Posts Tagged ‘monster movie’

It was UK Games Expo last weekend, one of the UK’s newest and best games conventions, already up there with Furnace, Conception, Indiecon and Dragonmeet in my top 5 UK cons. I was there as part of the smallpress rpg booth, which this year comprised the Collective Endeavour and our Finnish friends, Arkenstone Publishing and we had a very good con, introducing all sorts of quirky games to all sorts of quirky gamers.

I was meant to be running a new Dead of Night scenario, Djinn, but a lack of players saw it remain in my bag. So I thought I’d post about the premise here all the same.

“Five friends, stuck in the middle of nowhere.
A mysterious relic, a treasure lost to the ages.
An ancient spirit, powerful and vengeful.
Five wishes, one apiece, immeasurably powerful.
What’s the harm in making one? It’s just a wish, after all…”

Of course, the monster of the piece is the djinn, the action taking place 10 years after the wish as the genie comes back to collect his due. The scenario is designed to pitch the characters against one another as much as the monster as cracks appear in the victim’s picture-perfect lives and they scramble to save their own skins. A lot of the set-up is player-driven, based on 5 questions answered during character creation (as suggested by the awesome Scott Dorward):

  1. What is your greatest regret/missed opportunity?
  2. What is the most important thing in the world?
  3. What (or who) would you be prepared to sacrifice in order to save yourself/your way of life?
  4. What are you most afraid of?
  5. What is the one thing that you never want others to find out about?

The players then have a hand in authoring their characters, their wishes and new lives, and then me and the djinn get to come along to kick it all over.

I was thinking about writing it up today and connections began to emerge with another unpublished scenario, Grendel, Alaska, not just with the close-knit community unravelling with the appearance of the monster, but also the mythological/legendary origins of the monster. I’ve got another scenario idea kicking around with a similar theme (something to do with sirens and temptation), and am pondering bundling all these modern updates of mythological monsters together as a little supplement.

Would anyone be interested in such a thing?

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I’ve added a Downloads site to the website where you can find, it may surprise you to learn, all the various downloads that are scattered around the site – previews of games, character sheets and so forth.

Not terribly exciting in itself, but I’ve also added three new downloads: a blank character sheet that can be edited, and complete pre-gen character sheets for Dust and Unhallowed, two of the scenarios from Dead of Night second ed.

So with pre-gens in hand, Dust and Unhallowed should be runnable at the drop of a metaphorical hat. Fancy that.

My good friend and Dead of Night contributor, James Mullen (he of the excellent Cold Fusion scenario in the second edition book and of a guest post on running a Dead of Night campaign on this very site) has started a new website, Groundhoggoth, which he describes as a “lair of good games.”

Amongst the many homebrewed micro games (many of them quite delicious) and scenarios is James’ pseudo-LARP Dead of Night scenario inspired by the The Mist. Now, whilst I’ve not had the pleasure of playing the scenario for myself, I’ve heard many a scare story about it so can recommend purely on that basis.

And whilst you’re over at James’ site, make sure you check out some of his other games – I particularly recommend Never to Die, which is best described as a “chav dungeon crawl.” Need I say more.

One of the things I love about TV series such as Supernatural or Buffy is that they have their own mythology, their own way that monsters “work” within the confines of the setting. Movies do that too, but because they’re so focused on a single monster or a single premise, you rarely get to see it develop. There are exceptions, of course.

A demon in Supernatural works in a certain way, dies in a certain way. Likewise a vampire in Buffy. The audience is taught this, expects this, which – later, once this is established – allows the writer to mess with those expectations and create tension and drama in the process.

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So Dead of Night has been out for a little over a month now, and thoughts have turned to the inevitable question: what next? Of course there are countless other games on the go, including a couple that will surface sooner rather than later, but that’s not really what’s being asked. It’s what’s next for Dead of Night.

Well, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought of it, as I have. Quite a bit. In the final stages of Dead of Night’s writing, both James and Scott suggested the same idea, which I’d also been mulling over – a book of scenarios.

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Amongst the subtle tweaks to the rules, one of the things I wanted to change was how monsters worked to reflect how I’ve been using them in my game. In 1st edition, monsters were built like any other character, except you could buy monstrous specialisations – special powers, essentially, that bent the rules slightly – at the cost of a Survival Point each. Some of these monstrous specialisations needed a Survival Point to be spent to use them too. These two rules compounded and tended to mean that monsters with lots of cool powers didn’t last long, as they had either given up their Survival Points at creation or had to burn through Survival Points to use their powers.

In 2nd edition I’ve disconnected a monster’s pool of Survival Points from their powers, meaning that when creating a monster you simply pick some funky abilities, add in a vulnerability if required and then set its Survival Points to whatever number you want – the higher, the longer the game will last. And instead of forcing a monster to spend a Survival Point to trigger its powers, you spend a point of Tension. Simple.

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The largest new chapter (scenarios excepted) is titled Genre, and is about emulating pretty much every horror movie genre in Dead of Night, from splatter horror to psychological horror and everything in between. In all there are 12 genres covered, including a sample scenario synopsis and set-up for each.

I’m really proud of this chapter, although at times it’s been a slog to do. At its most basic, the chapter is great for inspiring the reader to try out a different genre or style of horror movie. Did a little deeper and it provides suggestions for how to capture the feel of the genre chapter on the tabletop, including Tension settings, Survival Point ideas and suggestions for pacing the scenario.

Here’s a look at one of the genres, Body Horror, as well as one of my favourite bits of art for the accompanying sample movie, Symbiote.

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