Weak Horrors

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
lanir
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:23 am

Re: Weak Horrors

Post by lanir » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:28 pm

I hadn't gotten around to reading through Questors yet but it does contain an interesting idea. I think what got me thinking along similar lines was a vaguely remembered read of The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson. Some spoilers for it below.
Spoiler:
The titular creatures feed off of energy and human emotions are their fare of choice. Later on it's revealed that their condition and their actions are due to a subsistence diet that barely lets them survive. If they had access to a stable food source large enough to keep them healthy, their actions and morality would be quite different.
I've always found sci-fi and fantasy had more powerful storytelling when they introduced interesting philosophical challenges. But I get that this might be a bit like dragging the Passions through the muck for some people so YMMV. It might be a bit hard to work into an adventure in any case unless you have characters invested in curing the Mad Pasions.
Scherme wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 1:20 pm
I am mechanics oriented when it comes to playing, it is just how my brain works but I am looking to change that and provide story.
The easiest way to do this is pick two groups* and have them plotting in the background. If the adventures at least peripherally relate to their interests, the PCs have a chance to notice them. Until that happens the easy way is to introduce tactical choices based on the location the PCs are fighting in. If they get one of these types of encounter per evening that's enough to play to your strenghts and let the mechanics be a storytelling device. It also gives some visible storytelling until the PCs notice the plots surrounding them.

If that sounds awful, ignore it. Every GM and group is a bit different.

* I usually try for 3 groups because I've been doing this awhile and 3 seems to be the point where you blow people's minds and the whole world starts to feel like it's in motion around them. 2 should be plenty to start with though. You could probably get by with 1 if you wanted.

Mcgarnagle
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:43 am

Re: Weak Horrors

Post by Mcgarnagle » Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:54 pm

lanir wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:28 pm
The easiest way to do this is pick two groups* and have them plotting in the background. If the adventures at least peripherally relate to their interests, the PCs have a chance to notice them. Until that happens the easy way is to introduce tactical choices based on the location the PCs are fighting in. If they get one of these types of encounter per evening that's enough to play to your strenghts and let the mechanics be a storytelling device. It also gives some visible storytelling until the PCs notice the plots surrounding them.

If that sounds awful, ignore it. Every GM and group is a bit different.

* I usually try for 3 groups because I've been doing this awhile and 3 seems to be the point where you blow people's minds and the whole world starts to feel like it's in motion around them. 2 should be plenty to start with though. You could probably get by with 1 if you wanted.
This sound like a fantastic technique. I don’t want to side track this thread but it’d be awesome if you posted a new thread with some examples of how you brought it all together. I love trying to interweave stories and NPCs together in different ways in an effort to make the world feel alive and lived in by other people besides the player characters.

Scherme
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed May 01, 2019 2:53 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts

Re: Weak Horrors

Post by Scherme » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:35 pm

I am glad people are enjoying this thread. It has certainly given me a lot to think about.
The easiest way to do this is pick two groups* and have them plotting in the background.
Admittedly I have more experience world building than actually running campaigns. Players in my longest most recent campaign were all either new to TTRPGs or Earthdawn, so it was a very slow moving, mostly teaching, campaign and we never really got to the meat before breaking up (schedule changes, the weather, you all know the deal)I was told they enjoyed my DMing. I usually have background groups plotting in overlapping areas of the entire Barsaive map, so anywhere the characters go there they could run into story. Now I actually have to get them there. I try not to develop more than I can chew because like I said, my experience putting a world on the table is limited. I plan to start another campaign sometime next year, and will hopefully get players to do some homework before joining.
This sound like a fantastic technique. I don’t want to side track this thread but it’d be awesome if you posted a new thread with some examples of how you brought it all together.
I would most certainly enjoy ^ that thread. Sounds like one for the "Adventurer's Journal" Subforum. or not, I am no authority.

I am going halt any more of my own speculation about Horrors and the Passions until I have completed my reading of ED4. Just picked up the PG yesterday and started digging in so I can start building characters like crazy. It seems most threads that I have started/dug up have Mataxes replying with "Go read the new books ya dummy" (not his actual words) so I am taking the hint. :D

BUT! I would love to read more about how people have use Horrors/Passions in their games. Maybe in some creative ways? or not. Or wherever this thread goes or doesn't. I have gotten a lot from it already.

Mcgarnagle
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:43 am

Re: Weak Horrors

Post by Mcgarnagle » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:33 am

I was knocking around an idea that involved a horror that was fond of consuming the pain and terror of obsidimen trapped in life rocks during the scourge. With the scourge over,it’s had a great deal of trouble in finding life rocks that are vulnerable and it has been longing for that opportunity again. Pickings are sparse so the horror must settle on other forms of prey in order to feed.

Somewhere along the way, the horror marks the PCs and is causing them all kinds of grief; this aspect has to be played out and emphasize to the max. The PCs have to feel the huge negative impact this horror is having on their lives.

My campaign takes place before and during the events found in Prelude to War, so spoilers ahead:
Spoiler:
the PCs are tasked with investigating the status of the life rocks trapped under the Theran behemoth, Triumph. When the discover the obsidimen are trapped inside and the Tehran’s are powering their defenders of Triumph with its magical energies, the horror makes the PCs an offer. He’ll leave them and remove his horror mark if they get him to the life rocks. If they get him to it, he will be able to unplug Triumph as it were and give Barsaive a fighting chance to drive the Therans out. The only cost is those obsidimen trapped inside will be consumed in horrible agony by the horror. Is it a price worth paying in order to rid arsaive of the Theran outpost?

lanir
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:23 am

Re: Weak Horrors

Post by lanir » Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:22 pm

Mcgarnagle wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:54 pm
I don’t want to side track this thread but it’d be awesome if you posted a new thread with some examples of how you brought it all together. I love trying to interweave stories and NPCs together in different ways in an effort to make the world feel alive and lived in by other people besides the player characters.
I started this thread for that discussion:

Weaving Plots: Making World Look Alive

lanir
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:23 am

Re: Weak Horrors

Post by lanir » Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:07 pm

I had an idea for a Horror but it involved a particular placement and my players veered in a different direction. So they won't encounter this until later. It's concept mostly, not much in the way of system/rules yet.

Basically I wanted to go for less jump horror and more psychological horror in my game. So this beastie is a kind of revenant. Details in the spoiler tag.
Spoiler:
The Horror itself is a little eel-like grub or something that burrows it's way into dead flesh. It flays the soul back into the corpse but does not revive it. This type of Horror works best if the players knew the victim beforehand. My plan is to have the PCs make a hard choice during a difficult spot that causes them to leave behind an NPC helper, who will become infected by this Horror and later rejoin the group.

I'd debated dividing these into two types, drones that are like the Horrors with animal intelligence who would just go along for the ride and more intelligent queens capable of reproducing, puppeting their host at will and speaking on their own.

Description: The corpse continues to decay but much more slowly than normal. In the end it will mummefy but in the interim organs and some fleshy bits will rot or be devoured by parasites (yes rotting and mummefication are contradictory but it's a standard zombie trope so screw it, it's magic). Feel free to describe unpleasant odors, apparently unnecessary bits or parasites dropping off, momentarily mushy speech due to same.

The horror elements: Aside from the descriptive bits, the characters sense of touch is dulled as if their whole body were like a limb that's partially fallen asleep but the pins and needles of renewed circulation never come. Pain is a thing of the past but wounds will never heal; they require physical repair such as stitching, nailing splints into place, etc. All touch, temperature and pain information is at a remove, as though it's happening to someone else. The reanimated character always has a goal of some sort, whether it's to protect a loved one, get revenge, etc. You can decide whether that means the Horror influences the host or whether the Horror must gain the cooperation of the host to reanimate it. Once reanimated the host is stuck with their situation until they fall apart or someone else removes the Horror (the host cannot cooperate with this, the Horror and it's own fear will compel it to act out to avoid this fate).

What the Horror gets out of it: Primarily it feeds on the angst of the victim who's going through the process of watching their body rot around them and struggling to complete some goal. Victims also have some strong motivations of their own to lash out and this makes for a good secondary source of "food" for the Horror.

Ideas for system rules: This probably works better as a Mask (see the Earthdawn Companion: basically a template rather than a stand-alone creature write-up). It should get some significant armor rating added but wounds would degrate the armor. Maybe a little wound threshold boost? Recovery tests cannot heal wounds. They're going to slowly fall apart no matter what. Remove the Horror and the soul flees, leaving just a corpse at whatever stage of rot it had progressed to. Only Namegivers give the Horror sustenance but other creature might carry one.

Inspirations: The Crow, Laura Moon from American Gods, Sayaka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Tattered Rags
Posts: 358
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Weak Horrors

Post by Tattered Rags » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:07 pm

lanir wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:28 pm
It might be a bit hard to work into an adventure in any case unless you have characters invested in curing the Mad Pasions.
Been away from the forums for a bit, so apologies for nethering this, but your comment about curing the Mad Passions prompted me to share this link to the old forum with an idea I had for just that. Sadly, the pages are a bit on the wonky side whenever I visit, so it looks like some pieces are missing. Just scroll past all the error text to get to the posts.

https://fasagames.com/archiveforum/view ... =18&t=1754

Thankfully I saved it for my own use later, so the important missing portion is here (assuming it's even missing when you look at it).
Spoiler:
Clearly there are a multitude of ways to work this in, from excerpts of the Books of Harrow to a dragon seeking a new weapon, perhaps having a second group tailing the first and collecting True Elements while the players collect Horror Elements. The dragon can then later bring the players in on the secret because the second group needs some saving.


Personally, in a campaign that ends with curing a Passion, I'd make Passions and their Questors center.


Questors of Garlen, Astendar, Mynbruje, etc., begin employing the players. Eventually, a Questor of Lochost puts them on the trail of creating Sufferance and Renewal, as a way to free the Passions enslaved by madness. At this point the players are probably used to Questors giving them jobs, but I'd play up the oddity of a LONE Questor seeking them out. This person also stresses the secrecy needed, as they fear one of the Mad Passions or Horrors finding out.


This Lochost Questor is actually a Questor of Vestrial who thinks Vestrial wants Lochost driven mad. In actuality Vestrial seeks to cure Raggok. Because reasons. (Perhaps a long-term plan to overthrow Horrors and take their place, or, ya know, Vestrial's nuts.)


Through their work, the Vestrial Questor is revealed. Ideally, this brings the players into contact with a Questor of Rashomon, or a player becomes one.


Yes, that's a Questor of RASHOMON.


As things move forward the players get to meet at a council of the Passions, something never before done. All of the sane Passions are there, plus one Questor each, and the Questor of Rashomon. They plead with the players "to cure our lost brother Rashomon", even though Vestrial wants it. Dis crashes the party and exclaims great rewards to whomever kills Lochost, or drives her Mad.


Later a Questor of Raggok, a skeletal figure wrapped in death and maggots, attempts to persuade the players to go after the other Passions, even agreeing to reward them if they help Dis.


Vestrial contacts them again near the close, crazily requesting, again, that they cure Raggok. His only reasoning he'll give is that he's always wanted to kill a Great Dragon.


If the players take on Raggok, the follow on adventure has Rashomon Questors leading efforts against Iopos.


Anything could happen, even curing Vestrial or just killing Astendar.


This all works even better if players are Questors, and it becomes even more likely that they will become ones during this adventure. If one becomes a Questor of Rashomon, all the better.


I'd even throw in Questors of Erendis and a sane Vestrial. They are possible because of the POTENTIAL of them being healed. When the players complete the quest and Sufferance and Renewal are destroyed, then the Questors of still Mad Passions are themselves driven mad and serve the Mad versions.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

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