Disclaimer: Because Stranger Things Season 3 isn’t out at the time of writing, you don’t need to worry about spoilers, but I’m going to assume you’ve watched Season 1 and 2 already.
Our third session of Stranger Things — Season 3 ended on a real cliffhanger. Here’s a summary of episode 3, with tips for running your own Stranger Things campaign at the end of the post.
Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 3: Night Rhythm
Player Characters: Joyce, Jonathan, and Hopper.
Following Nancy’s abduction by Mr. Clarke and Barb, in the last session, Jonathan and Joyce called Hopper over to investigate. They didn’t discover much, just Nancy’s right shoe and some tire tracks.
Hopper did all his police things, then the characters headed over to the Wheeler’s house.
The audience sees Billy’s car, then we cut to see him kissing someone. The camera cuts again and we see Mrs. Wheeler pull back. She tells Billy that they need to stop meeting like this, but he reassures her that they won’t get caught.
On the radio, Rhythm of the Night, by DeBarge, is playing.
GM’s Notes: Yuck! I’m starting to hate Billy all over again.
Player Characters: Mike, Hopper, Joyce.
Joyce and Hopper arrive at the Wheelers. They discover that Mrs. Wheeler is out, with Mr. Wheeler asleep on the couch. Mike answers the door. The rest of the kids are down in the basement, playing D&D.
Hopper and Joyce break the news to Mr. Wheeler, who seems overly confident that Hopper will sort things out.
Hopper discovers that El is not there, and he’s unable to get her on the radio. The boys say they haven’t seen her all day.
GM’s Notes: The players had some time to try to coordinate, and figure out what was going on. I wanted to give them as much freedom as they needed to start getting a grip on the situation before I hit them with the next few bombshells.
Player Characters: Nancy. Later Billy and Steve.
Nancy wakes up in the dark. Slowly her eyes adjust and she sees small, pink creatures crawling over her. They’re gooping her with slime, while one climbs over her face. It has four legs, and its body looks like a brain, with a small underslung jaw. The jaw darts out, Aliens style, into her ear. She struggles, but the creature begins to deform, as if it’s moving through the mouth-tube, into her ear.
Nancy thrashes again, and this time breaks free. She rips the thing off her face and runs!
Bursting through a door, she finds herself in an abandoned bowling alley. As she runs, she throws stuff behind her, as she’s pursued by the creatures.
In the street, Steve is heading into a convenience store when Billy comes out, and shoulder bumps him. Before things can escalate between them, they notice that it’s unnaturally quiet in town. In the distance, some people are shambling towards them.
There’s a crash, as Nancy smashes a window with a bowling ball and leaps out into the street, followed by the brain creatures.
Steve runs into the convenience store and picks up a snow shovel, while Billy grabs a tire-iron (aka a wheel spanner). Billy pulls Steve into his car as Nancy jumps in, and Billy hits the gas, expertly driving around the mob of brain-dead people headed their way.
As they drive off, they see a horde of more people around a truck in front of the town hall. Mr. Clarke is standing on top of the truck.
Lightning strikes somewhere in the distance. A storm is rolling in.
GMs Notes: The brain-creatures are the same creatures who left tracks around Steve’s car, and were waiting for the PCs in the woods. Here are their stats:
Swarm: 3+ creatures. Make 2 attacks and draw +1 card per additional creature.
Natural Weapon: 2 Toughness damage.
Entangling Attack: opposed Muscles to entangle. Unentangle is -1 card and vs Muscles again.
Hopper gets a call from Dr. Owens, who’s in town, and describes that he’s seeing people mindlessly walking the streets. Hopper, who was on his way to Mr. Clarke’s house, hits the lights and speeds into town, passing a speeding Billy on the way. The lot of them hook up and head back to the Wheeler’s house. The kids were all sent home to bed… but they have other plans.
Player Characters: None, the GM took control of the boys to put them in deep deep trouble.
Mike, Will, Lucas, and Dustin arrange to meet on the edge of town at midnight. They’re worried about El, and, they figure, it’s usually them who figure out what’s going on before the grownups do.
They climb a water tower, while lightning flashes overhead. From the top they can see the town hall. A truck has been wired up to the clock tower, with wires attached to the lightning rod at the top of the building.
El walks out along the top of the building, throws her hands in the air and is hit by a bolt of lightning.
Roll Credits. Watch player’s jaws drop.
GMing Stranger Things
I think about what makes an interesting game a lot. It’s my job and my passion. A good cliffhanger ending gives the story power that lasts between sessions and makes your players want to come back for more.
I didn’t think this session was particularly good, at least from my side as the GM. I didn’t throw a lot of stuff at the players, and I felt I didn’t manage to keep everyone as engaged as I hoped. But the ending got great feedback from the players and really got them excited.
Planning a good cliffhanger and making sure you have time to play it out at the end of the session is worth it. Give your players something to think about until they’re at the table again.
Fan Theories and Table Talk
We talked a lot about fan theories during the game, and some real gems came up. I love table talk when it revolves around the game because players are full of ideas worth stealing. Listen to what your players are excited about, and work that into the game, with a twist or two, for even greater effect.
Flip-Mats and Minis
For this session, I used Paizo’s basic flip-mat and miniatures from Zombies!!! (Director’s Cut) and Doom: The Boardgame, with a few Micro Machines for cars. Anything will do really, I just thought these minis added a nice touch to the feel I was going for.
The flip mat is very handy, and gets used in most of my sessions — most highly recommended GM tool, besides a set of dice!
Till Next Time
Our next session is two weeks away, so check back in three weeks for more from Stranger Things Season 3.
Rising Phoenix Games