[Design] Horror Game Example

edited October 2012 in Pitch
I need help writing up a play example of a Horror game I've been working on.
If you are interested let me know. Very simple stuff. Basically generating ideas from an Oracle Draw. Probably only take two or three posts. From Oracle pull out implied characters and that character's first scene of horror. I can explain more, but that is it, mostly.

I tried to do it by myself, but I think it would work so much better with some outside creative input.


  • Somewhat in the style of In a Wicked Age?

    Sure, I'm game.
  • Great. Yes, very much Wicked Age.
    I'll draw four from an Oracle I wrote up and we'll go from there.
    (Anyone Else interested, chime in too if you'd like).
  • 8C
    The bend of a river where the waters run abnormally cold.
    A metal box filled with a intricate mechanism of gears, springs, blades and needles.
    A storefront window that sometimes casts a wrong reflection.
    Trampled grasses about the stone edifice where there was once cultish rituals.

    Players: List implied Investigative characters.

    Such characters are fairly normal folks, with normal lives, that have had some sudden, horrific change in circumstances. You may, at the groups option, have more professional mystery solving types. Good option for returning characters.

    Avoid defining monstrous people and villains from the oracle, these types are for the MC to control. You might suggest such implied characters, but that choice is the MC’s alone.
  • edited October 2012
    Is this a typical spread? There really aren't much in the way of clearly implied investigative characters. I can speculate about people who might be involved with these things, but actually concretely linking people in is probably more difficult than it should be. You can get spreads like this out of IaWA's core oracles, but they're rare and difficult to work with ... when I draw something like this, I often just discard and draw again.

    But there's probably a store owner, and I can also imagine that someone innocent has found the metal box.

    With a greater degree of speculation, maybe someone is on the river? A recreational sailor, or someone on a cargo barge. The operator of a tour boat. Or someone lives in a house near the shore.

    I can also speculate that the stone edifice might now be owned or maintained by someone who has nothing to do with cults. There's a groundskeeper, perhaps. I'm inclined to assume that the trampling was done by someone unpleasant, but maybe not: maybe it's just teenagers, looking for a quiet place to smoke and make out.
  • Yes, speculation is what I want to see. Dial up the speculation and add details. like, what kind of store? What kind of innocent? Who lives in that house by the shore? Or tour boat, that's cool. Why tours there?

    I'll put more explicit direction on speculation in the instructions. Thanks for pointing that out. Maybe I'll have to add some questions to answer when listing implied characters, like, I need more than just a list of characters I want the character and a bit of context.
  • edited October 2012
    In IaWA, I would list off the characters directly suggested by the oracles. But if you're asking for more speculative characters, I'll need some guidance on how many of them are needed, because I can always just make up more characters.

    Are we looking for one per player? One per oracle drawing? A rule-of-thumb number, like "five-ish"?

    Should they be interrelated?
  • How about this for instructions

    Players: List implied Investigative characters.

    Such characters are fairly normal folks, with normal lives, who have had (or about to have) some sudden, horrific change in circumstances. You may, at the group’s option, have professional mystery solving types. Good option for returning characters.

    Define the character and explain how they are tied to at least one oracle element.
    For some oracle elements obvious characters will jump out. For others feel free to offer more logically plausible, circumstantial facts to imply linked people.

    Avoid defining monstrous people and villains from the oracle, these types are for the MC to create and to control. You might suggest such implied characters, but that choice is for the MC alone.

    You’ll want at least one character for each player. Try for three to five more implied characters than there are players. Eliminate offered added circumstantial facts to make sure you have no contradictions. Brainstorm first, then cut it back.
  • Here's the next step for the players, which might help explain things

    Players, pick out a character.

    Before you go into further details about this character, first describe the first scene of horror for that character. Starting with the vibe given from a combination of elements-- set the scene of horror that introduces this character to this mystery. Where was this? What elements? What made it so horrific? What personally is threatened to draw this character in? How did they respond to their fear or cosmic horror? What is the biggest question on their mind?

    (basically a dictated scene ala Microscope).
  • edited October 2012
    This is normally an activity for the table? The order does feel a little unnatural, since normally I'd want to go, "I want to play the shop owner, and here's some stuff about him."

    What happens to the characters not chosen? Does the GM control them?

    But anyway, the river runs through a city and into a large body of water, I'm thinking like the Chicago river. There's tens of millions of tons of cargo hauled up and down the river every year, plus recreational watercraft (though that's mostly out on the lake/bay), and boat tours. So we have Amy, and she and her husband run a private touring service where they have a small ferry-type riverboat that contracts with travel agents to do landmark tours up and down the river.

    The boat carries a few dozen people, and they usually dock at the mouth of the river, take on passengers, go up the river to the locks, then turn around and return to the dock. It's about half an hour, forty-five minutes, and Amy does the talking (pointing out landmarks, talking about history) while her husband pilots and maintains the boat.

    They're both in their early fifties, and they've only been doing this for about five years. Amy used to work as an assistant curator in the state history museum, but switched to doing this with her husband because they wanted to own their own business. It's tough making ends meet, though.

    Her husband could be a character too, call him Ben.

    Carl is the owner of a run-down "antiques" shop, really more just a pawn shop. It used to be his uncle's. Carl has a fine arts degree (classical languages), and was at loose ends after college, so he came and started helping his uncle with the shop, eventually ending up staying on permanently and taking on more and more of the responsibility of running the place.

    He's now thirty-four, and his uncle died seven months ago. He found the iron box while going through the cluttered contents of his uncle's apartment (above the shop), but he has not yet found the key. It's interesting-looking and heavy. He figures he might get a locksmith to look at it, to see what's inside and then possibly put it up for sale on eBay.

    Darius is seventeen, and he pretty often climbs over the fence of the big old city cemetery to smoke weed with his friends. There's a big stone mausoleum they usually go around behind, because it's a good quiet spot out of easy sight of people walking around the grounds. He also has a girlfriend, Emily, who's into the goth scene, and sometimes they sneak out here late at night, just to make out. Darius thinks it's sort of weird, honestly, but can't complain about the results.

    The groundskeeper, though, Fergus is a serious coot, and he's been getting more and more infuriated by these punk kids coming in and trampling the grass and leaving their cigarette butts and crumpled papers and their used condoms all around the place. He's got a shotgun loaded with rock salt hidden in his wheelbarrow, and he's just waiting for a chance to give the punks a good scare.

    Of course, Fergus is eighty-some years old, and he's been working here in some capacity for a good sixty years of that, so he remembers the big scandal back in '62, the one involving the big mausoleum these kids have been messing around behind.

    Yeah, and on his days off, Fergus is known to go down to the river for a spot of fishing. It's his thing; he'll be out there for hours on end, catching fish and then throwing them back. Time was you could eat the fish in that river, but that's long gone, or at least Fergus thinks so ... he figures they're so pumped full of mercury that you're taking your life into your own hands, trying to eat 'em.

    Hell, there's this spot in one of the river bends where the water's strangely cold, and you can never catch a fish, no matter how long you wait. Industrial poison, he figures, secretly being dumping into the river. He's been writing letters to the EPA, FBI, whoever he can think of, but nothing happens, of course.
  • Thanks. This is quite helpful.
    Pick two characters. Describe their first scene of horror (as instructions above).
  • The goal is to establish basically (A) a danger and (B) a mystery? With the former provoking the character to investigate the later?
  • Yes.

    Another way to look at it would be: What if Announce future badness and kickers had a baby?
  • edited October 2012
    Well, Emily. She's actually kind of seeing two guys, and her other boyfriend here, Gavin, she's talked him into sneaking into the cemetery too, just like she does with Darius. Middle of the night, all of that. But, okay, this time the mausoleum was open, right? The chain was off the door, and one of the doors was a little ajar.

    Obviously, she wanted to check it out, but Gavin totally chickened out on it, waited outside. Well, so inside there wasn't much, no bodies or anything, though there were these sort of big marble cabinets someone might've been buried in. But it did look like someone had been doing stuff in there recently, because there were tracks through the dust and it looked like the little altar in there had been messed with. Thieves, maybe.

    That's not the thing, though. The thing is, when she came back out, Gavin wasn't acting right. He attacked her! He didn't say anything, just came after her with his bare hands, and he was really strong, like superhumanly strong or something. It was really scary; it was like he was crazy and he really wanted to hurt her.

    Well, she got away because that dotty old groundskeeper showed up. He was shouting and carrying on, and he must of got Gavin's attention like that, because Gavin broke off and went after the groundskeeper. Emily basically ran, but she thought she saw the old man shooting off a shotgun while she was still climbing the fence! She didn't figure she'd see Gavin again, after that.

    Except she did, though, at school, the next day. He was acting kind of normal, didn't seem hurt. And it's not like she didn't stay well away from him, but he's been kind of watching her all day? And, there's something odd. Were his eyes black, before? And he seems kind of cold, like he's not smiling or laughing or getting angry with anyone. It's actually really creepy. And didn't he get shot?

    She wonders if maybe ... he's a vampire? And maybe that's not quite as sexy as she used to think it might be.
  • And Ben, well, Amy's gone. She committed suicide actually, just three days ago. It was business as usual, nothing out of the ordinary. They had a load of twenty-five tourists, retirees from Texas, and they were on the river doing the usual thirty-minute tour, when ... well, Ben was in the cabin, at the wheel, so he didn't see it himself, but apparently Amy just stopped mid-sentence, turned, and jumped into the water.

    She stayed down, too. Ben heard the commotion, went up to check, found out what had happened, searched the water, even dove in and searched underwater, though the water in the river is murky enough that you can't see further than your arm's length. She never came back up, not even her body. With so many witnesses, the police ruled it a suicide and said they might never recover the body ... the currents sweep everything out into the lake, they said.

    But there wasn't any reason for her to kill herself, Ben is certain. Well, except, there must have been something, right? Something she didn't tell him about? He doesn't know what to make of the situation, and he's basically in shock, bordering on depression. Today he went down and sat on the concrete wall there along the river, right at the bend in the river where she took her dive.

    The water's cold here, and it's just Ben and some old cook of a fisherman who keeps talking about industrial pollutants and kids doing PCP. They're sitting there for hours, and then, around sundown and just a little bit after the old fisherman packed up and left, then Ben thinks ... thinks he hears his wife's voice, from the water.
  • Thank, Michael. These are great.
    Emily's next question: Is Gavin a vampire? What is her next step to answer this?
    What is Ben's question? What is his next step to answer it?
  • Emily'll stalk Gavin for a while. If he's the undead, obviously he'll have to eat someone or drink their blood or flinch away from sunlight or garlic or something, eventually.

    Ben wants to know, what happened to his wife? Is she really dead? A seance seems to be in order.
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