Last week was the 20th Anniversary of the debut of Twin Peaks on television, a series that literally redefined the prime-time drama and opened the door to everything from The X-Files to pretty much every single geeky show on TV today. We didn’t get Twin Peaks in Puerto Rico (and I didn’t have cable) so I came to watch it about five years after it had been off the air, when the series first came out on VHS (my wife, however, watched the whole thing as it aired, behind her parents’ back, skulking down to the family room at night – she was the one who infected me with Twin Peaks fever).
I fell in love with this show once I saw it, and I continue to friggin adore it to this day. Given that at the time I was running a Vampire: The Masquerade Chronicle for my two players, I decided to express my love for the show in the one way I know how: by using it in my game.
More than 10 years after the fact, my players still remember, with unsettling fondness, that visit to Twin Peaks.
What I did was use a mix of elements from the show and Fire Walk With Me movie. The movie delved really hardcore into the mythology of the show, and given my player characters were supernatural creatures to begin with, I knew I wanted to make them realize that there are even stranger, stronger things out there than vampires. I also knew I did not want to define at all the nature of the Lodge denizens, and that I was not going to try in any way to speculate on what happened to Cooper and Annie after the end of the show (our adventure was taking place a year after the end of the TV series). I would maybe hint, but I was more interested in exploring the themes than in creating fan-fiction about a possible sequel. Because of the characters I had playing, I knew I would be playing on the idea of Nina being a possible next victim to BOB (thus why I presented the ring from FWWM), though the use of the little girl from a previous encounter Nina had had was truly what gave me the emotional key to the whole event. I also knew I would have the vampires face off BOB somehow, and the way it went down was amazing. As it should, it left scars on the characters, both emotional and physical (and spiritual, as in the case of Ben).
It was only a couple of sessions, and only two nights of in-game time, but wow, what a great story that was. It became instant legend in our circle of friends, and to this day we talk about the time the vampires went to Twin Peaks.
If you want to read a recap of the entire episode, then please read on.
There had been a coup on the Toreador Prince and Ben and Nina, the player characters, escaped a gang of attacking vampires after a jet-taking-off-the-runway firefight. Heading out of Miami to who-knows-where, the two wake up from recovering from their wounds to find they are in Seattle, where some friendly Toreadors are taking them in as a favor to the Miami Prince. Seattle, however, is embroiled its own war with the Anarchs. The characters find themselves in a fight that’s not theirs but which Nina ends very quickly with a shot that triggers an explosion. Now on the Seattle Anarch’s shit list, one of the locals, Johnboy, decides to take the two visitors out of the city, back to his home town of Twin Peaks. They arrive just before dawn and head to an abandoned cabin in the woods to sleep.
Nina’s not too keen on this place; she feels something is off. Ben reassures her, uttering what amounts to famous last words: “C’mon, it’s only gonna be two nights. I’m sure that nothing’s gonna happen in two nights that’s gonna scar you for life.”
Next night they go into town. Johnboy meets with an old high-school friend, Bobby Briggs, at the RR Cafe, and while Johnboy and Ben go off to feed, Bobby tries to put the moves on Nina, who plays his game for a bit then deflates his ego into nothingness before feeding off him (though not killing him). The vampires also briefly meet the Log Lady, who seems very spooked by the newcomers.
Later on, Ben and Nina pass by Twin Peaks Hospital, where Nina sees someone that shouldn’t be in Seattle: a small girl in a sundress, maybe 7-8 years old, which she last saw in Miami. Obviously intrigued, Nina follows her into the hospital, down hallways and through doors, deeper into the lower floors, all the way to the Morgue. The girl’s nowhere to be found, but a giggle coming from a corner of the room leads them to a gurney with a covered body, that of 18-year old Jennifer Johnson. Blond, fair, and once beautiful, Ben discovers, after reading the autopsy report, that she died after having fallen down the ravine at Twin Peaks Falls. Nina notices her left hand is closed in a fist, and when she touches the arm, the hand opens to reveal the owl ring. As if compelled, Nina takes it.
Meeting at the RR Cafe with Johnboy after, he sees the ring on Nina’s finger and seems freaked out. He tells Ben and Nina about Owl Cave, since the symbol on the ring is also etched there. Intrigued, the three vampires head out to the cave in the woods, where they see the petroglyph on the rock wall. As the three exit the cave, a police car approaches and a voice orders them to stop. Sheriff Truman interrogates the trio on what they are doing in the cave in the middle of the night, saying the station was tipped off about “two kids in their late teens (Johnboy and Nina) and an old man (Ben, who was Embraced in his 40s)” wandering around Owl Cave. Nina says they came to see the petroglyph (but hides the ring on her finger) since they’re only in town for the night. Sheriff Truman decides to bring them in to the station for further questioning, though they are not arrested.
At the station, Ben and Nina answer all of Sheriff Truman’s questions and in turn ask some about the glyphs. Johnboy mentions the murders a year before, and how popular rumors said that they were somehow related to the mystery of Owl Cave, especially once that FBI agent, Cooper…
Sheriff Truman stops Johnboy from talking and leaves the room. Ben asks about this; Johnboy tells them about the deaths of Laura Palmer and her cousin Maddy Ferguson, the attempted murder of Ronette Pulaski, believed to have been by the same perpetrator, of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper who came to investigate since it seemed it was a serial killer, how it turned out to be Laura’s own dad who killed her, but that there was something weird going on that no one ever spoke about except for the Log Lady, and how he heard, after he’d left town, that Agent Cooper had disappeared, along with his girlfriend named Annie, who was believed to have also been murdered.
As Sheriff Truman opens the door to tell them that they are free to go, Deputy Hawk barges in saying a body has been found, at Glastonbury Grove. Ben and Nina decide they want to investigate further, leaving Johnboy behind who’s had “enough of this weird shit.” Unnoticed by the departing characters, the copy of the Owl Cave petroglyph in the Sheriff’s conference room begins to bleed at the Glastonbury Grove location.
Ben and Nina drive to the grove and approach the scene through the woods, unseen. There they witness a horrible murder scene: lying at the edge of the small pool of black water, naked, scratched and bruised, is the body of the little girl Nina has seen now twice. A gaping hole in her tiny chest shows where he heart used to be, and blood is trickling into the pool. Everyone, mortal and Kindred, is shocked by the violent scene. As the police investigates the area, the vampires see the body of the girl slip into the pool, almost as if pulled in. By the time the cops notice, only a small hand is above the waterline, and then it sinks into the murky liquid.
Time then stops. The Sheriff and Deputies all freeze in place. The wind stops flowing, though owls are still heard hooting frantically, menacingly. Where the decrepit trees line the pool at the grove instead the vampires see a thick velvety red curtain appear, slowly undulating in the non-existent breeze, beckoning. Ben and Nina are hesitant, but they can both hear the faint voice of a little girl saying, “Help me.” Nina’s ring is tight on her finger, shinning brightly and hot. Steeling themselves, the vampires enter the Black Lodge.
Inside the red room, Nina and Ben find that they are both in the same physical (?) location but in different planes/realities; they can hear but not see each other. They wander through the curtains to various “rooms,” sometimes seeing each other out the corner of their eyes, sometimes interacting with some of the denizens of the Lodge, such as the Little Man From Another Place. The Lodge plays with their fears, taunting them with images of horrific things happening to the mortals that still mean something in their lives. Owls especially seem attracted to Ben. At one point they think they see an FBI-looking guy wandering but he then vanishes. Eventually they seem to meet in the same room, though they still cannot see each other, and BOB appears; Nina’s ring finger feels like on fire. The little girl appears next to him, seemingly fine, but almost whispy, like made of a memory.
BOB lays it our very clear that this spirit is his, but that the marked one (pointing at Nina) is a far better sacrifice. Ben tries to fight BOB, repeatedly, bravely, but to no avail as the Lodge spirit is nearly invincible in its home turf. Nina is about to offer herself in exchange for the girl when the ring flashes and through mental images she learns the offer the ring is proposing: escape from the Lodge, with the girl, in exchange for a piece of Nina’s life. She accedes without even knowing what it means. A rhyme appears written in fire in her mind’s eye and she recites it:
Through the darkness of future’s past,
The Magician longs to see.
One chance out between two worlds,
FIRE, WALK WITH ME.
The girl disappears from next to BOB and appears next to Nina. A circle of fire surrounds the two of them. BOB screams in rage and launches at the women and Ben intercepts him, screaming at Nina to get out. The Lodge vanishes and they are falling in a featureless void of mists and darkness. Nina holds on to the girl’s hand. Ben fights off a giant owl that rakes his side and tears off a piece of his soul. Darkness.
They come back to in what they know for a fact to be the Everglades, Ben, Nina and the little girl. Hitching a ride into Miami Beach, they find that South Beach has changed. The club owned by the Prince has changed name, but the bouncer’s the same. He’s astounded to see them.
They’ve been gone five years.