Written by Arcadia Reeves
Before we began recording the first season of The Cromwell Chronicles, we had a home game set in Cromwell that took place along the same time TCC did chronologically. Dubbed Season 0, this season followed player characters from the theater department at the school. Our player characters were:
- Aspen Graves, the Infernal (they/them), played by Catherine Rohret (they/them). A theater star who made a deal with the Dark One for fame.
- Marion Ettis, the Hollow (she/her), played by Percival Walter (he/him). A doll of a girl with crushing parental expectations just starting her time at Cromwell.
- Fern Bracken, the Sasquatch (any), played by Victoria Nielson (she/her). Cromwell’s all-natural drug dealer on the search for new friends.
- Corina Blackthorn, the Gargoyle (they/she), played by Dia Reeves (they/them). A crow spirit bound to Cromwell as its magical protector and theater manager.
- Jesse Hastings, the Werewolf (he/him), played by Casey Fleming (they/she). A quiet basketball player who was only recently turned.
- Ari Lopez, the Werewolf (she/her), played by Karina Revilla (she/they). Another basketball player, bright and cheerful and confident in her status as a werewolf.
- Kae Redmann, the Witch (they/them), played by Quin Borozin (any). A burgeoning witch with a newly acquired spellbook.
The season’s start was set on October 14th, 2016, with the cast list for the play, Romeo and Juliet, being announced. Aspen and Marion got the respective lead roles, with Ari and Kae being cast as Count Paris and Mercutio. Marion’s casting as a newcomer to Cromwell made a stir. Out of both animosity and curiosity, Aspen got ahold of her number and asked Marion to come to a homecoming party at their friend Megan’s house. She agreed, and after the homecoming basketball game, the two of them hitched a ride to the party with Jesse, Ari, and Elliot Spencer, a stoner theater kid friend of theirs. Tension flared at the party when Fern showed up, an old fractured friendship between her, and Megan and Aspen. Megan said a cruel, classist comment about Fern that enraged Aspen, and they lashed out by punching Megan. The group fled from the party, with Jesse and a drunk Ari flipping a table to distract from Aspen’s exit and Marion spreading false rumors to partygoers about Megan and why she blew up at Aspen. Kae stayed home from the homecoming celebrations to use a comic book they stole from Aspen to cast a Watching hex on them. Corina was confined to school grounds, but before she could sleep in the principal’s office, she saw Ethan Jacobson, the head of the school board, enter it afterhours. To avoid him, she decided to stay awake the entire night instead.
Jesse, Ari, Aspen, and Marion stayed the night at Jesse’s house. On a midnight run, Jesse revealed his lycanthropy to Ari, who is initially excited to meet someone like her. However, Jesse didn’t take much pride in it, and wished to find a way to cure himself. Ari was upset by this, but promised to help him anyways. In the interim, Aspen and Marion got to know each other by rehearsing a scene for the play. Sparks flew during their line reading.
Over the next couple weeks, the play kicked off! Or at least, it should’ve been. In between helping Ari with her lines, Marion confronted the new drama teacher, Edith, about her plans for the play. Her unhelpfulness sparked rumors among the theater kids that the new teacher was hired because of her sister’s place on the school board. Marion also confronted Kae, her best friend, about seeing them take something from Aspen’s backpack. They explained to her about the spellbook they found at a local rare book collection, and how they used Aspen’s comic book to cast a spell to see if it really works. Kae gave the book back the morning after with Aspen none the wiser. Marion let slip that she had a huge crush on Aspen, which is why seeing her best friend take something from them distressed her so much. Corina also had a debriefing with the principal, Alan Woods. She told him about Jacobson visiting, and he told her that all magical books have been removed from campus. Corina, however, overheard the conversation between Kae and Marion, and resolved to watch Kae closely.
Worries about the play’s status pressed the theater kids to enlist the help of Raven, a Cromwell alumni who hangs around the theater still. They agreed to help, but acted oddly around Marion, avoiding her outright. This set Aspen off, and they ignored Raven’s weird questions about Marion when they asked them.
Marion planned a Halloween party at her house, her parents going to a school board meeting for the night. Everyone showed up to her house in Halloween costumes. Ari and Jesse took a break from the party to go trick or treating with the basketball team. Once meeting up with them, they realized Megan was hanging out with the team to their dismay. While trick or treating, they saw a distressed teammate of theirs, Kaylee, covered in blood and panicking. She told them that she was a werewolf and attacked someone in the woods in a frenzy after repressing her shifting. Jesse and Ari realized she was the one who turned them, and they went into the woods to find the victim.
On her way to the Halloween party, Fern found a badly hurt Elliot Spencer on her doorstep, living in a gigantic tree in the middle of the forest. Her aunt took care of him while Fern went to investigate where Elliot was turned. She found signs of a struggle, and ran into Jesse and Ari on the way back. They join her at her house, where Elliot Spencer tells them he got a text while smoking before a “dog” attacked him.
Meanwhile, Marion, Aspen, Kae, and Corina remained at Marion’s house playing truth or dare. Aspen’s secret nerdy interest in comic books was revealed. Marion and Corina went to Marion’s parents’ room as a dare, Corina taking a shiny silver necklace to complete it. Kae and Aspen began to see unsettling visions of a dark-skinned man in a suit stalking the house outside. This unsettled Aspen, and their Darkest Self was activated. They went to the bathroom once Marion and Corina came back. Through awkward small talk, Marion accidentally revealed Corina’s gargoyle nature to Kae, which she found out about one late afternoon on campus. Corina also revealed she knew about Kae’s spellbook. But before anything else could happen, Aspen left the bathroom and decided to go home. They ran off into the night, and Marion and Corina followed.
Kae stayed behind at the house to try and figure out what happened to Aspen to freak them out. They casted another Watching hex, and were found passed out in the front gardens of the house by Jesse, Ari, and Fern as a result. When they woke up, they tried to explain what happened, but are interrupted by Marion’s parents coming home. Everyone except Fern managed to hide, and Fern startled them into revealing Marion’s supernatural nature to her.
Aspen found themselves at a crossroads, and are confronted by the Dark One, the entity they sold their soul to for fame and all the parts in plays they could want. The Dark One manifested as their estranged grandfather, and told them it intended to collect Aspen’s soul unless they brought it the witch who’s been spying through Aspen’s eyes as a substitute. It disappeared, and Marion and Corina found Aspen there. Marion dug deep into her own powers to try and help Aspen by understanding what happened to them.
Kae, Fern, Jesse, and Ari managed to get away from the Ettis’s house, and made plans with the other half of the group to meet up at Aspen’s house. On the way there, Marion was taken back home by her parents, leaving Corina and Aspen to get back with the others. Once together, everyone came clean about their supernaturalness, except Jesse. They all agreed to help Aspen find a way to escape the Dark One that doesn’t involve giving it Kae before heading home for the night.
Ari spent the night at Jesse’s house, but are woken by a loud thud at the door in the middle of the night. They found an unsettling doll version of Marion on the porch with a crack over her eye. They brought the doll to school the next day, gathering the group on the theater roof to talk privately. There, Corina told them the full story of their creation as a gargoyle spirit to protect Cromwell and its success. This revealed the school board’s unnatural use of magic, and led them to believe the doll Ari and Jesse brought was actually Marion, put in a comatose state by her parents. In planning what to do about this, Ari said that there were more than one werewolf in the party, outing Jesse accidentally to anyone who noticed her slipup. Eventually they decided to skip school and seek advice from someone called the Lorekeeper, a vendor at a nearby market who claimed to have magical knowledge. Before they left campus, they saw the Ettis’s car in the parking lot. Presuming they were looking for Marion, Kae enters their Darkest Self and keys their car with Aspen’s help.
After all piling into Jesse’s car, they arrived at the market, tracking down the Lorekeeper. It turned out to be a man named Phil, and upon hearing of their situation, he led them to the back of the market. There, a faerie who lived in the woods named Ivy made herself known. She told them to break the Dark One’s influence by breaking its ties to both Aspen and the physical form it took to exist on this plane. When they asked her about Marion and the school board’s misuse of magic, she told them to give Marion time to come through by herself. On their way out of the market, the kids ran into Raven. Fern used their awkwardness to startle Raven into admitting their sibling-like connection to Marion, an estranged relationship with her parents and a failed magical ritual keeping them from reaching out.
The kids quickly left and got lunch somewhere before heading to Fern’s tree to plan. They decided to lure out the Dark One and follow Ivy’s advice, attacking the physical form it took while Aspen denies it power over their soul. Eventually while at the tree, Marion exited her doll form, and agreed to help Aspen take care of the Dark One before figuring out her mother’s magical schemes at Cromwell. While planning, Aspen tries to pressure Jesse into agreeing to shift and fight the Dark One. He eventually agreed, but expressed upset at the choice to reveal his lycanthropy on his own time being taken from him. Aspen and Ari apologized.
They all stayed the afternoon at Fern’s tree, Jesse driving Aspen back to their house to pick up clothes to sleep over at Fern’s after the plan is carried out. While home, Aspen took a gun from their mother’s things to use against the Dark One. When the time came, everyone headed out to the forest to summon it, Ari and Jesse going into their Darkest Selves to physically wound it while Aspen shut it down until all of its power was diminished. The Dark One was successfully banished from the body of Aspen’s grandfather, who had made a deal and lost his life and body to the ominous force years ago. They buried the corpse in the woods. On the way back, the wolves got into a tussle to try and shift back, but Ari accidentally broke Jesse’s leg in the fight. Fern’s aunt took care of him once they were all back at the tree. Sleeping over, Aspen and Marion shared an emotional kiss in their shared guest bedroom.
The next day, Corina and Kae investigated the theater to find evidence of the ritual that some members of the school board were planning. They found a basement connected to a hatch in the drama teacher’s room, where ritual circles were carved into stone. Corina transformed into a half crow beast to destroy the circles. Exhausted from this, the two of them used a sealed off exit to get out of the basement. They ended up bursting through a wall in the principal’s office, where Alan Woods is shocked and surprised. They explained the entire magical ritual situation to him, and he promised them that he would take care of it, and that the members of the school board who weren’t involved with the magic would help him.
The Ettises and Jacobson’s plans fell apart from there. Marion’s parents were forced to flee the country once their shady business deals were revealed to the public, and Jacobson was ousted from the school. Ari’s father divorced her mother, as her mistreatment and controlling nature worsened. With Kae’s help, Corina was freed from her bonds to the school, now able to exist apart from it. Marion refused to help the government track down her parents, and began to live at Fern’s house as she learned how to be herself away from the Ettis name. She and Aspen also began dating. Kae burnt their spellbook to get rid of its dangerous contents, and to avoid any further attention from the Dark One. The campaign ended with the opening night of Romeo and Juliet, its success due to the students working hard with no one except the player characters aware of the ritual that almost happened underneath their noses.