A sequel you were dying to see made. Halloween is big business in Pumpkin Grove but 16 years ago it turned into a nightmare. The masked killer ‘Pumpkin Jack’ slaughtered the children of members of the town council. His potential final victim, Rose Kendall unmasked him as Joseph Green, a farmer who lost his land due to the decisions of the town council.
Rose killed the serial killer, forever putting an end to the menace of Pumpkin Jack.
It is Halloween and the costume of choice amongst the rebellious youth is Pumpkin Jack. When the killings begin again is there a new murderer in town or has Pumpkin Jack really returned to finish what he started?
A NOTE ON TIME PERIOD
This adventure is deliberately vague on the exact date it occurs. This allows you to run it in the modern day or during the 80s. This will affect the tone and the resources that the PCs have available to them. Background detail that supports the era you’ve chosen to set it can then easily be added.
It is 16 Years Later in Pumpkin Grove, as everyone goes about their morning preparing for the day ahead. The Legend of Pumpkin Jack is discussed amongst students at Pumpkin Grove High while the police are called to discover the First Victim.
In town Professor Pleasant is interviewed by journalist Maria Cox about his Best Seller. At Pumpkin Grove High there are Scares In The Hall as Pumpkin Jack apparently stalks Emily Kendall. Pumpkin Jack continues working his way through The Hit List. During Halloween Night it is time for the Resurrection. There will be Red Herrings but ultimately events should lead to the Unmasking.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Below are a list of important characters. These are available as PCs, with any that aren’t chosen treated as NPCs. It should be made clear that just because a player has selected a character it doesn’t eliminate them from suspicion. Their character might be up to things off-screen that even their player is unaware of until later. This is to maintain the sense of suspense and make the players believe that any of the characters could be Pumpkin Jack.
Ideally someone should play the role of Emily Kendall. She is the focal point of the story as Pumpkin Jack is her mother’s legacy. Other character choices can be restricted, for example Sheriff Tellwood and Deputy Tutledge have some measure of combat skills and authority so if you want the players to be more vulnerable remove these options.
During play all characters should have the finger of suspicion pointed at them. Defeating Pumpkin Jack and revealing his identity is as much a matter of proving their own innocence as it is surviving.
The son of Joseph Green, now runs his own pumpkin grove and trying to redeem his father’s name. Claims his father was mentally ill and didn’t get the help he needed.
At the time of the original murders he was dating Rose Kendall and was originally suspected to be Pumpkin Jack. The relationship could not survive her killing his father (justified or not). When Rose gave birth to Emily not long after he suspected she might be his but has made no attempt to contact her.
Risk Factor: Vengeful
Bullshit Detector: 2, Interrogation: 2, Intimidation: 2, Streetwise: 3, Research: 1
Athletics: 5, Driving: 3, Fleeing: 4, Health: 8, Infiltration: 3, Mechanics: 5, Medic: 2, Preparedness: 2, Scuffling: 7, Sense Trouble: 4, Shooting: 5, Shrink: 2, Stability: 6
Sources of Stability: hard work, vindicating father
Sheriff Oscar Tellwood
Saw many of his fellow officers die at the hands of the original Pumpkin Jack. He is angry that the youth have no fear of Pumpkin Jack and treat him as a joke. Thinks they need a reminder of how terrifying he was.
Risk Factor: Protective
Cop Talk: 4, Law: 4, Investigative Procedure: 2
Athletics: 4, Driving: 5, Fleeing: 4, Health: 8, Medic: 2, Preparedness: 4, Scuffling: 5, Sense Trouble: 8, Shooting: 8, Stability: 6
Sources of Stability: the law, inspiring fear into the wrong doers
Professor Malcolm Pleasant
Psychiatrist who wrote a best selling novel about Pumpkin Jack and was a minor celebrity for a while. Is back in town to write a new book looking at the consequences of his actions.
Risk Factor: Greedy
Humanities: 2, Social Sciences: 4, Reassurance: 2, Research: 2
Athletics: 3, Driving: 4, Fleeing: 4, Health: 5, Medic: 7, Preparedness: 5, Scuffling: 5, Sense Trouble: 8, Shrink: 4, Stability: 9
Sources of Stability: fame, science, writing
Daughter of Rose and a target for Pumpkin Jack.
Emily is trying to be a normal teenager, forever living in the shadow of her mother’s horrific past.
Risk Factor: Oblivious
Flattery: 2, Flirting: 1, Negotiation: 1, Research: 3, Reassurance: 1, Science: 2
Athletics: 4, Fleeing: 7, Health: 9, Infiltration: 3, Medic: 4, Preparedness: 7, Scuffling: 1, Sense Trouble: 6, Stability: 8
Sources of Stability: family, the approval of friends and teachers
Deputy Danny Tutledge
Trying to stop the terror from starting again.
Risk Factor: Thrill Seeking
Bullshit Detector: 2, Cop Talk: 2, Law: 2, Investigative Procedure: 2, Negotiation: 1, Reassurance: 1
Athletics: 8, Driving: 3, Fleeing: 4, Health: 8, Scuffling: 8, Sense Trouble: 5, Shooting: 9, Stability: 9
Sources of Stability: law, community, making an arrest
Journalist Maria Cox
Looking for a big story and recently informed through an anonymous source that Joseph Green wasn’t actually Pumpkin Jack.
Risk Factor: Curious
Bullshit Detector: 2, Flattery: 2, Impersonate: 2, Photography: 2, Research: 2
Athletics: 5, Driving: 6, Fleeing: 4, Health: 7, Infiltration: 3, Medic: 2, Preparedness: 2, Scuffling: 4, Sense Trouble: 8, Shooting: 1, Stability: 7
Sources of Stability: discovering the truth, filing a story
Delinquent who wants to make a name for himself. Boasts that he will be more famous than Pumpkin Jack. This is all a cover to appear tough after years of abuse from his alcoholic father, Adam Becker.
Risk Factor: Gung Ho
Impersonate: 2, Intimidation: 4, Streetwise: 4,
Athletics: 9, Driving: 3, Fleeing: 5, Health: 8, Infiltration: 3, Preparedness: 4, Scuffling: 9, Sense Trouble: 7, Shooting: 1, Stability: 6
Sources of Stability: drinking, admiration of peers
THE SINISTER PLOT
The current Pumpkin Jack is Donna Kendall, aunt of Emily Kendall.
During the original Pumpkin Jack rampage school teacher and town council man Peter Blair went to the Kendall’s house to make sure that Donna was alright. Frightened she killed him, believing him to be Pumpkin Jack. When questioned by the police about this she blamed his death on Pumpkin Jack, saying that the serial killer had been after her when Blair sacrificed himself to save her.
Recently Rose began putting everything together, realising that Pumpkin Jack couldn’t have killed Blair because he was at the farm when she phoned. There was simply no time for him to get from their house to the farm to ambush her. Donna discovered this and desperate to conceal the truth went to speak with her sister after Emily went to sleep.
They got into a row and Donna killed her sister so she did what she did before, blamed it on Pumpkin Jack. Adopting his persona (and stealing a costume) she plans to kill those she blames for letting the original Pumpkin Jack go on his rampage and tie up loose ends.
Emily is a target, but only because Donna believes her mother might have told her of her suspicions.
In costume Pumpkin Jack appears to be a tall figure with a pumpkin for a head. His eyes are blood red and his body is covered in thick leather, giving some degree of protection.
Athletics: 9, Driving: 3, Filch: 8, Fleeing: 9, Health: 15, Infiltration: 9, Medic: 5, Preparedness: 7, Scuffling: 12, Shooting: 4, Shrink: 3, Sense Trouble: 8.
Damage Modifier: 0
Padded Armor: -2
Skilled in explosives Pumpkin Jack leaves bombs made out of hollowed out pumpkins. Sometimes these are filled with nails and shards of glass to create shrapnel bombs. Pumpkin Jack can throw these using ‘shooting’ ability.
Trick Or Treat?
Pumpkin Jack likes to leave traps. This can be done retroactively using Preparedness. Typically Pumpkin Jack will force his victims to flee, driving them towards another exit where he has prepared traps. This can include razor wire, explosives or pit traps.
16 Year Later
It is 31st of October, a big day for Pumpkin Grove. The news reports the record sales of pumpkins and hopes that the town has finally put to rest the bad reputation it gained following the grisly murders 16 years ago. This is followed immediately by reports that Pumpkin Jack masks are a big seller.
This opening scene allows each of the PCs to introduce themselves as we see how their day begins.
Emily Rose Kendall
She is at her Aunt Donna’s house. Each year her mother usually begins to drink heavily around Halloween due to the bad memories it brings up. Emily is both embarrassed by this and worried about the self-destructive behaviour. Her aunt does a good job of being a surrogate mother during these periods and this morning is no different, having breakfast pancakes ready for her.
Donna reminds Emily to come straight home after school as her mother wouldn’t want her out during Halloween.
Receives foreclosure notice on his pumpkin grove. The local news coverage of his father and his death is likely to be a sore point for Raymond.
Sheriff Oscar Tellwood & Maria Cox
Maria is interviewing Sheriff Tellwood about the legacy of the Pumpkin Jack and how he feels about the fact that teenagers like dressing up as the serial killer during Halloween.
Professor Malcolm Pleasant
Arriving by train at Pumpkin Grove he spots that someone is reading a copy of his previous book about Pumpkin Jack. If questioned about this the passenger explains that they found it abandoned on the train, stuffed down the side of the seat.
Deputy Danny Tutledge
Responding to a report of a hanged man outside the local church the deputy will discovered it is a crudely made effigy of Pumpkin Jack. On it is a hand written note that says ‘Pumpkin Jack Lives!’. This was made by Brad Becker and planted the night before.
Preparing for school, his father is passed out in the kitchen. The tool shed in their backyard has been broken into. In addition to missing tools Brad’s Halloween costume (of Pumpkin Jack) is missing.
The Legend of Pumpkin Jack
At Pumpkin Grove High the students are excited about their Halloween plans. There is much gossip about Pumpkin Jack, as the students argue about what is real and what is made up. This can be a sore point for Emily but can also provide valuable information.
This exposition can be provided to other characters via various knowledgeable locals, television broadcasts or things that they already know.
The legends says that the killings began at sunset on Halloween. Pumpkin Jack was able to walk amongst the other trick or treaters in his costume without anyone noticing. He picked off the children of the council as they went door to door.
Some attribute supernatural powers to him, since he appeared able to vanish into the shadows, was impervious to gunshots and could appear anywhere in town. He finally met his match when chasing Rose Kendall through the Green pumpkin farm.
Pumpkin Jack cornered her in the barn but she grabbed a pitch fork just as he lunged at her. Pumpkin Jack died, his flaming jack-o’-lantern setting the barn on fire. Rose would have died if not for Sheriff Oscar Tellwood and Raymond Green arriving just in time.
5 children were killed in all. Nathan Carpenter was killed in the street. Zoe Curtis died at drive-in. Hank Myers was killed in the nearby woods. Sissy Moran was killed while babysitting. Nancy Page was killed at the police station, along with three police officers who were supposed to be protecting her when Pumpkin Jack set the building alight.
Council man Peter Blair died protecting Donna from Pumpkin Jack. Pumpkin Jack then died attempting to kill Rose Kendall, thus ending his reign of terror.
Bullshit Detector identifies that not all of these killing occurred on the same night. A 1 point spend of Bullshit Detector or Research confirms that Nathan died two days before. Joseph Green had seen him on the street at night and took the opportunity to kill him. He knew from his son that Zoe had talked about going to the drive-in the next night and so decided to continue his killing spree. Hank Myers was a lucky coincidence as Joseph ran into him on the way back. The rest of the deaths did occur on Halloween but retelling has merged the three nights of terror into a single event.
Investigative Procedure or Research reveals that Pumpkin Jack was targeting the first born of each of councilman’s children. A 1 point spend identifies that the attack on Donna Kendall breaks that pattern but it could be that he thought Rose would there, his true target. A 2 point spend reveals that Rose phoned the Green residence to say she was going to go there to be with Ray for safety, unaware he’d been picked up by the police and his father had been the one to pick up the phone. Pumpkin Jack knew exactly where she was going to be.
If you want to heighten the possible supernatural element some of the wild legends of Pumpkin Jack attribute his powers to the many occult texts that were discovered in his house and that there was an alter to an inhuman god in the barn. Afterwards the police burnt these profane works of black magic. Bullshit Detector will only work if the person talking knows that isn’t true.
A select group of students are planning to hold a Halloween party at the Green Barn (even though the original burnt down Raymond later rebuilt it). There is talk of trying to raise the spirit of Pumpkin Jack. Successful or not there will be plenty of drinking and loud music.
Emily is encouraged to go, in order to fit in with the cool kids or to win the affections of another student who she has a crush on. Brad Becker’s reputation will also be on the line if he doesn’t agree to attend.
Sheriff Tellwood and/or Deputy Tutledge are called to investigate a disturbance at Rose Kendall’s house. This is located just on the edge of town, with some space between the houses. The nearby neighbours reported the sounds of arguing in the night but it is the bad smell that caused them to call the authorities.
Sitting on the porch is a grizzly sight. Rose has been decapitated, her head turned into a makeshift jack-o’-lantern, a candle burning in her hollowed out skull. This should require a stability check with a difficulty of 4. Failure indicates a stability loss of 4. If for some reason Emily Kendall is there she will loose 6 stability points.
Inside the house it appears that Rose had been drinking heavily the night before. There are empty bottles in the living room and in the kitchen. Rose’s headless body is in the kitchen, where the back door is open. A calendar hanging on the wall has one entry for the day. It says ‘Meet Prof Pleasant at bookstore.’
Investigative Procedure identifies that there is no sign of forced entry and that Rose was killed in the kitchen. A 1 point spend indicates that she was stabbed in the chest several times. She was likely beheaded after she died. The upstairs area appears to have been ransacked. No valuables appear to have been taken. A 2 point spend indicates that a kitchen knife is missing, likely the murder weapon.
It looks like Pumpkin Jack is back. If the Sheriff and Deputy are PCs they will need to decide how to proceed. Do they alert the public or do they keep quiet to avoid a panic (something the current mayor would favour). They can send physical evidence to be tested but make it clear it will be at least a week before they have the results and there will likely be more deaths before Halloween is over.
At around the same time Professor Pleasant is setting up at the Kendall bookshop, run by Donna. He will be signing his book about of Pumpkin Jack. He is being interviewed by Maria. He is keen to talk up the book but Maria will point out that having been out for several years sales are dwindling and people are waiting to see what he does next.
Professor Pleasant was recently contacted by Rose, who wanted to discuss something about the murders. She felt that there was something that didn’t make sense. If Pleasant is an NPC Flattery can get this information out of him (or Interrogation if they use threats or Negotiation if they can convince him he’ll get more publicity.) If he is a PC the player decides how much he reveals.
Raymond Green is likely to be unhappy that Professor Pleasant is profiting from his fathers death. If Ray is a PC encourage the player to confront the author but they don’t have to. If Ray is a NPC this confrontation will occur. If the Deputy and/or Sheriff are NPCs they might turn up at this inopportune moment, either because they need to inform Donna of her sisters’ death or because they’ve heard that Ray is there and he is the most likely person to be responsible for Roses’ death
This scene both provides exposition and tension. It sets up the stakes involved for the characters involved. Professor Pleasant knows he has to write another book about Pumpkin Jack and a new wave of killings would give him plenty of material. Finding out what Rose thought didn’t make sense about the original killings could be a big story for Maria. Ray wants to clear his fathers’ name and the return of Pumpkin Jack could mean that his father wasn’t the original killer. He’ll also have to clear his own name as the most likely suspect.
Donna is present in these scenes but should remain in the background. Only in retrospect should her presence be more significant. She is aware her sister was in communication with Professor Pleasant and plans to kill him in the back of the shop at some point. If she overhears him telling Maria that Rose had doubts about the original killings Donna will add her to the hit list.
The presence of Ray or if the police or express any suspicion towards him will prompt her to try and frame him. For example she’ll find some time to plant the bloody kitchen knife either on his property or in his vehicle.
Scares In The Hall
Between lessons one of the students, Terence Kyes, decides that he will frighten Emily in a store bought Pumpkin Jack costume. As he makes his way through the halls the other students stand and stare with some occasionally letting out a shout or scream. People are surprised, rather than horrified.
Emily may have a different reaction. She is required to make a stability check. If she fails she suffers 1 stability point loss.
Brad Becker might want to tackle the fake Pumpkin Jack. If the Sheriff or Deputy arrive they may believe this is Roses’ killer. In either circumstance, if challenged by anyone other than the Emily confronts him the fake Pumpkin Jack reveals his identity, claiming it was just a joke.
Other students will mock Emily and if Brad is an NPC he suggests they cut out of school early. He’ll later suggest going to the Halloween party to show that the stunt hasn’t bothered her. If she does agree to leave she might miss the authorities trying to contact her to let her know that her mother is dead.
If she is informed of the death another stability check is required. If she fails she will suffer the loss of 4 stability points.
This scene establishes the students view of Pumpkin Jack, identifies Emily as a victim and sets up that people will be wearing Pumpkin Jack costumes in the evening.
The Hit List
During the day Pumpkin Jack avoids appearing in public. He prefers to either ambush people when they are inside and alone (preferably with limited illumination) or leave pumpkin themed explosives. The goal is make people aware that Pumpkin Jack is back without being left vulnerable.
As mentioned in Best Seller the first victim on the list is Professor Pleasant. If he is an NPC this happens without a hitch. Pumpkin Jack places him in a rental car (or Ray’s vehicle if he leaves it unattended), beheaded with a jack-o’-lantern resting on his neck. The gas pedal is weighted down so the vehicle speeds down a busy street until it crashes either into another vehicle or into a shop.
If he is a PC allow him the chance to escape the attack at the book shop. If Donna is questioned about her absence from the shop she claims she was upset by the news of her sisters death and stepped out. She believed that she had locked the door.
Pumpkin Jack will stalk Maria if Professor Pleasant told her about Roses’ doubts. Getting to her might be more difficult so the attack will occur when she is alone. For example if she goes to the library or the news stations archives she will find herself alone when the lights turn off and Pumpkin Jack starts throwing flaming exploding jack-o’-lanterns at her.
Having stolen the costume from Brad Becker Pumpkin Jack will target him, first going to his house. There he will encounter the still drunk and belligerent Adam Becker. Pumpkin Jack sets the house alight after managing to trap Adam inside. A stability check will be required if a PC playing Brad finds this out. Police also suspect Brad of being responsible and the presence of pumpkin could make them think he is the new serial killer.
Pumpkin Jack will continue to look for an opportunity to strike at Brad but she is also keeping tabs on Emily. As Donna she will arrive at the school and if she is present she will take her home. She will attempt to question Emily, to see what she knows under the pretence of working out why Pumpkin Jack is back and whether her mother said anything about it. She’ll lock her in the house, to keep her safe (planning to kill her last).
Those investigating or otherwise causing problems will work their way on to Pumpkin Jack’s list. He will try to keep Ray alive as long as suspicion continues to fall on him so the Sheriff and Deputy will be priority targets. Not willing to engage in a direct confrontation Donna may place a false call at a remote location to lure the police in where a trap has been placed. She may pretend that she has been kidnapped by Pumpkin Jack or has been pursued there, able to make a call for help just before her call is disconnected.
Should Donna herself appear to be a suspect then she will fake her death following this phone call. Pumpkin Jack will make it clear to anyone during a confrontation that he is responsible for Donna’s death. He’ll taunt Emily especially about this, saying he will bury her with her family on his pumpkin farm.
To continue placing suspicion on Ray Pumpkin Jack may take Roses’ body from police custody. This could be done through stealth (stealing the corners car) or a direct attack at the morgue. Roses’ body will then be buried on the Green pumpkin farm.
If his hand is forced Pumpkin Jack will kill Ray. He will leave his body on display with the message ‘No Son Of Mine!’
If you want to suggest that Joseph Green has come back to life then Donna will find time to dig up his grave. If the PCs don’t believe in the undead then Joseph’s body will be buried on the Green farm. Dirt or a shovel found in the possession of Donna may through suspicion on her later.
All of this is just laying the groundwork for later, when darkness falls.
When the sun sets the streets start to fill with children and party goers dressed in numerous spooky costumes. Jack-o’-lanterns burn outside numerous houses. With a killer on the loose it would appear that the odds have tilted in his favour, especially as people are wearing Pumpkin Jack costumes.
PCs should become more paranoid as now the serial killer could be anywhere, able to walk the crowds without attracting attention. It isn’t unusual to hear screams of (fake) terror or have people jump out. Trigger happy characters could very well accidentally fire at innocent trick or treaters.
PCs could turn this to their advantage, dodging costumes of their own to disguise themselves from Pumpkin Jack, if they know that he is coming for them personally. This can buy them a little time, as Pumpkin Jack hunts them down. It will mean that they won’t know who to trust with their real identities.
These scenes will cross over with The Hit List as Pumpkin Jack continues to try and kill his targets. Things are much easier for him now and he isn’t concerned with collateral damage. He can chase people, knowing that their calls for help will be ignored as people think they are just getting into the spirit of the occasion.
Many of the more rebellious teenagers assemble at Green’s Pumpkin farm, in the rebuilt barn. This is easier if Ray is either occupied, has been arrested or killed earlier by Pumpkin Jack. The climax of the party will be an attempt to summon the spirit of Pumpkin Jack. If his return is already public knowledge the goal will be to bind his spirit (which Emily might believe is the only way to save herself).
There is a wild, free spirit to proceedings. Everyone believes that they are invulnerable and the adults are ridiculous for believing that Pumpkin Jack has returned. Anyone who expresses fear or doubt is mocked, ostracised or otherwise bullied into playing along.
What they don’t know is that Pumpkin Jack will be attending. He replaces Terence Kyes, who was planning to reprise the role from earlier, and will make an appearance when the other teenagers ‘summon’ him. At that point Pumpkin Jack will set the barn on fire with his jack-o’-lanterns, having made sure to lock the door. Pumpkin Jack will escape via a concealed exit.
If Emily is present this exit will be made obvious to her, so she’ll flee. Pumpkin Jack then follows her, closing the exit behind him. The killer will then hunt her down, shepherding her towards Roses’ body (if she managed to steal it earlier) so that the sight will force another stability check.
Everyone should be a suspect. Not only does this increase the tension it makes the identity of the killer less clear. PCs should be suspicious of everyone so that they don’t know who to trust. This removes any potential allies or safe places to hide.
One way to do this is to provide clues that indicate a character has a motive to be a killer or has a link to a killing. A PCs investigative abilities will therefore increase the tension. As always with the GUMSHOE system it is how the player interpret the clues that will direct the story. No clue will positively identify the killer, they just provide evidence that they might be.
To keep players on their toes (especially if they might have run through this scenario before) you could decide that one of the following red herrings is really Pumpkin Jack. You could do this on the fly, if the players come to the correct conclusion too early in the game switch the identity to something more surprising.
Just ensure that everything still makes sense. For example an NPC can probably be removed from suspicion once they are attacked by Pumpkin Jack or are definitely elsewhere when Pumpkin Jack makes an appearance. Of course there could always be more than one Pumpkin Jack.
Motive: Seeking vengeance for fathers deaths.
Cop Talk confirms that Ray has had trouble with the law for harassment and causing public disturbances. Bureaucracy reveals that he has purchased fertiliser that could be used for explosives. A 1 point spend reveals that the bank has foreclosed on the farm. Science will also reveal this if they study the supplies in his barn. Inter-personal skills used on Ray or Donna will reveal he is Emily’s father and should she be in danger he will come after her to protect her but it could seem threatening.
Sheriff Oscar Tellwood
Motive: Establishes a climate of fear.
Cop Talk reveals that Sheriff Tellwood was heavily criticised for how he handled the Pumpkin Jack affair. A 1 point spend reveals that the Sheriff has had several complaints against him for police brutality. His temper always gets worse at Halloween. Streetwise makes the PC privy to the Sheriff’s reputation amongst criminals and rebellious teens, including leaving teenagers stranded at night in the countryside. A 1 point spend reveals that on several occasions Sheriff has told criminals that if Pumpkin Jack ever did come back he hoped he’d kill every low life in the town.
Professor Malcolm Pleasant
Motive: Provide material for his next best selling novel and increase his own publicity.
Flattery or Reassurance will cause Malcolm to boast about being an expert on Pumpkin Jack, able to get into the mind of the killer. Cop Talk or Law will reveal that Pleasant is believed to have stolen evidence from the Pumpkin Jack case, including a spare costume and some of the murder weapons. His property was searched but never found. Bureaucracy reveals that the sales from his previous book on Pumpkin Jack are going down and that his last few books haven’t sold well at all. A 1 point spend indicates his publisher is close to dropping him.
Motive: A seed of madness from her grandfather and life long resentment for her mother’s history overshadowing her life.
Social Sciences or using Reassurance/Flattery with Professor Pleasant reveals that the trauma of what occurred would likely leave mental scars on Emily. Bureaucracy reveals medical records that show between the ages of 5 and 7 Emily would have terrible nightmares and turn violent, believing the Pumpkin Man was coming to get her. Streetwise used amongst the students reveals that Emily is quiet but has talked about not knowing her father and hating her mother for hiding his identity from her.
Deputy Danny Tutledge
Motive: Make himself a hero by bringing down Pumpkin Jack
Cop Talk or other Interpersonal skills with cops reveals that Deputy Tutledge always talks about how Sheriff Tellwood gained his fearsome reputation for helping bring down a monster like Pumpkin Jack. A 1 point spend reveals that Danny has been disciplined for falsifying reports, making himself seem more heroic. Bullshit detector can be used whenever Danny describes an encounter with Pumpkin Jack, indicating that he is making up some of the details (if not all). His insistence that he take people into protective custody may begin to seem too insistent.
Motive: Break a big story even if she has to engineer it.
Flattery and Reassurance will get Maria to express her desire to be picked up by a major news network. Computer Science can allow PCs to access her emails and reveal that she has been in communication with other journalists who say that she has to cover a major tragedy to get noticed. Research or Trivia reveals that Maria has been to war zones where she shadowed a bomb disposal squad.
Motive: Get rid of his father and prove he is the ultimate rebel.
Cop-Talk, Bureaucracy and Law reveal that Brad’s father, Adam, has been in trouble numerous times for drunken and disorderly behaviour. A 1 point spend reveals he is also suspected of abusing Brad for years. Streetwise indicates that Brad is attempting to make a name for himself as someone not to be messed with. A 1 point spend reveals he has talked about killing his father and enquired about how best to get a weapon. Bureaucracy reveals he brought a Pumpkin Jack costume only days before. This information can be volunteered by eye witnesses (including Donna). If confronted about this Brad will claim it was stolen from the tool shed where he hid it.
Ideally the PCs should slowly gather clues that point to Donna, mixed in with the Red Herring clues. They should only decide that she is the real Pumpkin Jack at the conclusion. The clues can include:
Bureaucracy, research and computer science can reveal that her bookshop has a number of books about serial killers and explosives. The records indicate that Raymond Green ordered these.
Cop-talk or interpersonal skills with people at the Sheriff’s department reveals that when questioned Donna blamed herself for Councilman Blair’s death which was attributed to survivor guilt.
Inter-personal skills or otherwise asking people who know Donna reveals she has taken numerous self-defence courses over the years. This could give her the fighting skills that Pumpkin Jack displays.
Computer Science or searching her house turns up emails and correspondence from Rose (some of it stolen from her house) where she raises her doubts that Pumpkin Jack was responsible for all of the killings. Donna will try to explain these away, saying that Rose believed that there was more than one Pumpkin Jack and that Sheriff Tellwood covered it up to avoid embarrassment. Donna’s theory is that it was Ray Green and that his father took the fall for him but she finds the idea that Pumpkin Jack is still alive as too horrible to contemplate. Bullshit detector could pick up on the lies in this statement.
Investigative Procedure can turn up that the costume was stolen from Brad Becker’s house which lies between Rose and Donna’s house. Donna could (and did) get it as she went to or from Roses’ house. A 1 point spend while collecting evidence where someone has successfully attacked Pumpkin Jack can reveal foam padding, suggesting that the killer is disguising their figure and possibly their height.
Eventually the PCs should work out that Donna is actually Pumpkin Jack. If out of costume Donna will deny it and if the PCs don’t have physical proof and the necessary authority there is little they can do. Donna will use the opportunity to throw suspicion on someone else or fake her death.
If they confront while in the role of Pumpkin Jack she will remove the mask, to show they are right. She will then explain what happened and how she is the victim. She will claim that Pumpkin Jack has made her a killer. If not shown mercy or understanding then she will continue her attack.
The PCs might decide to kill Donna. Hopefully they’ll be able to show that it was in self-defence. If there isn’t some supporting evidence or her confession wasn’t recorded or witnessed by multiple people they might have a difficult time proving they aren’t the killer.
If they are able to subdue Donna her lawyer will successfully claim she is mentally unfit to stand trial. She’ll be placed in a secure unit for the criminally insane. That is until next Halloween when she escapes during a thunderstorm.
What happens next can be explored in Pumpkin Jack 3!
In an Esoterrorist game this could be an experiment to raise fear levels in Pumpkin Grove. He could be an entirely created persona or Donna could have been prepped to take up the role (maybe given drugs to increase her fight/flight instinct and push her over the edge).
If successful the Esoterrorists might make this an annual event, weakening the barrier between realities. Soon other supernatural beings might come out. As new spreads of Pumpkin Jack’s exploits other towns might have their own problem with masked serial killers.
For a Trail of Cthulhu game just change the era. While the adventure references the tropes of 70s/80s slasher films there is no reason similar ‘stranger’ killings couldn’t occur in the 1930s. You could reveal that Donna came into possession of an occult tome that affected her sanity and/or gave her supernatural powers.
Mutant City Blues add the complication of super powers to Pumpkin Jack’s offensive capabilities. Light Control could make any environment darker, Pain Immunity can give the impression that Pumpkin Jack is invulnerable while Invisibility and Phase are useful for escaping or surprising victims from behind.