expedition in it, one mutilated, the other almost intact except for the eye bolt through the back of the helmet. They noticed movement in the far corner and the player scooped up a rock from the floor and threw it, shouting over the radio.

The female NPC shrieked in terror as the rock bounced off her helmet, scrambled to her feet, and fled down the tunnel the way she'd come. The played accompanying her was relieved to have found another player and NPC, and the three of them set out to chase her while the female's companion explained that he'd been the one to shoot a bolt into one of the bodies since it had been standing upright and moving, which was impossible since they all should have suffocated months ago.

Then they heard a woman scream BEHIND them. They paused for a moment, checking the triangulation on their radios and commenting on whether or not it was accurate, when they heard the female NPC scream over the radio "they've got me! they've got me! help!" followed by the high-pitched tone again.
The two players and NPC raced down the tunnel to find the female NPC. After a couple dozen meters, they found her flashlight... and nothing else. Her tracks in the sand continued for a few steps past where the light had been dropped and then stopped. There was no sign of her or where she had gone. They decided to write her off as dead and went back to the chamber while the player who had found the body of a gray-suited party member before running into the others. They agreed this was probably their missing comrade, who had been allowed to remove his mask and leave the table a few minutes earlier. He was smoking on the porch and watching us through the window. I think he was shaking. Mwa ha ha. It was about four in the morning at this point.

They continued through the chamber, not noticing the message scratched into the wall that the dead party member had been trying to read before being killed. Which is a shame, because it would have just made them even more paranoid: "I SEE YOU".

Instead, they continued to backtrack until they came across the grey-suited body in the tunnel and I casually mentioned that they could always identify the body by removing the helmet if they couldn't see inside. They did so.

The body belonged to the female NPC.

Both players silently mouthed "whaaaaat the fuuuuuck" at me and shook their heads at the other two players, who had no idea what was going on since I was still passing notes.
Meanwhile, the other two players and the vanished NPC were also wandering down tunnels, when the radio signal changed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0TgVfj8OpU

This was the signal that had prompted the exploration of Mons Olympus in the first place. Despite not being creepy space noise, it apparently creeped them out more than the other sound effects I used had. They continued down the tunnel cautiously, and I informed them that a slight breeze was causing sand in the tunnels to blow around their feet.

The other players didn't have any context for the new sound yet, and it just kept looping. My dead player came back in and asked if he could read the notes being passed around and I said sure, as long as he didn't communicate with the others in any way. I also told him what the message, which nobody else had seen, said and he snorted in amusement.

The two players and vanished NPC continued, the tunnel floor sloping steeply downward. There was a noticable green glow ahead, growing brighter as they descended the ramp. Eventually, they stepped onto a masonry bridge crossing a huge chasm, the chamber lit for hundreds of yards by a green glow that didn't seem to have any source. There was nothing to see except the bridge, which vanished into the darkness ahead. They pressed forward.
Is anyone reading this? Should I continue, or just go to bed? I got work in the morning too.
I'm reading it and enjoying it very much
Listening to the recordings and everything with my room all dark, using the tomorrow setting so I have a black background on 4chan.

Very eerie.

I shall proceed then.
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I forget the details of what happened next; basically, the vanished NPC moaned something about his head hurting and I played the high-pitched tone again. The players spun around (cursing themselves for letting him walk in the rear) and found that he had vanished again. One of the players whispered something about my parents not being married.

Then they turned around again and were confronted by the vanished NPC shrieking (I jumped to my feet, shoving the table forward, and shrieked as disturbingly as I could; everyone at the table, including dead guy who was just chilling by now) shat bricks and one had to grab a candle to keep it from tipping over onto their meager character sheets. They'd long ago given up trying to map their progress.

Vanished NPC attacked with his rock pick, and they tried to wrestle it from him. I chose this moment to have the rest of the surviving players stumbled across the bridge and race toward them. Vanished NPC keep shrieking and babbling incoherently about how he wasn't going to let "them" get him, he wasn't going to let "them" get anybody and he was going to end everyone now as mercifully as possible before "they" got to them. Clearly, something had caused him to snap.
nyway, the others arrived and successfully pulled the vanished NPC off the player he was attacking, wrestling his pick away. He collapsed onto the bridge and began crying, whining unintelligibly about "them". He ignored the questions from the others.

Then the other surviving NPC revved up his saw, which he hadn't used up until then, freaking the others out (expecting him to attack them too). He was staring behind him and said that he saw something move.

They'd foolishly turned their backs on vanished NPC, who rose to his feet, tackled a player at random (I literally rolled a die to see who it was) while screaming that he would save him from "them" and took them both over the short railing on the bridge and into the dark chasm below. The others watched their lights vanish into pinpricks and then become invisible in the inky depths.

I changed the recording again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxTOK-cZpsg&feature=related

Yep. I joked that his character must have WANTED to go over the edge into sweet, sweet death as badly as he rolled. He was just glad to get to take the gas mask off and help himself to some snacks and soda.

Now down to three players and one NPC (and still armed with the best weapons they had, the saw and the bolt gun), they quickly got over the deaths of two more of their comrades and tried to spot whatever it was saw man had seen moving. They didn't find it, and decided not to go looking. They pressed forward, cursing the signal endlessly repeating over the radios. One (the guy who was convinced I'd tricked them into a Cthulhu campaign) joked that the noise was inducing SAN loss in the characters AND the players. Nobody else laughed. I turned up the volume just to be a dick.
They continued to the far side of the bridge, stopping to investigate more smooth, featureless, vague faces carved into the stone railing of the bridge before continuing, now turning to look behind them every few steps. One played specifically mentioned looking up occasionally. They all walked single file down the center of the bridge, not straying near the railing.

I had one of the dead players go turn the heat up some more, just to fuck with the others. He thought it was funny, especially since he got to move around and have a cold drink whenever he wanted now.

As they reached the far side of the bridge, I told them that they all heard a skittery, scratching sound, similar to what the female NPC had described, and what might have been distant whispers. There was no source for the noise, and none of them rolled high enough to discern whether they actually heard the sound or it came over their radios. I hadn't actually decided either way and was going to just roll my own dice to determine, but they didn't make the roll to find out so I didn't come up with a source. Maybe it was in their heads?

As soon as they stepped off the bridge, I changed the recording again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaXovgMIDNc&feature=related

All but one player immediately recognized it, but the song in the middle weirded them out more than the buzzer did. Then one had an idea and the entire party stepped back onto the bridge.

I switched back to the previous recording. They stepped off the bridge and I went back to the buzzer. Then they dicked with me by going back and forth, making me switch between recordings repeatedly until I sweetly suggested they have half the party stand on the bridge and the other half stand off of it to see what they heard. They declined the other ("no splitting up! fuck that!") and proceeded down the tunnel.
They went down the tunnel, one player mentioning that the repetitive bit of music in the middle of the buzzer was an annoying earworm like the radio song from Portal was.

Just then, another mechanical rumble and a burst of static over their radios. There was a loud WHOOSH that came from the chamber they just left and sand blew everywhere. The ground shook and then part of the floor collapsed. The NPC fell through, barely catching himself in time, and yelled for help. Two players came to help him while the third, armed with the bolt gun, watched their backs. They had a hard time pulling the NPC up because the debris had closed around him and wedged tight. I had some back and forth dialogue between him and the players as one worked to dig him out while the other held his arms to prevent him from falling into the hole. Then he suddenly said "what the fuck was that?"

Everyone froze. All three players began looking around the tunnel, asking what he'd seen or heard.

"No, something brushed my foot."

They immediately sped up their efforts to pull him out of the hole when he began screaming "SOMETHING'S GOT ME! SOMETHING'S GOT ME! OH GOD, DON'T LET IT TAKE ME! DON'T LET IT-"

He was pulled into the hole and the player holding his hands lost his grip. The NPC disappeared with a shriek and the debris filled the hole in immediately.

The player who had been digging called dibs on the NPC's discarded saw and the three players hauled ass down the tunnel. I told them there was a boot from an orange spacesuit lying in the tunnel and they told me "don't give a shit, running."
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The three players ran down the tunnel until I mentioned that they saw a faint light ahead. They slowed down and began making their way forward more cautiously. As they got closer, they could see that the light source was moving. I played the high-pitched tone again, which had the player in the rear spinning around in case something came after them while the other two advanced, but nothing happened.

They took their sweet time approaching the light, until they had the source lit up with their own flashlights. It was a grey spacesuit huddled on the floor, rocking back and forth, its back to them.

I ended the background noise. It was completely silent for the first time since they'd entered the tunnels and I sat there for a good thirty seconds just staring at them. They weren't happy. The two dead players even seemed creeped out.

Finally, the spacesuited figure turned to face them. The female NPC sniffled and said "I knew you wouldn't leave me."

The player with the saw immediately announced that his brain was full of fuck and attacked her with the saw, completely shredding her as she thrashed and screamed and begged before dying in a writhing, bloody mess. All three players were now coated in a spray of blood. I turned the Uranus sound effect on and they continued to haul ass down the tunnel.
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Some awesome art a drawfriend made of this scene.
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This scene got a lot of reactions in the original thread.

"I- what- Open the pod bay doors, HAL."
Martian Death Quest? Fuck yeah, still one of the creepiest things I've ever had the pleasure/terror of reading.

10/10, would NEVER be in a game run by.
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All right, continuing with the story now.


I haven't run a game since, though I did attempt a second Martian Death Quest with the same players.

It... didn't go so well.
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They continue running down the tunnel until they reach... a dead end. It's just a blank wall, no bricks, no carvings, just solid stone. The players take the opportunity to catch a breather and try to formulate a plan. The only idea anyone has is to make it to the surface (obviously) before something gets them or they run out of air (they have several days worth and have been down there only a few hours); beyond that, they can't think of anything to do. Nobody wants to return to the room with the bridge and chasm (apparently the whooshing noise and wind I mentioned with the last rumble and marsquake had them spooked), and they were taking so long in decided what to do that I mentioned they all heard that skittering, scratching noise again. It seemed to be coming from the other side of the stone wall.

They immediately decided to backtrack (like they had any choice) just to get away from the wall and whatever might be on the other side of it. As they continued down the tunnel, one asked how far they had gone and I told them about two hundred yards.

"Shouldn't we have run into whats-her-name's body then?"

"Yes, you should have."

The two dead players were laughing at this point and making "you guys are fucked" comments. The three remaining players decided this was a good time to haul ass again, running in mindless terror.

Then they saw a side passage they hadn't noticed before. After a brief debate, they entered and noticed a green glow ahead. They didn't like this. After carefully making their way down the tunnel, they came across...

a giant chamber with a bridge spanning a huge chasm. It was lit with a sourceless green glow.

The player with the bolt gun chose this moment to announce that he needed to get some sleep eventually. He then had his character press the bolt gun against the side of his helmet and pull the trigger.
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More awesome art by the drawfriend, whose name I unfortunately never caught.
I remember this thread OP, thanks for letting me relive it vicariously through you and your players again.
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This part got a lot of reactions. It's the only time I've ever seen a player commit suicide in-game. I'm kind of proud of that one, actually.
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The others were kinda pissed that he took the cheap out. He stuck around for a few minutes, mainly just to steal some sodas from my fridge "as payment for the hours of hell I've spent here" and then went home.

The guy armed with a prybar stuck the bolt gun into his tool belt and the two survivors set out across the bridge. By now, it was nearing dawn and I was ready to call it quits, but I knew they would never finish the game if I called it a night now. I turned off the sounds and they continued across the bridge in silence.

As they reached the middle of the bridge, there was another mechanical rumble, the bridge shook beneath them, and there was a loud WHOOSH as wind threatened to blow them off their feet. A ghostly blue glow the size of a house flew overhead, so fast they mostly saw it as an afterimage. The player with the saw lost his feet and was blown away by the wind, but the railing saved him from going over the side of the bridge. His sole remaining companion helped him to his feet and they continued running until they reached the other side of the bridge. They came across a fork in the tunnel. Choosing right, they stepped into a chamber where an orange-suited figure was propped in a seated position against the wall, helmet slumped against its chest. This one had its name tag intact, identifying it as the leader of the expedition, I forget his name. His suit was torn open across the stomach and legs; he had written on the wall in his own blood as he suffocated.


Of course, this wasn't the sort of message that DOESN'T provoke the players into spastically searching in every direction for a threat. They were soon justified in their fear.
As they wildly searched the room for threats, I played the high-pitched tone again and a shapeless THING emerged from an unknown location in the room. It had no shape, no form, it was just a dark patch that swallowed the light from their flashlights like the chasm they had just crossed did. They could only tell something was there because the darkness moved around the room, circling them.

The player with the saw revved it up and held his ground. The other player threw his prybar at the darkness when it held still for a moment (a dead player told him to use magic missile on the darkness. Even in the "seriousness" of the moment, everyone laughed. Sorry, but we're all unrepentant fans of corny jokes.) and drew the bolt gun, stating aloud that he hoped the thing didn't get close enough for him to stick an eye bolt in it.

It did. I played a burst of static and the high-pitched tone simultaneously and had both players roll the dice.

Saw man got a chance to swing the saw at it. The only effect was that he felt a slight tension under the blade, but that there was nothing there solid enough for the blade to actually bite into. Bolt man punched forward with the bolt gun and pulled the trigger, but there was nothing solid enough to press the gun into so it would fire the bolt.

I had them roll again. Felt sorry and gave them a reroll. Nope, still not good enough. Bolt man was grabbed by the shapeless thing and dragged, kicking and screaming, down the tunnel, his light fading into the distance in seconds.
Saw man debated continuing, decided that it wouldn't gain him anything since the tunnels apparently reconfigured themselves at random and spooky shit would kill him soon enough anyway. After experimentally trying to cut through the tunnel wall with the saw and removing a few bricks (revealing a dark gap his flashlight didn't illuminate and a whistling, sucking wind that pulled sand in), then gave up. He sat down next to the corpse from the previous expedition, pulled out a piece of chalk from his tool belt (I checked his inventory list; he'd had it all along, to mark trails, and never used it. Not that it would have done him any good.) and wrote on the wall:

"Yep, no hope. Just kill yourself and get it over with, this shit is fucked. Bye."

Then he pulled his helmet off and suffocated within minutes. The game was over.

And that is the second time I've seen a player suicide in-game, both within minutes of each other.
So, with everyone dead, the remaining players (minus the guy who went home) took off their gas masks, turned the A/C on, and turned on some fucking lights. Inevitably, the questions began.

"What was the thing that attacked us?"

"I don't know either."

"What was the source of the radio signal?"

"I dunno. I was making it up as I went along, and you never found the source, so..." *shrug*

"What the fuck was going on?"

"Like I said, I was just making it up as I went along."

We sat at the table in silence for like ten minutes before someone suggested going home. Nobody moved. Eventually the players all sat on the couch and watched the happiest movie I had (Princess Bride) to try to get their minds off the game, waiting for the sun to get above the hills. Eventually we all fell asleep in the living room, I think around eight in the morning.

That was a few months ago. You can see why I remembered so much about it for this long.

And now you're going to remember it.

It's in you.

It's behind you.

Don't turn around.
So, yeah. That's one of the most memorable campaigns I've ever participated in, it's one that still gets talked about years later, and it's one of the ones I'm most proud of since I fucking traumatized all my players.

Is anyone reading this for the first time? It seems everyone in here remembers the original thread from 2010.
Sorry, I've re-read this one at leasst 5 times in the last years.

Anyone new should be still reading since this time you had the story written beforehand.
It was my first time. I loved it.

Wish all the links worked, but most of them still did anyway so it was good.

10/10 would get spooked by you again
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never read it before. 5/5 bretty gud

Glad somebody new got to read it, even gladder you liked it.

Like I said, I don't think I'll ever be able to top this campaign. But I keep getting e-mails about it (I don't check that account more often than every couple months, unfortunately), so I decided to resurrect it, for old time's sake.
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MFW the first time I read this in a dark room.

Imagine sitting in an uncomfortably warm and stuffy room, lit only by candles, wearing a gas mask, and listening to a bunch of other guys hissing through their gas masks while actually playing this campaign and listening to those mp3's the entire time.

Son, you got no idea what creepy really is, just having read this.

Holy hell i wish i had run this so hard, now ill never br able too - someone else did it far more awesomely the first time around.

Feel free to totally rip it off.

Go to sovietarmystuff.com (I think that's the website) and buy everyone a GP5 gas mask to wear before running the campaign. You can get 'em for ten bucks apiece.

Skull-grey gas masks that cover the entire head and leave you staring out of two glassy eye pieces and hissing with every breath are creepy enough, in a dark room.
Nigger I jutt read thi thread on suptg yesterday. Carry on you magnificant bastard.
I fucking love this.

gg OP
All right, well I'm going to bed. Goodnight /tg/.
This is my first time reading this, and it was fucking awesome.

My mind is now just full of questions.
God I remember reading that in the last thread.

You know shit has hit the fan when players start voluntarily offing themselves.

This thread was kickass the first time you posted it, and is just as awesome now. Thank you.
my first time reading this.

i love and loathe you. thank you for your time.
First time reading it as well, and used the sounds that still worked. Creepy as shit. Th-thanks. I'm going to go eat some Girl Scout Cookies.
Bump for creepy, deathly, awesome
This link is dead, and googling around doesn't tell me what it was called to search for it again. Anyone happen to know what it was?
monolith on the moon
2001: a space Odyssey
Thanks. >>24929323 is out too, if you can track that one down.
Nevermind, I think I found it.
528 Hz & Jupiter's Electromagnetic voices & Alpha brainwaves
Congrats OP. This is fucking insane. I sent this to several of my players and "murder of the GM" was a common phrase for the next 5 minutes.


There's a reason I couldn't get a sequel game off the ground.
Soooo, anything new happen? I want to know if it might be possible for someone to run something in the same vein. I myself have some similiar ideas.
That's fucked up OP, and I mean that as a compliment. I now want to make a system/setting/novel/whatever inspired by Martian Death Quest, and Metro 2033 (when you're alone in the tunnels or on the surface) Ghosts, gore, gasmasks, and grue. Can anyone recommend more material whether it's stories, movies, etc. with the same sort of atmosphere? I'm on my phone so I didn't even listen to the YouTube links, but my imagination did the job from your descriptions.

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