Gaming in The Hollow

I remember these Disney short features from when I was a kid, and they would show them on Wonderful World of Disney. I had the opportunity to show this to my own daughter tonight in lieu of a bedtime story (we’re between books at the moment), and was struck by just how wonderful the introduction to the setting was, and how applicable to an RPG setting. Bing Crosby’s absolutely stunning narration definitely helps.

“If we could but journey back to that remote period in American history when Manhattan was but a market town, we could discover in the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the shores of the Hudson, the little village of Tarrytown. And just beyond, nestled deep in the low, rolling hills, a sequestered glen. It’s a quiet, peaceful place, and yet, somehow… foreboding. For it abounds in haunted spots, twilight tales, and local superstitions. The best known story, however, concerns a certain itinerant schoolmaster who once frequented these parts. Indeed, some say his melancholy spirit still haunts the vicinity.”

Tell me that doesn’t sound like the intro text to one hell of an first-level module. A tiny hamlet within traveling distance of, but isolated from, a larger village. “Haunted spots… and local superstitions.” Oh, rumors abounding of… things… out in the woods that fill the rest of the Hollow just beyond the farmland. Enough to fill a hundred rumors to be found at Ye Olde Schnooker and Schnapps Shoppe– doubtless told in the form of tall tales told and retold over flagons of ale (“I once went out to the marsh beyond the brook, and let me tell you what I saw…”). And prominent figures like the Van Tassel family, the Sleepy Hollow Boys, and Brahm Bones.

And incidentally, the whole of Disney’s Bing Crosby version of the Headless Horseman is well worth watching. I dearly love the Johnny Depp film, but this will always hold a spot in my heart. Here’s the rest:

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Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

6 thoughts on “Gaming in The Hollow

  1. I adore that version of Sleepy Hollow and watch it every year on Halloween.

    I'd definitely play in that, even traveling to distant lands like New Jersey to do so :-).

  2. The YouTube video says it is banned, but it is in fact available on DVD. I picked up a copy for Halloween last year.

    Somewhere back in the late 80's I ran an D&D game where the players had to resolve the headless horseman issue. I made the horseman immortal, and they had to put his spirit to rest so he would stop chopping off heads.

    There was also a Ravenloft module–part of the Grand Conjunction series–where a headless specter on a horse shows up and starts chopping off heads with a scythe. That particular creature was followed by the bouncing heads of all of his victims.

  3. The cartoon has a bit of a "Tex Avery" vibe.

    I live about ten miles south of Sleepy Hollow, which was named "North Tarrytown" until 1997, when the local GM plant closed down, and the village changed its name to attempt a switch to a tourism-based economy. The film came out two years later, but the village still hasn't quite figured out how to capitalize on the new-found "cult" status.

    The 17th Century Church shown in the cartoon is still extant, and is open to the public. Across the street is Philipsburg Manor, a 17th-18th Century plantation/mill complex- class trips here were a rite of passage for local grammar schoolers. In October, the historic sites have special events, but the traffic can be a bit much.

    If you decide to run a Sleepy Hollow campaign, consider including this guy, who comes across as a more benign version of B2's mad hermit. One of his "caves" was in Ossining, the town north of Sleepy Hollow.

  4. I must admit that the Johnny Depp film is a favourite of mine, but it's probably on the Black List in our house because I went to school with (and was very keen on) the actress who played Beth Killian and my wife is convinced that the only reason I watch it is to see her (even though she ends up decapitated).

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