Tag Archives: horror

Idea for Vampires and Sunlight

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This is just something I came up with a long time ago while thinking about the old vampiric weakness to sunlight, hopefully it is an interesting spin on it.

The idea is that Vampires get more sensitive to the sun as they grow older. A newly created Vampire would be able to walk around during the day time, although he would be uncomfortable on a clear day.

The Oldest Vampires are forced to live in absolute darkness, since even moonlight hurts their sensitive skins. They have to work through proxies and agents, never seeing any light.

RPG Review – Kuro

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Kuro Cover

Kuro is a very interesting game, with a very original setting. In my mind, it feels like Ghost in the Shell meets The Ring. The game is set in Japan in 2046. After the Kuro Incident, an event in which Japan is protected from a thermonuclear strike by an unknown force, the country is blockaded by the rest of the world, since they believe that Japan has access to top secret missile shield technology. In the meantime, reports of strange events are on the rise, and while most remain ignorant, some are starting to realise that there is something else in Japan trapped with the people.

The first half of the book is devoted to explaining the setting. It presents a Japan isolated from the rest of the world,and after six months of the blockade, the strain on the country is slowly starting to show through. In the wake of the Kuro incident, there are a number of groups emerging in society, as the people try to deal with what has happened.

The book presents a very cyberpunk feel of the future, with ubiquitous computing, where even the poorest person owns a device, and augmented reality and holograms are everywhere.

The supernatural is making its presence felt, slowly and gradually, with most people dismissing the reports as superstition, or a lone maniac.

The book does an excellent job of presenting the setting, and while I am probably not getting it across in this review, the setting does feel truly unique, while being recognisable and interesting enough to play in.

The system itself is only explained later in the book. To resolve an action, the player rolls a number of D6, equal to his stat, and adds a skill, trying to beat the target number, or the roll of another character.

The system is very simple, straightforward, and easy to learn. I do find that it does not really tie into the setting, and does nothing to evoke the flavor and themes of the game. If I were to run the game, I would probably use something like Fate. The system here is serviceable  but a bit bland.

The book closes with an introductory adventure, Origami, in which the characters start of as normal Japanese citizens, and get drawn into some of the events of the world of Kuro. It provides a good introduction to this fascinating setting.

Just for the setting alone, this game is worth the price! Cubicle Seven is planning to release another two books in this setting, and I am really looking forward to them.

Kuro is available from RPGNow.

RPG Review: Left Hand Path

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Left-Hand Path White Wolf Cover

I have recently been re-finding my taste for all things White Wolf, possibly due to the Aberrant campaign I am currently in. So, I decided to review Left Hand Path .

Left Hand Path deals with the rebels and outcasts of mage society, those that are isolated from the Pentacle and Seers, often with very good reason. The book is divided into four, dealing with the Heretics, Mad, Scelesti and Reapers.

It starts off by explaining how the pentacle and seers deal with the Apostates, and how to become one, before looking at the individual factions.

The Heretics and Apostates are those that have rejected the teachings of the Pentacle or Seers, but still remain “normal” mages. As such, they seem to be most likely to be used as player characters. There are some good ideas about how to use them as protagonists and antagonists in your stories, as well as several story seeds focusing on them.
The Mad remind me of the Marauders in the old world of darkness, although they do get a very new world of darkness spin on them. They are based on the gothic idea of madness that stems from moral decay, and some of the details about them manage to be disturbing. Ideas are given how to use them in a chronicle, as well as some suggested Mad. I think that they have a lot of potential, but I found the section on them a bit sparse and lacking.
The Scelesti are a bit of a stereotypical villain group, in the fact that they want to end the world as we know it, possibly to replace it with the Abyss. The information in here expands on the Mage rulebook, and presents other factions of the Scelesti, as well as some ideas about their structure, organisation, and practices.
Finally, the Repers are discussed, with a long section on the Tremere, although I find the two new factions intorduced in that section far more interesting, especially the (Legion), which have the right mix of interesting and creepy to be used in most games.
Overall, The Left Hand Path is an excellent resource for any Mage Storyteller, and a very good mine for ideas. It is available for sale from RPGNow.

RPG Inspiration – Call of Cthulhu

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Call of Cthulhu

 

 

Call of Cthulhu came out in 2005. It was directed by Andrew Leman, and stars Matt Foyer and John Bolen (IMDB Page). Needless to say, it is based on the story of the same name by H. P. Lovecraft.

Silent Movie

This is a silent movie, with no speech, just music, and the occasional card of text. This gives a very interesting feel to the movie… It really takes you back to the era that the it is set in.

This got me thinking about running a silent RPG… It would not really work with a classic round the table set up. But in a LARP or a JeepForm, it might be an interesting experience. The players not allowed to speak, and they are forced to rely on other means of communication. There could even be an in-world explanation for this… Perhaps they have all been struck dumb by something, or for a darker game, they are all slaves whose tongues have been cut out.

Of course, the tricky part would be to keep the game from devolving into a game of Charades, which would kill the mood.

Specialists Called in

At one point, Thurston consults with the archaeological society. This scene reminded me of how rarely players actually ask for help from NPCs. It makes sense for the characters to ask specialists for their opinions. Of course, there is never a guarantee that those opinions will be accurate, or even sane.

Linked Timelines

The story is actually two simultaneous stories, the story of Thurston’s uncle, and the story about Thurston discovering what happened.

This could easily be applied to an RP session, as the characters discover what happened before, rather than presenting the information they found, allow them to play a short scene or two as the characters that they are learning about.

RPG Inspiration – 30 Days of Night

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30 Days of Night Poster

30 Days of Night

30 Days of Night is a 2007 movie, directed by David Slade and starring Josh Hartnet and Melissa George. (IMDB Page)

Strange Day Cycle

I always found the idea of the changes in the day/night cycle fascinating for some reason, especially when they differ from the norm.

This is just something that can be used in an RPG as well, perhaps it’s set on a planet that has a 48, rather than a 24 cycle? How will that affect how things are done?

Another idea, for a more fantasy bent, is an area that is plunged into darkness until the heroes can rescue the sun from the underworld. This could work nicely for a more mythical quest.

Burned Cellphones

The first hint that the main characters get that there is something going on in the town, is when they find a bunch of burned cellphones in the snow. This is never explained, although it might have been to reduce their chances of calling for help. Things escalate after that quickly, and the next step is the death of the dogs.

I like the fact that everything starts of with something small, the significance of which is not revealed until later.

Lets apply this to a haunted house story. Start of with the characters going into the house, perhaps a vacation home. The first thing they might notice is that

Blocking off the Exists

Things in the town continue to escalate after the cellphones are discovered, with the killing of the dogs, and later with the destruction of the helicopter. The impression is that somebody is preparing the town for an attack, and does not want anybody escaping.

This is something you can expand on, as the characters options for exists are gradually cut off, without the characters realising why. In a game it is a good idea to remember that the characters enemies can be organised and plan ahead. If the bad guys are planning to attack the characters, they might think of cutting phone lines first, or perhaps they create false alarms on the characters security system, so that they take it down for repair.

Renfield

To be honest, I do not remember what the character was actually called in the movie, but he was definitely based on Renfield from Dracula. The somewhat insane servant to the vampires is a stock character, but can be used anywhere. Perhaps a lich has convinced a villager he would grant him immortality, if only he would get the PCs into a trap?

30 Days of Night Fight Scene

Becoming a Vampire to fight Vampires

Another classic trope, becoming the monster in order to have the strength to fight monsters. This is something that is very difficult to get right in an RPG. Either the players would do anything to get out of it, or would just go “Hey, I get to be super-strong, fast and regenerate! Where do I sign up?” The tricky part is making it a difficult choice, making it clear that without the added power the characters and their loved ones are doomed, but that the character who chooses to become the monster would be utterly damned in some way. Perhaps they could witness the degeneration of an NPC, who gets bitten by a werewolf, saves his family using his new found strength, only to wake up covered in their blood a couple of days later?

RPG Inspiration – Jennifer’s Body

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Today, in my RPG inspiration article, I will talk about Jennifer’s Body. I have to admit that my expectations for this movie were extremely low, but I was pleasantly surprised. The movie is much more intelligent than it seemed from the PR campaign around it.

Jennifer's Body Poster

Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer’s Body is a 2009 Movie, directed by Karyn Kusama, and stars Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox. (IMDB page)

Jennifer's Body Hallway Scene

My Friend is Different

The central theme in the movie seems to be the fact that Anita’s (played by Amanda Seyfried) friend changes suddenly.

Perhaps one of the NPCs that the characters have become close to is suddenly different, with no explanation? Perhaps the tavern keeper at their favourite tavern, who has always served their drinks and taken their gold without saying a word suddenly starts cracking jokes, and treating the characters like they were his best friends. Has he just decided he likes the characters after all? Did he convert to some religion? Is he possessed? Or perhaps has a split personality? Or a twin brother than occasionally relieves him?

Of course, you could do this with any NPC, possibly even with one of the PCs, although you would have to come to an agreement with the player beforehand.

Jennifer's Body Fire

Fire

Everything in the movie starts with a fire at the bar, and that is something that can be also used in any game. A fire is a great opportunity for heroism, and it will force the players to use something other than their combat skills. After all, you cannot beat up a flame.

Than, there is also the issue of what started the fire. Was it natural, or was it one of the character’s enemies that started it?

A fire can also serve to expose things sometimes. Perhaps after an old house in the neighbourhood burns down due to an electrical fault, the investigators discover a pile of corpses in the basement?

Animals Gathering

Whenever the demon is about to eat someone, all the animals in the area seem to gather. This is a nice change from most movies, which show animals as getting scared by the supernatural.

You can use this to indicate to the characters that something is wrong. The classic way to do this is all the dogs in town barking and snarling at the stranger in town.

You may even use this to indicate to the players that something is going on with their characters. Perhaps a character’s horse suddenly shies away when he approaches, or all the pigeons in the park gather in front of a character, looking at him.

Jennifer's Body Scene

Weird to Normal

Anita keeps seeing Jennifer (Megan Fox), in strange situations, often covered in blood, yet the next day she acts completely normal, as if nothing had happened.

This is something that would work very well in a horror game. The characters may witness a murder, and the next day, the murderer is walking around, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. If you really want to play with the characters heads, than the victim is walking around, as if nothing had happened.

Low Shoulder

Satan Worshipping Indie Band

A simple thing to add to any campaign really, why not make the bad guys a band that offers sacrifices to the dark lords in exchange for power? Perhaps they need more than one sacrifice…

The characters are following up on a series of grizzly murders, and they discover that most of them lie on the bands tour route.

Megan Fox with Fangs

The Need to Eat People

In the movie, Jennifer needs to eat people in order to survive. This is something that could be treated in a very similar way to vampirism, after all in each case the person needs to get a part of somebody else to survive.

So, that is another way to give the characters  a dillema: “You can have all this power, but in exchange, you have to eat people.” Like I said before, not that different from becoming a vampire, but I think the characters might find this more disturbing.

Jennifer's Body Ritual

Ritual Gone Wrong

The reason why Jennifer comes back after getting sacrificed is that she is not a vairgin as required by the ritual.

This brings us to the idea of rituals going wrong. In the movie, the band never realises that their ritual did not go exactly as planned, and the players might do some sort of ritual (perhaps to be rid of the ancient evil), and then return to the village to discover that as a result of their ritual, everybody in the village now curses their name. Or maybe, they just hear a story about a village that was devoured by the god of battle, in his anger because somebody dared to use honeysuckle that was not harvested at the full moon.

The flip side of the coin would involve the characters getting involved after the ritual had already gone wrong. In a modern supernatural game, perhaps somebody trying to cure a loved one from cancer succeeds, but turns them into a flesh-eating ghoul by accident. Make the person who performed the ritual sympathetic (perhaps the reason the ritual failed was because he could not bring himself to kill people and render their fat into candles, but used normal candles instead?)

Even the Monster has Family

One of the nice touches in the movies comes in at the very end, after Anita has killed Jennifer, and Jennifer’s mother comes in, to see her daughter horribly murdered by her best friend.

The PCs, especially in modern horror games, forget that very often the monsters may have families of their own. Perhaps the kill a fledgling vampire, and a couple of days later, they find a woman putting up posters, offering a reward for any information about her son.

Jennifer's Body - Amanda Seyfried

Getting Bitten by the Demon

It turns out that getting bitten by  a demon gives you some of her powers.

This got me thinking about a new spin on this idea: What if this is a well known fact in the setting? Of course, the trick than becomes to get bitten and survive. Perhaps the characters capture and fight monsters, purely so that they can get bitten, and get those powers.

Or, maybe somebody keeps a monster captive, forcing it to bit their lieutenants, as he builds his army.

Draculas Review

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I have recently had the chance to read Draculas, since I got my hands on a review copy. The novel is scheduled to be released tomorrow, and it was written by ??J. A. Konrath, Jack Kilborn, F. Paul Wilson and Jeff Strand.

According to the authors, it is an attempt to make vampires scary again, and it succeeds to a certain extent. They move away from angst-filled teen heartthrobs, and make the monsters in the story animalistic monstrous predators, with no interest other than blood.

The story is simple, it focuses on a bunch of people trying to survive a vampire outbreak in a small hospital.

Blood is something that you will find plenty of in this novel, and I personally found the constant gore to be too much at times, as the authors tried to outdo each other. There is no mistaking this book for psychological horror!

I found the book entertaining, despite its faults. It is fairly short, and it took me a while to get into it. The characters are very well done, and have some depth to them.

Overall, I found Draculas to be a light and entertaining read. If you are a fan of over the top splatterpunk horror, this would be perfect. If you are not, than you might want to give it a miss.

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