Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Horror Application

Whilst working on mine RPG… err… wrong game. Working on my psychic horror game I have been focusing on the mood and the power levels. This is because it is the psychic powers that I am working on, as exclusively as I can. Occasionally, I have been sidetracked to work on other little bits, but that is necessary it seems no matter the project. I completed a power that is one of the immediately recognisable horrific powers. For the sake of discussion let’s call this power Phantom Voices. Essentially, the psychic can cause a victim to hear voices in their head.

Some people might have issue with the kind of commentary this power might have on the real world to them. As soon as you come to a point where fantasy and reality meet, and it is the bad kind of reality, then you have to tread lightly or pretend not to notice. Imagine this scenario… the real life “Son of Sam” killer said a neighbour’s dog told him to kill. Now, you have a power in the game that causes people to hear voices, and these fictional voices in this fictional character’s head cause them to do terrible things. It is very easy to see that some people might be touchy that you are trivialising mental illness, by laying blame on other people, etc, etc.

That is a tangent to what I set out to discuss, which was how to apply the horror. For the power I have a lengthy description of what these voices can do. If you heard voices telling you over and over to do something, eventually you have to figure that you would go insane and either do what they said or hurt yourself to make it stop, even permanently, i.e. suicide. Though this is a pretty horrific concept, it needs to be laid out in the right way to really work, to make it as horrifying as it possibly can be.

What needs to be done is to apply the horror to it. You have to crawl into the readers’ heads and try to make them see it. Certainly as this an RPG a lot of it can be left to the GM, except the GM has to get it, really get it, if they are going to make the best use of it. Some of the application requirement falls upon the players too since they might be the ones playing the role of the psychic(s) with this power. Either way, though the horror is there built-in, it still has to be applied, and that is going to take some work on either side of the page. We all have our role to play.

Mood: anxious.
Music: Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day and What It Takes by Aerosmith.

Green Day: American Idiot
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Aerosmith: Pump

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