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Game Dream #4 (so, I'm a little behind...)

I've meant to comment on this one for a bit, but have been swamped with other stuff... so a bit behind the curve, Game Dream #4.

To wit:
What is the role, if any, that movies and books play in your campaigns? When entering a new genre, how important do you feel seeing (or reading) a good genre example becomes? Have you ever been assigned a "mood" book to read by the GM, or gone to a group movie viewing? How do you feel about game-based fiction, whether "pulp" novels or movie attempts?

Not so much books, but movies have always been a significant source of inspiration for me. I think that I'm more visually oriented, and movies seem, to me, to lend themselves more to role playing scenarios than books.  An attempt to weave in the manipulative psychiatrist from Dean Koontz's "False Memory" failed abysmally; perhaps in books the relationship with the protagonists is too intimate (and too linear) to work for a role playing troupe.

I'm currently writing a scenario for the Living Death campaign inspired, initially, by "The Ghost and the Darkness", the story of the Man Eaters of Tsavo (a true story).  I'm taking some liberties, of course...

I ran a monthly Chill gamefor many years, and my best scenarios were inspired by movies.  Character update was a relatively complex process, and while I worked with each player to update their characters, I'd have them watch a selection of two or three movies that were inspiring the next scenario.  I never 'ported anything directly into my scenarios, so they'd drive themselves nuts trying to figure out what parts of which movies I'd be using.  Not only did the movies inspire me, they got the players in the right mind-set for the game.  When you're running horror, atmosphere and attitude are everything.

I think my best misdirection was "Candyman".  They were sure I'd pitched them into a faithful rendering of the movie when one of the characters woke up covered with blood, next to a butchered body.  In the end, though, it turned out they were dealing with a recurring possessing entity, known, among other names, as "Jack the Ripper".  The players actually headed to the library between sessions, reading like mad and forming their own theories as to who Jack the Ripper really was.

Another time, they pursued a killer creature across the country as it skipped from victim to victim, corrupting the purest souls it could find.  They watched "Fallen" in character, and were scared out of their wits till they figured out that the creature they pursued was not quite as powerful as the subject of "Fallen".  Mythology is like that -- there's often exaggeration in the telling.

I wrote a convention scenario, Don't Go In the House, inspired by a combination of Ghost Story, Legend of Hell House and The Changeling (all excellent movies).  It's December 21st, and a documentary director is filming a "ghostbusting" parapsychologist as he tries to prove that the persistent haunting of an isolated house is explainable by science.  As the sun sets and the snow begins to fall, the characters realize they are trapped in the house, and the hauntings may not be quite so easily explained away.

Music also frequently inspires me.  A friend and I (Hi Jason) wrote a two round Shadowrun/Earthdawn crossover scenario inspired by David Crosby's "Hero" and Yeats' "The Stolen Child" (which is performed admirably by the Waterboys on their album "Fisherman's Blues".  The story revolved around a team of shadowrunners bereft of their charismatic leader ("The reason that I loved him was the reason she loved him too; he never wondered what was right or wrong, he just knew"), called back together to rescue the ward of the Lord High Protector of Britain.  A child, if the report is to believed, stolen by fairies. 

I launched an 18 month campaign centered around the family of a character who was a concert pianist inspired by David Lanz's "Christofori's Dream".  (Christofori invented the scale exercises that pianists use.)  The pianist character had a vivid dream involving the song, her mother and missing -- presumed dead -- father (and a narration I provided), and the other characters were pulled into the dream as well.  When a frantic call home revealed that the mother had disappeared, the characters began a race through central and eastern Europe to save her before it was too late.

Someday I swear I'm going to write the scenario that's screaming to get out of Jim Steinman's "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young"
I've got a dream 'bout a boy in a castle
and he's dancing like a cat on the stairs
he's got the fire of a prince in his eyes
and the thunder of a drum in his ears

Okay, that's enough for now... I need to go listen to music and see what it inspires me to write...


( 2 comments — Roll the dice )
Jul. 27th, 2004 09:35 pm (UTC)
The Ghost and the Darkness is a fantastic movie, and was the reason why I went back to the Field Museum in Chicago in 1999, specifically to see those lions (I even have a photo of them :)

I think there is much that can be learned about running a good horror story from that movie, particularly one that deals with critters of some sort.

Good luck with the module!
Aug. 2nd, 2004 03:51 pm (UTC)
I've got a dream 'bout a boy on a star
Looking down upon the rim of the world.
He's there all alone, lookin' for someone like me
I'm not an angel but at least I'm a girl

"Tonight is what it means to be young" has to be one of my favorite songs. Ever. I question the lyrics on the site you linked to slightly, but that's splitting hairs. I agree - there's a story in that song that wants to be much, much longer. I'll content myself with watching Streets of Fire for the time being.

And seriously, the Koontz plot wasn't that problematic. It just happened to be a speed-bump that became a stop sign when a lot of schedules simply stopped meshing. There was nothing that happened that couldn't have been overcome, if there had been a way to get all of the players together consistently.

((hugs)) to you
( 2 comments — Roll the dice )

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