In Springfield USA
sometime in the 1980’s
terror lurks in the mall…
Unknown to the shoppers at Springfield Mall, a reality-jumping alien ship has arrived, invisible and untouchable, in one of the closed stores. By day, everything appears normal. By night, strange beings prowl the dark shops stealing and causing mischief. But something far worse awaits the people of Springfield on Black Friday. Terror beyond imagining lurks within the ship, preparing a campaign of mind-bending domination.
This is an update to the Role-Playing Game adventure Class of 198X, available here.
Adventure Hook – Jobs in the mall – It is useful for one or more of the Player Characters to have jobs in the mall, in order to provide an opportunity for them to run into the aliens by night and kick the adventure off. Without after-hours access while performing closing duties at the jobs, Player Characters will have to rely on rumors, clues, and reports of late-night mall vandalism to draw them into the adventure. (Perhaps a classmate who works at the mall tells the Player Characters about encountering the monsters).
Many of the stores are hiring cashiers and clerks. In particular the movie theater, and food court restaurants and snack booths are almost always hiring “customer service personnel”. At least one of the restaurants is almost always hiring a cook or a dishwasher.
For inexperienced teenagers applying for a job, filling out the application and passing the interview requires successful medium difficulty (DC 12) Intelligence and Charisma checks. Other hiring conditions are often subject to the whims of the store’s manager or owner. Characters with skills particularly relevant to the job may roll those skill checks instead at the GM’s discretion.
Pay – 1980s minimum wage was $3.35 per hour, which means that after taxes, social security, and other withholdings, most kids will actually get about $2.50 per hour worked (or $10 for a four hour shift, $20 for an eight hour day, $100 for a forty-hour week, and a whopping total of $400 for a whole month’s work). Paychecks are usually given every two weeks, unless the manager of the store (or central corporate office) is disorganized, lazy, or stealing wages from their workers. Many of the booths also have tip jars, which can net employees quite a bit more per hour depending on customers’ generosity.
An immense sign in lighted block letters rising up forty feet announces it: Springfield Mall. Set in an endless sea of black asphalt parking lot, this sprawling, square-cornered, pea-gravel-textured, off-white concrete building’s exterior is broken by wide entrances of four sets of glass double doors. Every day of the week from 9 AM to 9 PM throngs of excited shoppers pass through these doors into the temperature-controlled coolness of the promenade. Glittering, warm, abstract electric lighting displays illuminate the entrances by night and glitter on the ceilings within.
On the doors, colorful posters advertise the upcoming mall-wide Thanksgiving Sale, with prices up to %50 off, and a raffle to win a sparkling new red Honda Elite motor scooter.
Hidden behind long, tall concrete walls and various landscaping, loading docks and trash dumpsters intersperse the perimeter between the entrances. Teenagers, vagrants and other criminal types are occasionally found here skateboarding, drinking cheep beer or brandy, smoking tobacco or marijuana, picking through the trash, and partaking in other illicit activities.
Day or Night Encounter – Smokey, a burned out old bum in fraying jeans and a faded green Vietnam-era army field jacket, will accost the characters outside the mall to beg for tobacco or money; “Spare a smoke or some change, man?”. If talked to he will ramble on about seeming nonsense, including “the puppet masters”. If pressed on the subject he will show the players a battered paperback copy of Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus!, the cover illustration of which depicts a marionette on strings, controlled by a hand emerging from behind a pyramid with an eye in it.
1) A group of figures are standing in the dark parking lot outside the mall. You hear laughter and one of them calls out. “Hey! Hey you!”
Juvenile delinquents are hanging out here smoking and drinking, or bums are digging through the trash. Either group could easily become hostile and attempt to rob or otherwise harm weak-looking interlopers.
2) Banging in the darkness by the dumpsters breaks the still quiet of the night, followed by strange sounds – are those strange little hissing voices?
A group of Kobolds is digging through the dumpsters for thrown out food – scraps from the restaurants and enormous bags of uneaten popcorn from the movie theater. They will fight intruders for the food, but if outnumbered will flee into the ventilation system and back to the ship in Dillyards. If perused, they may deploy some traps to slow their foes, or might also split up to ambush the Player Characters from multiple sides.
3) Sudden blinding light breaks the darkness – you can’t see, but someone with a gruff voice is shouting at you. “You damn kids can’t be here!”
The mall security guard is patrolling the parking lot and checking the loading dock areas for punks, hippies, skateboarders, bums, and other undesirables. He will escort trespassers off the property, and will call the police if he sees any illegal activity.
Inside the mall, the two-story promenade winds between the shops. Temperate air blows gently upon shoppers walking on clean white laminate tiles. White planters along the walk contain small trees and spreading fronds of greenery. Stairs and escalators allow shoppers to move between the ground floor and the second floor balcony.
Candy Shops, jewelry stores, stationary and book stores, boutique clothes, formal wear shops, and more line the promenade, broken up by the entrances to the department stores and the large marquis above the entrance to the movie theater.
In the center of the mall, on the ground floor at the intersection of the two main walkways, a huge cascade of water shoots towards the skylights and falls back down into a raised angular basin, scattered with the brightly shining tossed coins of wish-makers. Above, balconies overlook the fountain from the food court.
photograph by Ron Pollard
There, next to the fountain is the raffle prize itself, a shiny red Honda Elite motor-scooter displayed on a carpet-upholstered wooden pedestal. Signs declare that the raffle winner will be drawn at 5PM at this very spot on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and there are cards for entering the raffle and a drop-box to put them into.
The keys to the scooter are in the mall managers office, but the scooter is otherwise fueled and operational.
Dozens of tables fill this area on the second floor near the center of the mall. One one corner, balconies overlook the promenade and fountain below. On the other, the walls are lined with restaurants serving a variety of fast foods.
The trash receptacles situated around the area create a bit of a walled-off, and therefore slightly quieter and less-trafficked, area in the mall where people sit and eat and talk.
Burgers and hot dogs from the major national corporate franchises are present (McDougals, Hot Dog Queen, etc), and fried chicken and similar Americana food dominate the menus. There are also new and exotic Mexican and Chinese food restaurants. There’s even a Pepper’s chain restaurant, a steakhouse which includes a separate internal seating area with fake leather-upholstered booths and a full bar.
Many sweet and drink stands surround the area, selling astronaut ice-cream, fresh cookies, blended soft drinks like virgin pina colodas, candy, popcorn, and pretzels. Most of these stands are worked by fashionable and good-looking young women, most of who are high school students who jealously guard these jobs and their lucrative tip jars. Only their friends or select girls in their clique have any chance of being hired at most of the stands.
SHOPPING: fast food or snacks: $2 – $7, Pepper’s: $2 beers, $3 cocktails and wine, $4 – $15 meals (per person)
Day Encounters – Bullies, shoplifting teenage delinquents, friends or enemies from school, and individuals and families all spend time here, most frequently after school is out and on weekends. Perhaps the Player Characters run into someone from their past, or a love interest. These encounters could also be used in any of the stores during the day.
1) Bullies of some type, be they jocks, metalheads, preps, punks, hicks, hippies, queer-bashers, kkk, neo-nazis, nerds, or whoever show up and start subtly or overtly disrespecting the Player Characters. If the bullies can pick one PC out for abuse they will, but if confronted the bullies escalate to chest-bumping or shoving. Or perhaps one of the bullies has something out for a PC and will attack that PC individually, “starting a fight”? Crowds of schoolmates might gather around, but fighting will pretty quickly draw the attention of store managers or mall security, who will try to subdue the combatants or will call the city police or sheriff if need be.
2) Romance – A PC’s romantic interest appears! Roll for plot, pick what you like, or make up your own:
- Totally snubbed, disrespected, or otherwise negative-feeling result.
- Bump into each other in line or in passing – conversation opportunity.
- A previous romantic interest?
- Bumping into the current beau?
- Jealousy over something, founded or not?
- Instant awesome reciprocal crush, or see each other across the food court and it’s love at first sight?
Then what happens? What’s everyone’s reaction? What happens next? How does the encounter end? Give Experience Points, Inspiration, or similar rewards for good role-playing.
3) Rumors – Whether overheard or passed on from a friend, people talk about all sorts of things. If Player Characters talk to other people at the mall, or just hang around and listen to people talking, roll on the following rumor table, or make something up.
- Someone was caught stealing out of the frozen yogurt stand’s tip jar but then the boyfriend of the girl working and his friends beat the thief up.
- The movie theater and two of the food court restaurants are hiring.
- One of the jewelry stores got broken into last month but nothing was stolen because it was all in the safe for the night.
- The mall security guard and manager are not nice people and like giving kids a hard time just for having fun.
- Someone is sure they’re going to win the scooter because they filled out a whole bunch of entry forms.
- The skateboarders can get you weed if they think you’re cool.
Night Encounters – While in the mall at night whether for their jobs, or illicitly investigating after hours, the Player Characters might run into any of the below encounters.
All of the “alien” creatures in the mall encounters are outfitted with thick brassy collars with a dimly glowing round amber-colored gem set on the front. These collars extend the Puppet Masters’ mind control over their thrall, keeping them obedient for days. In addition, if any of the creatures are knocked unconscious, the collars immediately teleport the wounded thrall into the ship’s Nightmare Vats, where they are stabilized and begin healing. For full details see Class of 198X, The Adventure.
If the PCs end up all knocked out in an encounter with the creatures, they will awaken in the alien ship being outfitted with alien mind control collars.
- Splashing echoes through the quiet mall, and snatches of strange, angry voices can be heard coming from fountain’s basin in the center of the mall.
Kobolds and goblins are scavenging coins from the fountain, and perhaps fighting over the largest of them – the quarters that activate the vending and arcade machines.
- Is that an alligator in the mall fountain!?
One or more of the lizardfolk are basking in the fountain’s basin, idly preening themselves. They will attack any interlopers and try to bring them back to the ship.
- Strange shadows seem to shift among the closed shops of the upper balcony, and you can’t shake the feeling that you’re being watched.
The dark elf and panther from the alien ship are prowling the balconies, hiding and keeping a look out for any who might foil the alien’s plans, or perhaps stalking the mall security officer or manager so that they too may soon be put in alien mind-control slave collars.
- The smell of something burning wafts through the air, and a rumbling chuckle can be heard, mixed with hissing steam from the fountain water. In the steam some sort of lumpy, glowing creature moves about.
The Player Characters see the magman (who is the happily powerful enforcer for the aliens) scorching the laminate tiles while it is out for a stroll, or perhaps playing with the fountain, causing great gusts of steam to billow up, which might set off the fire sprinkler system. It will attack anyone who sees it, and if reduced to half Hit Points will flee outside through the service corridors and loading docks, or directly back to the ship if not perused. Either way, the fire department might show up with questions for any Player Character who may have been near the magman or it’s trail. In the morning the Player Characters are likely to be blamed by the mall manager for setting off the sprinkler system or other damages. They could end up in legal trouble, fired from their jobs, or even end up banned from the mall.
- Snatches of ravenous smacking and growling sounds can be caught emerging from the kitchen door of the China Bowl in the food court, followed by the loud bang of something metal and hushed shouting.
Lizardfolk, goblins, or kobolds have broken into one of the fast food restaurants and are noisily eating everything.
- Child-voiced singing ring out from Pepper’s in some strange language – “Bree-yark! Bree-yark! Yem smarg def ugh kark! Bree-yark!” Little green-skinned, pointy-eared people in leather clothes appear to be singing some type of drinking song, raising their glasses high and repeating the chorus.
The dark elf or the goblins have broken into Pepper’s and are stealing and drinking the beer, wine, and liquor there. If drunk enough they may start playing music by blowing on empty bottles, banging pans, singing goblin drinking songs and such. Interruption is likely to result in the goblins brandishing their weapons and trying to take them prisoner, unless the Player Characters are very charming.
- “Glug, gak, cough!” Strange sounds like someone eating can be heard from the Frosty Cone ice-cream stand.
A group of creatures from the alien ship are pouring the soft-serve ice cream directly into their mouths, and when done leave the taps open, spilling the rest of the creamy, then sticky desert onto the floor. The creatures may flee or fight, but the Players Characters are likely to be blamed for the mess by the mall cleaning staff and manager.
- “Hey! Hey you! Stop right there!” shouts the large mall security guard. “What are you doing here?”
The Player Characters are spotted by Rob Pearson, the mall’s security guard, who will accost and detain anyone not employed by the mall or otherwise present without a good excuse, or to harass anyone he just doesn’t like for whatever reason. When people give him trouble or don’t obey him he usually calls the police using the nearest payphone, and tries to press charges for trespassing, theft, disorderly conduct, or whatever is appropriate to the circumstances. A rotund man, Rob can be charmed with some food (pastries preferred) and a smile (DC 10 charisma, bluff, or deception skill check), after which he becomes friendly towards that person.
This huge, modern multiplex theater features seven different screens showing the latest blockbuster movies and the occasional classic. An alcove features several coin operated video arcade games. A line of cash registers dot the concession counter, selling enormous cups of soda, immense bags of popcorn, and huge boxes of candy.
SHOPPING: movie tickets are $3.36 (tax included), snacks and soda $2 – $10
- Though the mall is closed, the sound of a movie can be heard playing, then slowing down, then stopping, then starting again, along with the sound of gravely little voices laughing.
The goblins are pigging out on candy, messing with one of the projectors, trying to make the film go, or making shadow puppets on the screen. If surprised by the Player Characters they will immediately attack, using the darkness to their advantage, but will flee through the emergency exits if outnumbered.
- The projectionist is showing a film to a handful of friends after hours, either a current film, or some classic or cult film such as Monty Python’s Holy Grail or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If the Player Characters have gotten to know some of the movie theater staff they may be invited along. During the movie, creatures might interrupt by crashing into the theater from the overhead ventilation ducts, or by raiding the concession stand (see above).
Flynz Video Arcade
Brightly flashing stand-up video game cabinets line the walls in this otherwise dim and crowded arcade. The loud bleep and bloop sounds of electronic video games overlap each other in a cacophony of funny sounds. Screeches of excited players and spectators compete with the games’ rapid, musical noises.
Groups of people watching someone play a game “ooh” and “ahh” and let loose with whooping yells. Serious-faced players jerk the joysticks and slap the buttons in desperate attempts to beat the machine and prove their skill. Game players line tokens up on the bottom edge of the arcade’s screen to get in line to play the game next, jostling to play their favorite game for as long as they can.
New games like Dragon’s Lair cost two tokens, while current or older games like Joust and Pac-Man cost one token, which gives you three “lives” in most of the games. Pinball machines are interspersed throughout.
Near the entrance, children and adults feed paper money into machines which dispense tokens for the video games. One dollar gives four tokens good for one play each, and five dollars gives 25 tokens. A stack of 6 oz. plastic cups bearing the arcade’s name – Flynz – stands by the change machines for tokens. Coin operated vending machines dispense handfuls of nuts or candy, plastic balls with tiny toys in them, stickers, temporary tattoos, and cold cans of soda.
Encounter – Get the High Score! – characters who play the arcade games should make dexterity checks to see how well they play. Major bragging rights can be earned by playing well. A DC 22-24 Dextrity check is required to get the high score on the most popular machines, at which point players can enter a three-letter name to be displayed at the top of the TOP SCORES list that is occasionally flashed on the game’s screen when no one is playing.
Night Encounter – Midnight Mischief – Video arcade game sounds ring out through the halls of the otherwise quiet mall.
Goblins have entered the arcade, picked the lock on the Battlezeone tank-simulation arcade game, and are playing the game over and over, trying to use the joysticks and buttons like on the ship they arrived in. Others play games on the other machines.
Encounter – Thanksgiving Arcade Tournament – as part of the massive sale, and anticipating the huge crowds over the Thanksgiving Sale weekend, the arcade staff has arranged a tournament. Friday morning, they will reset all of the machines’s high scores. At the end of the weekend, whoever has the highest score will receive a brand new home video game system. Competition will be fierce.
Optional Encounter – The Lost Starlancer – If one of the Player Characters manages to get the high score on the super-fast and difficult new Starlancer! video game every day for a week (or month?), one of the aliens who put the machine on Earth will show up and interview the PC to see if they want to go join the Interstellar Fighter Pilot’s Academy on a distant planet and fight evil among the stars. Grab your favorite Sci-Fi RPG rules and go nuts. Starfinder? Rogue Trader? Star Wars? Star Frontiers? Traveller? D20 Future?
Or else maybe the new aliens are space-time cops and will help with the current aliens?
Or maybe the new aliens will arrest or enslave the players themselves to fight against the evil rebellion?
Ask the other players what sounds like fun.
Skateboard Shop – Eddie’s Boards
One of the smaller social hubs for teens at the mall, this store sells skateboards and accessories. Their stock includes everything from stickers and magazines, to skateboarding shoes, to all of the parts to build your own customized skateboard. There are almost always teenage boys here, shopping for stickers or just hanging out and watching the skateboarding videos playing on the TV and VCR on the counter, or reading magazines like Thrasher.
Eddie hires a couple of twenty-something skateboarding guys to run the store’s counter in the afternoons but he’s usually in the shop building skateboards and hanging out.
Some of the skating kids who hang around the shop might be available for recruitment as companions, especially the more rebellious and punky ones. The players might learn from the skaters that they think Smokey or some other bum is living in the closed department store Dillyards, because sometimes when they’re skating on the Dillyards loading dock they hear strange noises and weird voices coming from the store.
SHOPPING: skateboards start at $27 for the cheapest, up to $100 or $200 for expensive ones with lots of accessories
Music Store – Tapemasterz
The big glass windows of this store are filled with posters and stand-up cardboard displays of sexy, scary, rebellious pop, rock, metal, disco and hip-hop music. Half-naked singers wearing lingaree, long-haired androgynous rockers, flashy glistening dancers and bloody pentagrams are all depicted, and loud uptempo music can be heard pulsing through the entrance.
On Saturdays and Sunday afternoons 2d4 of the local fundamentalist Christian church members are picketing the store for “propagating sinful music and imagery including satanism”. They are particularly mad about Slayer and Madonna.
Inside, rows of bins with cassette tapes, vinyl records, and a small section of the brand new compact discs stretch from wall to wall. The music is arranged by genre of music and then alphabetically by artist. A counter with a clerk behind a cash register stands by the door, flanked by tall rotating wire racks holding the newest releases and more cardboard displays of the artists and cover art. A separate counter displays record players, tape cassette players, and the brand new CD players.
SHOPPING: popular and new tapes and compact disks cost up to $25, and are marked down from there, with singles and tapes in the discount bin for as little as $2.99
– One or more of the Player Characters gets turned on to some music that they really like, or perhaps they hear something they really don’t?
– The PCs get personally accosted by a protesting family or schoolmate for going into the store or otherwise being present for such sinful temptations.
Night Encounter – Inside Tapemasterz you hear scampering sounds and see rainbow flashes of flying compact disks being tossed around by little creatures.
The goblins are playing around with the compact disks, unwrapping them and throwing them at each other. If they spot the Player Characters they will attack and try to bring them back to the ship.
Electronics – Stereo Hut
Selling electronic components and parts, this medium-sized store also sells a variety of the latest consumer electronics, including video cassette recorders (VCRs), video cameras, and personal computers (PCs) and accessories like printers and modems. Computer prices vary depending on the product, from the relatively affordable Commodores to the mid-range Apple and high-end IBM PCs.
They also sell a small selection of software for the computers, in the form of 5 1/4 inch floppy disks and plug-in cartridges, offering programs such as word processing and accounting software and computer games.
Stacked on the counter are flyers for the local computer bulletin board system (BBS), which is run by the store owner. The BBS is a type of simple computer network, where PC users use a modem and phone line to connect to the BBS. The BBS software is a menu-driven text-based interface where there are various games, discussion forums, and file repositories.
Day or Night Encounter – The store owner, a shy, somewhat awkward, yet friendly, geeky person, is in the store repairing customer electronics, or moderating the BBS on the central computer terminal in the back office. They might be convinced to help Player Characters figure out any electronics problems, like how the Alien Control Collars might work, or why they’re seeing phantom images on pictures taken in Dillyards.
Wizard’s World – Comics and Games Store
The smell of newsprint permeates this store, where a counter with bespectacled clerks and cash registers stands to the left, with rare collectibles in plastic bags on the wall behind them. The right wall is covered floor to ceiling with yards of shelves bearing colorful comic books. Display stands and long cardboard boxes throughout the rest of the store contain imported toys, models, back issues of comic books, amusing books and games of various types including the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide for sale at $20 each.
Night Encounter – The Player Characters hear the goblins or dark elf breaking into the store to steal the replica katana and greatsword (from Conan the Barbarian) hanging on the wall above the register, and perhaps also absconding with some adult comic books, or books they believe might be magical, such as the D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Treasure – The replica katana and greatsword are not sharp, and so deal -2 damage. In addition, they are not sturdily made, and on an attack roll of 1 or similar fumble the blade is likely to break off at the hilt.
The Sports Store
The Sport Store sells a wide variety sporting goods and recreational equipment.
A small shop near the entrance offering to photograph and print pictures of yourself or your family in a variety of styles, be it family portraits, pet pictures, soft-focus glamour photographs, or even boudoir photography.
Night Encounter – The Player Characters hear a strange blurbling sound from inside the little photography studio. If they investigate, they find one of the small Puppet Masters in the darkroom, getting drunk inhaling vapors of photography chemicals and singing in it’s weird alien voice. It is probably accompanied by a few collar-controlled minions, who will defend it and escort it back to the ship if need be. Though intoxicated, the beetle-like Puppet Master will try to enslave any interlopers.
Department Stores – PC Jenney’s, Marcy’s 4th Avenue, Steinmart, Dillyards, and Shears
These huge stores sell a spectrum of items for the home, arranged into different sections. Their shelves are closely packed with shoes and clothes for children women and men, housewares such as silverware, plates, pots and pans. In the next section there are appliances from toasters to ovens to the brand new huge and expensive microwave ovens, interspersed with racks and shelves full of wares and electronics from soap dishes to bath towels, to alarm clocks, to vacuums.
Finally, in each store, the centerpiece of the toy section, in huge and gaudy displays exclaiming the upcoming Thanksgiving Sale – the brand new, insanely popular home video game systems like the Colecovision and Atari.
The various department stores are successively less expensive (and therefore carry successively less durable and status-indicating brands and wares) in the following order: Marcy’s 4th Avenue > Dillyards (closed) > Steinmart > P.C. Jenney’s > SHEARS.
Night Encounter – Diminutive, guttural voices can be faintly heard emanating from within the department store.
Kobolds or goblins from the alien ship have made their way into the store by way of the air ducts, and are rummaging through the knives, arguing over the best of the silver and steel. Or perhaps the dark elf is stealing a new pair of boots?
Dillyards – CLOSED
This department store is no longer in business, and all the doors giving access to it are locked. The glass of the windows and doors is painted white on the inside, with curling old posters on the outside boldly proclaiming “Re-opening Soon!” in huge fading diagonal text.
Entering Dillyards will require one or more of:
- picking the locks on, or forcing the main doors
- picking the locks on, or forcing the back doors from the service hallways
- using the mall manager or custodian’s keys to enter
- crawling and climbing in through the ventilation system – requiring a medium difficulty Athletics (Strength) or similar climb skill check (DC 15), and risking minor falling damage on a failure
- using the alien control collars or other means to become ethereal, and walking through the doors or walls
Within, the clothing racks, shelves, and display counters all stand empty save for dust and drop-clothes, making a spooky maze out of the otherwise empty store. On the upstairs level, near the entrance which leads to the outside are two coin-operated amusements, a mechanical horse for children to ride, and a photo booth.
Unseen to the average human eye, but slightly visible on film or video, the alien ship stands near the photo booth on the ethereal plane, a giant ghostly beetle-looking thing, fifteen feet tall. By night aliens and their minions emerge from the entrance to the ship. When the door is open it appears in the material world as a glowing six by four foot portal floating slightly above the ground, and allows passage from the material world into the interior of the etherial ship.
From there the creatures climb through the air ducts or pick the locks to roam through the empty and dark mall at night. The slave creatures are mainly tasked with stealing food and diet soda for the aliens.
The younger aliens are planting the elders’ eggs in the ventilation ducts, where they will grow until they hatch during the Thanksgiving Sale. Over the long shopping weekend each hatchling will find a human to control the mind of, and go home with them to eat, grow, and lay more eggs. Unchecked, they will spread first through the town, and then the world.
Night Encounter – The Player Characters witness the portal to the alien vessel open – a brilliant yellow rectangle of light the size of a large door. One or more of the alien’s mind-controlled minions emerges and proceeds to go about some errand. If they spot the Player Characters, they will almost certainly attack.
Alternatively, the Player Characters might see some of the minions returning to the ship, weather through use of stealth, or by chasing or tracking some minions back here. The minions will walk up to a spot near the photo booth and press the amber button on their collars, at which point the brilliant yellow doorway opens, and the minions enter the ship with their stolen spoils (See Class of 198X for more details).
Behind the shops, making a broken ring of hallways around the exterior of the mall, are the service corridors. Most customers never see these hallways, which connect the loading docks to the back doors of every shop in the mall. Doors connect these corridors to the hallways that give customers access to the mall bathrooms, and from there to the promenade.
Stairs and freight elevators give access to the service corridors around the upper level, as well as to the physical plant, below.
Exterior doors at the loading docks are usually open by day, and locked at night by the mall security guard or manager. Individual shop doors from the service corridor are also often unlocked when open for business and almost always locked when closed.
By day, those traveling through the service corridors might encounter delivery persons bringing goods to the shops’s back offices and storage areas, or said store employees coming and going.
Day or night, one is also at risk or running into Rob Pearson, the mall’s security guard, who will accost and detain anyone not employed by the mall. When people give him trouble or don’t obey him he usually calls the police on the nearest payphone, and tries to press charges for trespassing, theft, disorderly conduct, or whatever is appropriate to the circumstances.
By night, the Player Characters might encounter some of the alien minions headed out on a diet soda and junk food raid, or else hauling their loot back towards the ship.
Beneath the main floor of the mall and accessible only through a stairway from the service corridors, this area houses all of the large machinery that provides heating, cooling, electricity, and water to all of the stores of the mall. Large furnaces, air-conditioning units, and fans are connected to a sprawling network of large metal air ducts and a sprawling array of pipes.
Near the top of the stairs to the physical plant is the custodian’s area where behind double doors cleaning supplies, industrial sinks, trash cans on wheels and the like are stored.
Ventilation System Ducts
Crawling and climbing through ducts of the ventilation system requires a medium difficulty Athletics (Strength) or similar climb skill check (DC 15), and risking minor falling damage (1d3 or 1d6) on a failure under 10 or 5.
The monsters have been using the ventilation system to exit Dillyards and move through the rest of the mall. There are ventilation grates loose in several areas throughout the mall, and decent perception checks will notice dropped candy and popcorn here and there.
A thorough exploration of the ventilation system, specifically the upper parts above the second story, will reveal strange, ribbed black eggs, about the size of a softball, stuck to the walls with a tough black tar-like substance. These are the alien eggs, planted and preparing to hatch and find human slaves to take them home over the course of the Thanksgiving Weekend Sale.
Because of the cramped nature of the ducts, fighting is at a disadvantage inside of them unless at one of the roomier major junctions, where air is pumped up and down between the levels.
- Scaping sounds and strange, whispering voices echo through the metal ducts.
Those exploring the ventilation system might hear the sounds of kobolds or lizardfolk returning to the ship with their stolen goods. They may have to track them through the vents by sound for some time before they find the source of the sound, or perhaps the two groups run into each other by chance.
- The clicking sounds seem to have mostly stopped when, around the next corner, a hideous sight – some horrible huge beetle is laying a black, ribbed, softball-sized egg on the ceiling, along with several other eggs, all stuck together by dark, tarry-looking gunk.
Player Characters who venture up into the upper layers of the ventilation ducts might hear strange rapid clicking sounds, and run into a small Puppet Master planting eggs.
This office, situated on the second floor of the Service Corridors near between Marcy’s and Steinmart is the mall manager’s office. Usually locked. Inside are filing cabinets full of leases, employee’s personnel files, and other mall paperwork, along with a cabinet with copies of keys to every shop in the mall. A small desk with an old wooden swivel chair face the door, and there are two folding chairs and an old leather couch.
Encounter – Sometimes the mall manager sleeps here, exposing him to the possibility of mental enslavement by the Puppet Masters, or to his discovery of meddlesome teenagers snooping around in the mall where they’re not supposed to be after the mall is closed.
Treasure – The keys to the Honda motorscooter near the fountain are in a desk drawer.
If the player characters interfere with the aliens too much, the Puppet Masters will retaliate….
Posted in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Location, rules agnostic and tagged Class of 198X, ClassOf198X by Adam A. Thompson with no comments yet.