Into the Abyss (LARP Scenario – RP/Puzzle)

The following is a scene and NPC introduction from Diablerie LARP Episode Zer0, shared with permission from Forager Business Collective.


The Liminal Space, a place existing between the worlds of the living and the dead.  The Liminal Space is only accessible via specific plot mechanics.  Physically, the gateway to the Liminal Space will be the bathroom of the hotel room, which will be lit only by electric candles.  This is where the players should be sent when they enter the Liminal Space for the first time.  Characters and NPCs in the Liminal Space can only interact with objects existing entirely in the Liminal Space (marked with blacklight paint).  They cannot turn on faucets or open closed doors, since those items also exist in the physical world.

Scene Details: 

Upon entering the Liminal Space, the characters will encounter Dr. Harlington, the missing Diablerist, lounging, fully clothed, in the empty bathtub.  Dr. Harlington’s demeanor should be concerningly cheerful and enthusiastic, intermixed occasional, sharp shifts into moments of dead seriousness.  The NPC should endeavor to speak quickly, but not so quickly that they become difficult to understand.  Once the characters have accessed the Liminal Space, Dr. Harlington will deliver the following information in a manic monologue:

Earlier that morning Dr. Harlington had an artifact delivered to her while she was setting up for the conference on the occult she is hosting this afternoon (and from which she is now missing).  However, upon bringing the artifact back to the hotel, she looked around at what she was doing with their life with new perspective.  It suddenly all seemed incredibly pointless to her.  All at once, she became overwhelmingly convinced that people would think that all of her work was stupid.  She was certain that she would be laughed out of the conference.  In frustration, Dr. Harlington erased all the wards protecting the hotel room – they were probably stupid anyway.  Then she went into her medicine bag, ground up a couple random things, and snorted them in hopes that they would calm her down.  She doesn’t know what she took, but BOY does she feel better now.  WAY better.

Dr. Harlington will explain that things got a little weird after that.  She went to take this lovely bath, but she couldn’t turn the water on (nobody in liminal space can operate faucets) and she couldn’t undress (which, she’ll remark, is really for the best – it would have made having company incredibly awkward).  Nonetheless, she’s just going to make the most of it.

Dr. Harlington is also pretty sure that her artifact got stolen by some invisible scrub.  But hey, all this weird stuff totally proves that she was on the right track and now she’s really looking forward to that presentation!  Everyone will love it!  How could they not?

Dr. Harlington will then ask the characters who they are and what they’re doing in her bathroom anyway.  She’ll explain to the characters that they’re probably in Liminal Space, which is super cool because they’re not REALLY dead but they’re SORT OF dead, or something like that.  It’s more like being stuck in between, really.  Dr. Harlington will explain that she has been here about five times.  Maybe seven.  It took her a while to work out the wards after all the weird stuff started happening.  But, she’ll insist, it’s totally fine.  You can’t really move much of anything in Liminal Space, and your friends in the physical world can’t see you, and if you leave the hotel she’s pretty sure you just cease to exist, but all you have to do to get back to the physical world is find and activate enough resonance points within the hotel to pop yourself back to the other side (this leads to a scavenger hunt, encouraging players to thoroughly explore the game space as they try to return to the physical world).

Despite the simplicity of returning to the physical world, Dr. Harlington will warn the players not to make a habit of ending up here in Liminal Space.  Every time she’s come here, it has become harder to get back.

If the characters ask Dr. Harlington how to recreate the wards she had been using to protect her hotel room, she will explain to them that she has encoded and hidden the necessary rituals because she believes someone has been following her and trying to steal her research.  She was afraid whoever had been hunting her would try to use her own wards to trap her permanently in the Liminal Space.  To avoid this she scattered her notes across Providence.  Nonetheless, if characters convince her of their good intentions, she will tell them the location of one of the clues she left to help her intern find her notes.

Puzzle Details: 

Returning from the Liminal Space:  If a character has entered the Liminal Space alone, Dr. Harlington leaves with the character to assist them in their scavenger hunt.  She isn’t inherently helpful, since she’s a crazy, drugged out ghost and because every scavenger hunt is different.  Nonetheless, she’s happy to keep the characters company and should use any further opportunity for roleplay to emphasize her belief (as disclosed earlier in the game) that people have been trying to break into her room and steal her research.

When the scavenger hunt is complete, Dr. Harlington escorts the characters back to the “gateway” (the bathroom), where the character will pass back into the physical world the next time the wards go down, now with full memory of their crazy adventure with the Diablerist.

Saving Dr. Harlington:

During the actual game, the characters were also presented with an option to complete a ritual to try to return Dr. Harlington to the physical world.  Successful completion of the ritual yielded the following result:

If the Ritual is successfully completed, Dr. Harlington immediately vanishes from liminal space.  The next time the wards go down, she is left behind on the bed with a Critical Care rating of 70 (in need of urgent medical attention), a Madness Score of 70 (barely coherent), and the worst hangover of her life.