A Rift Between Old Friends

Old Friends Cover showing six filmstrips with photographs of houses and people.
Cover image via DriveThru RPG.

Tonight we played Old Friends by Jason Morningstar and Ole Peder Giæver, a live-action roleplaying game about a team of ghost hunters reuniting 20 years after their last mission ended with the death of one of their own, Sara.

Our team of ghost investigators and eradicators consist of Pete, who served as the enforcer who protected us from the spirit world. He has become an adjunct professor of paranormality and recently learned he was terminally ill with cancer. He and Beth were married and together while the group operated, but their relationship was irrevocably broken when he caught her having an affair with a ghost. Beth was a con artist who never took the spirit world seriously, but she has gotten rich writing cynical tell-alls about ghosts and the people who love them. Solomon was the true believer, the die-hard toughened but haunted by intimate contact with the spirit world. He never stopped hunting and has become an impoverished eccentric sought out only by the desperate. He never liked Pete and the feeling was mutual. Genie was our resident scholar, knowledgable about all things paranormal, but after the group disbanded she became a corporate lobbyist for the oil industry advocating for fracking. She had originally recruited her best friend Hayden to be the leader of the group, but he dropped her completely when we split and they haven’t spoken in 20 years because he resents her ever bringing him into contact with the dead. He has since become a proud parent who just wants to keep his kids as far as possible from the dangerous world of ghosts and ghouls.

When we first arrived back at the primary school where Sara had met her end, we couldn’t believe we were all back together, but something had brought us to this place again at the same time. We went back and forth with accusations and explanations, making excuses, denials, justifications, alternately amused or disgusted by what each of us had become. Then Sara began to possess us, each time revealing more of what we’d left unresolved. That night, 20 years ago, Sara had been taken through a rift to the netherworld, claimed by a demon. Apparently, Sara, Beth, and Pete had made a deal with this demon that was supposed to close the rift forever, but Beth had tricked Genie and Hayden into signing without being aware of it, and had never gotten Solomon’s signature at all. The demon was to take one person’s soul in exchange for the success that Beth had bargained for, but the problem with the signatures meant the contract never went into effect. Instead, the demon came through the rift that night while we thought we were exorcising a teacher’s spirit. Hayden tried to protect himself with a large wrench, but struck Sara by mistake. With her unconscious, the demon could take her, body and all, to the nether realm. By the time we understood what was happening, it was too late.

Genie believes the rift may reopen at any time since the original contract was invalid. If that were to happen, all of humanity would be at risk. However, she thinks we can save Sara and close the rift permanently if someone willingly sacrifices themselves and exchanges places with her as part of a new contract. Hayden is ready to volunteer to forever protect his kids from the spirit world, and Pete is willing to die since he’s got so little time left anyway. Beth, however, will not agree to anyone sacrificing themselves. She doesn’t believe the demon will keep the bargain this time, despite being the architect of the original contract. We argue and fight but cannot come to agreement. We don’t know how to close the rift without a willing sacrifice and the knowing acceptance of all, and so we close our story with the group at an impasse, waiting for the rift to open, praying that it does not.