Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quick Ideas: Horror into this weekend's game

Halloween is just around the corner, so here are some quick ideas to inject some dose of horror into your game this weekend.

13th Age
None of the Icons can be "felt". The world seems devoid of their presence and reach.  Attempts to talk to agents give non-committal answers.  Replies tend to be "Not today," or "Perhaps after the night has broken." When they finally return, they refuse to explain what happened in the 24 hours that passed.  However, amongst themselves, the Icons would refer to that day as "The Moment," and seem to speak of it with much dread or reverence.

But nothing, not even Divination magic and the like will ever reveal what "The Moment" was about.

Aeon Trinity Universe
The day begins with a scream.  People see strange horrible things rise up from the darkness.  Soldiers see fallen comrades rise up like the hungry dead.  Civilians see night terrors and old childhood  fears brought to life.  The worst hit are the Psions who even see visions of Aberrants/enemies they have defeated and destroyed coming back to life.

People die. Property is devastated.  The fight for survival is intense.
Then, after 24 hours, they wake up.  It was a dream.  A nightmare.
But one the ENTIRE universe shared.

Big Eyes, Small Mouth
Given these games could be practically of any genre, the closest horror touch I could think of is to throw a dream sequence.  Draw inspiration from the nightmare sequence from Akira, or by having the players encounter a horrific encounter which is inspired by other anime shows.  Tentacle monsters, demonic possession and purple skies can all work.

Castle Falkenstein
Steam ceases to work for a few days.  No one knows if its magic gone awry or something else, but for some reason, water heated up creates only vapor, not forceful steam.   The various areas of New Europa are grounded and forced to help their people.  Many fear the effects may be long term.



The Boggins have learned to do something unheard of: become human.  One Boggin steps out of the darkness in the body of a man! The Cats have to deal with the threat, but now they have to find a way to do so without alerting the other humans.  After all, one can easily imagine what they would do if they learned the cats systematically hunted and killed down one of their own.

Changeling the Dreaming
The Sluagh curse reverses itself.  All the Kithain suddenly are unable to speak louder than a whisper, save for the Sluagh who now can speak and shout and all that jazz.  However, the reversal comes with a price:  Each name a Sluagh utters pulls forth a dark version of the owner of that name.  And these dark forces are malignant and intelligent.

Soon it is discovered that the dark shadows are a strange form of Nervosa that have gained power thanks to the Sluagh's universal desire to be heard.  And they will only be dispelled if every Sluagh swore to embrace the silence once again.

Changeling the Lost
The Hedge has grown hungry.
Each time one of the Lost travels into the Hedge, there is the possibility of being swallowed by the place and never ever being again.    Some say the Hedge swallows those who have sinned against its unknown precepts.  Others whisper that the Hedge has now allied itself with the Gentry, and those that have long escaped are being taken back.

But there are whispers, that the Hedge will ignore you if you directly sacrifice to it another changeling.
No one knows if that's true.  However many are willing to try.

Children of Fire
There's a new rumor spreading.
They say the Rapture had already happened.

And the Children of Clay are not the only ones left behind.

DC Heroes
Time to run a game focused on your favorite scary bad guys like Clayface, Scarecrow and Sinestro.
Or time to dig up your favorite movie monsters from Writeups.org

Dungeons and Dragons
Start the game as normal.  Play through scenes as normal.  But then, whenever an opportunity arises, have one player notice something terribly odd or wrong about another.  Best to do this without saying it aloud.  Like a note you pass on to the player.  Perhaps the knight doesn't polish his weapon as normal.  Perhaps the Paladin stops saying his prayers for the evening.  In EVERY players' eyes, another player character is NOT doing something he normally does.

Finally, when one of them decides to act about it, play it to the hilt.  Let them argue! Let them question one another.  But do NOT admit what you told the other players.  Let them try to prove among themselves which one is the imposter.  When finally one strikes or tries to kill another, that's when you step in and reveal that character was a Doppleganger.  Then reveal everyone else except the one who attacked are dopplegangers as well.

And finally, reveal the rest of the party to be trapped somewhere, finally waking up from the poison/spell/enchantment that held them prisoner.

Dungeon World
The Fate Hammer is falling, and all are fated to fail unless it is stopped.
How it is stopped is an epic move that your group can decide.
But while it falls, each time any player rolls 4 or below (not counting bonuses), the Fate Hammer strikes.  Each strike affects the game's system itself.

On the first strike, rolls of 10+ or higher now need 11+ or higher (while 7-9 becomes 9-10).

On the second strike, rolls of 7-9 suddenly need 8 to 10, will rolls of 7 counted as 6 or below.

On the third strike, rolls of 11+ now need a 12 or higher.  8-11 becomes the success at a cost.

On the fourth strike, rolls of 8-11 now need 9-11 for a success at a cost.  8 and lower are failed rolls.

On the fifth strike, and all succeeding strikes, everyone takes -1 ongoing, cumulative to the number of strikes beyond the fifth.  (So if it reaches the eight strike before the Fate Hammer is stopped, everyone is already suffering an ongoing -4 to their rolls)


Add the Aspect:  Butterflies In Stomach to the game session.
Whenever players are doing something they feel confident about, feel free to use this Aspect against them.  After the second hour of the game, add a second one:  Foreboding Feeling.
When they ask why, just say they feel it but cannot understand why.  They just know something is wrong.
By the third hour, add this new one:  Looming Threat of Danger.
Whenever scenes start with any level of uncertainty (meeting total strangers, interacting with villains, etc) always add a hint of something unsure. "You think they might be carrying weapons" "something that looks like the shape of a gun under the coat" or even "He seems to avoid eye contact, fidgeting often."

In the last few minutes of the game, have these Aspects fade away.
And just when the game ends, have some news broadcast or newspaper talk about some other group of heroes that just destroyed a certain ancient idol of a forgotten deity from being used in a strange ritual by (insert name of enemy group).

And have the reporter end with, "God knows what could have happened if they happened to succeed?"

Go for a horror-inspired playkit.
Or better yet, choose any playkit, however for relationships, view them all with a lens that has all the characters either be monsters or murderers.

Houses of the Blooded
Most think the Fashuva are the things to be feared.  Or the Spectres.
But instead, let's play a game where the players are Veth servants of the Lady No.

Houses of the Blooded: Blood and Honor
Murder stalks the Clan.  People are dying.
What if, in the end, the group learns the deaths are caused not by treachery or cruelty.
But instead by a wicked fog that would not fade.
A disease that hangs upon the wind.
A sickness that has to be survived by sheer determination alone.

Lacuna Part I. The Creation of Mystery and the Girl from Blue City
Start the session with the mission parameters begin given.
But slowly let the players realize they are hunting down Mystery Agents of the Corporation.
Their Control responds with clicks and whirls as if using an ancient telegram device.
And upon a mirror, they see they are all Spiders.

Legends of the Wulin
Time to bring the dark forces into the game.
The necromancers and the spirit talkers and the worshippers of the dark and the shadows.

Monster Hearts
The monsters discover that something hungers for them.  A monster that feasts on monsters alone.
And worse, only humans can see it.  Somehow, the predator has found a way to become invisible to all other supernatural creatures.

Night's Black Agents
Draw inspiration from games like Amnesia and movies like Chernobyl Diaries.
The group wakes up to find themselves in the ruin of an abandoned nuclear facility.  And the city around them is dead.  No tools, no communications, naked and weaponless.

And they have 24-hours to get to a safer location before the environment, the residual radiation and the monstrous children that have become servants of the vampires come to kill them.

Our Last Best Hope
Something is in the blood, killing people.  A conscious virus.  A sentient cancer.
Once inside a host, it can take control of that host and use it to spread itself further, by overriding the host with a belief that only he can stop it.. but in doing so spread the virus more.

The team is the only one that knows it exists.
And the only one that can stop it.

The sun does not appear.  Night remains even as day break should come.  The kingdoms worry as monsters and other horrors relish the darkness.  Another day passes, still no sun.  And another..

Soon it becomes clear a powerful ritual has been used to keep the sun at bay.
And the only way to bring it back, is to burn a populated city as a sacrificial rite.

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