WHO LOVES OCTAVIA PRANDDISHAW? 5
"You’ll understand when you’re older," Mother told me. She seemed to think it was appropriate to hoard her knowledge in this cruel and hateful way.
Julia laughed, undoubtedly because she found my plight and humiliation entertaining. "I remember when I asked you that same question, when I was her age," she said to Mother, as if I weren’t even there.
"And do you understand now?" Mother asked her, not bothering to look up from her cards, as if to say ‘see how little I care for my daughter Octavia’s concerns.’
"Not really, no," Julia said, and laughed again for some reason.
My flipping the card table over and storming out in disgust was, I thought, perfectly reasonable given the extent of their provocation.
(Who Loves Octavia Pranddishaw?, Chapter One)
The abilities and natures of the Pranddishaws having been thus outlined, some explanation is required. Three and a half different options are presented, for three different gameworld cosmologies. Feel free to pick whichever best applies your campaign and modify to suit. Note that the options are mutually exclusive.
1. Wishing Makes It So
In some modern fantasy-horror settings, anything can be made true if someone believes in it enough. Even the Pranddishaws can be made true, if you wish hard enough. Christian Eco wished hard enough.
Christian was a victim of leukemia, an eleven-year-old child with only a few months to live when he was moved into the hospital. He was, understandably, deeply despairing at that time, and his quality of life was minimal. His parents’ reading to him books from the hospital library didn’t help, either, until the last book.
Christian fell in love with the cast of Who Loves Octavia Pranddishaw?, as read from the dog-eared hospital copy by his exhausted mother. Their problems were unlike anything he’d ever encountered in his short life, and they seemed to be able to triumph over any adversity. He imagined them outside the hospital, and fused the imagination with a vague revenge fantasy on whatever had made him too sick to sit up and read on his own. The Pranddishaws would be different, he imagined. They could do anything they wanted, kick ass and take anything they wanted and not half to apologize. With a child’s elaborate fantasy-logic, he even invented a way they didn’t have to feel guilty for their crimes: they remembered other people doing them. And they people that they hurt, getting the things they wanted, they weren’t real anyway. They didn’t matter.
Christian’s despair, and his death, and the despair of his parents, fueled the creation of the Pranddishaws, a pleasant family of middle-class eccentrics unleashed to enact terrible vengeance on the world.
2. There Are More Things
In other modern fantasy-horror gameworlds, anything might pop out of an alternate dimension, pocket reality, outer plane, or parallel Earth.
One such pocket reality is accurately described by the novel Who Loves Octavia Pranddishaw?, which is less surprising when one considers there are an infinite number of such realities. The Pranddishaws are exactly what they seem to be: the cast of the novel transplanted to the real world. They do not sleep because they did not sleep in the novel. They do not get hungry because they did not get hungry in the novel. They are never injured, and Robert Burns was revived, because no one was hurt in the novel.
Their constant violent crimes are an unfortunate side effect of their transfer, which has rendered all of them dangerous killers whose victims are shunted into alternate worlds and erased from this one. Not the most satisfying explanation, but things don’t always make sense.
2A. Call Spirits from the Briny Deep
The menace presented by the Pranddishaws may be deliberate, rather than random. Eileen Calloway never got any respect her whole life, so one day she put aside her horoscopes, tea leaves, and quantum theory textbooks, and did something about it. Her assassins, pulled from the maelstrom beyond the veil, took care of the loud kids next door who were always playing music so late. They got rid of that snotty clerk at the convenience store on the corner. Then Eileen figured that was enough, and went next door to send her assassins away, and she ended up victim number seven of Octavia’s biting teeth.
3. My Wind-Up Toys
In still other modern fantasy-horror gameworlds, someone is responsible for everything. Conspiracies
fight conspiracies, bent on saving or destroying civilization, or both.
In such a setting, the Pranddishaws are actually highly-drugged, surgically-altered cybernetically- or genetically-engineered, or both, supersoldiers. Their house is full of hidden cameras, and every murder they commit is carefully covered-up by the Authorities, the Men in Black, or what have you, with the various and sundry means at their disposal.
The second Robert Burns is actually a different dog, surgically altered to resemble the first, and conditioned to fear automobiles and risk. The dog was replaced so as not to compromise the experiment, which is a full-spectrum test of both the Pranddishaw’s brainwashing (using templates from an obscure novel one of the project researchers happened to like) and the variety of combat drugs their drinking water is adulterated with.
Family members do sleep, but they’ve been conditioned to believe otherwise. They do get hungry, and hurt, but have been conditioned to block out those sensations. Their clothing is actually ruined, and replaced, constantly; they have been conditioned to believe otherwise.
The Pranddishaws are, in fact, little more than puppets animated by the will of the many-tentacled beast which ensnares the planet.
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