Darkness & Dread vs. Heroes of Horror - Page 11




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  1. #101
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    Whew.... just wanted to look into the thread as I just got my HoH shipped in yesterday, and wandered into a crossfire more reminiscent of a gunslinger game then horror... anyhoo, hope that the admin/moderator hoses cooled everyone down...

    Back to topic.... I enjoyed (as far as I managed to read/scan it) HoH very much, but see a lot of love for Darkness & Dread. To what extent are they complementary, i.e. is there any gain in getting D&D from FFG as well, or would there be so much overlap that HoH is essentially enuff...

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whisper72
    Whew.... just wanted to look into the thread as I just got my HoH shipped in yesterday, and wandered into a crossfire more reminiscent of a gunslinger game then horror... anyhoo, hope that the admin/moderator hoses cooled everyone down...

    Back to topic.... I enjoyed (as far as I managed to read/scan it) HoH very much, but see a lot of love for Darkness & Dread. To what extent are they complementary, i.e. is there any gain in getting D&D from FFG as well, or would there be so much overlap that HoH is essentially enuff...
    That seems to be the one question that no one has answered.

    At this point I am almost certain to get the PDF before the night is over, just need to circle and procrastinate a little longer.

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  • #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whisper72

    Back to topic.... I enjoyed (as far as I managed to read/scan it) HoH very much, but see a lot of love for Darkness & Dread. To what extent are they complementary, i.e. is there any gain in getting D&D from FFG as well, or would there be so much overlap that HoH is essentially enuff...
    I think that they are aimed at two different styles of horror game. Darkness is a more hopeless, gritty game with low levels, low magic, low hit points and almost a CoC feel. HoH is more true fantasy with a horror feel. I got them both and I like both, but I don't think I would try to integrate them for the same game, though there are some rules from both you could pick out and plug in, like the hit point rules from Darkness and the taint mechanic from HoH.

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  • #104
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    Hmm, Necromantic Lore?

    *investigates*
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  • #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhacdebhandia
    Hmm, Necromantic Lore?

    *investigates*
    One of my favorite creature books. Particularly for the "non-evil undead".
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  • #106
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    While looking for something else entirely on Google, I stumbled across this old thread. My first thought as I was scanning through it was, "Why didn't I post in this thread?" Of course, later on, it turns out that I did.

    And then, it looks like I went away for the Thanksgiving break and never actually responded to a direct question asked to me! (Let me point out for the record, that I was not temp-banned, as alluded to by Dinkeldog in this thread. I don't know who that was, but it wasn't me.)

    I know, I know, seven years too late? Who's going to care? But it bugged me, so I'm going to answer anyway. In the intervening seven years, my opinion has matured and evolved somewhat... although not really significantly changed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    The question is, what is more effective as horror: House of 1,000 Corpses, or A History of Violence? Scream, or Natural Born Killers? What is more HORRIFIC?

    The former adhere to the tropes of horror and people walk in and have fun and scream and walk out and continue their day. The latter are other genres with elements of horror that surprise, shock, and deeply affect the individuals. The former play with genre law and adhere to genre tropes. They're safe, so to speak. They obey the rules and play nice with others. The latter, however, are horrifying, because they don't.
    Well, that misses the point (even if you agree that the movies are horrific, rather than simply gratuitous. I'd claim that the former is certainly just gratuitous and not horrific at all in any real meaningful sense.) I'm not talking about a comparison of splatterpunk and violent social commentary. Both of those movies delivered what they promised. They weren't something that masqueraded as something else. They didn't pull a bait and switch on their audience by looking like they were going to be run of the mill dramas and then unleashing completely unexpected horrific violence, or whatever.

    The main thrust of my point was that playing D&D and getting it to be horrific is mostly difficult because your audience, i.e., the players, probably don't expect that. And if you try to run D&D with horror elements, many--maybe even most--D&D players will be frustrated and annoyed by the game not adhering to their genre expectations. They won't feel like you cleverly sucked them in to a horror moment, and thrilled them with your cunning, they'll feel like you betrayed them by not offering the experience that they expected.

    It's hard enough to engender a any really visceral scare or uneasiness in an RPG setting as it is, in our culture which is largely desensitized to the things that used to scare us when everyone's on board to begin with. When they're not, yeah--you might disturb some of your gamers, but they're unlikely to appreciate the experience. Even when trying to run horror games with a sympathetic audience, I find that games are rarely very horrible. Con-games of Cthulhu, for instance, always have the expectation that characters are going to go insane and/or die. So rather than that being horrible, it's played as a kind of fun thing to see who's going to go down in flames first (or most dramatically) with often the players deliberately killing off their own characters. Other horror games (including most Cthulhu and White Wolf games I've been part of) tend to be guided tours of horror tropes--the Disneyfication of horror, if you will. Vampires or Deep Ones are little more than animatronic thrills that you experience while riding around in a ride car. They don't even make you jump, much less make you feel real fear.

    The challenges of running a successful game that's scary are quite substantial as it is, even when you've lined everything up to be in your favor ahead of time. Can it be done, even if you don't? Even if you're playing stock D&D? Sure, but why would you want to make things that difficult for yourself? That's not cleverness, that's masochism.
    Quote Originally Posted by Crothian View Post
    Ah, yes, because they are so different.

    How does the system make horror in D&D an upstream battle?
    They are very different. D&D is an upstream battle for a horror tone because it's so ingrained mechanically with the expectations that it's high fantasy and that the players are expected to "win." If they don't--say you play in a more old school mold where player death is frequent--they expect to roll up new characters and re-approach the problem with better preparation and better tactical acumen, and then win. Part of it is subconscious--the expectations of most players when you say the words "D&D"--but part of it is the incongruity of the tone of the mechanics vs. the tone that you're trying to reach that's more horrific.

    Let me give a little context. I don't particularly think it's clever to make D&D horrific. I think seeing the D&D rules as sacrosanct and inviolable is, in fact, kinda silly. I don't even really like the inherent assumptions of D&D very much, to be perfectly honest. But... I've made my peace with the d20 system, and mostly only play variants of it these days. There's a lot of reasons for this, but the two most prominent ones are familiarity (both by myself and any potential players that I know of within easy reach) and the mountain of compatible material that I have that I don't need to convert, wing it with, or otherwise work harder at to use, because hey--it's already compatible. So almost all of my gaming is done in d20. But D&D specifically has a tone that is not my preferred one for fantasy that I run. In fantasy, I long ago turned my face away from the high fantasy mode of superficial Tolkien clones and wandered back again in the fields of sword & sorcery. And, like much of the fantasy novel reading market, I find that I independently kind of joined the zeitgeist of turning towards darker, low magic, grim and gritty fantasy of sorts from there, which seemed like a kind of obvious evolution in taste, at least to me. Maybe not as much as some (I find Joe Abercrombie to be gratuitous, for instance, and therefore eye-roll worthy rather than entertaining) but I definitely want my fantasy to be at least as dark and "horror enriched" as a Dresden Files novel. Maybe more. Now, granted, Harry Dresden is a relatively high magic, heroic figure himself--but keep in mind that I hold out Dresden as a minimum, not necessarily as ideal. I prefer my games to be solidly fantasy--secondary world and all that--but with a tone and paradigm that's more like Call of Cthulhu rather than D&D.

    And like I said earlier, I don't really want WFRP because I want specifically to use d20. Plus, I love homebrewing too much to use someone else's setting, and the Warhammer roleplaying game is pretty well integrated to the setting in many respects. I could just do that and I'm sure it would work well, but I don't wanna. Same thing with Savage Worlds, or GURPS, or any other system. I just don't want to use them. And it's my position that there's no need to.

    Anyway, my rather long-winded point is that there is quite a bit of difference between D&D and other d20 Games. Or, at least, there can be. As my houserules have matured and evolved over time (since chiming into this thread the first time around, at least) I've occasionally gone back and forth between a heavily modified D&D base, and something else. Consider these two scenarios, which are among two that I've considered as "canonical" options for approaching my homebrew setting:

    1) D&D 3.5, with E6 and a sanity mechanic of your choice (I prefer the Madness rules from the d20 Freeport book as shorter, more simple, more "native" to d20, yet just as full-bodied in play as the Cthulhu rules.) This still yields a game that's fairly high magic and heroic, although less so than D&D without E6 and Sanity, of course.

    2) d20 Modern, ignore skills and feats that are obviously too "modern" to be applicable (a surprisingly trivially easy change to implement) also with E6 and Sanity. There are various campaign models in the book; I prefer the "Shadow Chasers" one. Optionally, you could use d20 Past and the "Shadow Stalkers" campaign model, but it's really exactly the same thing, with just two new advanced classes added to the mix.

    As I played around with option #1 , I found I had to disallow most of the classes. Anything with a spell-casting progression had to go. Anything with a lot of supernatural abilites had to go. Almost all of the races didn't fit. The setting implied by the rules, even with these house-rules was too disparate from my setting. And the tone was completely wrong.

    Because I didn't want players to be limited to creating human barbarians, fighter and rogues only, I ended up having to scour splatbooks and third party books for a few more options, and keep a running list of what was OK and what wasn't (curiously--or maybe not--most of the material in the d20 Freeport book, again, made the cut.)

    To get the tone I wanted with D&D, I had to make really extensive and after a while tedious to maintain changes to the system. To get the tone I wanted with other d20 games, including d20 Modern, which is what I prefer now, I had only minimal houserules that can be referenced on a single sheet of paper.

    Most of the rules that I prefer include seriously limiting advancement, the complete truncation of high level (and even much of mid-level, which is completely incompatible in tone with my vision for my setting) and serious changes to the way magic works, including the removal of almost all of the standard D&D magic--which, let's face it, is most of the character classes.

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  • #107
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    I think if you want to do horror in D&D, or really any RPG you need to just set expectations. I've found that with the players I play with at least that they limit themselves to character and abilities that are more appropriate to horror then just creating something all gonzo.

    What I'd really like to see is though for D&D horror is a system that using magic has risk. I've heard that the newer DCC RPG has something like this but I've never seen the books so can't really say.

  • #108
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    Most of the magic in my setting is delivered through the Incantations system, which I believe debuted in a d20 Modern book (Urban Arcana) but later made an appearance on Unearthed Arcana as an official D&D houserule too.

    To me, it feels very similar to spellcasting in the d20 Call of Cthulhu game, where there's always a cost to casting magic, and often a risk as well. To tie it back to the original thread question back in the day, Darkness & Dread also has a nice mechanic with pact magic with diabolical powers, and uses a Corruption system if you use too much of it. Curiously, I now find that the organization of Darkness is great--and serves as a nice checklist on "did I get a houserule for all of the tone changes a dark fantasy game would need?" but I find that I don't prefer any of the specific options in that book anymore. I don't use their classes, I don't use their Madness, I don't use their black magic rules, etc. It's got some fun advice on how to run, and offers some nice examples, but with so many options in print after 12 years of the OGL running, I like some other alternative to literally every one of the houserules introduced in that book.

    Oh, well.

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  • #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhacdebhandia View Post
    I'm tired of the assumption that horror doesn't work in standard Third Edition games. There are more ways to instill fear and render the PCs powerless than to take away their flashy spells and magic swords. :\
    While I can agree that dropping power levels is one way to help induce horror in RPG gaming, I also agree with you that it isn't necessarily the only or best way to do it.

    Kaidan is a Japanese horror setting designed for use with PFRPG, thus can work well with 3x rules. While some new mechanics have been introduced to help convey the unique horror aspects of the setting, in no way has the Pathfinder rules been lowered in power to fit. There's absolutely no need to alter Pathfinder in any way to achieve the horror aspects of Kaidan.

    Check out The Curse of the Golden Spear trilogy of adventures that introduce the setting to a party of 5th level standard adventurers to this land of curses and Japanese horror.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarrenGMiller View Post
    I think that they are aimed at two different styles of horror game. Darkness is a more hopeless, gritty game with low levels, low magic, low hit points and almost a CoC feel. HoH is more true fantasy with a horror feel. I got them both and I like both, but I don't think I would try to integrate them for the same game, though there are some rules from both you could pick out and plug in, like the hit point rules from Darkness and the taint mechanic from HoH.
    There is plenty of gritty, dark hopelessness in Kaidan, especially in adventures 2 and 3 of the trilogy.
    Last edited by gamerprinter; Monday, 1st October, 2012 at 08:19 PM.
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