Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Doing Research

A certain amount of cajoling on my part has recently remade my D&D group into a Hunter: The Vigil group.

Hunter is a game set in the World of Darkness, which is basically a horror movie version of the actual world. Vampires, Ghosts, Werewolves, Mages, and things that people don't have names for lurk in the shadows of the world. As hunters the players in this game are the only things standing between the monsters and the innocent people of the world who either don't know or won't admit they know what's out there.

My role in all this is that of Storyteller, which is this games version of Dungeon Master. They're playing the candle in the darkness. I'm the darkness. Since this game is set in a reimagining of the actual world, all of my darkness is painted over the world. Some of the stories are simple, they come from thinking about monsters, and the monsterous things they might be doing, but that's not enough. Horror isn't distant. Horror is lurking behind the corner. Horror is watching you from a window across the street. Horror is in the shadows just behind you when you least expect it. So in order to write a real horror story I have to find those corners, those windows, and those shadows. Which leads me to one of my favorite new activities.

It's beautiful, and it's simple. In essence I'm just going for walks with my camera, and not my iPod. I keep my eyes open, I look around at all times, because every now and then I'll find something. A little alleyway, a secluded underpass, a building which is a bit too nondescript. All of these things could be explained rationally, but if you take the time to let your imagination look at these things then you have to wonder what really goes on there.

Take for example this picture.

That's the Hotel Decca on Brooklyn and 45th. The reason that picture might matter to a hunter is this.

See that? What broke that tile? It's over ten feet up. It's too wide of an impact to be a gunshot. It almost looks like something smashed into it. What would smash into an awning that high up? Maybe something was thrown into it. Maybe someone was thrown into it. Who or what is strong enough to do that? Then, see the area around the impact. It's blackened. Maybe that's just mold. Maybe it's a burn. A burn from what? All of these are interesting questions that I can pose to the players. I will, of course, decide what the actual answer and implications of said answer are before hand. The real game lies in getting to the truth, and, when appropriate, shooting the truth thirty times in the back before it throws a prius at you, then dragging one of your friends to the back of your van so that one of you can perform first aid on his mutilated body while the rest of you focus on getting the van the hell out of there before the monster finds another prius to throw at you. A few weeks later when your friend is out of traction you start looking for someone who will sell you silver bullets without giving you too many weird looks, and you get rid of the damn thing before it hurts someone else.

Then I'll go walking again. I'll find something else. Like why does that building on eastlake have so many no parking signs around it, and such a drab streetfront. What goes on in there? What exactly is "The Foundation Group." I'll know, and the truth will be so much more then they ever thought it could be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like the head of a giant grasshopper hit the building.

8:52 AM  

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