Monday, October 31, 2011

Random Encounter #2: Village of the Damned

It has been a slow Halloween for me; unfortunately, I came down with Fluzilla last week and I am still in the midst of fighting it.

Normally on Halloween, I go trick-or-treating with a family friend, his two daughters and mine own daughter; however, this year my daughter decided she is too old to need her Daddy with her, and feeling under the weather, I didn't put up too much of a fight.

I do select a scary movie for Halloween weekend viewing. I try my best to make it a movie I have never seen. This year was no exception. I selected the 1960 science fiction film "Village of the Damned" by Wolf Rilla.

It is a faithful adaption, or so I read on Wikipedia, of a The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. Cuckoos was published in 1957 and has been adapted to screen twice as The Village of the Damned, once in 1960 and again in 1995. I have never viewed the 1995 adaption, odd for me as it was directed by John Carpenter, one of my personal favorite directors. It is worth noting that the 1995 version stars Christopher Reeve in his last performance before becoming paralyzed.

The 1960 version is a creepy film. I was expecting some "cheeze", but there was none to be had. The film is dark in tone. It begins with a mystery and the sense of mystery continues until the shocking end. It is an invasion story in which society is subverted by the alien children. The horror creeps in as it becomes apparent that one of societies cherished treasures, her children, are the "other".

I'm attracted to films of this era that exploit the sense of "the other". With the Cold War raging, and only a bit over a decade past the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, there were a slew of science fiction films, stories and novels from the era that exploited the fear.

I've decided to add a new element to the few reviews I actually do for this blog. That element is a Random Encounter that can easily be slid into a fantasy campaign. In this case, I offer one inspired by the film.

Random Encounter #2: Village of the Damned
While traveling the characters come upon a tiny village. An old faded sign bears the wood burned word "Midwich" branding it thus. They come upon the village in the middle of the day. Just past the sign, there is a farmer's cart, the horse is asleep as is the farmer and what may be his younger son or farm hand. Both are slumped in the cart.

Investigation finds the same scene through out the village. It is obvious that the villagers are only sleeping, but nothing will arouse them. It is easy enough to rob the village, for those so inclined, but it is a poor village and not much is found worth stealing.

What caused the villagers slumber? A powerful sleep spell? A cursed item (perhaps now in possession of thieving characters)? Perhaps the village borders too close to the Fae, and they are involved. Could it be a Goblin plot? If so, what do the goblins gain by putting an entire village to sleep?

The villagers could wake up while the characters are there, or they may have to find a way to awaken them. This could be a straight forward adaption of the film to game, in which case the DM will have to devise a reason for the characters to stick around for the birth of the alien children. It would be easy enough to devise a reason for them to return two years later, when the children are born and well advanced beyond their years.

Instead of a straightforward adaption, the children could be part Fae, or goblin, further inspiration on Fae children that appear human could be found in the novel The Broken Sword, by Poul Anderson.

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