Sunday, September 11, 2011

Unexpected Horror

Two things:

Horror thrives on helplessness, but responsibility can be horrific, too.  This is the basic idea behind Eraserhead (as much as David Lynch can be said to present a thesis), and the roleplaying game Unknown Armies uses this as a central premise.  At first, the bewildering weirdness is the main source of horror, but it is quickly revealed that you have too much responsibility, and just what do you plan on doing with that?  Yes, you can go mad with power, but power can also be sobering.  It doesn't even have to be high-concept: you're a king.  Make a decision and think about how many people you affect.  Try to avoid becoming a total monster.

Also, to repeat a thing I've mentioned before, people always talk about limiting character resources as a path to power; that the Monty Haul game and horror just don't work together.  I disagree.  In Aliens, the Colonial Marines have everything they need to form an effective military force and pacify the situation, and it's still not enough.  Those resources might be enough to stop the problem, but they must be used carefully, because the enemies are cunning and tough.  Play Call of Cthulhu to see this trope in action: pretty much everything your character gets will limit you in some way.  You might get magic, magic items, and the knowledge necessary to combat your foes, but this is almost always poisoned in some way.  Each thing you get makes you less able to face the foes you fight (because you're more prone to freak out or become one of the very things you face), and less able to relate to your fellow humans (because you know things they don't and you might be too crazy to talk rationally).

Things to consider, as usual.

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