Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Friday the 13th!


My kind of M:TG card!

It's Friday the 13th, and the mind invariably drifts to slasher flicks and cheesy killers in hockey masks.

Okay, well that's what I was thinking about today, at least. Such a long dreary week.  Don't Be Afraid of the Dark came in the mail, and I'm excited to experience the Del Toro remake.  Tonight is a good night for some horror!

Far and away, the worst opponents in any horror game are the psychotic humans - the mad, deranged killers, and the hillbilly clan of cannibals.  When the group's attention is focused on monsters that look the part, they often fail to notice that they've entered the domain of a two-legged monster, that looks just like them, until it's too late.

Implacable and insane human opponents play a key role in a few of my favorite Call of Cthulhu scenarios - let's take a look at The Worm that Walks, and The Hills Rise Wild.

The Worm that Walks is one of the chapters in The Shadows of Yog Sothoth campaign; while the group is visiting a benefactor, they discover a lead that takes them out to an old cabin ("Don't go in the woods!") where something occult may have happened; what's really waiting for them out there are a bunch of characters straight out Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The signature scene is when one of the killers bursts out of a pile of bones, startling any adjacent investigators, and whacking one of them with a huge axe.

In The Hills Rise Wild, the adventurers are trekking overland in rural Dunwich looking for a fallen meteor.  When they take advantage of some country hospitality, they put themselves at the mercy of a deranged cultist and his downbeaten and abused family.  It's quite creepy.

For a literary reference, take a look at Lovecraft's The Picture in the House.  It's one of the earlier tales, and has an ending reminscent of an Edgar Allen Poe story.  It's an excellently creep story.  A traveler in the Miskatonic Valley enters a lonely farmhouse when caught out in a storm; the minimalist story begins to get unsettling when he starts flipping through an old book and has a progressively more disturbing conversation with the menacing owner of the house.  I don't want to give the ending or twist away if you haven't read it; it's a short story so go check it out yourself.

I haven't been mean enough to put a nasty family of hillbilly cannibals into a regular D&D game; players accustomed to only seeing monsters where they have green skin or tusks would be far too easy to lure in - like shooting fish in a barrel.  But it's time I rectified this egregious oversight.  In the meantime, let me know how you've used "cannibal hillbillies" in the comments.

I'm off to see Don't Be Afraid of the Dark!