Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fear and Death Ferox Doom

So I'm working hard on Death Ferox Doom in between juggling art contracts and making publishing deals, and a few things are popping up.

One, the same civilization (the Duvan'Ku) is behind the dungeon and shack of Death Frost Doom and the ziggurat of Death Ferox Doom, but the relationships between the civilization and these remote outposts is completely different.

Death Frost Doom's location was considered a minor site with no real importance. One of these might have been in every town and village in the far-spanning ancient empire of death. The only thing that makes it stand out would be the Greater Tombs, and it is an insult for those dignitaries to be entombed, or perhaps more accurately exiled, in such a place. "Retake" can have different connotations. Why are they there, then? The module doesn't say. Nor should it.

Death Ferox Doom's location is a seat of power. The parallels between Fort Coronado and the Duvan'Ku ziggurat will be blindingly obvious, as both represent invaders imposing their will and pursuing their goals at the expense of the natives. The question I guess will be if the more modern form of colonialism is any different than the ancient forms? Well I know it is, and how it is. I hope the difference - and their effects upon the locals - comes across as clearly as the similarities.

Not that this is some Avatar drek either with "Noble Savage" malarkey. The settlers are at best selfish and uncaring about those they displace, at worst they are maliciously greedy and overwhelmingly bloodthirsty, but the natives are indeed savages. If the PCs aren't good guys, then there are no good guys in this adventure. Period. And if they are good guys, they will find themselves in deep, deep doo-doo if they think it's their job to solve the situation.

This is an adventure based in exploitation cinema through and through, and is not attempting to be high-minded or deep or educate about cultural integration or racism or anything. But I don't want it to be shallow, either, which is why I'm detailing all of this "fluff." You guys know my stuff, you know the drill, it's not hack and slash. It's "How did we get ourselves into this mess, how do we get out, and how can we come out ahead along the way?"

Anyway, being that this was an actual Duvan'Ku stronghold, there will be some things that are different from Death Frost Doom. One thing that is important in several locations is the level of fear that characters are feeling. Their emotional state counts.

How to measure that?

I could be lame and introduce stress or fear or sanity mechanics, but I hate those. Absolutely hate them.

So it's going to be based on the the Referee judging the players' moods. Not what the players say their characters are doing and feeling, but how antsy about the situation the players are.

This doesn't prevent them from being heroes or courageous. Bravery and courage are not the lack of fear, but simply overcoming it and doing what needs to be done in spite of it. And if a player has established that their character is a fearless maniac (or Fearless Hero), then they shouldn't get all antsy or concerned when trouble pops up anyway. They should be wearing that wicked grin without hesitation and rolling the dice with abandon.

Is the player looking rather concerned as that die rolls? Is he declaring that his character is taking a step back as a fellow adventurer does something he considers foolish? Does he take a defensive stance in the face of some bizarre creature never before seen? Checking for traps because just plain opening that door wouldn't be safe?

That's fear.

It's not necessarily panic, but it is a basic fear for one's safety. That instinctual, deep-down fear in the soul - which the player represent on behalf of the character.


  1. They think they know who I am, all they know is I love to kill!

    I'm so stoked to check this thing out! Normally we play Risk while listening to Discharge. But I think we'll definitely make a change when this is available. DFxD with a background of brutal death metal will set the evening off.

  2. Don't do that. For awhile it seems like every "video nasty" re-release had a Necrophagia video as an extra, and that just sucked. :P

    Do it right.

    I had actually thought to get one of my musician friends to do a close-but-not-quite version of that and include a CD (or a download key, or whatever) with the module for a more authentic experience.

    But the art budget alone on this thing is well into four figures so I dropped that idea.

  3. I dont know man, including your own soundtrack would be pretty killer. Just get a copy of Fruity Loops and make your own.

  4. I love the soundtracks of those old Italian horror movies! I'd imagine something like this might also work:

  5. Someone should do one like Salo.