[Heroes of Action and Wonder!] Story Hooks

A few months ago we previewed the Antihero Archetype from Heroes of Action and Wonder!, which acts as an upcoming sourcebook for They Came from [CLASSIFIED]! and They Came from the Cyclops’s Cave! Now we’re previewing some of the crossover content in that book, so strap in and enjoy the trailers:

Story Hooks and Scenarios

“Jekyll, come on! We’ll need Hyde!”

“No! Hyde will never use me again!”

“Then what good are you?”

— Allan Quartermain, Dr. Jekyll, and Dorian Gray, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

There’s a reason the crossover is often classed as a major event in the movie making calendar, and when Directors get to play in multiple sandboxes at the same time, they up their game, hoping to bring the shock value that inevitably comes from seeing two unexpected things playing nicely together (or not, as the case often is — we’re looking at you, Godzilla).

In the vaunted halls of They Came From HQ, in between drinking celebratory glasses of vintage scotch, the shadowy powers that be entertain pitches from desperate producers, each as keen as the last to have their brainchild funded by the studio and made into a (moderately budgeted) feature film. If we’re being honest, much of their pitch’s success depends on either the amount of scotch drunk so far, or the quality of the buffet service the producer is bringing to the production.

Here then, are a selection of scripts plucked from They Came From Studios famed blacklist, each pitch a perfect cocktail of genres and madcap ideas. Now speaking of drinks, where’s the scotch gone…?

Fear of a Red Planet!

Producer’s Pitch

The fear of Communism hangs over much ‘50s media, so when Martians (the RED planet, it’s a metaphor!) seek to assimilate everyone, it’s up to our band of intrepid spies to sort out who’s a patriot, and who’s an anti-American alien!

(Genre: Beneath the Sea!, Characters: [CLASSIFIED]!)

Director’s Notes

This game is run through by paranoia, who can you trust, and for how long? This is a classic ‘70s conspiracy movie but set in the bucolic ‘50s and hooked into the specific fears of that era.


Marksberg has hosted an extensive naval training base for the past thirty years. The docks exist under the permanent shadows of aircraft carriers and warships, while the town is permanently flooded with irascible seamen, each seeking thorough lubrication in one of the many bars dotted along the dock front. It gets a little hairy at times, with tensions running high between the locals and the “invasive species,” but Mayor Clunge knows which side his bread is buttered, doing his best to smooth over any cracks and keep both sides happy. After all, the seamen keep the town’s coffers bulging.

This is the scene into which our spies are sent. A cryptic missive was delivered to HQ from a local operative before everything went dark. It reads simply:

Operation summary: Bugger. Situation critical. Reds everywhere. I must tell you about…

The infamous Red Lobster Clan — a militant Martian offshoot of the shapeshifting crab people — have infiltrated Marksberg and set their sights upon nothing less than the total destruction of everything above sea level (and the Netherlands). For six months, Red Lobster infiltrators have been seeding themselves within Marksberg, safe in the knowledge that it’s only a matter of time before they’re able to claim the identities of superior seamen and populate the bows of the warships, and ultimately the world! Having recently replicated the weak human flesh of the town’s madam, it won’t be long before the red menace has its clumsy claws wrapped around exactly what it needs, after all, even in the ‘50s, sex sells.

For our spies, things are made more complicated when upon arrival in Marksberg, their missing operative is discovered alive and well; or alive at least, for they’re ensconced in the local hospital, recovering from a head injury and with no memory of their missive. What’s more, the town’s in a state of fluster: in three days hence, the nuclear submarine HMS Annihilator is docking for a weeklong service (debate rages whether the sub or the all-male crew need servicing the most). Parades are planned, a town banquet is organized, and Mayor Clunge has arranged for a one-on-one session with the Annihilator’s accompanying Admiral.

Will the spies discover the Martian threat in time? Who has already been compromised by the Red Lobster? Will the acquisition of the brothel spell the doom of the human race?

Marianna: The Gateway to Hell!

Producer’s Pitch

They say Hell is deep within the fiery bowels of the planet, so presumably the closer you get physically, the more chance you have of finding a literal gateway! Nothing’s closer than the Marianna Trench!

(Genre: Beyond the Grave!, Characters: Beneath the Sea!)

Director’s Notes

This is a haunted house story, but with the added quirk of being in the most hostile environment on Earth— the bottom of the ocean! Add to this hellish scenario some deep-sea monsters from the depths of Hell, and you’ve the setup for some intense pressure!


An experimental research hub has been established at the bottom of the deepest place on Earth: the Marianna Trench (too many tourists in the Mediterranean). An entire town was displaced and recreated — picket fences, manicured lawns, diners, and little league teams included! This slice of americana guaranteed a range of people and personalities to embark upon their underwater adventure, and for huge volumes of data to be collected on the impacts of deep-sea pressure, lack of sunlight, isolation, and a diet consisting solely of those ugly fish with lights on their heads.

Tensions run high in the imaginatively named town of Mariannaville, with the oppressive conditions having long since frayed every single collective nerve of the populace, although they maintain rictus smiles to help convince themselves of the success of their American dream. Despite this wave of positivity, passive/aggressive confrontations are common, but most of the resentment simmers under the surface — an apt metaphor for the town itself. Is this festering disgust the result of sustained deprivation of Vitamin D, or something more sinister? Say, the presence of an actual doorway to Hell in the town center?

Eventually the façade snaps, with local dreamboat Chuck D Pringle picking a fight with our protagonists. It was only something petty, but the ensuing ruckus smashes through the thin barrier that has so far separated Mariannaville from the infernal realm! With all manner of demons, sea monsters, and perhaps even THE DEVIL HIMSELF released, the characters must flee for their lives, evade the unknown, and work out how to close the pits of Hell for good! One thing’s for sure, it won’t be as simple as repairing a pothole, but who knows, perhaps drenching Satan and his minions in cement from the builder’s yard is exactly what’s needed!

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Producer’s Pitch

Séances have always been creepy. Who knows what you’re really talking to? All these movies end up with really tame possessions — that girl in The Exorcist just swore and vomited, and any six-year-old can do that! Let’s up the gore factor and catch everyone off guard!

(Genre: Camp Murder Lake!, Characters: Beyond the Grave!)

Director’s Notes

We’re going for a classic bait and switch here, setting up our audience for what seems to be a run-of-the-mill paranormal investigation, before bludgeoning them over the head with some sick kills (literally, let’s give our killer acidic vomit, and show Friedkin how it’s done!)


“Cryptic” Chrissie Borden (she claims to be related to Lizzie) is a renowned medium, with her late-night cable access show Cryptic Chrissie’s Tales from Beyond the Grave, attracting thousands of viewers every week — as well as thoroughly lining her pockets through extortionate donations accepted on her premium rate phone line. Is she for real, or is she a fraud? This is the question asked by our characters, and in a rare show of openness, Cryptic Chrissie has agreed to be tested by this group of skeptics — but only while live on air, and only at her country retreat.

A long drive through the wilderness precedes the main event, and unknown to our characters, Chrissie has seeded the route with clues, signs, and allies to plant a few exploitable ideas in the minds of her interviewees. The nearby gas station is rigged with cameras and even uses a system of mirrors to fake a momentary flash of a specter — in reality, a dedicated fan in makeup.

The moment of the broadcast arrives, and while Chrissie pulls some zingers out of the bag, it’s not hard to realize they’re just the parlor tricks of a talented mentalist. Desperate, and faced with looking stupid on live TV — and in front of her audience — Chrissie opts for one last trick: the séance. Alas, while attempting to add some authenticity to her act, she accidentally summons the spirit of something truly evil. At first, her contortions and screams feel like a part of the performance, but when she spews highly acidic bile over the entire front row, it’s clear that something has gone horribly wrong.

The newly possessed medium engages in what can only be described as an orgy of death, hunting down anything with a pulse, and using the isolated nature of her vast estate to her advantage. After her initial assault, she dissolves into a puddle of suspicious-looking goo — this same ectoplasmic slime can be found smeared across every car on the grounds, and conveniently, they refuse to start. Gifted with ghost-like powers, the killer appears when least expected, and seems impossible to kill. There’s plenty of survivors around for a healthy body count, but can our skeptical heroes survive for long enough to re-assess their previously held disbelief in the supernatural?

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