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
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
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 game
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
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
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...