Her hand trembles as she opens up her mind and soul, reaching into the ether to do nothing more than understand. Her hand begins to move on paper, drawing in motions that seemed controlled by another. With eyes closed, her motions seem fluid – her pen never lifting from the paper – even when she hears gasps. And when the connection leaves her, she opens her eyes and is met with one word… “MURDER”.
The above scenario might seem to be something out of a Stephen King novel, but it is actually something that might occur during a session of the soon to be released RPG called, “The Deittman Files: a Ghost Hunting RPG.” The game goes live on Kickstarter on May 4, 2021 with several levels of backing, ranging from digital to hardcover copies.
The Team Producing the Game
Alexandra Frund Clinton is the brainchild of the project and author of Echoes and Ashes: a Paranormal Mystery, the book the game is based on. While you do not have to read the book to play the game, it provides interesting character background and setting details. Several pre-generated characters are based on the cast from the book – so in many ways the novel might seem like supplemental lore for players who really get into the world.
Alexandra is also one of the founders of the group Flamma Mysteries which is LARP and murder mystery group. An avid paranormal investigator herself, she often goes on adventures with her Flamma Mysteries team to check out some of the spookiest places in the Northeast.
Powered By the Apocalypse
The game is played with rules adapted from the Powered by the Apocalypse ruleset (aka PBTA). The system basically gives players 6 core stats that are then added to the rolls of two six-sided dice. If you roll a 7-9 you are successful with a drawback, 10 or over is successful, and anything 6 or below is generally considered a failure. Character creation also includes giving you several key moves ranging from automatic writing, seeing the past, attacking with fireballs, conducting exorcisms, or using paranormal devices.
Because of the nature of the PBTA rules, the game is mostly story based with incredibly simplistic rules. This allows gamemasters to focus on the story and players, rather than a complicated system that has everyone wondering what they need to roll to do specific things.
Typical Game Goals
If you’ve seen an episode of “Ghost Adventures” or watched a movie like “the Conjuring,” the goals are very much the same. Locate the paranormal entity, survive, and many times solve the problem. In the few test runs of the game this writer played in, we explored the Bunnyman Bridge, solved the mystery of a child with psychic powers, and reunited a mother with her child in the afterlife.
There are several ways to reach the same conclusions, and a good GM can utilize interesting add-ons like historical sites, google maps, photographs, sound effects, videos of equipment going off to show what response you get, and so much more. In one run of the game, the GM would send ‘whispers’ of sound effects that only specific players heard.
One really interesting aspect of the game is how things tie into the real world. If you’ve found the site of a grisly murder, how are you going to explain that to the authorities? If you need knowledge on a specific matter, you’ll need to visit libraries and conduct interviews with witnesses. These factors lead to a variety of situations that make most archetypes have their moments to shine in gameplay.
Sessions are generally one mystery or investigation which lasts around 3-4 hours (this could definitely change based on your GM and group). The plot generally runs in the format of:
- The case is given and basic information revealed.
- Background investigation, witness interviews, and generic research is conducted.
- The site is visited, and the actual investigation occurs.
- Problems are solved and rewards are collected.
Repeat characters can make a reputation with the Deittman team, who generally provides the cases for the investigators. Ongoing investigations can create something like chapters of a story for character growth and development.
How the Game Relates to Actual Ghost Hunting
As an avid Paranormal Investigator, this author found the game incredibly rewarding and fun. While you may not see a lot in regular investigations, the story is designed to keep things interesting and flowing. You’ll generally always run into something paranormal! The same methods and tools can be used in game, which means that out of game understanding of what an EMF detector is can be useful, but not essential to gameplay.
The game itself can get as dark or light as the players want to take it. From demonic possessions to just visiting something like Casper the Friendly Ghost, there’s a vast terrain of flexibility in how players can interact.
How to Get Involved
Here is a list of links and resources to get you directed to playing in the game: