An unexplained incident causes the entire population of a quaint English village called Midwich to fall into a cold sleep for a few hours, then awaken, seemingly unharmed.
However, they soon realise that every woman in the village, capable of bearing children, is suddenly pregnant.
The pregnancies develop quickly and once the children are born, they all share similar features, from strangely blonde hair to arresting eyes.
These dozen new-borns develop rapidly, so that by the time they are three- or four-years-old they have the appearance of normal human 10-year-olds.
It's also apparent that these children have paranormal mental abilities, from a shared consciousness to being able to control the minds of others or read their thoughts.
The villagers of Midwich come to fear the new arrivals, who are quick to use their powers on any perceived to cross them
Eventually Professor Gordon Zellaby (George Sanders), a long-time champion of the possibilities for humanity that the children could offer and "father" of David (Martin Stephens), the 'de facto' leader of the metahuman children, takes it upon himself to solve the conflict before it spreads outside the village.
Based upon the famous sci-fi novel The Midwich Cuckoos, by John Wyndham (author of Day of The Triffids amongst other seminal works), Village of The Damned is a phenomenal piece of tight film making.
Pared down to the bone, in a mere 75 minutes, writer-director Wolf Rilla's script (co-written with Storling Silliphant and George Barclay) tells a complete, fully-developed unnerving horror story that spans almost four years, which doesn't just satisfy its audience but stays with them.
Of particular note, of course, are the iconic children with their bobbed blonde hair and glowing eyes.
But I also love the fact that no definitive explanations are given, just plenty of theories, which reminds me of that stalwart of British sci-fi Nigel Kneale's Quatermass series - particularly the apocalyptic final story, starring Sir John Mills.
The unbelievable (to a modern audience) speed and alacrity with which the plot of Village of The Damned unfolds demands - and rewards - the full attention of the viewer.
Laying the groundwork for such concepts as Marvel Comics X-Men, the idea of how "normal people" react to "superpowered mutants" suddenly appearing within the population is dealt with deftly.
This old black and white classic has long been a favourite of mine, although I haven't watched the film for many years. It came up in conversation the other day among my gaming group, The Tuesday Knights, when discussing Pete's planned 1950's atomic horror campaign.
So, I was prompted to track down a copy, and found a very reasonably priced two-pack on sale at Amazon - boxed with the sequel Children of The Damned.
There is a phenomena spoken of in the isolated, superstitious, woodland communities of The Westerlands of entire generations of children suddenly being born simultaneously with identical features (blonde hair, striking blue eyes etc).
Some are said to be pale skinned, while others are green-skinned.
These children, known as Gökar, develop incredibly quickly (two or three times faster than normal) and possess intelligence way beyond humans of a comparable age.
By the time they are around four or five they will disappear back into the woods, presumably to form further colonies of their people.
However, while residing among human populations, they will use their mental abilities to ensure their own safety.
Each family unit (that is, all the Gökar born at the same time in the same area) will have a nominal leader, who, while identical to his or her siblings, will speak on behalf of the group.
Personality-wise, the Gökar are generally cold and unemotional, driven by a desire for knowledge and self-preservation at all costs.
They rarely, if ever, engage in physical combat, possessing the size and strength of young children, instead relying on their spectacular mental powers - which increase when they are together - to get their way.
Never rash or driven to act out of anger, the Gökar do not suffer fools gladly and will punish any who seek to do them harm or thwart their schemes.
Fully cognisant of how fragile they are in a straight fight, the superintelligent Gökar rely on their wits, sneaky plans, control of others etc to ensure they always have the upper hand.
#ENC: 3d6 (family - will always be an even number, equal split of male and female) or 1d6+1 (wandering group, away from their family).
- HIVE MIND: Each 'family' of Gökar shares a collective consciousness, so that - no matter how far apart they are - what one knows the others instantly know.
- MIND READING: A single Gökar is capable of reading the thoughts of any one humanoid person he concentrates upon within 100ft. The target may make a saving throw to resist every minute, but this is modified (see below) by the presence of other Gökar within 10ft of the one exercising this power.
- MIND CONTROL: A single Gökar can control (or 'charm') any single biped of large human size or smaller with her thoughts, up to a range of 120ft. The target may make a saving throw to resist every minute, but this is modified (see below) by the presence of other Gökar within 10ft of the one exercising this power. If the Gökar mentally tries to drive its victim to self-harm, a second modified saving roll is made before they are forced to carry out this act.
HIVE MINDNormally a single Gökar is the conduit for a particular power, but the presence of others of its kind within 10 feet will lend it power.
Every 'supplementary' Gökar can only assist one other at a time - should a number of their group be using powers simultaneously - and they may take no other offensive action while doing so.
NB. This chain-effect means if one Gökar is within 10ft of another using a power, any Gökar within 10ft of the one lending support can also lend additional support, and so on.
Mechanically, this means a player-character's saving roll to resist the power of a Gökar is modified as below, depending on how many 'support Gökar' are in the same hive mind chain at that moment.