Scanning Project: Stilman Institute

October's right around the corner, and that means that Halloween is imminent. And that means a series of horror gaming-related posts is also imminent!

As a prelude of what's to come, I thought I'd share another piece of my handmade gaming paraphernalia. Specifically, the grounds map and floor plan of the Stilman Institute, home to a sometimes ally, sometimes enemy, of the player characters in my Beyond the Supernatural ("BTS" to my group) game.

(For those not in the know, BTS is a really fun little game from Palladium. It pits characters who are essentially low-powered super heroes against all manner of supernatural beasties. You could do worse than to give it a try - just stay away from the incomplete second edition. Stick with the all-in-one rules set with the inspirational Richard Corben cover.)

The Institute is a group of federally funded psychic researchers. (The term "paranormal investigators" had yet to come into vogue when this map wa created - sometime in the very early '90s.*) It's led by wheelchair-bound Ezra Stilman and his daughter, Maya. (I believe I have character sheets for both of these characters - if I can find them, look for them soon...)

*EDIT 01/2024: I don't know why I didn't notice it before, but one of the bedrooms is labeled "Savage." That made me realize that this map wasn't drawn in the nineties - it was repurposed to the Institute around then - probably in late 1989 or very early 1990, as I know we used it in games of BtS, before our late 1990 switch to Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic. (If you look closely, you can see that the name has been written over an erased bit of earlier text.)

That realization jogged my memory, and I now recall when I made this map: it was in the mid-eighties, during the height of my Top Secret campaign. The name "Savage" was the giveaway, because that was my nephew's secret agent, Rick Savage. I recall now making this map, inspired heavily by the movie Dreamscape, while prepping to run a game based on the episode "Abnormal Psych" from the TV series Stingray. I vaguely recall Rick posing as a test subject to infiltrate the facility, where our agents' archenemy, code named "Lucifer," was using mind-altering drugs and psychological conditioning to turn everyday civilians into cold-blooded, suicidal killers. Fun times!


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