[Horror RPG] Introductory mini game

edited January 2008 in Story Games
I got this idea a few days back and have since allowed it to fester in my head to make sure it's not terribly dumb. It sounds solid, so I thought I'd share.
This is for my horror/investigation/badass game, Van Dread. It's about all those insane-driven investigators from your CoC games banding together to fuck shit up.

Since I've been trying to think of the game as a kind of horror movie (trying to emulate them to a degree), I felt that character death is important for the game. At the same time, having player characters dying all the time is definitely NOT a part of my game. Solution? Kill off the b-actors.
At the start of each scenario (not session), players create a character in a few sentences. No stats needed. The system used for this introductory game isn't the Van Dread system, but a very simple, 1 dice system (that Jarrod suggested). Characters are innocents that get tangled up with the scenario's boogeymen. Partying kids getting chopped up by the axe maniac, rookie police officers getting gutted by the vampire infestation, that kind of thing. These characters are doomed from the start, although surviving is an option (if you run away). Surviving cast can be used as NPCs(witness) or even as PCs (with the required fleshing out). This introduction serves as a well...introduction to the scenario(setting the stage if you like) and allows players to be part of the creation process to the crime scene(they already know how things happened, now the GM only needs to provide details), as well as satisfy my need for gruesome murders.
I'm thinking a time limit can be added. Characters not dead by then either dissappear, die or survice, according to GM and player wishes.

What does SG think?

Comments

  • Sounds like it would work pretty well - both to give that burst of deaths at the beginning and also it provides a couple of other benefits - a few ready made characters and the players get an idea what the monster is.

    I'd suggest that you don't have 'run away' as a way to have characters survive this first bit - use a stripped down system, sure, but I think the characters should be able to survive through any method that works. Just make it hard. And they can't kill the monster, I guess (although even that might not be a big deal given the number that come back after seeming to be killed!).
  • Posted By: Mike SandsSounds like it would work pretty well - both to give that burst of deaths at the beginning and also it provides a couple of other benefits - a few ready made characters and the players get an idea what the monster is.

    I'd suggest that you don't have 'run away' as a way to have characters survive this first bit - use a stripped down system, sure, but I think the characters should be able to survive through any method that works. Just make ithard. And they can't kill the monster, I guess (although even that might not be a big deal given the number that come back after seeming to be killed!).
    Yeah, to clarify, you don't have to run away, just stay alive until the minigame ends. It has to be really short(2-5 minutes of gametime?) because you don't want to give up too much(and should in fact keep it really mysterious and vague).
  • Good bump, Tad. I really like the subtle way of introducing a monster with disposable characters. It sets the frame pretty solidly, and could also help get everyone "in the mood" for the campaign and avoid that hazy first awkward hour, especially in a con atmosphere or with less experienced players.
  • This is an awesome idea! It neatly sidesteps a whole bunch of problems, like the problem with starting a suspenseful horror game in medias res to establish the horror theme early on but without risking the PCs be brutally slaughtered before the real game even begins. It also gives players some ability to shape the scenario to come. The witness idea is great - you can even have the original players play the witnesses, and whoever didn't survive play the interrogators.

    In my experience, 2-5 minutes isn't enough for most GMs to read a couple paragraphs of flavour text. A reasonably sized group could stall through 2-5 minutes without even trying. I'd suggest extending this to something more like 5-10 minutes per PC. Then you'll have time to do a short introduction and suspense-building before the mayhem begins - see the girl home alone getting prank called in the beginning of Scream 2, for example.

    The biggest challenge may be to not reveal too much information about the boogeymen before the introduction is over, but still sufficient salient information for the witnesses' testimony to mean something. In the interest of allowing the GM to manage this information, I would suggest doing the intro scenes by some kind of conflict resolution rather than task resolution. Give each proto-PC a few conflicts to win before they survive the encounter. For each conflict they win, give them a tiny clue but don't narrate anything that would give away the nature of the threat. If they lose a conflict, they die - then give a clue to someone else who is witnessing the brutal murder of their friend.

    How does that sound?
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