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Offline Radical21

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What is WoDish fear?
« on: March 29, 2013, 05:17:32 pm »
In the other thread started by Valamyr claudia touched on an interesting subject, none of the pieces really inspire fear and horror

and after a while of playing WoD I noticed that many Storytellers or Player gravitate to tie fear to something that is not frightening in itself or unrelated:
- Grotesque / Disgust.
- BSDM or Rape.
- Mutilated organs and blood.

So what defines fear in WoD? Would you laugh or find yourself running to the nearest exit when you see a Nosferatu pick his nose? or do you become deeply horrified when the Storyteller describes an NPC that ties down your character and seek to chop his/her gentiles with sharp scissors?

Are direct visual descriptions even required to inspire fear?

Offline Claudia Vonigner

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2013, 05:54:11 pm »
I go with the angst, the horror. Kindred are creatures of passion, confronted by death every single time, by the fear of killing each time they are thirsty, and they are ALWAYS thirsty. I go with tension, betrayal, hopelessness, narrow places, overbearing, and choices that are always bad choices anyway, some are just a little less sucky. I will show the horror of the past, show them that even the kindest most humane of the characters is racist, that some are just plain nazis, some are sexist assholes, and they are all credible and still likable despite most horrific flaws.

This is what I can use :




As well as two Wraith Books : Atlanta By Night (Necropolis Atlanta) and the Shoah.


Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2013, 06:18:01 pm »
The byword of the World of Darkness is "horror", which to me means the "horrible" as well as outright terrifying. This means that things like rape and mutilation - while maybe not "scary" for we who are removed from the direct personal experience of it - are still valid ways to showcase the setting. As far as examples of actual fear/terror go, I think most of the community will agree with me that the scariest parts of VTM - Bloodlines are the Ocean House Hotel, the Abandoned Hospital, and some locations that have headrunners/the quick little fleshcrafted beasties.

In the Ocean House Hotel and Abandoned Hospital, I think the fear arises from two major sources: the things you can't see or act upon, and the glimpses of those things. With the first, it's the same gimmick you see in a lot of "survival horror" games - your sense of fear arises from your sense of helplessness because there is no enemy to fight, or worse, you don't have a weapon to fight an enemy with. There's nothing you can do against either ghost, and things act upon you (such as having vases thrown at you) that you cannot act against in turn.

(Before Wesp5 broke - I mean, tweaked - the werewolf, it's the same kind of fear new players have for it - it's unstoppable. Even an abstracted fear for losing progress on your min/maxed character to a powerful opponent is still fear. You may not care that there's a huge hairy monster about to eviscerate you and send you to your own personal hell, but you probably care that you'll have to roll a new character. This is also the cause of much of the tension and frustration of the "You Only Die Once a Night"/Hollywood zombie quest. It's almost impossible to stem the tide, and if you don't stem the tide, You Lose.)

Now, these throwing-of-the-vases and trick-doors-opening might turn into a circus-like funhouse if it wasn't for the fact that you see evidence of the things you can't hurt/act upon. The ghosts pop up suddenly and disappear just as suddenly, causing surprise and mystery, at least in the sense of "OMG, what the hell was THAT?!" When you first see the lady-ghost in the basement, it's probably a question of curiosity ("Where did she go? What was she running from?") or caution (when I first played the Ocean House Hotel, I froze right where I was when she ran by, then slooooooowly peeked around the corner from the direction she came. There was nothing there, but the Nothing That Was There is what made my hair stand on end.) Either way, you have to continue on to make any sense of what just happened.

In the Abandoned Hospital, there's actually nothing that can even hurt your character, but the suspense built up by Simon Milligan puts our character on edge for the whole descent into the dark depths of the Hospital, which is full of blind corners and non-linear pathways. This suspense continues as we see glimpses of Pisha grabbing the TV crew and dragging them kicking and screaming into the darkness - only we don't actually SEE Pisha until she rips the heart out of the last unfortunate guy. Pscyhologically, darkness is still frightening to most people on the planet if for no other reason than we can't see. Blind corners mean anything could pop out from the other side and attack us - but nothing does. There are no straight hallways that give us clear lines of sight - also psychologically, straightness and order tend to be more comforting to more people than twistedness and randomness. (Fleshy, organic bits are a staple of many horror games, such as the Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth and Amnesia: The Dark Descent.) Organic fleshy bits and twistedness are alien and unnatural to the urbanite human. As with the Ocean House Hotel, the fact that nothing attacks us simply makes us think that something Really Bad must be coming around the next corner. Traditionally, "down" is also seen as bad. Notice that in most dungeons in most games, you go down. (For example, the Abandoned Hospital, the Crackhouse [Bishop Vick's place], the Hotel Hallowbrook, and a lot of the dungeons in VTM - Redemption.)

The headrunners are pure shock value. Don't underestimate the power of a cheap thrill of fear. Another instant of "OMG What was THAT?!" is one more instant than you had otherwise. Even if you're expecting it, a sudden loud noise and rapid movement tweaks our hindbrain like nothing else. The headrunners are quick, hard to hit, and god damn them, but they deal aggravated damage! They have a human face - but it's a twisted, grotesque, screaming thing - but they have no body. They do not conform to "a human". They are unnatural and alien - and perhaps the worst part is that they USED to be human, but Something Else changed them. Their loud, inhuman screeches and sneaky pitter-patter just makes us dread the moment when we have to face them visually. Sensory stimulation is a key part of terror - our senses are how we perceive the world, and if we perceive something "off" or Not As It's Supposed To Be, we get creeped out. One of my favorite "creepy" moments would be to have a late-night diner sign that reads "KIDS EAT FREE".

KIDS EAT FREE. KIDS EAT FREE. KIDS EAT FREE. EAT KIDS FREE. KIDS EAT FREE. KIDS EAT FREE.

The double-take is a great way to build up the suspense and sense of something not being right. It makes the character question their perceptions and increases the mystery. "Did I see that? Was there something there to be seen? If there was something there, where the hell did it go?"

I think that one of the good ways to inspire horror and terror in players (though I would advise strict moderation - you don't want to send your players away with shock, fear, and disgust. This is a game, after all) is to change up how these horrible and terrible things happen. If we traditionally fear the darkness, make something terrible happen in the "safe" and "happy" light places. Hit the characters at home, where they should feel secure and in control. Though it's often bad Storytelling practice, you could take control of the situation away from the characters and put it in the hands of some force that is inimical to them. One of the lines that really sticks with me from a Warhammer 40K novel goes something like "rapes committed in the light". Whereas normally rape is thought of something that happens "to other people" in "dark places" because the villain needs to hide the act, simply changing the light level of the scene drastically increases its impact as something horrible. Committing rape in the light means that the villain doesn't want/need to hide the crime; maybe they're so powerful that they don't fear the consequences, which can be a scary thought in its own right. (This is also a scene in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The woman is being raped, and is crying out for help, but everyone around her just laughs and thinks it's part of the entertainment.) The villains I personally hate the most are the ones who Get Away With It.

Now, as a caveat to all of the above, none of this is going to be any help if you're playing with somebody who doesn't use their imagination. Willing suspension of disbelief and empathy with your player-character is key to enjoyment (or at least immersion) in the setting. A lot of horrible things are easier to inflict on mortals than they are vampires, werewolves, or other supernaturals. Blood isn't exactly a scary thing to vampires anymore - not only do they drink it to survive, they are not subject to massive blood loss like normal humans are. Throwing blood at a vampire PC and expecting them to be horrified is like throwing a prime-rib dinner at a human and expecting them to be horrified. I think horror and terror lose a lot of their impact when Storytelling is done through a chat medium like an instant-messaging service or a forum thread - but that makes it all the more important for players to get into it. Most of these concepts of terror and horror are a lot easier to get across if you're meeting in person, where the Storyteller can simply shout out "BANG!" if he needs to get across something sudden and loud. If the scene is going well, I bet at least a couple people will jump. As a final note, there is a very good reason why Dungeon Masters, Game Masters, Storytellers, etc, frequently say "You" instead of "Your player-character", and that reason is to create empathy and a sense of immediacy and connection with the scene.

And if a Nossie was picking his nose... Whether I'd laugh or run away would depend on what he pulls out.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 06:48:49 pm by Rick Gentle »
Remember: It's not the size of your fangs that matters; it's what you stick them in.

Offline Voraxith

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 10:10:23 am »
I had to make an account just to reply to this with my own thoughts on the subject.

I agree that anymore, no one really gets what was so horrifying about the World of Darkness, specifically Vampire: the Masquerade.    It's not monsters and blood and all that - it's becoming a monster.  The fact that, no matter how good you are or how badass you become, you are one of the damned, and there is no hope.  I've met so many people who refuse to play VtM simply because they do understand the horror of the game, yet most of those who claim to love the game don't even get it.  Because no matter what you accomplish in the game, no matter how good a story you tell, no matter how many points you spend, no matter how well you roll, there is always the hunger and the Beast.

Offline Radical21

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 03:01:26 pm »
there is always the hunger and the Beast.

I read this comment and the one in the feeding thread and I hope you do realize that a vampire is more than a zombie with fangs, if it was that you would be better served playing Zombie: The Hunger.

One can't think up Machiavellian plots on an empty stomach and they can't contemplate eating an ancient vampire in the future if all they can think of is eating something now now now.

The beast is more than about hunger otherwise it wouldn't be called a Beast: it is by great deal about control of one's self and the surroundings .

The Hunger for blood is there to ensure that no matter where the vampire is they are always the wolf living among a herd of sheep and no matter how much they will try there will always be a flux between them and other wolves or the sheep police because like caine they were cursed to be hated and outcast.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 03:03:02 pm by Radical21 »

Offline Stephen_Webb

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2013, 11:11:54 pm »
Horror from a standpoint of emotional jolting is how it is best driven home - the unthinkable, the twisted, the unexpected - I think horror is best described not as agony, prolonged suffering, or grotesqueness, but rather from the anticipation of the unknown after one has experienced something truly shocking. I often relate to a story of being a child and for the very first time, having seen this present all nicely wrapped, and upon opening it...I saw a box, a rather colorful one with a clown on it...the excitement was palpable, I quickly open the box to see it had a crank to wind, and I wound it up...and wound it till it would wind no more...then a delightful song played...the common jack-in-the-box tune. Nice. Then BOOM! This monstrosity of a clown on a spring shot out and hit me in the face...nice huh? Well, to this day there is something eerie about that tune, the jack in the box one, and clowns, and ice cream trucks with clowns and the jack in the box tune...to me, the experience of shock and the unexpected totally shaking your world is what people remember for years...Good story tellers know how to jolt their players by always alluding to what might be around that next corner, what lies just beneath the surface - what is there? or what could be there? Being a vampire, means being afraid. Deathly afraid. The hunger as dutifully noted by Radical, has little to nothing to do with personal fear -our vampires are what they are because of a power far greater than they has made it so -- they can not explain it, it is unknown to them and as such, it is an eternity of living in fear, like impending doom hovering above them - they know that while they exist they are only wracking up points against themselves in the eyes of their tormentor - it is hard to exist like this, but they fear even more meeting that tormentor - final death in Sanguine Nights is not non-existence as it is in WoD, ashes to ashes went the way of the dodo bird, instead another eternity awaits...

Offline Valamyr

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2013, 08:34:27 am »
Quote
- Grotesque / Disgust.
- BSDM or Rape.
- Mutilated organs and blood.

If none of these inspire you any fear, nervousness or adrenaline, I think you may be a bit too jaded to be find any video game scary. As Claudia pointed out, a ST has many tools in his arsenal, but only so many carry well to a sandbox WOD online game.

If we look at Bloodlines, which I thought was plenty scary and WODish, the most disturbing bits were based on things like that (disgusting Tzimisce creations, gory Pisha haven, etc) there was little sexual violence but bits implied it to good effect.

In the WOD, I expect this kind of theme and plot elements to be used again. There'll of course be one new aspect to consider; other players. If they follow through with their initial plans, they'll give us incentives to be wary of other players, and for a certain kind of player, this may be more effective than gore and screams.

Offline Radical21

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2013, 04:30:10 pm »
Quote
- Grotesque / Disgust.
- BSDM or Rape.
- Mutilated organs and blood.

If none of these inspire you any fear, nervousness or adrenaline, I think you may be a bit too jaded to be find any video game scary.

Maybe I think of the above as more shocking than scary.
 but like Rick mentioned the Ocean house hotel was scary to me on the other hand.
Or going to the dentist where I don't know what will happen, maybe nothing, maybe a whole dreadful operation, maybe end up with metal in my teeth and followed by mercury poisoning and screwed up teeth etc, you never know.(though yeah when I list all possiblities and demystify it it is less scary)

Hopefully some designer is looking at this discussion and is getting more understanding and inspiration as well as the different Points of view players have.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 05:17:38 pm by Radical21 »

Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2013, 02:07:16 am »
Don't even f*cking TALK about going to the dentist, man.
We're talking about a storytelling game of personal horror, here, not REAL LIFE personal horror!

 :justabite:
Remember: It's not the size of your fangs that matters; it's what you stick them in.

Offline Radical21

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2013, 02:19:18 am »
ya World of living darkness.
Having some hair on your shoulder is totally worth the healing factor when you think about this stuff.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 02:23:42 am by Radical21 »

Offline Valamyr

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2013, 09:17:42 am »
I briefly dated a dentist. Dental floss nazi. "The gums will stop bleeding if you do it twice a day everyday" she kept saying, as she drove her little stringy improvised torture device deeper into the skin.

Offline Claudia Vonigner

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2013, 10:30:13 am »
That's only american dentists tho, in France it's not common or even positively recommended to floss >_<

But yeah scary shit that is.

Offline Radical21

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2013, 11:40:17 am »
I briefly dated a dentist. Dental floss nazi. "The gums will stop bleeding if you do it twice a day everyday" she kept saying, as she drove her little stringy improvised torture device deeper into the skin.

She used to floss you? that is even more scary.(well not really but I can imagine being traumatized after a few times  :justabite:)
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 11:42:09 am by Radical21 »

Offline _username

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2013, 06:58:29 pm »
She used to floss you? that is even more scary.(well not really but I can imagine being traumatized after a few times  :justabite:)

When I was a kid, I'm pretty sure I read a Goosebumps novel along those lines.  :chinscratch:
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Offline Rick Gentle

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Re: What is WoDish fear?
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2013, 09:14:04 pm »
That would've been the scariest one R. L. Stine ever wrote.
Remember: It's not the size of your fangs that matters; it's what you stick them in.

 

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