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[actual play] Providence Summer


vs. snake
Validated User
Providence Summer
Session One: 29 October 2003

Surf rolling in on a California beach. Bikinis, surfers, umbrellas, sun loungers. A shining summer Friday. Emma Davison [played by Nancy], 9 years old, makes castles in the surf with her best friend Sally. She looks up and sees her mother lying in the sunshine, deep in conversation with Sally’s mother.

Chasing crabs in the tidal pools, Ben Davison, 11, [played by Brian] and his best friend Frog. Frog is pinched on the thumb, and the crab is determined to hang on.

Further along the beach, Cara Davison, 16 1/2, [played by Kathleen], promenades with her boyfriend Anthony. He’s the quarterback and shining star, which makes her the top of the high school hierarchy. Anthony gets tackled into a beach football game by a group of his teammates, and a girl falls in step beside Cara. The girl isn’t a friend. She asks about Cara’s father. Cara makes light of it, he’s just sad because his mother died recently. The girl hopes things work out okay, making the most of Cara’s vulnerability.

Nancy and Sally are inspecting snails and a sea urchin as Ben and Frog come racing past, Frog hobbling and bleeding from the bottom of his right foot, both of them talking non-stop about crabs following the blood trail, worried about bits of shell getting into Frog’s bloodstream and poisoning his brain. The pair reach Mrs Davison and there’s a flash across her face of something serious, not wanting to talk with the children just then - and then it’s gone. She’s used to Frog having this kind of accident, and sets about cleaning him up as Ben, Nancy and Sally gather around to watch.

Cara joins the family group, Anthony still with the team far down the beach, and stretches out with her notebook and a pen. Ignoring the drama of Frog’s torn foot, she sees a figure up at the top of the beach, among the cars - it looks like her father. But then he’s out of sight. She drops the notebook and runs up the beach, but there’s no sign of him, just cars rushing past, and music, and the sound of surf.


After the meal at the dining table at the Davison’s home, Mrs Davison sits with the children and tells them they’re going off to Gramma’s house for a month. Gramma lives over in Providence, on the other side of the country, and they’ll be flying out on Sunday.

Mom and Dad are staying behind.

Emma is excited, and slightly puzzled. Ben is unhappy that Frog can’t come along too, and wants to know why the parents are staying behind. Cara’s mood darkens, but she tries to keep the younger pair positive.

They have Saturday to sort out their lives, and Sunday morning they’re on the plane to Boston.


Emma and Sally play Barbies at Sally’s house. Sally wishes she had a gramma in Providence. Emma wonders if Grammas can adopt extra granddaughters.

Cara and Anthony are hanging out with the gang, and Cara gets serious, accusing him of eyeing up lots of other girls. She won’t hear his protests of innocence. A full-on argument ensues and Cara says it’s over, they’re over. Anthony responds the best way he knows how, by laughing in her face and appealing to his friends: “Can you believe this?” Cara tips her drink over him and storms out. Everyone’s watching.

Ben breaks the news to Frog, and they wonder how cold it will be in Rhode Island, because if it’s an island near Canada it’ll probably be snowing. Frog offers to lend Ben his warm jacket, because he never uses it now he lives in California. Ben gives Frog his favourite baseball card for safekeeping - it’d be bad luck if the card crossed the border into snowy Canada. They don’t even play baseball there.

Cara’s in her room. Her father knocks on the door and comes in. He wants to make sure his princess is happy. She isn’t. She’s grown up enough to handle it, she says, but Dad won’t open up about everything that’s going on. Nothing is resolved. Emma is outside, listening at the door. She scurries away as Dad comes out.

The family eat dinner separately, mom heating it up for them on the stovetop one at a time.

The sun is down. Dad tucks Emma in and kisses her goodnight. Then he knocks on Ben’s door. “Are you still up, son?” Ben’s packing. Awkward conversation. Dad tosses over his baseball glove - “You don’t want to forget this.” Ben can’t quite articulate his worries. Dad leaves him to finish packing and get to sleep.

Cara emerges from her room. She checks in on Emma, who is wide awake, and sits on her sister’s bed. “I want you to write a letter for me. I broke up with Anthony today, and I was really mean about it. Can you write me a letter to send him?” Emma is fully aware that this will prevent her from getting up and listening to whatever might happen next, but she is too intrigued to refuse.

Then Cara goes down to talk to mom. She’s sitting reading, but she sets the book down as Cara comes into the room. It takes a moment before she can look her daughter in the eye.

Cara tells her everyone knows what’s going on. Everyone’s talking. She wants people to start treating her like an adult. She’s not a kid any more.

Mom starts crying. She hasn’t told her mother about what’s happening, Gramma will suspect but she won’t know. She wants Cara to do her best to stop her grandmother worrying. Cara hugs her. Mom hugs back, saying “Everything’s going to work out fine.”
Cara quietly answers, “It’s okay if it doesn’t.”

[more to come] [I'll edit this as I remember/am reminded of more]
[players will read this - so if you read the other 'Providence Summer' thread, please don't refer to it here]

Kevin Mowery

Validated User
This sounds very neat. I didn't follow the original thread beyond the first bit where you were asked for source material.

What system are you using? I take it all the kids are PCs, yes?

I really like the "shipped off to grandma's" part, how the parents think the kids aren't going to notice something is wrong. Very true to life.


vs. snake
Validated User
Thanks Kevin!

There are five players - we've met three of them in the bit above (which was about half the first session), the other two are waiting in Providence (which was the second half of the session, still to be written up).

The system is a very stripped down d20 - characters will have stats and skills and that's all - for a number of reasons that I won't go into here. None of the characters have stats yet, and they probably won't for a few sessions yet - the plan is to model the character stats and skills once the players know more about them through play. There were a few dice rolled in that first session, and we just freeformed what they meant.

I wish I could remember more of the great dialogue, especially between Ben and Dad and between Cara and Mom - some awesome, awesome stuff there.



vs. snake
Validated User
[Session 1 continued]

NEW SCENE. A bus rumbling its way from Boston to Providence, through the hills and forests and valleys. Emma’s and Ben’s faces at the window, Cara a bit further back, shadowed. Beautiful sunshine but the cast of it is different, lush leafy trees all around. [Soundtrack: Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’, 1961.]

The bus gets in and the kids are met at the bus station by Gramma. Emma and Ben don’t even recognise her at first - it’s been a long time. She takes them to the counter for pop, and then loads up her borrowed car to drive them up to North Providence, where she lives. The kids bounce up and down in the back seat as Gramma makes conversation, asking about school and friends. Cara is able to sit quietly.

They reach a sleepy street in a nook called Miller’s Bend, North Providence. Hills rise up to the north, the streets are green, the houses are very old. As Gramma starts unpacking Cara addresses her two younger siblings - “If you need anything, just ask.”

They are met on the sidewalk by Mr Renault, Gramma’s neighbour and the owner of the car she borrowed. He is friendly, making jokes about getting them to paint his house. Then they’re bundled inside. It’s a big house, two stories plus attic, old and full of books and old objects, a grandfather clock ticking away in the hallway. Ben is given his own room, but Cara and Emma will have to share until the downstairs room is fixed up later in the week.

No-one has much time to relax or unpack, as Gramma takes them all down the road to the Stephens’ backyard party. It’s a big, lazy Sunday afternoon neighbourhood gathering, with barbeque and salad on offer. Mr Stephens is the assistant manager of the local bank, and his boss is in attendance, along with a most of the Stephens’ friendly neighbours.

Mrs Stephens takes Ben and Emma down to the rear of the yard where a wooden fort nestles in a tree. Mrs Stephens assures Ben and Emma that they’ll be welcome in the treehouse, but the look on the faces of its inhabitants shows that such a promise shouldn’t be made lightly. This is one treehouse you need to earn your way into.

A rope ladder is slung down and 11-year-old Tommy Stephens [David] descends, followed by his friends geekish Nate [Steve - RPGnet’s own U_C] and tomboy Danni [Kathleen]. After extracting a promise from Tommy that they’ll make the guests at home, Mrs Stephens leaves them to get acquainted. In short order they’re climbing over the back fence to the open hillside beyond to play some baseball. Danni and Tommy watch Ben closely as he approaches the fence, wondering how well he’ll handle the obstacle, and are surprised when Ben clambers up and swings over the top with barely a pause! [The first dice roll of the game - a natural 20!] Instantly, the locals realise that Ben has to be taken seriously... As they sprint off to start the game, Nate struggles over the fence, and Emma quietly goes the long way out the front gate and around to join up with them.

Meanwhile, back in the party, Cara has ended up sitting by herself. Across the party, Billy Hutchinson, local golden boy and son of Mr Stephens’ boss, asks his hostess who the new chick is. The hostess is Tommy’s elder sister Kate [played by Nancy], 16 and pretty. Billy’s girlfriend Minnie is not impressed with his interest in this pretty face from parts unknown and waltzes off in a huff, which Billy doesn’t mind at all. He saunters over to Cara and sits down, introducing himself. Kate joins them, and some wary conversation between the girls ensues as Billy hops up to fetch them drinks. A mutual dislike for Billy is the basis for some tentative bonding.

Out on the field, the kids whack the ball around and enjoy themselves thoroughly with little Emma sitting quietly and watching. Then they notice a car slowly moving down the street. It is brightly painted with a sign mounted on its roof, and there’s carnivalesque music playing. Figuring it’s worth checking out, they sprint down a slope towards it. A race develops between Tommy, Ben and Danni, all three of them testing each other, but it ends inconclusively in a tumble of grass stains and grazes.

The driver of the vehicle grins at them. The sign reads ‘Five Star Attractions Present... The Five Star Amusement Pier!” Swirls of colour fill the sign with promise. The driver sticks out a hand and drops a flutter of papers in front of the children then slowly drives away. They gather up bits of paper - advertisements for the grand opening this very Friday of Five Star Pier, a carnival amusement park! Excited, they run back into the party and Tommy rushes up to his mother to ask permission to go. She defers to her husband, and Tommy sprints over to see him. Mr Stephens is talking to his boss, and Tommy is able to use the situation to extract a promise to take them to the carnival sometime. It’s good enough for now, and Tommy reports back to the others. Nate is sure his parents won’t mind, and Danni scoffs that her Dad won’t be a problem. Ben goes over to Gramma and asks for permission to go, and she tentatively grants it. Success!

Mr Stephens is in a good mood. He puts on his wife’s song, ‘Dolores’, and they slow dance, smiling. The day is giving way to dusk. Cara and Kate have disengaged from Billy as best they could, and are still talking. Kate explains about the song. Cara tries not to react, but Kate still gets a sense that things might not be as happy at the Davison household as they are in the Stephens backyard.

Then Kate spies a figure over the back fence - it’s her boyfriend Patrick [played by Steve], a dangerous-looking teen in leather jacket and jeans. Patrick sidles away again and Kate invites Cara to ditch the party and come along. In no time they’re out front, where Cara is introduced to Patrick and his buddies Joel [Brian] and Martin [David]. The sun is coming down as they head off down the street - the whole evening is ahead of them.

And behind them, Mr and Mrs Stephens keep dancing. [Soundtrack: Tommy Dorsey, 'Dolores']

[End of Session 1]
[to clarify - each player is running one teen and also one kid]
Last edited:


Speedball Apologist
Validated User
Wow, great stuff. Any chance we can get a detailed recap of the dramatis personae at the beginning of the next session recap?

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
It's interesting reading this, and (since you did that Edinburgh People Stay Out ideas post, and I duly stayed out) having no clear idea where it's going...


vs. snake
Validated User
(I'm guessing at most of the exact ages - they haven't come up.)


(from California)
* Ben Davison (played by Brian), 11 year old kid, likes baseball and his best friend Frog.
* Emma Davison (played by Nancy), Ben's 9 year old sister, cute and scarily smart.

(Providence locals)
* Tommy Stephens (played by David), 11 years old, well brought up, and the top dog in the backyard gang
* Danielle (Danny) MacMahon (played by Kathleen), 11 year old tomboy from the wrong side of the tracks and eternal challenger to Tommy
* Darwin Nathaniel (Nate) Holmes (played by Steve), 11 year old brainy kid, always trailing along after the other two


(from California)
* Caroline (Cara) Davison (played by Kathleen), 16 years old, the golden girl suddenly feeling her life coming apart at the seams, older sister of Emma and Ben

(Providence locals)
* Kate Stephens (played by Nancy), 16, the local princess with the dangerous boyfriend, older sister of Tommy
* Patrick Minelli (played by Steve), 17, the dangerous boyfriend with the job at the auto shop, aching to get out of dead-end here
* Joel MacMahon (played by Brian), 17, Danny's older brother, Patrick's best friend, doing the parenting for his kid sister as Dad sinks into drink
* Martin Lewis (played by David), 16, buddy to Patrick and Joel, big plans to qualify for School somewhere and make something with his life


We came up with the characters in a group session. I laid out the basic set-up I thought was going to work for the game I envisioned, and the players contributed ideas for each other and together we cast people, changed and fine-tuned the set-up, and brainstormed the relationships into what we have here. The meat is only being put on the bones through play, of course.


To be honest, I'm not sure what's going to happen. I have in my notes five different ways this game could go, most of them wildly different. And I'm further certain that the players will end up sending us somewhere else entirely, somewhere appropriate to the character arcs that will take shape as we go. And that's as it should be.

One thing is certain, however - in tone, this game will continue to strive towards that of the film 'Stand By Me', with all that entails.



vs. snake
Validated User
Providence Summer
Session 2, November 2nd

[The following is a series of excerpts from player Kathleen's account... Kathleen plays Danny the tomboy and Cara the girl from California. I've cut out a lot of cool detail, especially about the little character interactions, but the overall picture is there. I woulda left it all in but then it'd scare people off with length, so...]

[Oh, posted with Kathleen's permission, of course.]

The teens head down the street, with Kate strategically positioning herself between Patrick and Cara. Their first stop is Martin’s dad’s hardware shop to see if they can get a vehicle for the night. They arrive to find Phil (a neighborhood kid who works there) loading up the truck for a late night delivery. He says hello to everybody in his slow way and tells Martin that his dad is looking for him. This is a good reason for them all to get out as quickly as possible.

Next, they make a stop at Joel’s house so he can check and see if his kid sister is in, like she’s supposed to be. Danny is not yet home. Kate reassures him by saying that there was a party at her parent’s place and that’s probably where Danny is. Joel looks only mildly comforted.

They then move towards the diner. Patrick, having learned that Cara is from California and has been to Hollywood, develops a clear interest in her, reaching over his girlfriend to offer and light up a cigarette for her. Patrick tells her that he dreams of going to Hollywood to work in making movies. In fact, he would do just about anything to get out of this deadend town.

They get to Big Jimmy’s Diner and Nancy, the waitress, takes their order. The girls get malts and the boys burgers. At about this point, Steve walks in. He introduces himself to Cara and begins telling the table about his latest adventures. He seems to think he’s on the “in” with some pretty important figures up in Providence and that they’re going to connect him big time. He assures the table, while fiddling with a switch blade, that he’s got some big errands to run tonight, and he would tell them, but they just weren’t part of the “family” (with the possible exception of Patrick who might be connected, given his Italian last name).

To escape this posturing, the girls head in to the bathroom, determined to stay there until he leaves. Kate tells Cara that she and Patrick have been together for two years. Cara asks if its love, and Kate, after a pause, smiles and says Yeah. Cara tells her to be careful, love can hurt.

A strained silence hovers over the table, with Steve rudely calling for the waitress. Put out at having to wait, he carves a deep gash into the table with the knife. Joel quietly gets up and lets Jimmy know what the punk is doing to his place, which sends Jimmy into a rage. He storms out as if going to beat the hell out of Steve, but is restrained by Joel, who assures him that the guys will get rid of Steve by leaving.

Patrick sees this and gets up, calling for Kate and the gang heads out. Steve however does not, and sits at the bar, harassing Nancy. As the group walks away, they turn back and see this and decide enough is enough. The girls are told to wait outside, and Patrick and Joel head in. Steve begins to taunt Jimmy and Jimmy steps in to hit him. Joel jumps in and stops Jimmy. Steve quietly draws his knife, but Patrick puts a hand on his arm and whispers that the “family” wouldn’t like this kind of trouble.

Steve protests for a moment, then storms out, hops in his car, and takes off.

The teens sneak into the drive-in. At one point during the movie, they are approached by a man handing out fliers for the carnival re-opening of a nearby amusement park that has been closed since the 30’s.

Movies over, the gang heads home. On the way, they pass the carnie who had given them the fliers on the side of the road. He tells them that his car has broken and Martin and Patrick get to seeing what they can do. In the meantime, he introduces himself as Willie Sugs. He looks at Joel at one point and remarks that he looks familiar, though his name apparently doesn’t ring a bell.

After some work, the boys manage to start the car by giving it a rolling start. When the engine guns to life, the carnie says to swing by opening night and to give his name at the entrance—there will be five free entries for them.

The group then splits up for the night. Patrick and Kate head off first. Cara leaves the boys to go gather her thoughts in a playground. Martin and Joel continue on. They see Steve’s car prowling about and think nothing of it until they realize he is headed in the direction of the park where they left Cara. Steve apparently sees them and turns around. There is a moment of strained small talk, then Steve zooms down the street in the totally opposite direction of his original travels. Martin and Joel relax and head back homewards.

Cara stays in the park, thinking, for several hours. The lovebirds have their fun and separate for the night. Martin goes right to sleep. Joel checks in to see that Danny made it home, sees her sleeping, and sits on the front porch for a couple hours before he too gets some rest.

Somewhere, on a dark street, Martin’s father’s truck is stopped on the side of the road. There is a motionless figure behind the wheel and the only movement is a person who appears to be unloading something.




Cultist of Sredni Vashtar
I really should add something to this thread...

... so here's what was going on from Patrick's perspective:

So there it was, a bust up piece of junk that somebody had driven off the side of the road, finders keepers, losers weepers as we used to play and this was our jackpot. The coach into town went past while we gazed over at the car, going in the wrong direction for me, all I want to do is to get the hell of out of this town, forget it ever existed.

I put my arms around the guys, "What do you see?"

Of course it's Joel that answers, "A way out of this town", he's right, that's what it is, the road to California, to the movies, to a better place. Joel and I have been tight for years, seems there's never been a time when we didn't know each other, he wants to get out of this town as much as I do, sometimes I wonder though if he's thought it through, 'cause we can't take Danny with us, much as I love the squirt and I do. Being an only child I'd have loved to have a sister like her, guess we know the reason that I don't now though. The road and California ain't the place for her. So when we leave he'll have to leave her behind, I wonder if he's ready for that.

Martin's on the other side of me, he's a good guy, solid, bright. Joel and I met him stealing apples from the Lewis place, he didn't squeal and we've been a crew ever since. He's been a bit quiet recently, probably his parents they always seem to be comparing him to his hotshot brother who's at Brown or something, don't get me wrong it's impressive but it ain't all that and they get down on him when they shouldn't.

Still they could be worse.

We dump the car at the garage and head over to Kate's. She's my girl, has been for a couple of years now, not that her father knows. He'd crap a brick to think of his daughter stepping out with the likes of me, see the Stevens family they're all Sunday school and pillars of the community whereas me and mine are from the wrong side of the tracks, more your blue collar, mongrel trash, a bit Irish, a bit Italian and bit of who knows what. Her mom seems cool about it though. Kate's, bright and pretty, a lot of both and a lot of trouble if she ain't treated right, not that it's a chore but she can be a handful.

The Steven's are having a party, the old man trying to impress his boss no doubt, crawling up the greasy pole. We don't go in but I make sure Kate's seen us and soon she splits from the party and comes over, she's got this new chick in tow, Cara, as blonde as Kate's dark, she's got this Californian beach babe thing going on, she's cute and she knows it. Kinda sayshays as she walks, it's worth watching but Kate's looking pissed so I don't for long. We head down to the diner, well what else is there to do in this town, we order the usual 'cept for Martin who wants to be surprised, hell what kind of surprise can you get from a cheeseburger, big Jimmy in the kitchen looks a bit bemused but starts to throw something together.

Kate sits between Cara and me, I think she caught me looking earlier. Cara seems cool, got this whole big town girl in small town hell chip on her shoulders but I can't blame her, hell, I want to be here less than she does. Seems she was sent here with her brother and sister to stay with their granny for the summer, talk about bad luck, she ain't saying but something else was going on by the looks of it. I give her a knowing look, she seems to like the quarterback type, so I reckon they did the nasty and ended up getting caught.

Steve walks in, now what you got to know about Steve is he's kinda twitchy, likely to go off the deep end, he frightens a lot of people 'cause they don't know what he'll do. I've had a couple of run ins with him before, so there's a bit of a history between us but it's nothing serious, he knows I won't take his crap but I don't want to get in to one of the situations tonight. So of course he comes over and sits down and starts rabbiting on about his big plans, gonna move to the city, got himself connected and that he'll look after his friends when he's big time. I sit and take his bullshit but the rest of the crew are getting nervy, 'specially Cara 'cause she ain't met him before, she don't know that all his talk about getting connected is just crap, no wise guy I know would go anywhere near a nutjob like him, he's too temperamental, can't handle himself.
Martin can't deal with it anymore and heads over to the jukebox, the girls go to the john and it's just me, Joel and Steve. Steve starts to play with this new flick-knife he's got and Joel, tells him to put it away, he starts to give Joel the hairy eyeball but Joel ain't the kind to back down from this and I can see that we're going to have to a talk with Steve when Jimmy comes over so Steve puts the knife away. As I said I don't want to deal with this right now so I gather the crew and we head out, only to see Steve cutting up the table, Joel heads in to see Jimmy to sort things out, see Joel's a nice guy, one of the best, got this whole hero type thing whereas I just want to get through the day and get out of this town, you don't get anything for being a hero in my family but I see Joel having to restrain Jimmy and I have to have his back so I head in and speak to Steve. Steve wants a confrontation he wants to be the big man to be seen with the knife but he ain't the smartest, so I tell him that the Family don't like people who make a lot of noise and he's got nowhere to go, if he makes a fight then he has to admit that the family stuff is bullshit and he don't wanna do that so he poses a bit and then leaves.

We head down to the drive in, can't get a ride as Phil is packing up the Lewis truck, so Martin can't borrow it, so we sneak in and sit between the cars, Cara and Martin argue the merits of the Blob versus Psycho, great acting in both but Anthony Perkins is incredible, I give them my opinion but Martin's more interested in the science in the film anyway, Cara goes on about seeing Psycho last year and Kate gives her a mouthful about her attitude, nothing much but I think she feels a little threatened. I walk Kate home via the bleachers and then head back to the house, it's all quiet, dad is on the late shift and that's the way I like it.

I'm up and out the next day before mom is up and dad is back, better that way than the hushed conversations, better that way than the yelling and the rest. I work in the garage, Terri the owner's a good guy, not that he won't yell at you if you fuck it up but he's not nasty and he's a lot more understanding than most. The first job of the day is in before eight, Deputy Adams brings in Phil and the Lewis truck, seems Phil had an accident last night, Phil's a bit slow but alright and he's desperate to get the truck back in time for a trip that day. I reckon he was borrowing it without permission, the trucks going to take more work than that though so I give Martin a call, he should be able to cover it with his old man and I don't want to get Phil in trouble if it can be fixed, now I'm not a hero remember but I don't see any reason not to help out now and again and Phil ain't ever pissed me off. It's right about then that Phil gets this strange look on his face and is scrabbling about in the glove compartment for something, well it looks like he don't find it as he looks around the garage and then takes off like a bat out of hell. Martin comes over and is all in a panic about the truck, thinks his father will blame him, calms down a bit and takes the truck to the store, if his father don't notice during the day then we can fix it up fine tonight. No problems.


Kinda long, so thanks to anyone who had the patience to read it.



vs. snake
Validated User
Oh lordy! Crucial information left out of first post:
Providence Summer is set in 1961!

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