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They say home is where the heart is...

Welcome to Carlsville.
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The small town of Carlsville in the state of Wisconsin seems ordinary enough on the surface: a quiet rural neighbourhood, and a happy community. However, this is only the surface layer to Carlsville, for not only do the little town and its surrounding areas play host to a variety of creatures of the night, but it also contains the headquarters of the Rural division of The Cardians Syndicate, who protect the innocent everyday human from the horrors that walk among them, no matter the cost or the method.

A town-wide curfew is in effect, due to what wanders the town at night. The townspeople are forbidden from going to the cornfields on the border of Carlsville, and the abandoned orphanage too. This charade has been kept up by the Cardians for some time, with a great deal of success.

But a new problem has arisen: random people have begun appearing in the town from across the United States, as if seamlessly pulled through space, after their own encounters with the supernatural. The worst part is, the Cardians seem to have no idea what is causing this.

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After ending up in Carlsville and saved by the Cardians in varying circumstances, six people find themselves roped into helping the syndicate, their former lives more or less forever and irrevocably changed.

What lies in store for the six? Only time will tell...

Character-specific tropes can be found here.


Cardians: Rural contains examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The Role Plays that take place in between actual sessions qualify as this, due to their focus on simple character interaction.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: There've been quite a few of these so far, be it after Sal's tutorial session, or the first mission...
  • After-Action Patch-Up: ...but for often that not, post-mission healing will go down this route.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: Compared with other Cardians divisions, the intentions of the Rural division are much more noble, in that they only seek to protect the people of Carlsville from the supernatural creatures that plague the town. Other divisions will dabble in outright criminal activity as part of their operations, as is usually the norm for the Cardians Syndicate, but Rural has yet to do so, outside of anything related to hunting monsters or gaining intel.
    • This actually makes a lot of sense, as this division doesn't seem to have as much of a budget as other divisions, and its parameters are limited to one small town, and just into its outskirts. Therefore, there's no real necessity for any further illicit activity, and when combined with the fact that the division is quite small in roster size even with the Player Characters, it's no wonder the division is so much more focused on monster hunting.
  • And This Is for...: A particularly tragic one in Season 3, when Natalie shoots and kills Finnegan.

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    • Black and Grey Morality: The nature of the setting does still fall under this, however, as while the threats the Carlsville division face can be malicious towards humans in intent, the division is still ultimately part of a criminal organization.
  • A World Half Full: Ultimately, this can be considered the overall aim of the Carlsville division (at least as far as the town is concerned): to protect the people while behind the scenes from various supernatural threats.
    • Because of this, the Carlsville division is perhaps one of the most compassionate and empathetic to the needs of those within its jurisdiction. When Dead Man's Hand members Aisha Hellings and Daichi Yao come to town to assist in dealing with the growth and severity of the threats that the short-handed and inexperienced division has to deal with, they are notably more detached than the division is, Yao especially.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A few moments of this have cropped up throughout the campaign.
  • But Thou Must!: The Player Characters have to remain in Carlsville, unless allowed otherwise. Justified, as to desert would mean treason against the Cardians, which comes with its own dire consequences...
    • Subverted and then double-subverted, however, as once the circumstances of how some of the team of Player Characters got drawn to Carlsville, they are more properly given a choice as to whether or not they will stay in Cardians. This offer gets further extended in Carlsville to all future people who may stumble upon the truth, which ends up including detectives Reyfield and Barrenschmit, Liz, and the gargoyle abductees.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Done by both Cardian and villainous N.P.C.s alike. First, Aisha sparing Sal after he admits to almost killing Matthew. Then, both played straight and invoked by Finnegan; the former with Arthur because of his bloodsoil knowledge; the latter when he is cornered and threatened with death by the P.C.s and Lallo.
  • Close-Knit Community: Everyone knows mostly everyone within Carlsville, particularly the children, and they all seem fairly amicable with one another.
  • Crapsack World: This is hardly surprising, give the nature of the setting, but the supernatural threats extend beyond Carlsville. Part of what was so threatening and frightening about the predicaments of the Player Characters is that whatever happened to them did so in their hometowns, or in places that would traditionally be considered "safe".
  • Creepy Changing Painting: In the Diamonds solo suit mission, Theo and Natalie found one very old painting of Vayne Lafleur, and Omega and Infinity Brittle which altered the faces of the subjects when viewed through the camera of Theo's phone.
  • Crossover: In Season 2, with Cardians: Atlantis.
  • Dark Is Evil: Played utterly straight. The monsters and evil in Carlsville only come out at night and can be diverted by simple porch-lights or well aimed flashlights.
  • Darkness = Death: See above trope. There's actually a town-wide curfew for exactly this reason.
  • Death by Origin Story: Tomoe is particularly guilty of being involved in this, having a backstory before the game even starts that kills off several of his friends, but Henderson and Sal's introduction sessions both involved killing off N.P.C.s of varying importance.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: This certainly applies to characters that die in the Character Tutorials, be it Henderson's eldest son, or the paranormal investigation team that Sal and his friend Dragoon accompany into the house.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Everyone in the Cardians Rural division has at some point, either before or during the time working for the organization, encountered or been a part of at least one traumatic event.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The realm of snow and ice in the Hedge that the team finds, as not only do its natural geography and weather prove to be obstacles, it ends up being revealed as the home of Bo, who is actually a True Fae with powers over ice and cold, and the origin world of the gargoyles.
    • Best demonstrated when the Player Characters and the two members of the Atlantis division they encounter end up swimming through a borderline freezing lake, and also when Theo tries to meet with Bo for the second time, and he ends up almost dead from frostbite and hypothermia from extended physical touch due to Bo'scold powers.
  • Fate Worse than Death: What actually happened to the women that the mandrakes abducted: they got their biology rewritten and become living trees that forcibly give birth to new mandrakes, unable to move or break out of their new prison/existence because their bodies have been broken down and merged with the trees that encase them. It is unclear how conscious or cognisant they remained, especially over time, but any possible answer is awful. It is this reason that once the truth was realised, River euthanized them, but not without it taking a toll on her.
    • This trope can also be applied, although more generally, to anyone abducted by fae and kept alive: your biology is rewritten to varying degrees, and your mind bent and twisted to where you are but a shadow of your former self.
  • Fish out of Water: Prior to their time in Carlsville, the six main Player Characters lived fairly ordinary lives, devoid of the supernatural and mortal danger that comes with being part of the Cardians. Now, they must adapt to their new homes and lives.
  • Ho Yay: Between Sal and Dragoon, particularly after the latter wakes up from their whisp-induced coma.
  • Hunter of Monsters: Everyone within the organisation qualifies as this, with shades of Occult Detectives, even if they are a small division of a mafia crime syndicate.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: One was used by the G.M. as background music for the fight against some Hedge creatures in the cornfield.
"Go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody
That everybody's
dead"
  • Jade Coloured Glasses: Pretty much everyone in the division either already wears them, or slowly dons them over the course of the campaign.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: The small town of Carlsville seems fairly ordinary to its citizens, aside from the curfew. This is despite the fact that several supernatural monsters, beings and happenings center around the place.
    • Weirdness Magnet: The town does seem to have an abnormally large number of said happenings, despite its size. It even contains a portal to the Hedge.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: One of the many atmospheric audio tracks used by the G.M. in the game.
  • Pet the Dog: The Aces perform this whenever the Player Characters do well, be it in the form of increased freedom, information, or promotion in Rank.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: By the very nature of it being a tabletop R.P.G. campaign. Most notably, the departure of Sal's player from the group causing Sal to be moved away from the main group of P.C.s.
  • Room Shuffle: One of these occurred in the most recent session involving the Player Characters and Hellings hiding Bo from Elizabeth.
    • To clarify, Bo had been severely injured and was being treated by the others, who were holed up in Liz's mansion for the night. Liz, being a non-Cardian, needed to be kept ignorant of this, so the group had to hastily organise getting the still unconscious Bo out of the house and any residual blood cleaned up.
  • Rule of Three: There are three seasons to Cardians Rural, and each one deals with generally the same story:
    • The ragtag division tries to overcome the supernatural threats facing the small town of Carlsville, while trying to not only keep things secret from the civilians they look after, but also stay sane and alive and as a team. Through doing so, they uncover further secrets and truths about the town and its history, which usually relates heavily to one or more of their team members. When revealed, even if the problems that are raised as a result are overcome, the division is changed, and won't be the same as it once was, and the season concludes with the whole team being affected in a variety of ways.
  • Scars Are Forever: Every major injury received by the Player Characters leaves scars. As of the most recent group mission, this now includes burns.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Pulled in the finale by two separate groups of the Cardians themselves, for different reasons.
  • Seeking the Missing, Finding the Dead: The Player Characters' first mission was to look into the disappearance of a young boy. After about a day of investigating, they found his body.
  • Shoot the Dog: The result of their first mission, after they discovered that the missing boy they were searching for was already dead.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: All the characters can be placed on the scale at varying points. The Player Characters (aside from Tomoe) started off towards Idealism, but are slowly sliding into Cynicism as time passes, and the missions take their toll.
  • Small Steps Hero: Henderson, Natalie, and Theo: all at different points; all in different ways.
  • Tears of Blood: One of the major and most noticeable late-stage symptoms of bloodsoil.
  • The Bait: Sal's plan to deal with the Hedge Beasts that are roaming around the Carlsville woods and gardens in Season 2 revolves around him being this.
  • The Masquerade: By default, by Carlsville being the setting of a Hunter: The Vigil campaign.
  • The Reveal: Due to the incomplete nature of the information regarding the Player Characters and their predicaments, many of these occur within the campaign:
    • In Season 1:
      • The clock creature was once a human boy, and the adoptive child of Vayne Lafleur, Aubry and Chaney's ancestor.
      • Julia Henderson, Richard Henderson's wife, was found alive and well.
      • The subsequent a few sessions later that she is under the influence of the wendigo, who is manipulating her for his won ends, using her son Rowan as leverage.
      • From Chaney, in the Season 1 Finale: Aubry has been gone to draw the spirit of Vayne to her, so that Vayne will possess her, and so that Vayne can be killed, at the cost of Aubry's life.
      • Also from the same Finale, Chaney is a Mage, as is Aubry.
    • In Season 2:
      • Lemons goes public with his cannibalism, due to his deteriorating health from the influence of the wendigo.
      • There is a seventh Player Character, who is introduced partway through the team's first Hedge excursion.
      • After the fight in the lighthouse at the end of Season 1, Bo begins to have dreams about another life revolving around the snowy and icy forest he saw. This culminates in the team uncovering that Bo is actually a True Fae, specifically the one behind both the Hedge portal in the cornfield and the gargoyles and their abducting habits, with false memories implanted by Aubry to stop his influence after he killed Roderick and his squad.
    • In Season 3:
      • Rowan Henderson, Richard Henderson's son, has been dead since Henderson's tutorial.
      • More of the missing people are discovered: some are found dead, 'Dolly' is infected with bloodsoil, but most are alive.
      • Lemons killed C.C., and did so in order to protect Liz from Finnegan.
      • After waking up from his dream, involving CC, Lemons discovered that he'd been manipulated by Finnegan into killing Liz.
      • The full extent of the threat of bloodsoil: it's a disease with a sentient core mind, that of Infinity Brittle, who had been passed down the St. Bellings family line for generations. Furthermore, if you know about her existence, you are susceptible to be hurt or influenced by her. Natalie has known about it since Season 1, but due to this effect of Infinity's power, was unwilling to tell anyone else, and has fought to keep it secret.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Natalie is the only female Player Character out of six, though this is subverted somewhat by the inclusion of quite a few female N.P.C.s., including two of the four Aces, and one of the other Cardians.
    • Downplayed in Season 2 with the introduction of the seventh P.C., River, and further female N.P.C.s.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Multiple times during the campaign, from multiple different people.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: Has happened a few times over the course of the campaign.
    • In Natalie's tutorial, after being pulled out of the mandrake ensnarement roots by Bo, Nat fell unconscious before waking up in her assigned room in the Cardians house.
    • There are off-screen examples too, for both Hawthorn Henderson and Jason Colt, after both awoke from unconsciousness induced by their injuries.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Aubry in spades, but especially once the full scope of her actions and plans are revealed. And in Season 2, Aisha and Yao, as part of Dead Man's Hand.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: After Nat was fully ensnared and encased by mandrake roots, she initially woke up to Bo freeing her from the roots in the middle of the town cornfield.
  • Wendigo: The antagonist of Lemons' introduction session.
  • Wham Episode: Several:
    • The mission to definitively find out whether Julia Henderson is, or was, within the mimic cave, and if she is alive or not. She was found alive and well.
    • The last episode before the Finale of Season 1, in which night time arrives the soonest and darkest it has ever been, a dead body is found in the H.Q. basement, Julia leaves the house while unsupervised, and a frantic Arthur tries to leave also to potentially stop what's happening (while holding Tomoe at gunpoint).
    • The two-parter on the dreams in Season 3: the team are visited by individual spirits of various dead people, and information on both Finnegan and bloodsoil is revealed, as well as the fact that Rowan has been dead since Henderson's tutorial. The most significant incident, however, comes in Lemons' dream, which reveals that Lemons killed C.C. Under Finnegan's manipulations, he 'kills' her again in the dream to get rid of her... only for him to wake up and find that he's mortally wounded Liz, who dies shortly after despite attempts at first aid from Lemons and Arthur. Using this, Arthur conducts a ritual to rid himself of Infinity, and the two flee Henderson's basement, fighting off a thwarting attempt from Caleb.
  • Wham Line: In Part One of the Season One Finale, there were a few: "Theo is gonna grab Henderson's arm and pull him to the door... aaaaand go." "Roll Drive, minus 2." Upon the reveal that Henderson was about to hit Chaney with the R.V..
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In at least two instances thus far, the Player Characters, and even their more senior fellow Cardians, have come across a monster that did not seek to attack them, and they have been split as to whether to kill them outright, capture them, or just let them go.
    • The first was with Omega, where Sal wanted to kill it by punching it to death, and the others had to dissuade him from doing so, with Lemons' skilled manipulation and persuasion coming to the rescue. This was after Natalie and Theo had proven that Omega was sentient, understood English, and, with help from Henderson, made the case that the creature was simply scared, and didn't want to attack.
      • Omega was then later revealed to in fact have mutated from a young human boy, further blurring the line between innocent and monster.
    • The second was with Dagmar Andromalius, an incubus that sought no quarrel with the group, and who Sal also wanted to kill outright. For Dagmar, even the Aces were split as to what to do. Aubry advised the group to leave Dagmar be, as they were not in Carlsville, and were thus outside the division's jurisdiction, but ultimately left the decision as to what to do in their hands. On the other hand, after calling him for additional advice, Hellings voiced aggressively that Dagmar must be killed, as an order. Even then, the group, including the Jack of Clubs Carly, weren't all on board with this; Natalie walked out of the room at one point, after initially refusing to take part.
      • It was this decision by the group to engage Dagmar, at the order of Hellings, that ultimately resulted in Henderson and Tomoe being hospitalised, and the shopping mall in the neighbouring town to Carlsville burning down.
    • The hardest case yet, Bo, the beloved but mysterious Ace of Diamonds, is accused by the ghost of possibly a former Cardians member of being not human, or at the very least not like a normal human, and a danger to others.
  • Who Will Bell the Cat?: After their first mission more or less succeeded, in that they found the body of the missing child they were looking for, the Player Characters realized upon reaching the house of the child's parents that someone would have to break the news to them. Prior to this, as well, none of them really wanted to even knock on the door. Eventually, Natalie did so, as well as calling the child's father on the phone to tell him what had happened, and Lemons was the one to lead the conversation with the increasingly distraught mother about it. Which he did quite tactfully, considering it's Lemons.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Natalie pulled this on Arthur after the events surrounding the cemetery and the discovery of the hole at Vayne Lafleur's grave, and how both handled them.
    • Natalie herself also had this pulled on her by Aisha, after the former's actions during the "longest night" in Season 2.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: In regards to Finnegan's plan, one of the most important parts of it was the fate of Liz, who needed to die before Arthur to prevent the spread of the main bloodsoil parasite entity, and who the division, therefore, needed to protect. This was successfully achieved at last in Season 3, kickstarting the next stage of the plan: Infinity and therefore bloodsoil can now be killed without risk of her finding a new host, so Arthur is abducted to be interrogated on what he knows before he is to be killed.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: In a mission that combined efforts of both Spades and Hearts, Lemons and Henderson, after going to sleep in the house their mission concerned, find themselves in a different, much larger house that turned out to be the St Bellings mansion.
    • Also happened to Tomoe and Natalie in a dream that may not have been a dream, where they woke up in an alternate version of the Cradians house, and then in a wood cabin belonging to Samuel T. Finnegan.
      • At the start of Season 2, Bo had a similar dream/experience while in his coma/sleep.
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