Saturday, January 25, 2014

Storage 24

So with the death of the Legends of the Five Rings game, I'm doing some reading on my own. I like Lorefinder for the Pathfinder game engine (essentially 3.5+) but I'm so pressed for time these days, I know that the chances of me actually running something straight out of the mind are slim to none. I need some prewritten adventurers to at least germinate and steal maps and other good stuff from.

Now mind you, I may still never run anything but...

I recalled the Grey Citadel, an old Necromancer Games adventure that had some mystery, some urban exploration, and some dungeon crawling. The author put a lot of stuff in there that I enjoyed, and the old Dark Loch website still has a lot of fun free stuff on it.

While reading through the Grey Citadel and thinking of how I'd 'convert' it or add some of that Lorefinder stuff to it, I decided to flip on Netflix and watch Storage 24, Wikipedia link here. It's essentially one of those alien hunting people through dark and twisted corridor type deals. You know, like Alien, Aliens, Creature, Abyss, Leviathan, and I'm sure a ton of other movies that I'm missing.

I was surprised in that it wasn't terrible. I was expecting something to just listen to in the background while I took some campaign notes but there were a few things that that I noted that are used time and time again in horror films so thought I'd point a few of them out in case you're wanting to run some horror scenarios or at least some 'bug hunt' style games.

1. Visibility is terrible. This can range from visibility being cut off by there being no light, to visibility being blocked because there are obstacles, like say spider webs or other opaque yet light objects in the way.

2. Previous Victims: The party should find previous victims of the creature. The wounds they suffered shouldn't be noticible at first. For example, the party approaches the victim from the side or from behind and when they tap them on the shoulder, the victim falls over dead or the party member pulls a blood soaked hand back. Sometimes these victims are hidden in say, the vents or closets or some feeding area that the party may find later. The victims conditions might provide the party an idea of how large a creature their facing, how it's bite is (mandibles versus fangs for example) as well as if the creature has talons like a bear or claws like a crab.

3. Extra Characters: If it's a bug hunt, be sure to put a few munchable NPCs in the mix. Give them a little personality so that when the beast eats them, the party members are motivated to stop the creature more than they might normally be.

4. Red Herring Characters: When the party first comes across the situation, perhaps they are completely unaware that there are monsters at all and think that the murders are being caused by a madman. This can lead to some interesting scenarios and potentially the party killing an innocent person.

5.Sound Effects: Many monsters, like say Godzilla, have their own unique roar. You know when you hear the enormous roar of Godzillia well before he's seen on the screen that he's around. Have some special sound effect you can use when the players are deciding their next course of action just to let them know that the monster isn't waiting for them.

6.Larger Implications. In the movie Storage 24, even as the characters inside are fighting for their lives, there are hints of something much larger going on in the background. When the plane carrying the alien first fails, there are special agents on the scene. There are a lot of military on the scene. When the characters catch news of the plane crash, they see that the city is filled with military and more is incoming. When the movie finally ends? The city is under attack by aliens in spaceships. Yeah, the movie went there. But in other movies, like Alien or Aliens, there are other things afoot that the characters may not initially realize. After all, Ripley didn't know about the Corporate uses for the alien until later, after the android on the ship almost killed her, and of course in the sequel when she's betrayed again to the corporation's needs.

7. Creature abilities. One of the reasons why you want to throw the lights out on the characters is that often, the creature has much better senses than those it hunts. It may see in the dark, it may not have eyes at all. It may have movement abilities that make it so that it can easily outrun any person or even car.

8. The Roof! In many of these style movies, the first thing that happens is someone is looking down at some blood dripping from... somewhere and then they get it into their heads to look up and wham! That sucker can stick to the walls and move through the vents like they were going out of style.  Giving the creature movement abilities means more than just making it faster than the characters.

9. Limited Room to Maneuver. In some games, characters can become powerful very fast. In some situations though, your ability to navigate is negated by not being able to move. For example, if you have to crawl through sewer pipes or through air ducts or vents or narrow hallways. The standard might be limited the types of weapons the characters can use as well as giving them the same penalty they might suffer as if they were prone.

Storage 24 isn't going to win any movie awards but its not a bad movie and hits all of the 'standard' bug hunt features tackled above as well as some interpersonal drama that if you can't figure out in the first few moments of the movie, aren't really paying attention.