There is firelight the woods tonight And a bone pale moon so full and bright Hear the tune of fiddle and drum Revel and play and to the night succumb.
Welcome to Shady Valley
It’s a small rural community nestled in the Appalachian foothills between Grandfather and Black Mountain. Originally a mill town, most of Shady Valley’s industry dried up toward the end of the 1960’s. The town should have withered away, like so many other communities in the surrounding counties, but Shady Valley prospered in spite of its circumstances, and stands today as a testament to quiet stable living; an embodiment of the American Dream.
The community is large enough to support two rivaling elementary schools, but has only one high school. The heart of Shady is it’s picturesque historic downtown, which boasts a variety of curiosity and specialty shops, restaurants, and the odd pub or two. Independent businesses thrive here, and though big box stores can be found no more than an hour’s drive away, Shady has somehow remained impervious to the intrusion of corporate retail. Much of the area outside the business district has been maintained for housing, farmland, and rolling cattle pasture. Beyond that, Shady Valley is surrounded by thick woodland which makes up part of the vast Pisgah National Forest.
For such a small town, there is an unusually low percentage of poverty and unemployment. Circumstances just seem to work out for Shady Valley and its inhabitants, often against the odds. Tourism has now become the town’s primary industry, particularly in the fall of the year, when a steady stream of visitors flock to the area to experience Shady Valley’s enthralling Fall festivities, as well as some of the most spectacular autumn colors in the Appalachia’s.
In addition to numerous weekend events, Shady Valley holds its largest fall festival every year on October the twenty-eighth, which kicks off the preparations for the Halloween Game. Businesses are encouraged to decorate, promote events, and offer day long discounts while schools take part of the day to hold special activities for students. In the afternoon, usually starting around four o’clock, the downtown area is closed to traffic. Street vendors set up stalls between the shops while the town hosts a variety of carnival style game booths, craft displays, live musical performances, and spook houses. Most businesses off of main street will close early in order to allow employees a chance to attend, while schools load up their students and bring them downtown by the busload for an afternoon of fun.
Farmers from across the county bring in the year’s harvest of pumpkins. Quite a few are set aside for purchase, while others are donated to the town council for the local Candlelight Garden, which showcases numerous arrangements of carved jack o'lanterns throughout the town on Halloween night. Pumpkin contests, leg races, and a plethora of other events are held throughout the festival, promoting friendly competition and good sportsmanship. Bingo and other games are held at the local library and Town Hall.
The Festival closes with the pumpkin carving contest, in which the year’s participants in the Halloween Game prepare their jack o’lanterns. The entries are judged, and prizes awarded to the top ten participants.
For the intrepid thrill seeker and curious newcomer, entry into the Halloween Game is found inside of Shady Valley's town hall. There is a small fee for participants over sixteen, but all enterprising players are allowed to pick a pumpkin to carve. Afterwards, the entries are put on display and judged. The top three winners are guaranteed to have their names and faces on the front page of the local paper, while the top ten entries receive an assortment of prizes.
Once the competition is concluded, the town holds a closing ceremony for the festival. Numerous volunteers, wearing masks and traditional attire, gather up the pumpkin entries for the Halloween Game, and in a great solemn procession march down along Main Street and out the old Oak Road to begin the long task of hiding the pumpkins in the forest surrounding the town.
The Game is held at Gathering Field, accompanied by music, refreshments, and a great deal of fanfare. The Halloween Game for children begins at ten o’clock and carries until eleven thirty. It is heavily supervised, and the pumpkins aren’t difficult to find, particularly because adults are allowed to help in the search. Once the children’s game is finished, however, the real Halloween Game begins. Participants must be present at the field no later than the stroke of midnight, or else they will be disqualified until the following year.
The moment the players enter the forest, they have three hours to complete the game and return to the Gathering. A flame is lit inside each pumpkin, and the participant must find their personal jack o'lantern, and bring it back to the field with the pumpkin intact and the flame still burning. The Others lurk in the shadows, people dressed to frighten and entice as they use any means at their disposal to distract or terrify the players. The only thing they cannot do, however, is touch a player. At least, so long as that player's flame still burns. If the pumpkin is damaged, or the flame goes out, the player loses the game.
Prizes are not awarded for first place, as the point of the Halloween Game isn't to finish the fastest, but rather to return safely to the Gathering Field. Players who have completed the Game are each given a small gift, and enjoy the prestige of having participated in Shady Valley's most famous yearly event.
Gathering Field is a vast flat expanse bordered on one side by the town, and on the other by the deep woods of Pisgah National Forest. Ordinarily used for cattle corn and hay, the field is cleared early into the month of October to become the staging ground for the Halloween Game. The Gathering rests at the end of a long gravel drive which branches off the end of Main Street, known locally as the Old Oak Road for the tall overarching trees which grow along the lane.
On Halloween night an immense bonfire is built and ignited in the field. The fire marks the location where the Game will start, and acts as a beacon for players in the woods, allowing them to easily find their way back to the Gathering. Even after the Halloween Game is concluded, the town traditionally mans the bonfire throughout the evening before finally allowing it to burn down in the early morning hours of November first.
This thread will primarily be for posting characters. I assume that most ooc banter will likely take place on Arkadia's discord, but if anyone does have something to discuss, or a question to ask, and would prefer not to use the live chat, you are more than welcome to post here or send me a direct message.
Characters in this story must be human. You may choose to play either a local character, or a newcomer that has recently moved, or is passing through. You can also play characters who have participated in the Game before, which may or may not change your experience for this annual Halloween Game.
Once the Game has officially started and all of our characters are in the woods, you must post at least three times before you can have your character attempt to find their pumpkin. When you are ready to do so, please send me a DM.
All of Arkadia's rules of conduct apply. I want this to be accessible to interested parties of all skill levels, but I would also prefer if posts could be a minimum of two solid paragraphs of five or more sentences.
There is no posting schedule. We are all busy people, and I’d like this to be a fun and comfortable experience. If you don't think you can post in a timely fashion (say within two weeks?) let me know and we'll see if we can work around your character until you can get caught back up.
Below I will post a bare bones character sheet. You can use it directly, or alter it as you please in order to share however much information you would like us to know about your player. You do not have to follow the format in any way, so long as we get a basic understanding of who your character is, where they come from, and what their experience with the Halloween Game has been so far.
So, let's meet our player's:
Name: Nickname (If Any): Age: (16 - 25) Appearance: (Description, Faceclaim, or Both) Personal Fears: - - -
Relationships: (These can be all be NPC relationships, or with other players. The relationship does not need to be positive, so long as there is a strong bond attached.) - - -
Costume: (Not Required, but Always Recommended) Experience: (First Timer or Return Player) Short Bio:
Age: 17 Appearance: 5’1” tall, slim figure, long caramel coloured hair, dark brown eyes
Personal Fears: .. trapped in confined spaces .. needles .. blood
Relationships: Jacob Adams (Father): Big city lawyer, Jacob commutes regularly from Shady Valley. He is rarely at home, and even often stays every other weekend away.
Chelsey Adams (Mother): stay-at-home mom and blogger, Chelsey is more obsessed with being a blogging sensation and making sure she upholds her status as a well known blogger than actually taking care of her kids.
Ben Adams (younger brother): age 12. The five year age gap creates so much space between the siblings. Ben is also 'famous-adjacent' for often being the subject of Chelsey's blogging as a mom.
Mason Brooks (boyfriend): Mason is the typical 'cool guy' who isn't part of the high school football team. He's friends with them, sure, but his care-free attitude and handsome smile gets him all that he wants--even Hailey on his arm.
Harley Quinn of the Suicide Squad movie with some modifications: her hair is dyed at the ends and pulled into pigtails, she has the jacket and the t-shirt, short jean shorts, fishnet stockings, and Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers
Short Bio: Hailey’s family moved to Shady Valley when she was entering high school from the big city. Her easy going personality, chill attitude, and ‘big city’ demeanour quickly got her associated into the ‘popular’ crowd in school; she’s just a generally likeable girl who adapted. She never understood the appeal of Halloween after the age of eight; dressing up just seemed rather immature to her, and she always managed to avoid the Halloween Game by going with her family back to the City every year at the end of October.
This year, under the coercion of her friends and her new boyfriend, she has decided to embrace Halloween along with the traditions of the town, deciding to check out the Game--despite her scepticism of the realness of the lore.
Name: Arthur Andersen[break] Nickname(s): Art, Arty, "AA", "Double-A" (most of these can be attributed to Harry)[break] Age: 16[break] Appearance: A skinny, waifish boy, Art spends most of his time inside, steers clear of most physical activity, and has the kind of metabolism one only finds in a teenage boy, all contributing to his bean-pole like build. A little below average height at 5' 5", he's anything but imposing, and has the timid body language to match. Leaning heavily into 'emo' style, Art wears mostly black on black with the occasional startlingly bright contrasting color, and managed to convince his parents to let him get a nose piercing for his birthday this year. His hair is black and meticulously straightened every morning, and moderately long. His eyes are a dark brown, and usually pointed downwards in a mood, despite him usually having nothing to be moody over. It's a teenager thing. You wouldn't understand.[break][break]
Mother - Helena Andersen; owner of the local general store and one of the most community-involved women in the town. Bright and sunny as Arty isn't, she celebrates every holiday to excess, but none so much as Halloween. Both the store and their house are decked out with over-the-top decorations, and every year features a new and elaborate costume for her, with past examples ranging from a huge plush pumpkin suit to a headless horseman getup. Despite how different she is to Arty and how much he complains about her embarrassing him, they have a close and positive relationship and she cares buckets about her little boy and just wants him to be happy- even if she doesn't quite understand what that means for him all the time. Harry has become like a second son to her, and the two often light-heartedly gang up on Arty to bully him into having fun.
Father - Mark Andersen; runs the general store with his wife, is a little less loud and expressive than his wife, but gets into the spirit of things with her all the same most times. He doesn't really 'get' his son and that comes across a little in their relationship, which whilst not strained, isn't as close as it is between him and his mother. Mark has a bit less patience for Arty's moody and at-times depressing attitude, and wishes he'd 'get out more', but beneath the brusquer and typically masculine outer shell is a father who wishes he was better able to connect with his only son.
Boyfriend - Harry Peters; Arty still finds it a little hard to believe the loud, punky cool kid from his class ended up wanting to date him. Whilst there's arguably an element of "there aren't that many gay kids in this town" to their relationship, the two compliment each other well, with Harry tending to drag Arty out of his shell and help him overcome his social anxiety issues, while Arty is always willing to listen to Harry's rants about his homelife and offer quiet comfort when necessary.
Costume: A skeleton hoodie and face-paint. Bare minimum, although the face-paint is well done.[break][break]
Experience: Returning player; Arty has been roped into playing the Halloween Game since he was old enough to toddle along with his parents to look for pumpkins.[break][break]
Short Bio: Arty is a fairly typical teenager. Moody, self-absorbed and melodramatic, but all in small-enough measurements that he isn't totally intolerable to his peers. Arty's homelife has been pretty good, despite what his gloomy attitude might suggest. His parents are warm and affectionate, and Shady Valley has little in the way of bullying trouble. Most if not all of Arty's drama is self-imposed. His mom is so into her holidays that he's been overexposed to it, and now rolls his eyes at any mention of festival cheer: it's 'lame' and 'overhyped'. He finds the mania the whole town goes into over the Halloween Game in particular borderline culty in its excess. That said, he also thinks that pop music is all computer-generated garbage, that popular movies are garbage, and that popular brands are for sheep. His opinion is maybe a little warped by the wannabe hipster he has become in his teens.[break][break]
Arty and Harry met at high-school, and started dating last year. Shady Valley is a fairly accepting place, and so they've not had too much trouble for being out and proud- perhaps just more attention than Arty would have wanted. Although their personalities differ quite drastically, and Harry makes a habit of calling Arty out when he's being a moody poser, they still get on much better than you might expect. Arty has learned to give as good as he gets in their affectionate banter, and Harry usually manages to drag him along to social events that Arty would have otherwise avoided like the plague. The worst part is that he then enjoys them, so can't even be annoyed about it. At this rate, his reputation as a gloomy emo is at risk![break][break]
Name: Harry Peters[break] Nickname(s): "Doofus" (started by Art, the nickname has caught on as an in-joke meme in their circle of friends)[break] Age: 16[break] Appearance: Although relatively slender, Harry has enough muscle definition to not be a complete rake like a lot of teenage boys. Relatively fit from the the sports he plays, and of average height at 5' 8", Harry has confidence in his looks and his body and isn't afraid to show it off with sleeveless tops and shorts when the weather permits. His dark brown hair is usually hastily and messily styled with a splat of cheap gel. His arms and back are decorated with an array of tattoos of varying quality, most of which he got before he was technically old enough to do so, thanks to his older brother. Harry's clothes tend to be fairly cheap and occasionally threadbare, though not to an extreme degree.[break][break]
Becoming like his parents
Mother - Claire Pierce; took her maiden name back after the divorce, works at a local craft store, big into her Christianity. She hates Harry's father with a passion, claiming he 'ruined her life', despite the fact that her life is going fairly okay. She doesn't have much if any of a relationship with Harry and Louis, who she accuses of 'taking their father's side' and 'being just like him'. She was already high-strung and "screamy" to the point of borderline abuse before the divorce, which might explain why the kids didn't much want to stay with her, and why her husband cheated on her. Harry avoids her where he can.
Father - Eric Peters; teaches guitar lessons to local teens, is probably way too laid-back as a parent, and both smokes and drinks too much. Eric isn't a bad father in every respect - he loves and respects his sons, and usually lets them have whatever he wants if he can afford it - but he's far from responsible, and bad at taking care of them beyond putting a roof over their head. Harry and Louis are the ones keeping their apartment clean, cooking their meals, and generally keeping themselves on the straight and narrow (to an extent). He's had a long string of girlfriends over the years, none of whom have stuck around long.
Older Brother - Louis Peters; doesn't live in town any more, after going off to college in the next state this year. Louis has been a big presence in Harry's life, especially since the divorce, and has taken care of him more than their parents for the most part. Louis isn't a golden boy by any means, and has a weed habit almost as bad as their dad's, but makes up for it with a better sense of responsibility. He sidelines as a tattoo artist.
Boyfriend - Arthur Andersen; Harry was smitten with Arty from early days, finding the more timid boy cute as all hell. Despite their differences, Harry appreciates that Arty is always willing to listen to him rant about his parents, and never seems to mind when he keeps talking and talking and talking as he's prone to doing.
Experience: Returning player; first year attending without his brother.[break][break]
Short Bio: Harry's childhood has been most defined by the nuclear breakdown that took place in his parents' marriage when he was twelve, after his mom caught his dad cheating on her. Before that, home life had been a constant war of an increasingly shrill and always-angry mother versus. an increasingly substance-dependent and stressed out father. His parents went from a loving couple to hateful enemies quicker than they would have admitted after having their second child, when managing the home started to become just that much more stressful. Stubbornness and familial expectations kept them together as long as they were, and not for the better. If it weren't for the steadying presence of his brother, Harry's life would've been a much worse hell.[break][break]
As it was, Harry and Louis kept their heads down during the cold war that was the marriage, and when it broke down entirely, and the custody battle began, they decided between them it would be better to stay with their father (who despite his foibles, was a kind man), than their mother (who by this point spent more time yelling at them than speaking to them). Life since then hasn't been ideal, but Harry hasn't let it break him down- if anything, having a shitty home life pushed him to form friendships and be an extrovert so he could spend as much time out of the warzone as possible.[break][break]
Arty and Harry met at high-school, and started dating last year. Shady Valley is a fairly accepting place, and so they've not had too much trouble for being out and proud- not that Harry would have cared, but he's glad Art doesn't have to deal with it. Although their personalities differ quite drastically, and Harry makes a habit of calling Arty out when he's being a moody poser, they still get on much better than you might expect. Arty has learned to give as good as he gets in their affectionate banter, and Harry usually manages to drag him along to social events that Arty would have otherwise avoided like the plague. Harry is determined to make sure his boyfriend enjoys their first Halloween Game as a couple, despite how seriously over the holiday Arty is.[break][break]
Jack Creighton (Brother): John’s relationship with his brother is the driving force behind his participation in the Halloween Game this year. The two siblings were fairly close despite having a sizeable age gap between them. Five years ago, Jackie went into the woods for the Halloween Game at the age of nineteen and never came out again. John has obsessed with his brother’s disappearance ever since.
Bonnie Creighton (Mother): John has always been closer to his mother than his father, particularly since Kenneth Creighton seems to look for any excuse not to come home for long stretches of time. Bonnie used to work from the house, but perpetual mental health issues exacerbated by the loss of her oldest son have since forced her into retirement.
William Moss (Friend): The town recluse, William was a student in Jackie's graduating class from high school. The story goes that William fell into The Gathering bonfire while playing the Halloween Game five years ago and was badly burned. William has the scars to prove it, though the story he tells is very different. He says that Jackie saved his life, though he won't give John any details. Regardless, he's one of the only people in John's life who tolerates his obsession with finding out what happened to his brother. In fact, William encourages it.
Arthur Anderson (Friend): Probably one of the few kids in highschool that Johnny could consider a friend. They bonded across a library table, where Johnny often spent his lunch period researching town history and old newspaper records. They share a mutual distaste for Shady Valley's Halloween enthusiasm.
Short Bio: John used to be a normal kid. He moved with his family to Shady Valley when he was ten, and being the likable and energetic sort, John had no trouble making friends. He had a doting mother, a firm but fair father, and a brother whom he both tormented and quietly idolized. Like his older brother, John was immediately drawn into the town’s love for Fall and the Halloween spirit. His parents, however, were quick to show their disdain for the holiday, and so John spent his Halloween nights playing video games with Jackie, all while making his own plans to one day sign up for the Halloween Game.
The day that Jackie was finally old enough to get a job and find his own apartment was the worst day of John’s life. And worse even than that, as soon as Jack was out from under their parent’s thumb, he signed up for the Game himself. John was so jealous that he actually became angry with his brother, and refused to speak with him for several days.
But he was lonely at home, and nights in the house without Jack around became dark and ominous. The night before Halloween, John slipped into Jackie’s old room to sleep in his brother’s bed. Something woke him in the wee morning hours. Not a sound, but an odd sensation triggered at the back of John’s mind. He was being watched.
He peered from his brother’s bedroom window on the second floor of the house, and caught a glimpse a dark figure perched in the branches of a nearby tree. The figure seemed to notice his scrutiny and quickly vanished from sight, but the brief encounter scared John badly enough that he remained awake through the rest of the evening. The next day, John tried to warn Jackie that someone had been outside his bedroom, but Jackie was insistent that John was overreacting. He said that they would figure it out later, after the Game. But John would never see Jackie again.
After the disappearance, a two week search, and the halfhearted investigation which followed, John's life changed. His parents stopped talking. Too stubborn to get a divorce, they have continued to cohabitate, but Kenneth now spends the majority of his time on the road and out of town. John forgot his friends. He kept up his schoolwork, but only put as much effort into it as needed to in order to keep his grades acceptable. Every other ounce of spare time and attention has gone into digging into the background of Shady Valley.
Now, eighteen and legally an adult, John is prepared to face his inner demons. His father is out of town on business, his mother has hit a low point in her depression, and John has signed up to participate in the Halloween Game. He’s going to stand in the same spot that his brother did, and enter those woods, and see for himself what the Game is all about. His mother is furious, but John can’t let that stop him. He’s been preparing himself for this for five wretched years, and now, he’s ready. At least, he hopes he is.
Aspirations: To be a first-time winner of The Gathering Game Fears: Spiders, Drowning, Severe Injury
Bio: Angie grew up in Shady Valley in a family who always loved the holidays. She was an avid participant in the festivals, often volunteering with her parents to sell baked goods at the big festival every year. But when her older brother began to participate in the annual Halloween game, she became determined to do the same. She took part in the children's Gathering every year since she was 11, and now feels that she is ready to take on the young adult's game-- and win it faster than her brother ever has.
Kingsley Ross-Walters: Siblings. They have never been the closest because of the age difference, and though she at first craved a relationship with her brother, she now just wants to be better than him in every way as revenge for years of being picked on.
Jonah and Delilah Ross-Walters: Parents. Angie and her parents have always been close. They moved their kids to Shady Valley when the kids were young to give them a better life, and were delighted to discover how festive the town was around the holidays. They don't agree with the sibling rivalry, but try their best to be supportive of Angie's dedication to being the best she can be.
Costume: None! Costumes would be distracting from the goal. The most she could be convinced to wear was a black hoodie with cat ears on the hood and gray tabby stripes on the back.
Jack o' Lantern: Her signature is on it in purple marker, and she spent days carving a mandala style flower.
19|| Local || Returning Participant
Aspirations: To win the bet he made with his little sister Fears: Isolation, Memory Loss, Asphyxiation
Bio: Kingsley is a typical fresh-from-high-school young man who wants to use his "year off" to have a little fun before he goes off to being an adult. He never really participated in any of the Shady Valley festivities before because he was never a fan of Halloween. But his senior year, his friends convinced him to finally take part in the Gathering. The entire event was a blur, but he was told to be proud that he won the game, so he has been holding onto his victory for an entire year. This year, however, he has decided to do things a little differently.
Angie Ross-Walters: Siblings. He has recently begun to view his younger sister as the annoying tag-along type. As he got older, he pushed her farther and farther away, often resorting to outright tormenting the young girl, teasing her mercilessly so she would stop bothering him so much.
Jonah and Delilah Ross-Walters: Parents. Since he hit puberty, Kingsley's relationship with his parents became strained. He began acting out, rebelling, and shutting them out of his life. They're not sure why, but he's adamant about keeping them at arm's length, even though they are graciously letting him stay at home for another year before college.
Donovan Summers: Best Friend? Kingsley and Donovan spent a lot of time together, but Donovan went off to school immediately, leaving Kingsley feeling like he had been left behind. While he is glad to see him back for Halloween, he can't help but to be a little cold and snarky with him at times as a result of his very hurt feelings.
Costume: A full face-covering Doctor Plague mask, a black overcoat, black pants and boots.
Jack o' Lantern: As a self-proclaimed "volunteer," he didn't make one.
Experience - Local, First Timer; this is her first time playing not for lack of wanting to, but because this is the first year her brother could go off on his own without her having to watch him. She didn't want to drag him along as she is very competitive and would not want to go in with any disadvantages.
dislikes - Boredom ☣ Malevolence ☣ Being Housebound ☣ Pork
personal fears - Peaches fears that she will never make it as an artist in the real world. She's also fearful of deep water.
parents - Single Father, Thomas.
siblings - Little brother , Iz.
overall Peaches grew up knowing the endless love of her father who doted on her greatly, but still challenged her to be the best she could. She helped raise her little brother and does her best to ease her father's weight as he works to provide for them.