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House of Usher Final

Page history last edited by Joe Essid 10 years ago

Roderick & Madeline

Assessment: The project will provide each of you a chance to pull up or cement your participation grade: it counts as part of the 20% for participation.

 

What: Roleplaying involves "getting into character" as someone you are not. In this case, you and your friends will portray Oxford friends of Roderick Usher's (women did not go to college in 1847, but you attended some of his poetry readings at Oxford).

 

He has summoned you, desperately, to visit him and help with a terrible problem.  Your goal will be to save him and his sister from madness and death.  Each of you will also receive a special (and secret) task from me when you sign up to visit the House. Your party of visitors may have different, even conflicting, tasks!  You will also get a "beta-test" task from me, either "evaluate roleplay," "suggest changes based on Poe," or "evaluate props and clues." 

 

The letter you got:

 

29 October 1947

My dear friends,

 

I need you to come to my ancestral home! Madeline and I are ill, and I fear for her demise. Since you have long been close to me, I share with you a terrible dream I had. It expresses some sense of the turmoil in my ravaged soul.

 

I saw my sister before me, stretched upon her bed, able to speak but not move. I had used the science of mesmerism to try to calm her shattered nerves. The doctor and Jenkins looked on as I tried this desperate measure. As she lay in the trance, suddenly, these were her words to me.

 

"For God's sake! --quick! --quick! --put me to sleep --or, quick! --waken me! --quick! --I say to you that I am dead!"

 

I was thoroughly unnerved, and for an instant remained undecided what to do. At first I made an endeavor to re-compose the patient; but, failing in this through total abeyance of the will, I retraced my steps and as earnestly struggled to awaken her. In this attempt I soon saw that I should be successful --or at least I soon fancied that my success would be complete --and I am sure that all in the room were prepared to see the patient awaken. For what really occurred, however, it is quite impossible that any human being could have been prepared. As I rapidly made the mesmeric passes, amid ejaculations of "dead! dead!" absolutely bursting from the tongue and not from the lips of the sufferer, her whole frame at once --within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk --crumbled --absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome --of detestable putridity.

 

Please, make haste! I fear this dream to be a portent of things to come.

 

Your humble and obedient servant, and dearest friend,

Roderick

 

 Background: When you arrive at the House, assume that you all know each other from college, where Roderick was a fellow student. The year is 1847, the location a mansion on the Yorkshire Moors in the Northeast of England.  You (and the others, if you are not alone) have made a long ride by horseback or carriage over the moors from the city of York.  You stopped the night before in a village near the House of Usher, and there you found some disturbing things about the family--and got the secret task I will give you.

 

How: 

  • You will sign up, by avatar name, at the page listed at the end of this document. Sign up for any convenient time BUT do not sign up if three people have already picked a time
  • You need not sign up with your editing group
  • At least 20 minutes before you enter the House, you will teleport to the House of Usher Visitor Center and dress your avatar in appropriate Victorian attire (free to you inside the center). Don't cross-dress, please :)
  • Follow the instructions about how to "get upstairs" to meet the Ushers
  • In the House you will not only meet Roderick and Madeline but also will be able to explore for clues. Important: While the actors might give you clues verbally, most clues are hidden within objects in the House and will come to you in the form of a note-card or image when you click. You often will see a verbal clue that encourages you to click; think of things you might pick up and examine in a mystery story. To find a clue, use your pointer on-screen to hover over items. When you get a "hand" like the one shown at the right, the object can be clicked. Some furniture also gives this response, but that often means it has been enabled for you to sit there with a custom animation.

 

Writing:

  • A long blog post (600+ words) will be due by Friday, Dec. 11, 5pm.  In it, you should first summarize what happened during your visit, with an eye to describing the roleplaying to those who were not present.  Then you should follow up with some advice for the designers to implement over the holidays, based on the beta-test task I give you. You've visited one other "immersive" educational site, Heritage Key, so use your experience there--good and bad--to guide what you need to tell us to change for Usher.

 

Roderick and Madeline look forward to entertaining you in a simulation based upon Edgar Allan Poe's story, "The Fall of the House of Usher." So sorry if the old family mansion is a bit run down...never mind the rats. They run when you turn up a lamp.

 

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