Morbid and Creepifyin’
With Halloween right around the corner it seems like the perfect time to talk about bringing some terror into your players’ lives. It’s only fair, since if your players are anything like mine they make you shudder with fear and loathing every time they show up for a session. You need some pay back, and I’m here to help.
The fact that my campaign takes place in the World of Darkness makes it somewhat obligatory to have an element of horror, but you don’t want the horror to become too “one note”. You can only hold suspense for so long before the players simply get used to it. Additionally, it can be difficult to sustain a feeling of dread when you have to pause and pick things up next session. That said, there is no reason to not add horrific elements into your long-term campaign.
My current chronicle started out as so many do: with a dead body. The scene was pretty gruesome. A stop-motion animator had been killed (Sorry Matt!), and his body had been vivisected and filled with modelling silicone. A careful examination of the body revealed that whoever filled the body’s cavity with silicone actually color matched it to the animator’s skin. There were small patches of silicone on a flap of skin at the wound site that were clearly a form of color palette.
This sounds like a job for Post-Cognition!
Since I am a particularly evil and twisted GM I was prepared for this. I pulled the Acanthus aside and asked her what she was looking for. I was prepared for any number of things she might want to see. How did the animator die? Why was he killed? Who was the last to see him alive? The event she asked to see happened to be the one I was hoping she would ask for: how did the silicone wind up in his chest? I thoroughly enjoyed describing to her in gruesome detail the small, stubby hands cutting him open with the sculpting knife, testing shades of silicone against his skin, and squeezing gob after gob of silicone all around his internal organs. She asked the natural question, “Small, you mean like a child’s hands?” Oh no… I mean very small hands… hands that don’t look quite real… in fact they kind of look like they might be made of silicone.
“We’re in a stop motion animation studio filled with puppets… aren’t we?” The GM smiles innocently in response. “And they’re being ridden by something… aren’t they?”
Puppets and modelling knives cover virtually every surface, except of course the ones covered with bottles of turpentine, cigarette lighters, and the tools you need to build small scale set pieces: duct tape, hammers, nails… caltrops anyone?
The fact of the matter is that the puppets didn’t kill the guy – they were just a red herring. Still, I had hoped that a rampage through the studio would commence. Of course I couldn’t count on my Guardian of the Fail to point out that keeping spirit ridden puppets around isn’t a good idea. Instead he’s totally fine with teaching them to tend bar in the sanctum’s basement. #facepalm
Then again, using the puppets to help clue the players in to the fact that something was decidedly wrong in their basement several sessions later was enjoyable, but I digress.
When they finally did get around to Post-Cognitioning how this poor guy actually did die it involved blunt force trauma to the head perpetrated by an invisible assailant, a very strong invisible assailant. They couldn’t tell at first because the assailant, clearly a Mage, had cast Corpse Mask to make it look as though this person had died of an overdose of some sort. The detail I gave of the actual killing was just enough to be creepy without taking away the player’s imagination as a factor completely. Always let the player come up with some of the detail in their own mind. What they come up with on their own will always be creepier to them than anything you make up for them! Instead of describing the damage itself, try describing the type of action that would have been necessary to cause “this kind of damage”. It gets them every time.
Afterward Aenaiyah found a dead guy in the parking lot of the bar where she works. Hello Post-Cognition old friend! Don’t worry Aenaiyah, I won’t make you see anything too gruesome…
Posted on October 28, 2011, in Gaming, Mage Awakening, MtAw, RPG, WoD, World of Darkness and tagged Gaming, GM Tips, Mage the Awakening, MtAw, nWoD, rpg, world of darkness. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.