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BayardSPSR
2011-04-30, 04:35 AM
I'm looking for advice on exactly how to 'do' the horror (as the GM) in a game I'm planning. The premise: players are Soviet civilians in an isolated village in the 1930s Urals in winter. In this village is the run-down boarded-up mansion of the family that used to own the serfs here; they were all killed in the Revolution (children and all). This year, the winter is turning out to be exceptionally cold, and the Red Army recently commandeered almost all of the village's fuel, leaving the nearly-snowed-in villagers a choice: flee to the only building in town with thick enough walls to keep out the cold, or die.

The mansion is, of course, haunted. They will likely not expect this; I'm hyping the game as role-play focused (no more details), and plan on making them all paranoid about each other (Paranoia-inspired but not so extreme) so that suddenly seeing a creepy little girl who then disappears when they look away will be the last thing they expect.

Minimal armaments should, I hope, make it scarier (one will have a Nagant revolver and a handful of bullets, another a knife, and a third maybe a concealed TT-33 semiautomatic).

Any advice for running a horror game in general, or something more specific to my plans? I'd welcome both.

Yora
2011-04-30, 04:53 AM
I think it's at least a very good idea. An almost entirely unused setting, but one that players should have no problem getting into. And post-civil war in Winter in the wilderness of Russia really sets the atmosphere, even if the players don't know much about it.

Talesin
2011-04-30, 04:55 AM
Everyone fears the unknown more than they fear the enemy they know. It might be better to not reveal the enemy they are fighting until they have to fight it.

Also you mention the little girl, having anything being there one minute and then gone when they decide to unite against it could lead to a paranoia element as one screams "LOOK!" and they all turn to nothing being there.

Also trying to make it look like its waiting for them to be alone, will almost certainly scare them in to staying as a group as there is safety in numbers.

Of course this will mean they then won't want to go anywhere alone, which is when the house starts slamming doors/caving in a ceiling in between players so they have to be separated.

I'd also say don't overuse anything. I remember a story on these boards of a dm throwing an elephant at a party, but he'd templated it with a fire elemental. So while the party were trying to work out what this thing was, and how to stop it, the DM was laughing at the fact it was something simple with a little variation to make it more challenging

Hope this helps

Mark Hall
2011-04-30, 09:01 AM
I played in a somewhat similar game, and one thing I found effective were possessions. Since you've got a lot of commoners around, having one get possessed every so often... maybe an older man issuing orders as one of the Lords would, which other older people recognizing the voice.

I'd consider a few things in your collective.

1) How loyal is everyone to the Soviet system? Do they still have a priest in town? That could make the thing a bit shorter than you like.

2) What is everyone's connection to the old leadership? I'd throw in at least one (PC or NPC) who is an unacknowledged son of one of the old lords... a fact which saved him in the revolution.

3) What secrets does everyone hold? Like Paranoia, everyone should have one or two secrets that they don't want anyone to find out, but that could be revealed through the course of the adventure. The aforementioned son of an old noble. A German soldier on the run. Maybe someone who took part in the killings of the old nobility?

CarpeGuitarrem
2011-04-30, 11:25 AM
Mark has some very excellent, concrete advice. I would also add...

That secrets bit? Randomly determine each secret to be known by another PC. It's a small village; secrets don't necessarily stay put. Have each player write down their secret, shuffle the secrets together, and then pass them back out to the players. Some will get their own secrets, perhaps, maybe a couple will get one another's secrets, or maybe the secrets will be all scattered around.

Having the secret known by one PC makes things interesting, because it acts as a little chink in the works. Heck, play up the paranoia element, so that they don't see the supernatural element coming.

Use the climate. It's cold out there, and cold kills. That'll be the major threat to these people, especially if something is sapping the heat. Maybe the fire keeps going out. That'll be sure to spark accusations of paranoia.

Bang!
2011-04-30, 02:22 PM
Two questions that a lot of horror games ask, and which really help to develop the game are:
--> What is the worst thing your character has done? (So basically what Mark said.)
--> Who/what does your character turn to for support?

Neither would be too out of place to ask in a RP-heavy game, and both are very easily seeded back into the storyline to make the horror stuff a bit more personal than a series of stock genre staples.

I like your premise. I think it could be especially interesting if the conditions in the present-tense echoed those of the historical deep-dark-secret.

Vladislav
2011-04-30, 02:27 PM
Read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectivization_in_the_USSR

Especially this section:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectivization_in_the_USSR#Resistance_to_collect ivization_and_consequences

And might as well also take a look at this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chikatilo

Spiryt
2011-04-30, 02:36 PM
Read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectivization_in_the_USSR

Especially this section:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectivization_in_the_USSR#Resistance_to_collect ivization_and_consequences




1935, 3 people sit in prison cell in Moscow.
One ask his companions - "So, why are you here?"
"I arrived at work 5 minutes too late and was accused of sabotage and absenteeism...."
" I've come 5 minutes too early and had been accused of espionage.... - And you?"

" I've arrived right at the time and was accused of buying clock from the West."

Rappy
2011-04-30, 06:34 PM
Use the climate. It's cold out there, and cold kills. That'll be the major threat to these people, especially if something is sapping the heat. Maybe the fire keeps going out. That'll be sure to spark accusations of paranoia.
Agreed.

A good example of horror set in the U.S.S.R. would be 30 Days of Night: Red Snow. While technically a little while after the time period stated in the opening post, it still puts out the main points: the unforgiving weather, feelings of isolation, paranoia at who is the friend and the enemy, cabin fever, and the fact that, somewhere, there is something that you can't see...but it can see you.