Monday, October 23, 2017

Horror: A Potential Introduction

I wrote this for Demon City but I'm on the fence about whether to include it. I believe it all, but I think it might be a little heavy and not-to-the-point for somebody who just picked up a new game.

If you can mentally cast yourself in the role of a totally new GM picking up this book and can read from that pov, and then manage to form an opinion on whether you think you'd want to read it in the book, let me know.

Horror: An Introduction

You expect an author, at this point, to go on about how we like to be scared. Or, worse, how they do. How I discovered I liked to be scared one dusty summer break sitting on the mustard carpet in the corner of the neglected bookstore.

I didn’t, really. I discovered first that I liked to imagine things: Superman, a dragon, rockets, and as a teenager I was running out of things to read and so, maybe against my better judgment: Stephen King, then Lovecraft, all that. I liked them alright.

I kept liking imagining. And as the play (and then, later, the work) of imagining things kept on, I realized it was very hard to use that imagination for anything as an adult—as an adult who needed like all adults to occasionally talk to other adults about their adulthood—without imagining horror.

There will never not be trouble. Some things you have to make because they aren’t there—some things you make because they are.

I have noticed adults who are good at imagining but not good at imagining horror can be bad with people, and with trouble. They can’t experiment with a new train of thought…what if it goes somewhere horrible?  People are at their most dangerous (accidentally dangerous and on-purpose dangerous) when they have things they don’t want to think about.

I’ve made game-things and most weren’t really horror, but they all had room for horror (or brutality and isolation and other horror-cousins) because without the detailed exploration of the possibility of everything going to shit then imagined things really are just escapism, just checking out of this place where we live and checking in to a dazzling comfort zone.

This might be the primordial purpose of horror in the end: to enable you to continue to invent and create not just in the presence of-, but against-, the awful.

Horror—the genre—is what imaginative people use to keep their imaginations in working order in the face of horror—the fact of life.

So like here's a game about it.
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18 comments:

  1. About whether or not put it into the main book, I would suggest to make a separated book/PDF with these DM rumblings.

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    1. i wouldn't do that. it's enough work doing one book

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  2. Total newbie, never DM'd here. Yea, I'm not sure it would serve as a suitably 'hook-y' intro for your game. But as brief as it is, I think it would make a good Author's Note sort of thing...

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  3. It's not long, and it's about more than the game ( - not a bad thing). Put it in.

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  4. Feels a bit unfocused. Maybe refine it a bit, treat this as a draft. If I'm picking up a horror RPG, I don't need to be sold on the genre, unless you want to be a gateway game.

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  5. Could be an appendix, doesn't work as an introduction. You seem to be trying to justify the existence of horror as a genre; I think it's safe to assume anyone who bought your book is on board with *that*.
    Personally, I think the only really useful introduction to an RPG is the Example Of Play, especially for total newbies, but not just them. In board game rules, I would put the victory conditions first, and in an RPG I think that's the moral equivalent.

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  6. It could begin with, "There will never not be trouble..." and it would be clearer. I would want to read this as a statement of purpose or incitement to play differently than I'm used to.

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  7. Put it in a Designer Notes section at the end of the book.

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  8. Interesting thoughts, but does not really seem to 'introduce,' so much as 'explore particular aspects of.' Feels like an excerpt of a longer essay, honestly.

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  9. It seems too much like an overt response to other dm sections writing about horror. As a new dm, I would wonder why you expect me to expect you to talk about what scares us, as you state at the beginning.

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  10. As someone who doesn't quite 'get' horror, especially GMing horror, I am not certain this helped me, and as such, I am not sure it would help a new GM trying to get into the genre.

    To be more precise, after reading this as an experienced GM who nonetheless views themselves as a novice at running an ongoing horror RPG, I don't feel any closer to understanding horror, or how to game it.

    That said, this is an interesting piece examining, or perhaps exploring, why one might gravitate towards horror as a genre.

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  11. Man, I actually found this to be a pretty profound mission statement, we are here to imagine horror together in order to be better people. I think it should be right in the front of the book. I think saying this out loud helps us to find the words to speak to why we are interested in horror. I think it is very focused, and despite being into horror myself, I never had it so well summed up this way. I would rather see it as part of the work, than just on your blog.

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  13. I think it's insightful and it is something I would want to read if I wanted to know more about the process of making the DC.
    If you want it in the book, I agree with those who have suggested putting it in at the end.

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  14. I like it. It sets the tone. Keep it in.

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  15. Horror as a genre gives us dramatically appropriate fancies to be scared of, instead of the all-too-real but unspeakably banal horror of everyday existence. We all live in a world which has the intention of killing us, and the only sure thing in the universe is that eventually it will, no matter what anyone does. Can you imagine anything more dreadful? Yet the day-to-day grind and humanity's necessary self-deceit numbs this somewhat. But a maniac with a chainsaw isn't something you can just ignore.

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  16. Although an interesting insight into your own feelings about the genre, I honestly don't know that it would be especially useful from a GM or PC point of view. I would lean towards not including it. I just don't feel like people would necessarily draw a lot of inspiration from it or better understand your game to make it worth taking up space. It's not a very 'oh wow, I can't wait to play/read this now' sort of opening IMO.

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