Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hiatus Bloggia

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog for nothing. Even if it is a day late.

We will begin anew in about a week or so...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Gasfest '07 or Attack of the Lacklustre Title

The local shindig is going on right now here in town. Gasfest.... by gas we lived and gave life unto others... I think that's how the line goes. I don't know. It's one of those things you see all the times but it still tends to blur. It's on the side of the one building up town. So why Gasfest? Well it used to be Sports Day but the sports left. They redid the ball diamond seemingly just before all the local teams disbanded or went elsewhere or something. Gasfest I guess was the next choice, since beyond baseball there are only the gas wells. (Or so I would have you believe.)

It's not a big deal today but it's what drew people to the area and let them prosper in the past. Natural gas is the gas in question. I would bet money it would take some doing to find a spot in this area that isn't within a mile of a natural gas deposit, most of them with a working pump on for the owner to use for whatever, or capped so the gas can be drawn out somewhere else.

The turn out wasn't as big as last year, I think, which is saying something pretty bad. I don't know about the parade, I'm always too late getting up to go see it. I hear there were less people to watch it. I know over at the park I didn't see hardly anyone I knew. In fact I only spotted one person I know from out of town, and talked to one other out-of-towner I know. I did of course see people I could run into anywhere in town, but even then I wouldn't say a lot of them either.

The pavilion was pretty full so it wasn't like dismal or anything. There were a lot of people there. I don't know if there was actually one but I could guess there might have been the beer tent. I didn't even look toward the rink to see if they were pitched up there or not. That was always a huge draw, especially between games and in the evening. Still I just don't think the proceedings have near the lustre they used to have. I probably said much the same thing in my first couple blogs back during Gasfest '05, or last year's blog about it even.

Mood: relentless.
Music: Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams and Patio Lanterns by Kim Mitchell.

Bryan Adams: Reckless
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Kim Mitchell: Greatest Hits

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Post-Climactic Hijinks

R.G. Male ©2007 Excerpted from "Unnamed Psychic Horror Game"

It's perhaps not universal, but there seems to be an interest in what happens after a novel is over, or the credits roll on a movie, and the characters go back to their real and supposedly normal lives. This begs the question, what if you were to run a game that takes place after all of the action, after the horror story is over and done? This isn't such an odd idea for a story or movie script but it may be fresh territory for gaming. Sure the result could be pretty dull depending on what goes on, what the characters are like, what kind of lives they lead and how they continue to interact or not interact. Here's where specific injections into the idea make for an excellent time.

During this game, all of the characters only have dim recollections of what happened. They remember bits and pieces... often in dreams and nightmares, sometimes unbidden when they are awake and a sight or a smell reminds them of one of the events that happened. When the memory comes back to them, one of two things can happen. 1) The GM tells them a little snippet of something that happened. Never a full "scene", just a touch of it, a taste like the acrid flavour of bile, and the burning in the back of your throat that comes with it. 2) The recollection is a flashback of the entire scene, with however many (or all) of the players involved, as needed, which you play out as normal.

R.G. Male ©2007 Excerpted from "Unnamed Psychic Horror Game"

In this way the story unfolds unlike any other, but yet the aftermath of things can be dealt with, and the taint upon the character's lives as these memories surface explored. One question that immediately comes to mind is to how to handle what happens if one of the players dies during a flashback. This opens up a couple avenues of mind-bending goodness, if you let it happen.

Maybe out of all of the flashbacks not everything is entirely true. There could be layers, where one flashback is actually is a dream and not a flashback. Depending on mood and setting demands maybe the death was not really a death but a really close miss. It wasn't as bad as it looked, or someone, something, some force healed them. Maybe the characters' lives after the big event are what are not true. This is certainly a tried and true twist. It shouldn't be over done though, and requires skill and finesse not to butcher it.

Then there is the idea that maybe the one killed is a ghost and nobody knows it. This means the person themself does not know they are dead. Imagine if the person is dead, and people all around him don't notice. As long as no one thoughtlessly walks through the ghost or vice versa then the illusion would remain complete as long as they can still pick things up. I would suggest them not having physical contact with other people and that mechanism being that which exposes the deception. Or what if they were the walking dead, animated flesh driven by untethered consciousness and telekinesis?

R.G. Male ©2007 Excerpted from "Unnamed Psychic Horror Game"

Mood: woollen.
Music: Keep Passing the Open Windows by Queen and Trouble Again by Quiet Riot.

Queen: The Works
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Quiet Riot: Down to the Bone

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Suspense from the Known

R.G. Male ©2007 Excerpted from "Unnamed Psychic Horror Game"

Every good scary story, and this includes novels, movies, and games, needs suspense. An obvious thing. Often times as much as there is a need to be mysterious, even aside from leaving things to the imagination, some things do work better when they are obvious after a fashion.

The idea that needs to be approached here is that there are a few select times where revealing the horror doesn't lessen it, but instead increases it. A lot of these revelations are in scenes usually not involving the main characters. This is useful in a gaming context as well. For example, there is the type of scene where a monster stalks its victim. It is seen through the victim's eyes as much as from an outside point. While it does not give everything away, maybe even not a lot, it does make some things clear. For instance, the monster chases its victim, but yet on occasion, sometimes, somehow, gets ahead of the victim and they run right smack into it. This adds suspense in the fashion that the monster could pop up anywhere at any time.

R.G. Male ©2007 Excerpted from "Unnamed Psychic Horror Game"

There are mode insidious methods of ratcheting up the horror. The monster corners its prey. As it begins to do whatever it does to them, there is a flash of green light, and the scene goes to black. Now later, the audience, in this case the players, knows about this little tidbit out of character. Then the characters are somewhere, and they see a flash of green light, say in an alleyway, or behind an only partially closed door. Now the players start to sweat buckets, just like the movie audience does, because they know what is going on. At the same time there is nothing they can do about it, just as the movie character that is ignorant of what is happening cannot do anything.

Another example could go something like this... "Hey, what's this ash here?" It's one of the missing people being sought out for a clue, or they need to verify is indeed missing, and not just out of town. The players know this and they are biting their nails bloody, the characters have no idea as of yet. There are a number of different ways to express similar ideas, and beyond that there is a myriad of different concepts making use of this same principle of revealing things but not spoiling the suspense with a "look it's a werewolf" sort of let down.

R.G. Male ©2007 Excerpted from "Unnamed Psychic Horror Game"

Mood: melty.
Music: All I Want Is Everything by Def Leppard and Riders Of The Storm by Hammerfall.

Def Leppard: Slang
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Hammerfall: Crimson Thunder

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