Eclipse is a tower block, apartment or housing project in a low income area of a major city. From the outside it looks run down but otherwise ordinary. The low rent for an apartment compensates for the lack of security, failing amenities and sinister figures lurking nearby.
Only a few residents know that there is a far greater danger within the building. Within its walks magic exist and supernatural creatures roam the halls. The inhabitants are tempted and corrupted by ancient beings and rooms contain your greatest desires or your worst nightmares.
The PCs will learn this at their peril. What they do with this knowledge will save or damn humanity.
AN OVERVIEW OF ECLIPSE
The architecture within the towers is not stable, although this is not immediately apparent. From the exterior it appears to 90.8 metres tall. It has 30 floors (29 for occupants and the top floor serving as mechanical floor for building services).
Inside the tower can expand or compress each floor. It can add additional floors and reconfigure hallways and rooms. These changes are subtle and rarely witnessed. Only those who regularly explore floors other than the one their apartment is on will realise that the arrangement of the interior makes no sense.
Within the central hallways there is little natural light. The glazed windows at either end let in only the bare minimum, illuminating only a few feet. Fluorescent lights flicker and buzz, turning off completely at the worst moments. For unexplained reasons lights that are turned off will switch back on.
In order for this campaign to be more than random, unpleasant things happening the GM should settle on an explanation for what is occurring. PCs can gradually learn the true nature of Eclipse, piecing together the pieces of the puzzle until they have the full picture.
There are a number of possibilities.
- Within the basement is a dark sphere, the source of the tower’s power. It is the last remnant of the world that used to be, when magic still existed. The supernatural creatures cling to it, unable to exist outside of its influence. One day this seed with germinate, restoring the whole world to the old ways.
- Aliens, vastly powerful and infinitely intelligent study the inhabitants of the tower. What they learn will aide in their conquest of humanity, unless their plans are discovered and they are repelled.
- The tower is run by the government or a powerful corporation. Their cruel experiments are designed to learn new methods to control the population and eliminate their enemies. The technology they use is so advanced it resembles magic and is but a small sample of the developments they refuse to share with the public.
- Eclipse tower is an intrusion from another dimension, one that may exist at a higher level. It is finger or probe, reaching into our world and corrupting the natural order. Over time it will widen the gap, ripping apart reality as the other dimension floods in and overwhelms us.
- The tower was part of an arcane ritual. Part blood sacrifice and part transformative experience. Those who survive become something more than human. Whether they change into monsters or gods depends on their character.
- The tower is a living being. It has complete control of its interior, its servants acting as antibodies to eliminate threats. Like a cancerous growth it consumes everything around it, growing bigger and more powerful. Its mind is new but learns quickly. Soon it will have no need of humanity.
- Time travel creates paradoxes. Eclipse Tower is a manifestation of such a paradox. Time and space folds in around it but it is the only thing that prevents total collapse. The residents, in overcoming the challenges they are faced with, help resolve those paradoxes and prevent the universe for being wiped from existence.
- In the ‘Mutant City Blues’ setting Eclipse Towers is populated exclusively by mutants. Their powers are now interacting in unpredictable ways, warping reality. The supernatural events experienced are nothing more than the expression of the residents subconscious manifested by their combined powers. The result could destroy humanity or elevate it.
- In the ‘Ashen Stars’ setting Eclipse Tower is a carefully controlled artificial environment. Those affected by the war or changed by alien relics. The 21st century setting was supposed to calm the memory crafted residents but something has gone with the experiment. Things are breaking down and a team of Laser is attempting to restore control by going undercover. The tower might also have been financed by a reality tv show that secretly films the occupants and broadcasts their exploits across the universe.
A GAME OF GODS
The eldritch powers within Eclipse could kill every single resident within its structure. As indecipherable as their motives are it is clear that they are not interested in mindless killing. Instead they wish to see how humans react to their influence. If that leads to death, all the better.
This behaviour has been compared to a game. A resident will be selected and either presented with challenges for them to overcome or tempted with gifts to see how it corrupts them. These experiences are often tailored specifically for the resident, suggesting an intimate knowledge of their background and psychology.
The dark beings of the tower rarely have a larger plan (although some argue otherwise) nor do they know how their chosen player will react. Their games frequently have a psychological component, confronting the player with a chance to redeem themselves or condemn themselves.
These games usually take place within Eclipse itself, so that they can be better controlled and monitored. They can spill out into the surrounding area, allowing the corrupting influence of the darkness to spread. When this happens other innocent people can be dragged into the twisted games.
These games follow up spoken rules. A player breaking these rules will find themselves punished or even eliminated. Those who try to disrupt or stop the game can expect to face worse. While the entities will abided by their own twisted logic, they may change the rules when it suits them.
WHAT ROLE DO THE PLAYER CHARACTERS PLAY?
The easiest way to have PCs become involved in this campaign is for them to be residents at the apartment. They might gradually become aware that something isn’t right with Eclipse Tower but things come to a head when they are chosen to take part in a game.
Presented with a gift, curse or challenge they learn that reality isn’t what they thought it was. If they survive they can help others placed in peril or defeat those who have been corrupted. During the course of their investigations they can learn more about the mythology about the tower and how the evil there might finally be defeated.
PCs could live outside of the tower, becoming aware that the strange things they encounter in their city can all be traced back to the tower. They might know someone who lives there and become concerned for their wellbeing. This can draw them to investigate the tower itself.
In addition to investigations adventures set within the Eclipse Tower can be akin to traditional dungeon crawling. Each floor of the tower can be a new ‘dungeon’ to explore with monsters and treasure waiting behind locked doors, with new levels opening up as needed.
WHY DON’T THEY JUST LEAVE?
Faced with the knowledge that Eclipse tower is home to supernatural evil why don’t the PCs immediately leave?
Firstly the dark powers can influence fate, preventing the PCs from having the opportunity to leave. They might not find another place to live, their money might be stolen or they could become too ill to move out. There always seems to be one more obstacle that keeps them where they are.
Secondly even if they do manage to get out they will be leaving innocent people at the mercy of the tower. There should be at least a few NPCs that they know are in danger. The only way to protect them is to stay.
Thirdly Eclipse Tower infects the residents with its essence. If they leave their new place of residence will become similarly corrupted. PCs could realise that each time they move they are only spreading its influence across the city. To stop it they must destroy the source.
WHY DON’T THEY JUST DESTROY THE TOWER?
Once the PCs know that the tower is evil and the source of all their problems they might consider destroying the building. This is easier said than done. Such an act would require explosives or other demolition equipment. Difficult to obtain and harder to use before they are apprehended.
The Tower monitors the residents and if it suspects that they are plotting against it it will find away to eliminate them or find a way to alert the authorities. It will also ensure that there are innocent people in the building so that any attempts to damage the building will result in collateral damage.
If the PCs do manage to destroy Eclipse Tower they could find that it uses its supernatural abilities to restore itself overnight. Locals won’t remember it ever being destroyed. The PCs could suspect that their victory was nothing more than an hallucination.
Eclipse Tower could also spring up in a new form somewhere else. Once it has had a chance to recover it will seek out the PCs for revenge.
The danger possess by the tower extends beyond its mere physical presence. PCs will need to understand its true nature before they can hope to eliminate it once and for all.
GIFTS AND CURSES
- A knife that bestows a blessing on those who cut themselves with it. A small cut bestows loose change, a finger provides a job promotion and removing an extremity mean meeting your true love. Soon the wielder learns the terrible price that must be paid but also what they’ll get if they do it, something so tempting that they find it hard to resist.
- A key that unlocks any door outside of the building. The user has the freedom to go anywhere, including places they really shouldn’t. The dark forces can create doors that link to any that the key has been used within.
- A long needle-like device that allows a conscious mind to be stored on to any digital format, at the cost of the subjects life. There is currently no way to transfer them into a living body or communicate with them. Conscious but unable to receive any stimulus it doesn’t take long for a mind to unravel.
- An otherwise ordinary gun, except no one pays any attention to the wielder, even if they use it to kill someone. The only drawback is that it only fires bullets carved from the wielders bones.
- When you, and only you, turn on a tap a dark toxic liquid is released instead of water. While poisonous to you if someone else drinks it their senses are enhanced, allowing them to see the invisible beings within the tower. Prolonged consumption results in deformities.
- Looking into a reflection shows you your image from tomorrow (or further ahead if you won’t be looking in a mirror within the next 24 hours). This allows you to see what you will look like and receive communication from your future self (either through gestures, lip reading or deciphering mirrored text your future self is holding). One day you won’t see a reflection at all.
- A set of dice that control the odds of things occurring around you. If you get lucky the most unlikely things could happen and if you are unlucky something that seems certain might not occur.
- You awaken to find that you are double jointed, allowing you a greater deal of flexibility. Some time later you are tripled jointed and then quadruple jointed and so on until you can’t help but buckle and flex in odd directions.
- Your centre of gravity slowly shifts, eventually allowing you to walk on walls and then on ceilings. The drawback is that if you were to step outside of the tower you would go flying off into the sky, never to be seen again.
- Someone has refitted a room to be perfectly sound proofed. No matter how loud the noise no one outside will ever hear it. The only drawback is that the door occasionally locks, sealing those inside where no one will ever hear their cries for help.
- This room leads to a crime scene somewhere in the city. Those who enter can not leave the room, apart from the way they came in, back into Eclipse tower. They always arrive mere moments after the killer has left and they always leave incriminating evidence.
- A room full of televisions, some dating back decades. A network of wires links them to a variety of VHS machines. Only careful examination reveals which machine links to which television. Nearby are piles of unmarked tapes. They only play within the VHS machines in the room, revealing movies long lost or that never existed. A surprising number feature residents within the tower.
- In a room where all the furniture is covered with sheets there is an old fashioned, black rotary phone. It can often be heard ringing, the sound drifting down the hallways late at night. If you can find the room and answer the phone you will either hear the voice of someone you most want to hear from telling you something you never want to know or the voice of someone you never want to hear telling you something you have to know.
- An archive of newspaper clippings and books about the city that have been collected for many years. They detail all the strange and odd things occurring in the local area. Are these the result of the Towers influence or are the dark powers just hoping someone will deal with these threats to stronghold?
- Medical equipment, hospital beds and wheel chairs suggest that this was some form of medical facility. The dust and debris indicate that it hasn’t been used for some time. This could have been used for the care of resident, a makeshift facility for an illegal medical clinic or evidence that the tower itself began as a hospital that was infected by the dark power and transformed.
- In a white room the spirits of the recently departed wait to travel to the afterlife (or so they think). If you can find this room you can talk to the dead before they move on. Those who end up here frequently have something they need resolving before they move on, whether it be dealing with personal issues or avenging their death.
- Mannequin Man: He shares his apartment with recovered shop mannequins. When returning to the tower he either has one under his arm or a bag full of clothes and wigs to dress them in. He can be heard talking to them, playing out complex psychodramas or wild parties. Some of the mannequins resemble real people, or maybe the people resemble the mannequin. Listen closely and you can hear movement from within his apartment even when he is out.
- Elsie, the no cat woman: Elise is an elderly woman who has no cats. You know this because whenever you see her she is putting up posters, appealing for any information about her missing cat. The poster always shows a picture of a different cat and a different cat. No one can recall ever seeing her with an actual pet, nor is there any evidence she ever had a feline in her apartment.
- Bethan: At 7 years old Bethan has a special talent. She knows exactly how you are going to die and when. She just won’t tell you.
- Jason Cann: A professional photographer and secret stalker. His job gives him excuse to always have a camera with him, his favourite being a well maintained polaroid camera. He is obsessed with many within the tower, so much so that he will pick locks so that he can enter their rooms while they sleep and take their photos.
- Abigail Worel: Forgotten author of a number of popular children fantasy books in the 70s and 80s. Anyone reading these stories will notice obvious parallels with the supernatural beings within the tower. Even Abigail is unsure if the tower inspired her stories or if she has created the evil around them. She feels guilty either way.
- Daniel Kael, Chronicler: A ‘fan’ of Eclipse Tower, he relishes the rich mythology of the tower. He writes and draws an almost indecipherable graphic novel about the tower and what he believes is happening. Daniel posts some pages online where they are routinely ridiculed. Having difficulty telling the difference between reality and fiction he will often know that someone is in peril but do nothing about it because he wants to see what happens.
- Walter Potter, Family Man and Potential Serial Killer: Walter and his family have recently moved into the tower, expecting an ordinary life. What Walter doesn’t know is that his father was a prolific serial killer who lived in the tower many decades ago. Walter has struggled with mental issues and dark impulses but has managed to supress those memories. Now the tower will attempt to remind him of his bloody birthright.
- Caesar Paxton, Street Gang Leader: Caesar runs a street gang, attempting to control the tower, floor by floor. The gifts bestowed by the tower have allowed him to survive reprisals from gangs in the local area, giving him a fearsome reputation. Surprisingly he hasn’t realised that his power comes from the tower, instead thinking that all of his success comes from his own talent. The moment he acts against the wishes of the tower he will learn his mistake.
THE ECOLOGY OF THE TOWER
Dark has a physical form within the tower, rather than just being the absence of light. The shadows initially take the form of a fine powder, often mistaken for dust, dirt or soot. If it continues to remain out of the light it becomes a thick liquid. At this stage it can be used to create new living creatures, shaped and imbued with life by the dark powers within the tower.
All of the shadows within Eclipse tower are linked, allowing the supernatural creatures to use them as portals. By entering a shadow in one location they can reappear from another shadow anywhere else in the tower, including inside cupboards or under beds.
Shaped from the shadows the Farie resemble tiny humanoid figures, with pale, waxy skin. They are covered in tiny back feathers, with wings protruding from their backs. The Farie can reconfigure their feathers, changing their wings from that resembling moths to bats and making their touch soft or razor sharp. Their teeth and claws are sharp while their eyes are jet-black, like a sharks.
They are the manipulators of the unseen forces. Using covert means they place valuable objects in the path of those chosen to play the games, sabotage their defences and spy on their progress. They attempt to remain unnoticed, only revealing themselves to those who won’t be believed such as children or the mentally unstable.
When they do attack they do so in force. Huge flocks of Faire swarm over their prey, clawing and biting. They target soft flesh and eyes. These attacks are painful and disorienting but rarely lethal. Such attacks are intended to drive their victim through windows or down stairs and elevator shafts.
They are capable of leaving the confines of the tower, transforming themselves into crows or ravens. Their shape changing is so perfect that even the most observant will never know if a bird is real or a Farie in disguise.
General: Athletics: 6, Filch: 12, Health: 5, Infiltration: 13, Mechanics: 9, Scuffling: 4, Sense Trouble: 6
Damage Modifier: –2 (+1 per Farie attacking)
Clad in medical garb the surgeons are skilled at reshaping the flesh of the residents. Working in teams of four they will restrain their patient and quickly operate, removing organs and adding new parts. Whether they sedate the patient before hand depends on whether their screams will be noticed.
The surgeons work so quickly that their operations can seem like a nightmare. Wounds heal quickly so that within an hour the patient begins to doubt what they’ve experienced. Medical examination outside of Eclipse tower will not discover the handiwork of the surgeons.
The modifications of the surgeons make are at the behest of the dark powers. They turn residents into monsters or bless them with unusual abilities. Occasionally they simply take them apart and remove them in small plastic bags.
General: Athletics: 4, Health: 20, Infiltration: 9, Medic: 14, Preparedness: 8, Scuffling: 12, Sense Trouble: 9
Damage Modifier: +1 (surgical tools)
A shade with only vaguely humanoid form. They attach themselves to residents, becoming invisible and draining them of their lust for life. Their victims loose interest in everything, spending their days going through the motions and eventually just spending their time sleeping.
The Apathy ensure that there is always a percentage of the residents who will never leave or take an interest in the odd things happening. They will not help others, corroborate their stories or be alarmed at the terrible things that occur.
Worse the Apathy can survive a few miles outside of the influence of the tower. They will attach themselves to authority figures, such as the police, who are called to the tower. This ensures that outside world doesn’t take an interest in the activities of the Eclipse tower.
Certain residents, particularly those who have had experience with the shadows, can see the Apathy as a ghostly form around their victim. While insubstantial and thus invulnerable to harm, they can be killed by giving their host a burst of adrenaline, whether through an injection or doing anything that forces the host’s heart to beat faster.
General: Athletics: 12, Infiltration: 11, Scuffling: 8, Sense Trouble: 11, Shrink: 10
Damage Modifier: 0
When a living person is submerged within the shadows for a long time their flesh becomes particularly malleable. Once removed the Surgeons inscribe symbols, not unlike nordic runes. These imbue the runed with mystical powers and bind them to the will of the tower.
Bestial creatures, rendered blind by the runes inscribed on their eyes and mad by the transformation, they are the foot soldiers of the tower. They have the advantage of still being mostly human, so that if they should be seen or killed it will only appear as if they were self-mutilating madman.
Hidden throughout the tower are vats filled with stored Runed, waiting to be unleashed.
General: Athletics: 10, Health: 10, Scuffling: 15, Sense Trouble: 7
Damage Modifier: 0