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