Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/4/28 18:20:34
The last couple game sessions we've have not been set in Karn or using the LoK system (as those who showed up know). Instead it was a post-apocalyptic survival/horror story using a very simple system we created just for the story. It went well and the system had some good points and bad points (but has certain things about I am going to expand upon).

What it did do was spark a whole new idea for a game I want to make. It will be a smaller system and setting that LoK is, so I think I may just work on this new one through to finish before LoK gets completed. This idea just really wants to come out at the moment. The darkness/horror of it really appeals to me right now.

I don't have anything to really share about right now, as it is literally just a series of notes and no form at the moment. The structure idea/feel comes from many sources (including Silent Hill, The Mist, Hellraiser, Night Breed, Cthuhlu, Nightbane, and more), but I like the idea of there being layers of reality and darkness. Evils that grow as the tension grows, culminating in an explosion of darkness when things get too bad.

The system is based on a "betting" die pool on top of base attributes. The more you bet, the greater your chance of success, but the more you risk losing if you fail. Plus there is the central group die pool that is the darkness level. Over time you add dice to it. When it is rolled you see how bad things get by how many 1s are rolled.

I think my Blog post this week (late because I have been drugged up the last couple days due to passing a kidney stone... which may also have added to my mindset with this game) will be about the birth of a game in a sudden rush of ideas like this.

No sure what else to say at the moment, just felt the need to share it.

I would like to brainstorm with some of you about this soon. Call me or perhaps we can get together at some point.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/4/29 18:41:03
Okay, more details of this idea can be found in the Dragavan's Den Blog Post about my brainstorm. I would still like to have a Brainstorming session with some of my friends and fellows about more ides I have dealing with this.

I am also to a point where I want to actually play with the system (even in the fragmented form it is in) and see what does and doesn't work. I have a basic framework for attributes, two health pools, a group tension pool, and how they all work together. The only way to test it is to play with it. So I want to play with it soon, even though it would be kind of messy at the moment.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/4/30 19:03:17
Well, in the middle of all the brain dumping and work on this I decided to take a break and do something else. So I did a couple variations of a banner based on my idea for the game. Now I need to go back to brain dumping and working on the actual idea.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/4 22:36:44
The next blog post about this new game is up and ready to read. Just go to Dragavan's Den (see the little link by that name over in the menu on the left?) or you can just click here: Second Blog Post About This

It covers more about character creation and will be followed by one about the general mechanics most likely later this week. This thing just keep growing and I have no control over it. Kind of scary if you think about the subject matter.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/5 1:04:15
Also, in case anyone wants it, I made an icon/avatar for the game. Feel free to use it as much as you want, just tell people about what it means and where you got it. I am sure this is just the first of many to come.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/8 16:29:05
I've been working on some of the setting stuff. Writing excerpts from books about the area, newspaper clippings, interview transcripts, official documents, and advertisements. This is how I think I am going to do the "real world" background information in the game. Since it's only really needed for the beginning of the game, where you figure out how your character was called to the town and sucked into the other worlds. Don't need to write a huge detailed section, just a bunch of things to get people hooked into going there.

So far I have a number of texts written in this format (which I have some of my writer friends looking at in a writers forum), but I though I would share something I made with you guys. I plan on making a 1950s brochure for one of the Inns in the town that used to be popular there. So I drew a picture of the Inn on the lake and aged it to make it look like something that would have been found in an old Brochure. Let me know what you think.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/8 18:20:00
Here is one of the setting based fake stories I wrote in a form that resembles the realistic graphic style I will be presenting them in the PDF Book I know I will eventually produce out of this. This is a clipping from the "Whispering Bluff Gazette" Newspaper from November 12th 1986 (while the town was still active, but nearing it's end of days). The final version will be much higher resolution and most likely played with a bit more (adding a few wrinkles or folds perhaps).

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/8 23:20:30
Here is another image I made today. This is the front of an old 1950s Brochure for the Larimore Inn in Whispering Bluff. This is just one of those fun things that can help set the theme. This Is supposed to be very old, so it looks worn and aged. I used a couple other 1940s and 1950s brochures I found images of to get the kind of layout and look that was common back then (which is bland and crappy compared to what was done in later years). I enjoy making these kinds of things.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/9 18:43:47
Here is one more of the special items I will be including. This is another newspaper clipping, but this one is more modern. It is also from a paper in the nearby town of Schumannberg, and not Whispering Bluff itself (since this after the town is abandoned). This one is from the April 27th 2004 edition of the Schumannberg Herald.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/13 23:33:28
With the completion of the basic background information for the "real" world pretty much done (as I am only doing the clipping and items for the most part), I have moved onto doing the backgrounds for the main two worlds of the game play. They are not exactly something I can completely describe and map out, as they will change depending on the characters the players will, but I still have to give more than enough good information.

I am starting with the "Light" world, which is the more stable and constant of the two, but then will move onto the "Dark" world. As I said in my blog, these are going to be more descriptive. Although what I am doing right now is a description of them, I wanted to sit down and talk about the ideas with some of my core friends and playtesters (who I think would appreciate what I am doing) before I set things in stone.

Once I get more written down I will be posting it to a couple places, including here (most likely) to get opinions of others too. Hopefully I will get some at some point.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/15 12:29:17
I have also made a couple more banners to fit the two worlds. They are in the same design as the "Real" world grime banner, but in the style of the two worlds. Here are all three...

"Real" World

"Light" World

"Dark" World

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/15 14:14:39
Setting Information – "Light" World

The World of Mist and Light

The first noticed and most recognizable element of the "Light" world is that there is constant white light filtering through thick white fog everywhere. The light seems to be that of a sunny day, but not coming from any direct space in the sky. It seems to actually filter through the mist as if it was coming from all around, muting everything through the absence of almost all noticeable shadows. This gives a disturbingly bland look to everything from large empty spaces to areas filled with complex items and architecture.

The fog or mist is very thick and unmoving, since there is a complete absence of wind, and nearly impossible to see too far through it. It is pure white and seems to flow into and through everything in the world, including all structures and tunnels. It does seem to be slightly less thick inside, but not absent and impossible to get rid of. The whole world is shrouded in it at all times.

Out in the world the fog is so thick that only things within about ten feet being able to seen with any real detail. Beyond that they will star to lose detail quickly and become silhouettes within the white mist. Things past thirty feet out will be completely obscured and hidden by the white out of the mist itself. Bright lights will not allow one to see farther though it, but they can be seen from farther away. The distance a light can be seen through the mist depends on the power of that light, with even the most powerful fog-lights and lighthouse lights not visible past much shorter than normal distances (perhaps even as little as a hundred feet). Inside these distances will be slightly longer, but in most cases this is unimportant since you are inside generally smaller spaces.

The light that filters through the fog also seems to get into almost all places as well, leading many to eventually believe that the mist itself emanates the light. There is some logic to this, as it seems that the larger the area is and the more mist that fills it, the brighter the light is (up to a normal daylight level). While smaller and closed in areas that have less mist contained within seem to be dimmer, but still lit from somewhere beyond the mist. Since there is no way to get out of the mist and see beyond it, the answer to this will never be known.

Sound is also greatly affected by the mist, making everything that comes from farther away sound filtered and muffled. In general there is a strange lack of sound, creating an eerie silence when you just stand there and listen. This makes sounds that do happen stand out, even if they are simple and common ones that would normally be overlooked. This also makes a person more aware of the sounds their own bodies, and the people around them, make. Heartbeats, pant legs rubbing together, footfalls, breathing, and more all become the soundscape of their world. It's like they are living in a sensory deprivation chamber when it comes to sound.

The only senses that don't seem to be muted in this world are those of touch and smell. The mist can be felt on your skin, slightly moist and cool, but cold. The world seems to be a humid cool place that isn't exactly uncomfortable, but isn't a nice temperature. Due to this it also smells musty and wet at all times. The exact type of smell depends on where you are, so it can be damp earth, wet wood, musty old rooms, mold, or other such smells, but there is always something in the air.

Made of Aged Reality

The world that is shrouded in the mist is very similar to the "Real" world of Whispering Bluff that they saw before being sucked into this one. It is mostly made of wood and glass, with some brick and stone elements and buildings here and there. The main difference is the state it is in. This world looks older and longer abandoned. The paint is all faded and peeling. The colors of everything is muted, with almost nothing being bright and standing out, even if they were brightly colored in the "Real" world. There are often patches of moldy or dry rotted wood found within buildings, and stone and brick areas are chipped and covered with moss, mold, or other gross films.

There is very little metal in the world, and even things that were metal in the "Real" world are often not here. Chain link fences are replaced with wood plank fences. Metal beams are replaced with wood beams where they can be. Metal railing is replaced with wood. And so on. The only common places you will still see metal is the sewer grates on the street and the street lamp poles (even though no light comes from them). Generally, these will be metal that is painted, which is now faded and peeling.

There are also some areas of the world that are different from the "Real" world of Whispering Bluff. Certain things in this world seem like they once existed in the area but were lost to time, only now they are back in this reality. Then there are those that seem misplaced, but do belong to the town, like buildings in places they weren't in the "Real" world or walls and fences that create new barriers and shapes, some of which act as "dens" for creatures or hiding places of other inhabitants. Some even seem to be strange constructions or creations that don't fit into any reality, but are actually there due to some character or story specific reason.

The natural world of the valley is mostly exactly as it was, with trees and bushes growing out of the dirt and rock, only they seem to be slightly more overgrown and wild. Common trails and roads will be less distinct and overgrown, as if nature was taking them back. Cultivated land, such as those found in gardens, will be filled with dead stalks and empty dirt. Nothing that was artificially planted in the "Real" world grows here, at least for long. The trees around town are all dead dark husks with no leaves and long drooping branches, for they are not natural to the valley either.

The world is also filled with discarded litter, broken items, and elements of abandoned life. Cars can be seen empty and broken along the sides of the roads, but far fewer of them than should be in a town like this. Fragments of broken glass litter the insides of most shops, even if their windows are not broken. Broken pieces of old toys, tools, boxes, and other items will be scattered around where garbage collects. Pieces of paper, mostly flyers and pages from books, litter the streets outside, as if they were blown there by some wind that you happened to miss.

All in all, the town looks like a classic old town that was once inhabited long ago, but has been left abandoned in a rush. Years, or even decades, of age can be seen on everything. It looks as if nothing existed here for a long time, abandoned at a moments notice and in a rush. The town then sat quietly empty until you came along.

Players and Characters in the "Light" World

Although the players will be coming from the "Real" world, this world will be their general "home" or base in the game. This is where they will first be introduced to the fact that they are no longer in the world as they knew it. This is where they will be spending most of their time (at least at first) and learning about what happened to them and where they are. This is also the most stable and constant of the two main game worlds. It always looks the same for all characters and always includes the same basic inhabitants. And although the character's own fears and flaws can influence what happens here, it is far less powerful than in the "Dark" world.

Player characters will have more direct control and power in this world. Unless they have some specific powers or fears that tie into this world (which they would have chosen at character creation time), player characters are also going to be stronger and safer here. They are actually going to be able to find places they can rest and hide, perhaps even find places that have been made safe from the onset of the change to the darkness. After a while, some payers may even learn to control this place in small ways, but this is difficult and rare.

This world is also the location of where most of the other "normal" inhabitants of these worlds will be most active and interact with the other players. These are basically other people that were pulled from the "Real" world and trapped here in the worlds of Whispering Bluff. Some of them may have been here for a long time and learned the ways of the realm, which allows the, to understand the "secrets" of how it all works better and survive. Others may be just as lost and confused as the players, having only arrived here recently (before or even after the player characters have).

These other people should be relatively limited in number, but the timeframes of when they got here can be played about with. Time does not move in these other worlds the same as it does in the "Real" world. Some of them could have been lost from the "Real" world week, months, or perhaps even years ago, but to them they have only been in this realm for what feels like days or weeks. Time is hard to tell since there is no normal day and night schedule here, but that is only complicated by the fact that there is no real measure of time here either. Players who try to measure time, or have a character who wears a watch, can get some idea of how time passes within the world, but that will have no relation to how much passes outside it.

Creatures of the White

In addition to the people who live in the world, or even those simply passing through it, there are the creatures that live in the mist. Relatively speaking, there are a lot fewer creatures that live in the "Light" world than in the "Dark" world, but there are still a lot of them and many of them are aggressive towards the intruders that are the player characters. Most of these creatures are those that feel at home in the bright and dreary world of the "Light" world.

The majority of the creatures are things that would be somewhat familiar to the characters, as they are simply deformed oversized small animals and insects. They have odd shapes and looks, but are still very recognizable as what they are, although they may have some special abilities not common to their "Real" world kin. Many of them live in groups, like swarms or insects or packs of dogs, which makes them even more dangerous.

The "Light" world is also home to ghosts and other less tangible horrors of these worlds. Some invisible and can only be heard or seen through their affects on the world, but others are quite visible and horrific in appearance. Several of them could be directly connected to flaws and fears of the characters, but there are also others who just live in the world. Some might not even be aggressive unless disturbed, stuck living their lives over and over in the horrific state they died in.

There are also some of the darker horrors from the "Dark" world that have made their way into the "Light" world as well. These are relatively rare, and tend to be the weaker common creatures, but their horrific appearance is always jarring in the light of day. For more about them, see the description of the type of creatures that are found in the dark.

There are also the character driven creatures, based on the fears and flaws of the characters themselves. These only appear here if their flaws or fears are related to things that this world has its feet in. If they are related to the depressing and desolate nature of the white, they may find themselves manifest here. These creatures will become the greatest enemies of the characters who spawned them.

Emotional Influences on the Feel

The main thing to keep in mind when dealing with the "Light" World is that is a place of depression and loss. It feels cold and desolate. It is a mostly dead and empty world, for the most part. Even those people and things hat exist here are cold and distant, mostly unspeaking creatures that make little sound. This means that people's minds are more at risk than their bodies here.

The ever present fog, cool temperatures, high humidity, and relatively dreary look of anything all work together to create this emotional mood of depression in a tangent form. The empty state and relative quiet nature of the place gives feelings of desolation and loss. Another emotion that ties well into this world is sadness, which will show and permeate every living thing that is met here.

The very state of the place itself may pose the greatest threats to the characters health, as it can wear down their minds with the desolation and depression of the place. Any flaws or fears that connect these areas will be tapped into and used to try and eat at them, to weaken them and prepare them to be taken by the darkness. Characters who die here may even become one of the ghosts that haunt the vast emptiness of the land.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/15 14:17:10
Setting Information – "Dark" World

The World of Shadow and Fire

The "Dark" world is nearly the opposite of the "Light" world in most ways, but one thing remains the same (although the source of it differs), the inability to see very far. The world is not only visibly dark, but actually is dark in most senses of the world, being what many think of when they hear the word horror. There is a constant uncomfortable dry heat and the smell of death and fire (as in blood, decay, sulfur, and ash) that slowly wafts past you on the soft winds that never stop moving, but also never blow hard enough to remove the smells.

As the name implies, this world is very dark, but it is unnaturally so, like existing in a sort of intangible ink tank. There is an ethereal source of light somewhere, but it only seems to illuminate things very near the characters and is only as bright as things seem on a moonless night in the wilderness. This also makes most things seem dim and colorless, even observed up close without another source of light. Having a flashlight, lantern, torch, or other source of light can allow better details to be seen, but also acts as a beacon as to your presence.

Unless there are other direct light sources, things start to disappear into the darkness after about fifteen feet, becoming completely lost and obscured when over fifty feet away, but very hard to see well before that range. They will still cause shadows to move across distant light sources, but you won't actually be able to see them as anything other than a silhouette against that light until they are in range. When using a light source you will be able to see details and longer distances, but even these seem to have unnaturally stilted ranges. The light seems to be absorbed by the darkness after a certain distance, although they can still be seen by others for a very long ways off. None of this makes sense or works the way you expect, based on the "Real" world.

There are also "natural" sources of light that appear to be made of distant fire peeking through cracks in the ground or walls. It's as if there is constant burning happening just beyond the edges of reality that is able to peek through. These cracks of orange firelight can not be entered without death, as within them things start to become impossibly hot. The light emanating from them is not exactly bright – unless you look directly into them – but it seems to make for disturbingly long shadows that flicker and move constantly.

Beyond what is seen and the almost overwhelming stench of death and flame are the non-stop sounds that constantly surround you. Distant noises of metal on metal pounding rhythmically. Other more semi-random metallic noises that seem to keep no pattern or distance. The distant whispering of the winds, sounding like voices calling to you for help or taunting you. Odd organic sounds of creatures chittering or growling just out of sight. Slowly pulsating sounds, almost like heartbeats, that come from the living flesh that makes up part of the world. Screams that occasionally seem to ring out from somewhere. All this comes together into a cacophony of never-ending noise that allows for no rest and even makes focusing on any of them nearly impossible.

Unlike the "Light" world, this world is constantly active and moving and making noise, leading to higher levels o threat and direct fear. This is a place of constant activity and life, where you never really feel alone, even if you feel the lack of a supporting presence.

In addition to these elements of how the world looks and feels, the insecurities (flaws and fears) of the character will also drive some of what they see and feel in it. This is further explained elsewhere, but can cause different people to see the world through different eyes, even at the same time.

Building Blocks of Metal and Rust

The general design and layout of this world is identical to the way the "Light" world of the players is laid out, only the construction materials will be different. The buildings of wood and glass are replaced with mostly metal constructs, but some areas of built out of the living flesh of the world. The only things that even partially remain the same are those of natural elements, like stone and dirt. All plants are dead and usually covered in thorns or bristles. All in all the place looks completely different but the general shape and layout will be recognizable.

Almost all walls and fences, including windows, are replaced with solid sheets of metal that are riveted and welded in place to create the form. Some of them are replaced with metal bars, cages, and chain link fences, even in places that were once solid walls. All of these metal areas look as if they are ancient and covered with layers of rust and wear, making them seem poorly cared for and abused. The stone areas are also just as poorly cared for and changed, looking charred, scratched, and otherwise in disrepair as well.

Then there are the areas where the world has been broken through, exposing the living flesh that seem to be just below the surface of everything. Walls of wet exposed tissue that pulsates and ripples with unearthly movement. If touched it will react, usually tensing up or pulling away (if it can), and it feels warm and slick. It harmed it will react violently, although usually unable to attack, and distant screams of anger may be heard from within the walls. Damage will also cause bleeding, blistering, and other natural reactions to the type of wounds one could cause on flesh. No matter how much damage is done, however, you can't dig completely through the flesh, as it seems to be infinitely present.

The wild areas of the world, where nature lived and thrives in the "Real" and "Light" worlds, you will find some of the new unnatural construction and flesh in place of certain elements, but most of them will simply be replaced with dead trees and plants of thorny brambles and decay. Small plants will be gone and only the dirt and rock will sit in its place, while larger plants are dead twisted versions of themselves.

Lastly there are the breaks in the world that reveal the fire and lava beyond. These are mostly found in the solid ground, where things are normally solid, but occasionally within the walls of certain areas. Some of these look as if the metal sheet that once laid there fell in or broke free, while others will actually look like something cause the very surface to crack open. These breaks in the surface don't reveal living flesh, but open flames or flowing lava deep within the ground or walls, even if it seems impossible to be there.

In addition to the construction of the world, there are the elements and items scattered discarded all around the place, but not the normal "Real" world type items. Here you are more likely to find scattered collections of metal scrap, stone chippings, pools of blood, bone fragments, half eaten flesh, and more. They are items of the world and horror, often covered in blood, dirt, rust, and what would look like scrapings from claws or steel.

Player Characters and the "Dark" World

It is rare that this is the first of these two worlds that a character will see, so the transition into it usually comes after they have spent some time in the "Light" world. They will discover that this is the place of nightmares and not a place that they will ever be able to rest or relax. The intense mental weight of the place will drag them down and affect them deeply, even when they are directly confronted with their own fears. This is a place that should be uncomfortable and bring fear to the characters on some innate level.

The player characters will have very little direct control over this world and most of what they do here will be reacting what to they are faced with. This is the place where the flight or fight mechanism of the psyche is almost always in effect. None of the other people found in this place live here by any means. This is a place they get stuck in and struggle with as they face the same types of horrors and fears as the player characters. Meeting another "living" person here is rare and always traumatic for all of them.

Unlike the character, the choices of the player will have a great effect on this world. What they did to create their character will directly change the way they see and interact with this world. Their fears can shape how certain things are formed and display to them (for example: someone with a fear of fire may see many parts of the word on fire constantly). Even the random elements found around the world may be tainted with their flaws and fears (for example: someone with a flaw of a bum or missing leg may find broken crutches and prosthetics everywhere).

Creatures of the Shadows

The beings and creatures that inhabit this world are mostly creatures of nightmares. They are not being of the "Real" world with slight twists or larger sizes. They are horrible mutations, vile creatures of nightmare, and amalgamations of flesh and steel in impossible forms. Many of them are also the true manifestations of nightmares and fears, as selected by the players for their characters.

There are some standard creatures that are always common to this place (and sometimes escape to the "Light" world), which are mostly the weaker and more common critters. These simply get in the way of the characters and possibly whittle them down in preparation for their facing of the real nightmares. They will often scatter and disappear when one of the real monsters appear to face the characters. These will be more fully explained later in the section on creatures of the world.

Most of the creatures are twisted versions of vaguely living creature that are so mutated and demented that they are now nothing more than living horrors. Beings with flesh that looks inside out, moist and glistening, perhaps even oozing blood or other substances. Beings with parts where they don't belong, sometimes even too many of them or odd sizes, like eyes all over their arms and hands or a face that is nothing more than a gaping mouth. Beings with limbs they shouldn't have, either too few or too many of them or even completely wrong ones, like tentacles with pinchers on the end coming out of the chest area. Beings made of impossible substances like ash, blood, or anything else that strikes fear and horror into others.

There are also those creatures who seem to be a mix of twisted flesh and solid metal, making them appear not only frightening but in pain themselves. Sometimes it is simply spikes or metal shards poking through or out of them, bleeding from those spots. Sometimes they actually have these metal parts fused with their form that affects how they move, perhaps even being able to use them rough weapons. There are then those actually seem to be partially made of living metal, having their form look like some demon cyborg, only without the computer type elements. Chains, spikes, blades, shards, poles, lumps of metal, and more can all be parts of these horrors.

Lastly, there are the personal horrors of the characters, created from their psyches. These are creatures with nearly no limits as to what they can be, but no matter what they will be intense. They are usually large and take the fear or flaw of the character and blow it up to its most intense levels. They would be horrific to anybody, but should be truly terrifying to their targets.

Emotional Influences on the Feel

As opposed to the empty feel of the "Light" world, this is the world of anger, tension, fear and aggression. This is the place where the most vile fears and darkest parts of the human psyche are made manifest in huge and horrible ways. There is no rest or safety in this place, with the real threat of something coming out of the darkness to get you, so constant awareness and worry are predominant parts of your time here.

This is a world where you are always on edge and nothing can really be done to stop it until you are able to switch back to the "Light" world or die. While under this pressure your characters will be on edge and tense the whole time, since there is no safety here. Hiding from it is not possible and resting is out of the question.

The darkness, smells of death and fire, constant noise, and vile twisted creatures make this a horrible and difficult place for characters to remain calm and in control in. This is the place of living nightmares, so they are constantly at odds with their own fears, often driving them to do things more than their will. Both their body and mind are under assault here, with physical threats being huge and their mental suffering feeding off those threats and fear of them.

Re: Growing the Seed of a new game

Posted by Dragavan on 2008/5/16 11:55:38
I have made accompanying Avatars for each of the three banners. One for each of the three worlds (Real, Light, & Dark). Feel free to use them all you want, as long as you don't change them and give credit to where you got them.

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