They Were Right.
The Huldufólk are invisible to us, walking among us, influencing our world. Yet they’re more like us than we might expect, and much like us, they fall in love, whether they want to or not. When a Huldufólk falls in love with a human and has children with them, the pairing always results in twins: one human, and one Huldufólk – The Lost Twin. This is one of their stories.
The Psych Eval
“So, how far back do you remember having these delusions?”
Dr. Calvert was just beginning jotting observations on his new patient, but the final determination was fairly certain. The police didn’t point suicide attempts his direction just expecting them to be sent home with some aspirin.
“Delusions?” Amy gave a chuckle. “Frankly Doc, sometimes I wish they were just that. In some ways my life would make a lot more sense.” She took a drag of her cigarette and considered where to begin. The hospital was a strict non-smoking area — it had been for the entire time Dr Calvert had been there. How the girl managed to get through intake with a pack and a lighter was beyond him. If the Doctor stopped to ponder it, he’d have been even more confused why he’d let her light one up.
“It started when I was just a girl. Our mom never had — how would I put it — an overabundance of caution around the house. All those TV ads about keeping your cleaning products out of reach? Let’s say our mom didn’t watch a lot of TV. The story goes that one day, I was around 5 at the time, I must’ve watched a cartoon where a witch or something made a potion in their cauldron. Eye of newt, skin of a drowned rat, that sort of stuff. So when mom wasn’t looking, I went searching through the kitchen for my ‘ingredients’. Apparently my components of choice that day were marshmallows, goldfish, bleach, and drain cleaner.”
The image was enough to get Dr Calvert to pay a bit of undivided attention to his patient, at least for a moment. “So what were you trying to conjure up?”
“Who knows? Maybe a dad who did more than send Christmas and Birthday cards. Maybe I was trying to smite some mean kid at the park. All I know is that I mixed my potion and was getting ready to give it a taste, when there was a crash. Apparently all the pots and pans our mom had precariously stacked in the drying rack picked that moment to have an avalanche, and the clang was enough to draw mother from her book in the other room.”
“Sounds like your mother was bad at stacking pots.”
“Maybe.” Amy took another drag. “And then there was our uncle’s house. He’d watched a few episodes of This Old House, and decided he’d spend a month building his own backyard patio. He was excited enough over it to invite us for a barbeque. Overall he did a decent job, but he hadn’t put a railing in yet, which is the sort of thing you should think about before a toddler goes barreling over the side of the thing.”
“How far was the fall?,” Dr Calvert asked.
“Farther down than I was tall, and straight on to concrete. I distinctly remember falling face first, and then everything going black. According to Uncle Pete, he’d never seen mom so scared. He thought he’d just gotten his niece killed, or very least her skull cracked wide open. But when our mom grabbed me and took me to the hospital, I just had this big gash, in the middle of my forehead. Blood everywhere, but no worse for wear. Our Uncle was the one that first said I had to have someone up there watching out for me.”
Roswen stood behind Amy, her hand on the back of her sister’s chair. While Amy usually favored light, colorful clothes you’d get off a rack at Forever 21 (though she was currently relegated to a threadbare hospital gown), Ros’s getup of choice generally involved yoga pants, a dark tank top, and a leather jacket (Ros had learned early on that thick leather was the best way to protect from the swing of a knife). Ros lacked her sister’s signature scar — a hairline white mark down the center of her forehead. Instead she carried a long scar down the side of her neck, a reminder that leather only protects you from a knife’s arc if you get your arm up fast enough. The doctor, of course, didn’t notice Roswen. No one ever did.
Their mother had only known their father for a week or so. They stayed together night and day, and after a week of calling out sick with worsening excuses, she went in for work. When she returned, he was gone, and nine months later, she had Amy.
Leading up to the birth, her doctors had sworn she was having twins. Two baby girls were born, and she’d held both of them. But shortly afterwards, one of those twins was forgotten. Lost. According to the hospital she’d only had one child, and she certainly didn’t remember any differently. She had already set up the nursery for twins, of course, but never really questioned why she’d bought her daughter bunk beds when Amy was old enough. Then again, Amy never questioned why she referred to her mother in the plural, despite being an only child. It was always our mother. Our grandpa. Our uncle.
Ros wandered over to the Doctor and looked over his notes. Outlook: not so good. “Hallucinations” had been jotted down a few times, along with the something called “pronoia” (which a quick google search explained was the belief the world was secretly conspiring for your success), and the word she’d been fearing, with a question mark: schizophrenia?
“And then there was the mugging. I’d gone downtown to see a show, and after I was good and liquored up, … among some other things …, I made my way back to the subway. I wandered down a dark alley — wandering down a dark alley by myself, I know, how cliché, right — and that’s when he popped out. I gave him my money without a fight, but then he decided he wanted my necklace too. Our grandmother’s necklace. I argued with him over it, and I was amped up enough to swing my purse at him. That’s when he took a stab at me. And tripped.”
“Sounds very lucky, if you ask me.” Dr Calvert was already about done believing this ‘string of good luck’.
“Very lucky, sure,” Amy said, “except he didn’t so much as trip, as … fling himself straight past me. Head first into a dumpster. And then down onto the pavement, hard. Harder than he should’ve, if you ask me. He didn’t move after that, and I didn’t stick around to see if he was going to. I ran to the subway and tried not to think about it. Clearly that didn’t work out.”
“So how does this all lead to you throwing yourself in front of a bus?”
Amy put out her cigarette butt on the side of the chair, and lit another. “Well those were just the big points. There’s lots more. One time I found myself getting evicted from my apartment for no clear reason, and two days later it was just ‘fixed’. I got fired from the bookstore because the manager thought I was stealing — I wasn’t, by the way — and then I get hired on the spot at the very first place I apply. On my way to our mother’s funeral, I was running late, like always, and my car breaks down. I’m freaking out, no idea how to get home, when a car pulls over, asks if I need a lift, and it turns out they’re heading down the street from where I need to be. My whole fucking life, doc, I’ve been the rope in a tug of war, and they’re, like, really obvious about it.
“I’ve always known, somewhere, there was someone watching out for me, but the mugging ‘accident’ was too much. I needed to prove it to myself. So the next day, I jumped out in front of that bus, and I knew I was right.”
“Well the report says someone must’ve yanked you backwards in the nick of time, sure,” Dr Calvert chimed in. “But any number of passers-by could have been the one who pulled you to safety. In the police report, I see you came to the conclusion that it must have been your guardian angel. Or at least that’s what you ranted about until they picked you up.
“Is there any history of mental illness in your family, Amy?” Ros knew Amy had been right about someone looking out for her, of course. Not quite a guardian angel, but Amy wasn’t far off from the truth. Their father had warned Ros time and time again: she intervened for Amy too often. Now here were the consequences. Maybe some time in here would be safer for her, Ros thought. Maybe the notion will pass if her idiot guardian angel doesn’t come riding to the rescue this time.
“History of mental illness? Not unless you count our mom believing that dad would just drop in one day,” Amy quipped. “So, what’s the verdict, Doc?”
“Well, Miss Jones, I’m afraid these delusions are deeply ingrained in your psyche. I have a number of psychotropic options which may help, but these are slow acting, uncertain options. A case as advanced as yours — where you’ve already begun placing yourself in dangerous situations — may require some unorthodox approaches, if we want to have a chance of reversing the damage these delusions have caused. I’m going to recommend you to a promising study with one of my colleagues.”
Roswen looked over the abstract Dr Calvert was perusing. “Electroshock Therapy, Reborn — Revisiting the Efficacy of Electrical Impulses in Treating Destructive Delusional Behavior”. Electroshock therapy? Roswen was pretty sure the science had been debunked decades ago, though she’d fallen asleep in most of Amy’s Intro to Psych classes. The memo was dated for just this morning, after Amy’s check-in to the hospital last night. Someone was fucking with them again.
It had to be someone in The Banished. Sometimes other factions in The Blessed would mess with Roswen’s sister in minor ways — just to distract Ros for a while while they pulled a fast one. None of them would be amoral enough to sign up her sister for electrocution. She hoped. Either way, someone was going to get their fucking house set on fire.
Ros sighed. She’d hate intervening one more time, just feeding into Amy’s ‘delusion’, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and she had to get her sister out of this place, pronto. As Doctor Calvert picked up the evaluation form, Ros leaned over behind him, placing her hand around his.
“I’m considering this a severe case, with extreme probability for harm to yourself or others.” Doctor Calvert wrote down his evaluation: anxiety, with minimal chance of danger. “I’m going to need to have you committed here temporarily, for further evaluation, until Dr Engman is ready to begin his study.” Doctor Calvert didn’t notice himself skipping the “involuntary commit” option, instead checking the box on the form indicating Amy could be released on her own recognizance. Roswen let the Doctor write out his prescription for Thorazine, an antipsychotic, and then quickly scratched it out. When he wrote a script for Valium, however, Ros left it alone.
Doctor Calvert opened the door, handing the form to a nurse aid waiting outside. She looked over the form, a bit surprised. She turned to question the Doctor, but he’d already taken off, down the hall and to another floor.
“Well Miss,” the nurse said, “it seems you’re free to go. I’ll direct you to the pharmacy window on your way out.” She sniffed the air. “Was someone smoking in here?”
Amy snuffed her cigarette out under her chair. “I wouldn’t worry about it,” she said, and walked out of the room.
Ros followed Amy home, making sure she got into her apartment, and there was no one waiting for her.
Alright, it’s business time, Ros thought. Time to make some calls and pick up some gasoline.
“Into the Forest” Illustration by Fabio Spagnoli.
“Psych Eval” Illustration by Jonathan Schneck.
Join us at HLGCon at the Showboat in Atlantic City, October 12th – 14th, where the Winding Path Initiative will be hosting Vampire the Masquerade in the Blood & Betrayal Chronicle, along with showcasing the Huldufólk playtest. Get the “Full Weekend” ticket to play our games and enjoy the convention, or buy a single day ticket if you’re only available Saturday. Either way, join us Saturday afternoon for our debut of Huldufólk.
Whether you call them Huldufólk, Hidden People, or Elves, every culture has quietly known the truth: we are not alone. We share this world with them, they influence our lives, and they are very much like us. Take on the role of the hidden people, and jump straight into their world. At the start of the playtest we’ll introduce you to the setting of the game, helping you create the background and motivations for your own character. Join one of the Huldufólk factions pushing for their goals, as your decisions help form the setting as the game launches.
Remember: No matter what, you can just show up to the playtest. All the details here are optional, for the purposes of feeling more prepared walking in, but we’ll provide you with everything you need on site at the playtest.
Step One: Choose your Character Type and Faction
Choose between the three types of Huldufolk, and choose a faction for your character. Filling out the character survey before-hand will let us know what you’ve chosen, and what motivations your character gears towards. Whether or not you do this ahead of time, you’ll be able to easily select these things at the playtest, and we’ll help provide you goals for the game.
Our survey provides the basic explanations about Huldufolk society, but feel free to read the full setting if you have the time.
Step Two: Your Character Sheet
While your faction helps decide your goals and motivations, your character sheet shows what your character is generally good at doing. You have three options for your character sheet:
- Pick up a pre-made one at game. This is the easiest option, and what we expect most players to do. We’ll have a number of pre-made sheets available for you to pick up and use.
- Create one at game. For those with experience making character sheets, we’ll have blank sheets available for use. Creating a character should take less than 15 minutes.
- Create one ahead of time. If you’d like the especially prepared, of you’d like to get the best grasp of the rules we’ve created, you can take a look at the rules and character sheet ahead of time, and prepare your own.
- Alpha Rules Character Sheet. Print this out and follow the instructions.
- Full Huldufolk Alpha Rules, including power descriptions and resolution mechanics.
- Optional: Provide Rules Feedback. If you’re familiar with Larp game mechanics, what do you think of our rules set? If you’re attending the playtest, perhaps keep this in mind for the playtest and provide us your feedback afterwards.
Step Four: Read the Premise, which will give you the background information for our HLGCon game.
Step Five: Show Up! At the playtest we will walk players through the game setting, help them make connections to other characters, and provide information on your faction goals during the event. Any amount of costuming is encouraged but not required, any amount of preparation is optional, no previous role-playing experience is required!
Each of the Huldufólk factions have strong opinions about how the events of this playtest should go, and we’ve cast a full set of NPCs to guide players through the politics and intrique of the Huldufólk.
- Friends of God leader: Ericka Skirpan
- Bringers of Fire leader: Dan S
- Judges of Light leader: Joe Gates, Óskar Ulrichsen
- Profane leader: Jeremy White, Tex
- Profane former leader: Ryan Hart, Roland Faust
- Profane member: Sarah Helwig, Anora
- Betrayed leader: Jason Hughes
- Chastened leader: Kaza
- Agents of Balance Leader: Maury Brown
The Winter of Our Discontent
As the harvest season ends and the cold creeps into our bones, the veil between our world and the world of the hidden will reach its thinnest point, and the hidden people will gather. At this Hallows’ Eve, the patience of the Huldufólk’s Blessed has been stretched to its breaking point — as is the newest reluctant member of The Banished, Anora.
Anora lived a fairly run of the mill life, working at a bar on the rough side of Chicago, supporting a child from a former regular who loved her and left her. One night, trying to protect a friend, she killed what turned out to be an innocent man, sending her spiraling into the world of the Huldufólk’s malevolent Banished.
Now she must face the truth: the man she scorned for leaving, Óskar, never truly left at all, and leads the Judges of Light, warriors of justice for the Blessed. Anora has been pulled into a dangerous feud that may lead to civil war, a disaster for the Hidden People. All the factions of the Huldufólk have their eyes on this quarrel, and its resolution might spell doom — or a great advantage for some of them, if they play their cards right.
A City Torn by Corruption
This year’s Hallow’s Eve celebration is hosted by The Agents of Balance, an independent Huldufólk faction who often brokers the delicate peace between the Huldufólk’s Banished and Blessed. The Huldufólk are gathering in Atlantic City, which is having its own troubles.
Mayor Bulleny has spent years profiting off rampant corruption and city exploitation. After barely escaping jail in a bribery and murder conspiracy trial last year, he’s up for re-election, with some stiff competition. One of his opponents wishes to squash the corruption seizing the city, redirecting taxes from casinos towards improving the lot of the city’s poor and downtrodden. A third contender, with flashy TV ads and a charming smile, proposes a radical modernization of the city — complete with a monorail and massive investments in luxury housing. Constituents are torn deciding between assistance for the city’s growing homeless population, or a promising futuristic tomorrow, while its perpetually shady Mayor seems poised to eek out a win through the support of the city’s seediest elements.
The Ghost of Bad Luck Past
There’s a new ghost story rolling around Atlantic City about a poker player who lost everything on a bad hand, and jumped off the roof of the Casino. If a poker player comes to the roof of said casino after midnight, they’ll be thrown off — but, if they come with a King of Hearts (the card the unfortunate gambler needed to win his fateful hand), they’ll be given good luck.
Of course, a casual investigation into the story reveals no such man has ever existed, and this story appeared out of thin air mere weeks ago. Yet the legend is picking up speed, and the power behind it is gaining more and more believers. This is clearly a Rogue Huldufolk, trying to become his own Urban Legend. No matter your faction, it believes that he needs to go down.