Content of the article: "Trying something new."
I am trying a new horror setting campaign that I am selling to my group as a one-shot but the truth is I have at least 6 sessions "Broad-stroked." I'm super excited. Without typing my whole notes here are the highlights:
Set in the United States in the 1820-1830s.
Magic element Residuum was discovered instead of gunpowder and fossil fuels. It is used to power steam boats, trains, weapons, spells, and even some primitive electric devices.
The war of 1812 was the first war to see "warcasters" (nod to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel).
Clerics and Paladins cast 'miracles' instead of spells, arcane magic is seen as light heresy. Dark magic is practiced by Native Americans, Carribean islanders, and even some transplants to the new world from Europe. (Nods to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Anne Rice's Lestate books, H.P. Lovecraft)
The party has been hired by Allan Pinkerton, as Pinkerton Agents (ignore the anachronisms) to investigate supernatural occurrances. The setting is mainly Washington D.C. but I have plot hooks for New York, Salem, Boston, New Orleans, Cincinnatti, Philidelphia and even the 'far west' like Texas and Oklahoma.
All PCs are "human" but can pick any race and reflavor it as a human. Like a half-orc would just be bigger and stronger and get those bonuses, but for RP would be a human. PCs can be of any human culture. Armor is out of fashion since muskets and magic are now the primary weapons of war. This crucial handicap on AC is an important element to the horror aspect. Encounters just became much more deadly.
Also we are playing a variant of the 'grittier rules' from the DMG where hit dice take 5 days to return, a long rest takes a full week, healing potions are expensive and rare, but Cleric & Paladin miracles are still allowed. So far no one is playing a cleric…
The stories will take them into Lovecraftian horrors and ghost stories from the early days of Americana. The one we are running tonight will have them meeting up with Edgar Allen Poe whose stories, it seems, are inspired by real events, or is it the other way around?
I get to pull out the truly horrific monsters without having to set up huge plot arcs. Horror occurs when that which is not possible becomes probable.
What else can I do to amp up tension and make it feel like a dark and gritty world?
- Unpopular Opinion: Adding restrictions to classes and races for setting/lore reasons leads to more creativity, not less
- Games with a really good story or characters.
- How can I use this character background prop I was given?
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