Here you'll find one of my playtest games of Dead Letter Society using the full ruleset and prompts. You can try the free preview yourself by visiting the crowdfunding page below:

Dead Letter Society: A 1-2 player RPG of vampires, letters, and a secret society
A GM-less roleplaying game for 1-2 vampires who need an ally — or rival. Exchange letters via a secret society, achieve your ambitions, and question everything. Join the Dead Letter Society today. Death doesn’t mean you can’t write back.
Crowdfunding now for a print run!

If you'd prefer video, you can find the playthrough here where it's narrated by yours truly.

About Dead Letter Society

This GM-less roleplaying game for 1-2 players focuses on vampires communicating via a secret society. Players write letters to each other and journal about their experiences, passing problems and information between themselves.

A crowdfunding campaign for a print run of Dead Letter Society is underway. If you'd like an overview of the rules in play here, this video should help. (I won't be discussing rules in this post otherwise.)

Content warnings

When reading this playtest you will encounter themes of:

  • Loss
  • Insecurity and isolation
  • Feeling trapped
  • Manipulation, control, and gaslighting
  • Mild swearing

This playtest contains unresearched waffle about radios. I played for the gist of it, not for accuracy. If this annoys you, you may want to skip this. Otherwise, consider this is a wierd science world where nothing works as we understand it.

Finally, this playtest uses cards that are not included in the Preview version of the game, which have not passed under the careful eyes of my editor. Only the paths followed by Edwina are shared, but this text may change between now and the final release.

Game setup

Throughout I'm using the following themes, genres, and optional rules:

  • Themes: love and loss
  • Setting/genre: Lovecraftian London playset (as in the preview), but the year is some time later. Radio has been available for a while, though most equipment is large and unweildy.
  • Area: London, UK
  • Timeframe: Quick, no more than a couple days should pass between letter phases unless something happens to the contrary. In an era of radio, I imagine quicker exchanges than by letter.
  • Real world length: A short game of three letters, followed by an epilogue.
  • Optional rules: They never write back (a solo option), The story so far.

The Application Form

  • Name: Edwina Smith
  • Pronouns: She/her
  • Age: 75
  • Apparent age: 36
  • Sire: Unknown
  • Most treasured possession: A radio operation manual, dog-eared with use.
  • Sanctuary's description and location: An abandoned laboratory where humans once conducted radio experiments on the outskirts of London.
  • An ally/rival: (Ally) Nick Jones: A human who took a leap of faith with me. He showed me the value of science.
  • A physical or emotional scar: An acid scar crosses my face from my first forays into battery research.
  • Most strongly held belief: I am always right.
  • An oath you'll never break: I will never fall in love again.
  • Ambition for joining the Society: The Elders are afraid of something and I want to find out what it is (difficulty: 3)
  • Application Fee: The Society know about Nick, and hold his life in their hands: Nick knows vampires exist, which would result in his death if it was known by others.

The story so far

Intention: How did I get introduced to weird science? What made me embrace it when other vampires fear it?
King of Wands

King of Wands

Dynamism, assertive, determination

You're invited to meet someone you hold in the highest esteem. How do they know of you?

Today is the day, or should I say tonight is the night. I’ve been invited to a private lecture by Professor Herman Grovener. The very same Professor Grovener whose lectures I attended as a student at the University of London before, well, when I was… you know. I remember his astronomy lectures well to this day. He was a brilliant speaker, and I’m thrilled to discover what he’s working on. I hope he doesn’t recognise me… that could be complicated given those lectures were nearly fifty years ago.

I wonder how he found my address. Perhaps Nick passed my name along?

Declare an Ambition. They have a task for you. What do they need you to look into that they couldn’t do for themselves? Its importance is made clear. You must get this done.

[Declare an Ambition: Discover if there is life “out there”. [ ] [ ] [ ]]

That was the most inspiring lecture I’ve ever seen. His voice may have been frail with old age, but his mind was as sharp and curious as ever. There were only handful of us there, many looked like his current students - he still guest lectures at the university in his retirement - but he singled me out to stay behind at the end of the night.  

I was right, Nick had passed along my name. There was a brief moment where I feared he recognised my face, but I guess the added age between my turning, along with the scar, was enough to make him assume it was just passing similarity. He wanted to ask me something, if I believed what he spoke of. That there is extraterrestrial life out there.

I smiled. I know myself that there’s more “out there” than humanity has proof for. Why not life on other planets?

He was relieved. He told me Nick had recommended me because I see things that others don’t, and that I had access to a radio array. He thinks he detected a signal. He wants me to listen for it. For as long as it takes - he has little time left.

I left that night feeling sad, that another part of my old life was passing. As each day goes by, I am further and further away from the experiences that made me human. So I will cling onto that past, by attempting to fulfil this wish, last wish, maybe, of Professor Grovener.

Intention: I go to the lab and try to listen to that frequency. What do I hear that makes me turn to the Dead Letter Society?
Six of Swords

Six of Swords

Moving on, recovery, struggle

You’ve survived heartbreak. You reflect on how far you’ve come and the strength you’ve shown to get here.
Heal a Scar. Who helps you to forgive when you can’t forget? How does it feel to have peace in your heart again, even if it’s fleeting?

[Heal a Scar: XXXXXXX---An acid scar crosses my face from my first forays into battery research.—XXXXXX ]

The lab is dark when I enter. A few lights blink from control panels and there’s an electric buzz in the air that makes the hair on my arms stand on end. The lights are controlled by a large throwswitch near a wall full of gigantic batteries. It tingles under my fingers as I grasp it and yank down hard. My hands linger near the wall as the lights flicker into life.

I brush away a few cobwebs from eager spiders that criss cross the radio controls, and pull several more levers to direct power to the equipment. I avoid one that looks similar to the lightswitch. Nick assures me the batteries can’t explode twice, but… I avoid it allthessame.

Finally, I need to make some adjustments to the antenna array on the roof. The controls on the ground floor of the lab haven’t worked for years, because of.. Him. I put the thought aside. The stairs burned out in a fire years ago, so I took the flying route. The bats nesting in the roof space squeaked a welcome as I flew past, thinking I was one of their own. Cuties.

Moonlight shines on the manual override controls as I remove its cover. I’d need to ask Nick to do some repairs on them soon - the pollution in this city was starting to eat away at the wiring. Or it was rats again. Anyway. I bring the array to life, consulting my dog-eared manual for some of the finer details.

Everything clunks into position as I stand on the roof lost in my own thoughts. This place holds a lot of memories for me. And now it has purpose again. Just like when Devin and I first found it together. We were going to live forever, together, and invent something to revolutionise our kinds life. Devin had thought that sunlight was just a different type of radio wave, and those don’t turn us to dust.. So maybe there was a way..?

[Sigh] I fly back down, just as Nick arrives with a large mug of coffee in one hand and a small glass bottle in the other. He takes a swig of coffee and pulls a face, “hot!” he says as if he shouldn’t have expected it to be. He passes me the bottle, “I brought this from the hospital, I figured you’d be here all night and I didn’t want you to worry about eating.”

It was a kind gesture, but I make a face far worse than his when I drink it. Cold blood was never pleasant, no matter the miracles humans did to keep it fresh for their patients.

“Did anyone–”

“No, no-one saw me. No-one ever sees me, Edwina.”

I relax. He’d be killed instantly if anyone discovered he knows that vampires exist. And after the incident with Devin, I was fairly certain my clan knew this was where I was still hiding. But maybe they’d decided my research was worth giving me a break.

I doubted it. We’d just gotten lucky so far.

“Well, the radio’s all powered up and ready to listen. Shall we?” I say, while Nick finishes his coffee in one big gulp. I pull my eyes away from his neck and back toward the dials and knobs before he notices.

We dial in the frequency the Professor gave me and huddle down for a long night of listening to static. Half an hour passes in silence, before Nick lurches from his chair - “I almost forgot,” he says. The reason why I was at the hospital in the first place. A colleague told me about this.”

He pulls out a tiny jar and passes it to me. I open it and give it a sniff. It smells vile. Why must their medicine always smell vile…?

“It’s for your burn, Edwina. I’ve been told it might help?”

I try it. The burn’s still there, but the smell fades quickly and, it itches less? I smile, and thank him for the gesture. Someone still cares about me, which is nice.

The static continues, and I think about Devin and how he would have loved to keep me company doing this now. I wish I’d never made him a vampire. We should have given it a go as best we could in the time he had… it would’ve been longer than what we ended up with. What a stupid argument we’d had.

I could hear his voice now in the static, raging at me that he was right and that it would work. He broke the antenna controls out of spite, and before I knew it he was out in daylight wearing his “invention”.

It didn’t work.

Yet I could still hear his voice in the static.

No. Wait.

“It’s lonely being a creature of the night—”

That wasn’t Devin’s voice. I look at Nick, but he’s fallen asleep. It must be around 4am? The sun would be up in a few hours.

The voice continues “you try to make a connection, but then….” I wince, “oh no… not again. It doesn’t have to be that way. Apply today to the Dead Letter Society, and we’ll give you the correspondence of your dreams. Death doesn’t mean you can’t write back.”

It was some sort of ad. On a non-standard frequency. Curious. I picked up the microphone. “Dead Letter Society, this is Radio Tower 729-HRQ. Do you copy?”


Then. “Copy that 729-HRQ. Your application has been noted. We’ll be in contact soon.”

… I had no idea what I’d just done.

Letter Phase: 1

This is radio tower 729-HRQ.

My name is Edwina Smith, and I trust the Dead Letter Society will direct this transmission to someone who can help. Whether it gets transcribed, or there’s another of us out there with their own radio tower, I don’t know. This is a mystery to me right now.

But I’m so curious to find out who else uses this “Dead Letter Society” I’d never heard of it before stumbling across its frequency. I wonder, how did you find out about it?

I do worry about its security, given how I found it, so I hope you’ll forgive me being a bit vague about my circumstances, and that you understand exactly what I mean by that.

I’m looking for a collaborator to help search for radio signals from an extraterrestrial source. Professor Grovener, if you've heard him, has given me some guidance and I think, since you may also be sitting behind a radio, you could really help me out. I feel like there's something there, but the signal is too weak or too entangled in the noise for me to figure it out by myself. I'm extending a little beyond my instructional manual in this regard, and, as I’m sure you know, understanding the finer points of this machinery requires that little spark of humanity that’s evading me right now.

I also wonder, assuming you’re connected to the same.. Family… as I am? If you know what our elders fear. I’m a recluse these nights, but I occasionally hear a worrying rumour when I venture out for dinner.

Please respond. I’m always here, listening.

-- Edwina out.

Society Phase: 1

The Hermit

9. The Hermit

Introspection, solitude, serenity

Forfeit an Item
Forfeit a Location
Progress an Ambition

Does the Society read everything that passes through their hands? Is anything truly anonymous? Do they know you better than you know yourself? Your head swirls with questions triggered by an innocent-enough query. A young child, wide-eyed and wild-haired, tugging at your sleeve to ask you about the last thing you wrote. Coincidence? Warning? You retreat to mull this over and decide on your course of action. No matter what, there’s only one way to get your message to your companion: the Society. What will you do?

[Forfeit an Item: XXXXXXX—A radio operation manual, dog-eared with use.—XXXXXXX]

[Forfeit a Location: XXXXXXX—An abandoned laboratory where humans once conducted radio experiments on the outskirts of London—XXXXXXX]

[Progress an Ambition: The Elders are afraid of something and I want to find out what it is [X] [ ] [ ]]

It’s the night after I sent my transmission. Nick just left, and I find myself hungrier than I expected. The radio’s been playing static all night. Nothing. Frustrating. But maybe these things take time. Maybe they’re writing everything down and delivering by hand?

I don’t know.

There’s a knock at the door. The sound sends a spear of ice through my undead heart. It could be Nick, returning, but he’d enter after knocking. And whoever knocked.. Could easily have passed Nick on their way. Oh no…

The knock comes again.

I’m on guard, ready to fight or flee - I don’t know which yet - and I open the door. There’s a small girl outside, in a yellow dress with tiny flowers on it. Her blonde ringlets bounce as she jumps back from the door. I stare at her. What is this…? A trick? Have I been sent this girl as some... joke?

“Hello Edwina!” she says in a chirpy voice. “Could you tell your family that they've nothing to fear as long as they follow our agreement please?”

Wait.. what?

I looked around to see who could be playing a joke on me. And then back to the.. Girl who now wasn’t there. Okay. Creepy.

What did she mean “tell your family that..”

Oh no. That’s how I talked about my clan last night. The message went somewhere, obviously. Did it go where it was meant to go? Was that their response? Or did someone.. Or something? Intercept it, just like I intercepted the ad.

So, yes, as I suspected, not terribly secure. And now Something knows where I live, and possibly also about Nick. Shit.

I need to get out of here. There’s a smaller radio I can use. Not powerful enough to search for extraterrestrial life, but enough to listen out for a response from the Dead Letter Society. So, I grab that and my go bag and never look back. It’s compromised, and I do not want to be there in case the next messenger from Whatever That Was turns out to be something more menacing than a little girl. If there even is such a thing.

Nick’s surprised to see me when I turn up on his doorstep just before dawn.

Chronicle Phase: 1

When have I ever heard another of my clan talking about little girls like that one?

Ace of Wands

Action, passion, energy

Ace of Wands
You wake with an idea more consuming than your hunger. It burns through you and demands you act on it. Do you feel excitement or dread at this moment?
Declare an Ambition. This marks a new start. What new and surprising direction are you taking your journey in?

[Declare an Ambition: Return to the warren and find out about the little girl: [ ]]

I wake quickly, startling Nick’s cat off my chest as I jolt up. A sliver of sunset is cast on the far wall through thick curtains.

I dreamt, a thing I rarely do, about that girl all day long. There was something about her that I felt I recognised. I was wracking my brain to pin it down, and it struck me when I woke. I’d seen her face before. But I dread where I saw it.

The warren. I know I saw her in the warren. In the Elder's office. The day I was brought in to punish me for turning Devin - I remember begging for his life, he’d found out what I was, sure, but now he was one of us so it was okay, right?

It was not okay.

But that little girl had been there too. She'd been sitting near the door, I'd not really noticed her until the Elder caught her eye as I was on my knees begging for our lives. Some understanding had passed between them, the Elder looked worried I remember that... but then she'd turned back and told us we could live. Leave, in fact.

Who was the girl?

I needed to find out more. Which meant going back to the warren. I'm filled with dread at the thought, but it must be done.

I am filled with dread. It’s been a long time since I was last at the warren, but I must go to get the answers I want. I try to be quiet and unseen. What do I find?
King of Cups

King of Cups

Experience, rigidity, control

A difficult situation faces you, fraught with emotion. How do you keep a cool head?
Forfeit a Principle. The whole ordeal was trying. What boundaries do you establish in case you face this situation again? How has this changed you?

[Forfeit a Principle: XXXXXXX---I am always right.—XXXXXXX]

Why did I think I could get in here unnoticed? There are hundreds of us living down here in the squalor of the sewers. I’m discovered as I try to get into the Elder’s office, and now here I am surrounded by my snarling kindred.

They look gaunt, ill-fed, and everything about this place seems more decrepit than when I left here all those years ago with Devin. I hear whispers behind my back about how I left them, betrayed them, made them empty promises of being able to walk in the Sun again. I feel like something sucks away at me. Feeding on me, taking away my will to resist.

The Elder strides out among the masses. She looks well fed. She looks powerful, overwhelmingly so compared to the scrawny faces around her. I don’t understand what I’m seeing here. How this discrepancy came to be. I don’t remember it being this way. The elder has always been powerful, sure, but the dichotomy between “us” and her… us.. I’m calling us us. Something’s.. Off.

She calls for me forward and I’m dragged by my hair across the filth of the floor. It stains my clothes, just like the last time this happened.

She raises my chin with a long, clawed finger, and brings her face and fangs close to me. She is hideous. She is beautiful. My kin behind me are well-fed and happy. No, she is hideous, they are fearful. I am fearful. I am enraptured.

No. This isn’t right.

I was wrong to come here. I had been free.

She talks but I don’t hear her words. The clan cheers. She seems to be taking it as some sort of triumph that I’d returned. Her triumph. But beneath the beauty, beneath the facade, I see her. Really her. She's watching me intently, probing my surface thoughts and evaluating my feelings. She's concerned. Terrified, even? Something about my return scares her, and she isn’t going to let the others see it. I look worried, and when she notices her own concerns deepen. I shouldn’t look worried, I'm home, I'm with family, I'm safe here and nothing will harm me.

But I'm not safe. And I was wrong to come here. I always thought I’d never make a mistake. But this was a mistake.

[Drawing a card to add more depth to this entry]

Queen of Wands

Queen of Wands

Vibrance, leadership, charisma

You meet the most contrary vampire. What conflicting feelings do you have seeing someone live so differently from you and your expectations?
Develop an Actor. Are you bothered that they don’t try to compromise their view of themselves to fit your whims? Do you find it inspiring?

[Develop an Actor: Susan, the vampire who prefers to be a rat.]

It’s been a week since I returned home. I feel like I’m smothered in a warm, heavy blanket and I can’t quite get out from under it. I see my kin, starving and dirty, and in the next blink everything looks fine and all was well with the world. Clearly the Elder holds some power over the us, and my being away broke it somewhat. Is she scared that I’ll not fall back into line? Or something more? Either way, I haven't seen the little girl...what am I doing?

Susan skitters about the bottom of my feet, nibbling at my shoes to get my attention. She’s the largest rat I’ve ever seen, at least in this form and also the kindest and happiest creature I’ve ever met. The others whisper about her, about how she decided one day that she was happier this way, and… though I don’t understand it, she's an outsider here like me.

She wants my attention. I hear the Elder coming again, another inquisition is about to begin I fear. But I’ll be damned if I let conformity get me. If Susan can resist, then so can I. I still have hope. I’ll get out of here. I’ll see Nick again…

Letter Phase: 2

This is Edwina Smith, formerly radio tower 729-HRQ , is anyone out there?

I lost access to my lab, so this is broadcast on a portable that’s running low on power. If you receive this, please respond.

Dead Letter Society: Your communications are compromised. A messenger arrived after my last broadcast, quoting me back to myself. I repeat, your communications have been compromised.

I have little time to speak in, as I’m about to try to escape my kin. I returned, hoping that I’d find more answers but instead it was a terrible mistake and the longer I stay the less I remember about freedom.

I wish I could ask for advice, or offer help, but I plan to find a new lab - or at least power for this unit. Look, something else is out there listening. Be wary. I don’t know what it wants, but it is interested in our kin and has certainly met them before.

-- Edwina out.

Society Phase: 2

Wheel of Fortune

10. The Wheel of Fortune

Change, fate, responsibility

(Rolled 12, 10, 8)
Regress an Ambition
Forfeit a Principle --> Forfeit an Actor (no Principles)
Heal a Scar --> Progress an Ambition (no Scars)

Your thoughts turn to how quickly your fortunes have changed since joining the Society. You can feel the winds of change blowing, howling even. What do you hope the next days bring? What happens instead?

[Regress an Ambition: The Elders are afraid of something and I want to find out what it is: [ ] [ ] [ ]]

[Forfeit a Principle --> Forfeit an Actor (no Principles remaining): XXXXXXX—Susan, the vampire who prefers to be a rat —XXXXXXX]

[Heal a Scar --> Progress an Ambition (no Scars remaining): Discover if there is life "out there": [X] [ ] [ ] ]

I put down the portable radio and look at the dank sewer around me. Susan sleeps across my feet. One week ago I was excited about an invitation to a dinner lecture. Now look at me. All because I started searching for the Professor’s signal. How quickly things changed.

I’d spent decades alone with that radio, dwelling on what Devin and I had hoped to invent. Stuck. Then I met Nick, just a chance encounter, but there was that spark again. That flicker of hope, and a reminder of my humanity and that it wasn’t lost.

And then it was. Or.. perhaps that’s the Elder’s influence talking.

I remember when I turned Devin, and she brought me in to account for my actions, I thought she would kill me. The elders keep us in line–somehow. I don’t understand how, but it’s obvious once you’ve been away for a while.

I never did tell her the girl’s message - all she was interested in was making sure I fell back under her influence.

In fact, the only good thing to come from this is meeting Susan and knowing that I'm not alone in being the only damn vampire in the clan that doesn't give a fuck any more.

I don’t know what the Elder’s problem is. And at this point in time I no longer care. They care about their power and influence, and anything that’s threatening their safe little world is...probably good for our kind? Though I say that, not knowing what we’d be like if we were unleashed on the world en mass. That’s… a thought for another day.

Right now, I want to go back to the life I had before. I want to escape from this place. I want to see Nick again. I’ve had the answer to the question of “what if I return” – and I have no desire to lose the person I was for it.

Susan goes to check our escape route.

I wait. Days pass. I worry. More days pass.

I listen to the radio static and think I hear… music? I listen to it until the batteries are almost dead. I think I can make one last transmission, but not more. The music sounds melacholy, desperate for someone’s attention. I hum along with it for a time and it almost felt like it gained pace and changed to an inquisitive tone, but then..

The door to my cell - for that is what it is in truth - crashes open.The Elder enters in a rage and throws the body of an unusually large rat at my feet, skewered on a wooden stick.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get out of here now.

Chronicle Phase: 2

I want to see Nick again, before I forget who he is. I must try to escape. I attempt to cause a distraction, and then make my move. How do my plans go?
Eight of Swords

Eight of Swords

Entrapment, isolation, insecurity

You wake feeling pursued, hunted, and isolated from your support. It’s a feeling that’s been building, but now you can put your finger on its source. When did these feelings begin?
Suffer a Scar. These feelings are nearly overwhelming. Can you rationalise them so you can see that you have options?

[Suffer a Scar: I cannot stand to be alone in the dark. It fills me with dread.]

I startle awake, the pounding sound of pursing footsteps echoing through my mind. My dreams were filled with fear and memories of what I’d done. Devin’s face calling to me. Devin’s face in rage at me. The Elder, weeping into her hands as she clawed out her eyes. Susan, impaled and tossed at me like garbage. Nick.. unaware of the danger he was in. And beneath it all a string of melancholy music.

I’m alone in the darkness. A darkness through which even we can’t see.

There’s parts of the sewers even we don’t go to. There’s more out there than just humans and vampires, and here the air is fetid and sluggish and we feel like we’re isolated from existence.

Yet it’s the only place I know they won’t follow. So I press on.

They didn’t follow me in here. But the music did. I realise it's haunted my every step since the night I made contact with the Dead Letter Society. It was too quiet then to hear, but it got louder and louder and now it's all I hear.  I find myself humming along as I feel my way along the wet stone walls.

It's an earworm in the most literal sense. Burrowed in my skull. Immovable.

I smell the smoke from the fire I lit as a distraction, and I hum as I stumble through the darkness.

[Drawing a card to add some depth to this event]

Five of Pentacles

Five of Pentacles

Survival, poverty, isolation

People abandon you as your luck runs out. Is this the first time? Rough patches happen, but what about this feels like a third party planned it?
Forfeit an Actor. You can live with the loss of status and wealth, but one person turns their back on you, who you thought you could depend on through thick and thin. What do they say to you as they walk away?

[Forfeit an Actor: XXXXXXX— Nick Jones: A human who took a leap of faith with me. He showed me the value of science.—XXXXXXX]

I curse the day I searched for the Professor’s signal and found the Dead Letter Society. Everything has gone wrong since they became involved in my existence.

I can’t stand the dark any more. I can’t be alone here. Something is following me, I hear another beat in the musical earworm that accompanies me.

I force myself to sing a different tune. It’s hard, and I falter a few times. But once I manage.. I find myself out of the darkness again. Maybe it’s a coincidence.

I look for an exit, and cautiously check for daylight before I clamber out into an empty alleyway. I’m so hungry, it feels like days since I’ve eaten, and I lunge at the first passer by unthinking. I sink my teeth into his neck and feel his hot blood rush down my throat. I almost kill him.

I curse the day I found the Dead Letter Society. I hold Nick in my arms and feel horror run through me. I pull away as soon as I realise and the look of fear in his eyes tells me everything. He runs. How could he not run… no longer am I some immortal being to be romaticised and trusted..

I crumple against the alley walls. Where even am I? How was the first person I found, Nick? This is a coincidence too far. As if someone set out to destroy everything I hold dear. Everyone I loved— Tear apart everything I thought I stood for… and rebuild me into, what? A monster?

I search for clues about how Nick was here. What do I find?

Ace of Swords

Clarity, truth, strategy

Ace of Swords
A realisation strikes you as you wake. You flick through your journal entries, stopping a page instinctively with your finger. There. What you learned that night is turned upside down by your moment of clarity. What can you see now that you didn’t then?
Progress an Ambition. Strike while the iron is hot, while the fizz of inspiration bubbles in your brain. You leap into action; consequences be damned. If you lean into this, what could possibly go wrong?

[rolled for a journal entry: Society Phase: 1]

[Progress an Ambition: Discover if there is life "out there" [X] [X][ ]]

The alleyway is empty and I find somewhere to take shelter for the day. I dream again. And when I wake I’m left wondering if I’ve ever dreamt so much before in all my unlife.

Again, I go back to the thought of the little girl in the yellow dress.

I’d been so surprised, and everything afterwards was me acting on instinct and reflex. I was scared for Nick - I thought they probably knew about him too.

They’d caught me off guard.

But I realise something in that moment. The frequency I discovered the Dead Letter Society on was what the Professor had told me to listen to. I’d forgotten that. And the music I heard, and could not stop humming, was the music that had gone with their first words. That it was lonely being a creature of the night.

And creatures of the night are more than just vampires.

They knew where I lived. They knew about Nick. They were probably watching him. And they heard everything I’d said that night in my first broadcast.

What had I actually stumbled on? What did the Professor know, since he was the one who told me to listen. What was he?

There was one way to find out. I was going to break into his lab and find out exactly what was going on. I’ve nothing else to lose. What can go wrong?

Letter Phase: 3

This is Edwina Smith, formerly radio tower 729-HRQ, and I know you’re listening.

You’ve cost me everything. I don’t know your motivations. I’ve been flailing in the dark this entire time while you make me dance to your tune.  And now I’ve got nothing left to give you.

Whatever you are, you clearly outmatch me. I’m done playing.

You made me realise what was important to me, and then you took it.

You won’t reply to this. But I know you’ve heard it.

-- Edwina out.

Epilogue (AKA Chronicle Phase: 3)

How do I find a way into the Professor’s lab?
Eight of Wands

Eight of Wands

Purpose, directness, action

Your convictions feel more robust than ever. Who hasn’t been listening to you that you wish would?
Declare a Principle. It’s easier to show than tell. How do you embody the change you want to see in the world?

[Declare a Principle: I always think before I act.]

I watch the battery light on the portable radio fade and blink out. Then I head to the University. I’ve been acting on instinct up to now, and they’ve been counting on it. That isn't going to happen any more.

They made me flee my home. They made me leave Nick and nearly kill him. They seeded the idea of returning to the warren, a place from which I’m lucky I ever returned. No more running. No more reacting. Let’s think this through.

There’s a security guard at the main entrance to the university who won’t let me through. He says Professor Grovener hasn’t worked there for years, he’s not in the records.

I tell him he's mistaken. The Professor had students at that dinner lecture. Or, I thought they were students.

I get nowhere, and I’m not getting inside without an invitation.

So I need an invitation.

I ask if there’s anyone I can talk to in the morning. “Be my guest,” he says, “ You go in and talk the President for all I care. I’m just telling you what my records say.”

That was all I needed. I bid him goodnight, and then I go and take a leaf out of Susan’s book and spend the next few hours as a rat, loitering near the front door.

The guard takes a break at midnight, swapping with another, and goes inside. I follow him. Then I wait until the coast is clear, and find my way to the records room.

I need information.

I look for information about Professor Grovener. What do I find?
Knight of Pentacles

Knight of Pentacles

Determination, challenge, loyalty

Failing once is painful, twice is discouraging, but the third time? You’ve been frustrated this evening, but even incremental progress is still progress. Has anything challenged you as much as this before?
Develop an Actor. You find comfort in the words of a human who has taken up a new hobby later in life. They’ve had many failures but are still determined. What makes you stay in contact with them?

[Develop an Actor: Richard Mason: An old college friend who took up painting in retirement.]

I search for hours, wasting most of the night in the records office. The archaic filing system is beyond me, and I find no mention of the Professor anywhere. Without anything to go on I feel adrift and frustrated beyond measure.

I stand in the lamplight and think. My thoughts stray to the look on Nick’s face as he fled from me, and I blink away the tears it brings and force myself to think of another. I go back fifty years through the records, and find the Professor - a young astronomy professor for a small class of twenty. The class records are there too, old, yellow, but present. So this isn’t a figment of my imagination. I thumb through the class notes, and pull out Richard Mason’s. We were thick as thieves at the time, though we fell out of contact until I saw a painting of his in a gallery window. I bought it for my lab, and sent a letter to him to thank him for his beautiful work. The reply I received told me how he’d come to start painting, and how art is a series of happy accidents that somehow conspire together with us to make something beautiful. Failures upon failures, changes in plans and lack of skills, and with them we learn. The important thing was not to give up.

Richard had many words of wisdom.. I guess that’s what comes of being human for so long.

When I find nothing about the Professor I find my way to the science labs, regardless. I don’t know which is his, but there must be someone here who knows something. What do I discover?
Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups

Obsession, brooding, passivity

There’s only one thing that will satisfy your hunger tonight. It proves near impossible to find, and you feel elated when you find it. What is it that drives you to such lengths?
Regress an Ambition. You spend so long looking for the perfect way to sate your hunger that you miss the obvious. What blunder did you make?

[Regress an Ambition: Discover if there is life “out there”. [X] [ ] [ ]]

I walk down the darkened corridors, passing locked door after locked door. I’m frustrated, and I feel an anger and hunger rising within me. I want answers and I’m being thwarted at every turn. It’s maybe not surprising, given how easily I’ve been manipulated.

But the frustration stirs my hunger, it brings the need of some beast within to the fore. If I eat, maybe I can think. But the halls are empty. No-one is here. I don’t want to give up on my search. I try to think through the rising feelings.

I’m not leaving, so I must bring food to me. How can I bring food to me when no-one is here? It’s obvious, I need to attract my foods attention. I change tack and immediately start trying every door until I find one that opens. I almost fall inside, obsessed with the idea that I’ll find something to use to my advantage.

I dive on the desk in front of me, looking for anything I can – I don’t know, make a loud noise with, or break to summon someone.

I don't check behind the door.

I feel the point of wood press into my back. Warm breath against my ear. The Professor’s voice grumbling into it.

“Edwina, you didn’t pass this time. I’m afraid your application has been denied.”

I feel the point of the wood push and–

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