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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: xenopulse on April 26, 2006, 12:13:07 PM

Title: [Purgatory] Silent Hill Knock-off
Post by: xenopulse on April 26, 2006, 12:13:07 PM
Purgatory: Psychological Survival Horror

After watching the Silent Hill movie, I yearn for a game based on Silent Hill 2 (that’s right, the second and vastly superior installment in the game series). The game will deal with horror, sin, guilt, and the potential for redemption, not of the town but of the protagonist. It's part SH, part KULT, and part hippie mechanics.

Here’s the basic setup: There exists a place that attracts sinners. It’s a portal to Purgatory, filled with nightmares and horrors. Only people with overwhelming guilt can enter, but they can bring innocents with them by accident. Purgatory holds horrors taken from other sinners’ nightmares (often based on how the portal was opened) and intuitively creates manifestations of the sinner’s own guilt.

First, the game is played at night by candle light. Always. No TV, no music, no snacks. Just the players in a room full of shadows.

Second, narration of Purgatory scenes work as follows: the GM describes the scene in a creepy way, and then the player has the chance to add to it. If the player adds horrifying and disturbing details, it nets her tokens. For example, the GM describes a twisted nightmarish office building. He describes how corpses are tied to their cubicle spots with razor wire. The player then adds that they’re not actually dead, just in constant torture. Their eyes are crying blood, and their hands are the only free part of them, constantly typing “KILLME KILLME KILLME KILLME…” onto the flashing computer screen over and over again. The constant keyboard clicking sounds form a crescendo of terror. The GM awards a token.

Tokens are used to insert useful items in the scene somewhere, with crowbars being cheap and .44 magnum ammo expensive. Healing bandages and things that soothe and comfort the horrified mind are also options.

Invariably, deformed creatures stalk and attack the player character (aka “sinner”). The player can try to fight them off or try to run. The sinner can take wounds and be killed. In addition, and this is the core part, the player can buy rerolls or other perks by creating a “guilt slot” on their character sheet. The player has the obligation, in the next scene, to reveal the guilt. The sinner has done something bad; it can be a thought, an emotion, or an act. There will be a requirement for rising severity. An example would be “While my wife was withering away from cancer, I felt cheated that I wasn’t having sex with that once gorgeous woman anymore and had to tend to a wreck instead.” That’s a thought that people could have, but it’s also one they’d feel guilty over.

I’m thinking there might be a way for the GM to push guilt onto the sinner, as a revelation of the ultimate reason why the sinner is in Purgatory, but I need to think that over more.

I have some preliminary thoughts on how to handle conflicts in scenes: for example, say Pyramidhead is coming for you with his huge sword. You can try to fight him with your weapons (or bare hands), but the GM established him as quite powerful, so running seems like the better choice (each creature/encounter will have different values for fight, chase, and mindfuck, which you can counter with strength (yours or weapon), stamina, and will). Now you make stamina rolls and we narrate how you try to get away. The roll is somewhat difficult because of Pyramidhead’s speed and reach, but not as bad as if you tried to run from zombie dogs. Each failed roll means he slices you, cutting into your shoulder or your leg, causing a wound that could add up to killing you. This extended contest pushes you to open up guilt slots to finally get away before it’s too late. Once you succeed, you have a scene of peace and quiet during which you can bandage yourself, but also discover more horrors (and earn tokens, find items, etc.).

Every scene leads closer to endgame. There needs to be a goal here: rescuing your daughter is the obvious one, just finding a way out another, or figuring out what created this particular Purgatory, or maybe even trying to seal it shut again. The outcome of the endgame along with the guilt the sinner has revealed throughout the game determines the ultimate fate of the sinner. She could be cleansed, commit suicide, be damned to remain in Purgatory as a sufferer or lost soul like some of the ones the sinner found during the game, etc.

I’m thinking that in order for that to work well, there needs to be a way to redeem the revealed guilt. Maybe making sacrifices or risking one’s life for others (these situations would have to be offered by the GM as Bangs). Those need to be tough sacrifices that have mechanical consequences. Maybe the player can even ask for a redemption/reflection scene where she makes a roll (like a humanity check) to see if the revealed guilt can be overcome or leads further down the path of darkness.

That's it for now; any basic feedback?

Title: Re: [Purgatory] Silent Hill Knock-off
Post by: sean2099 on April 28, 2006, 07:51:27 AM
I like the premises.  But what happens when the character dies?  Do they merely die or do they somehow become apart of the world (they turn into some sort of monster or something else)  Are all the monster obvious or do some of them do things such as lure their victims into a sense of false security?  Are all of the players human or are some of them a part of the town?

I haven't watched the movie yet so forgive me if some of my comments don't fit into your game.

Title: Re: [Purgatory] Silent Hill Knock-off
Post by: jburneko on April 28, 2006, 09:52:22 AM

I'm working on a Silent Hill 2 inspired game myself.  You've pretty much identified the core draw which is the whole guilty past thing.  However, your approach differers heavily from mine.  You're sticking much closer to the actual game than I am.  If you're interested in my approach just PM me and I'll go into more detail.

What I immediately see in your design outline is that the result will look like the game but what I don't see is much room for the players to actually judge and act on their guilt.  I don't know if that's something you want in your design or not.  To me, a key point to Silent Hill 2 is that the "best ending" you can get is the one where James basically says, "Screw this.  Yes, I euthanised my wife.  And MAYBE I should have asked her first.  But, fuck it, what I did ain't worth all this.  Marie, you're not the ghost of my wife come to punish me, you're just some demon with a grudge."

So in addition to giving players opportuntities to author their own guilty backstory do you have any plans to put in a point where they can step back, look at what they've created and say, "You know, this guy is awful, let him roast," or "Hey, this guy's made some mistakes but he's really not THAT bad."  This is a really big deal in my own design.


Title: Re: [Purgatory] Silent Hill Knock-off
Post by: xenopulse on April 28, 2006, 10:10:03 AM
Sean, good questions, I'll have to think on those until I have good answers :)

Jesse, you're right, the part on how to handle the guilt was still pretty fuzzy. I did want to stay somewhat close to the game just for the sake of allowing easy access for people who are usually more video gamers than RPers. But yeah, I'd be interested in seeing what you've come up with.