Tuesday 28 April 2020

Thoughts on 'Those Dark Places'

Media of Those Dark PlacesI thought I'd talk a little about my upcoming RPG 'Those Dark Places'.

It's a dark science fiction thriller game, and although it's influenced by movies such as Alien it's more in line with the character-driven psychological dramas of Outland, Blade Runner and the like. There's nothing stopping you from including alien mystery, cosmic horror or throwing in some Dead Space violence - the game alludes to that - but the game itself is centered around the very human problems surrounding the rigours of space travel and exploration.

What I've taken from movies like Alien and Outland is the design aesthetic. I love the dark corridors, the dimly lit rooms and the strange, misty atmosphere. Alien especially feels really cramped and claustrophobic, the corridors are low and the rooms apear to have ceilings you can easily smack your head on, and as for the air ducts... well, it's perfectly suited for that kind of story, being trapped in the back of beyond where there's no help coming for weeks, if at all. What made Alien terrifying was the fact that the crew were utterly alone and had to rely on their wits - which were in short supply - and what they could cobble together from what they had. In fact, it wasn't until the last twenty minutes where pure frustration, desperation and anger drove Ripley on did we see any decisive action being taken. The terror of the situation seemed to dull their senses.

Outland was a much bigger location and dealt with less cosmic horror, and it leaned more towards the uncaring corporate and profiteering company side of things. This was a much more human drama and, even though it was basically 'High Noon' in space, it dealt with the psyche, drives and ambitions of normal human beings be they corrupt business people, exploited employees or idealistic officers of the law. This is probably more in line with 'Those Dark Places' as it's a very story- and human-centric plot with a smattering of action. Again, it's the design of this movie that drives the atmosphere I'm trying to create in my game - everything is dark, dingy and very analogue with clunky CRT screens and chunky switches. It's a very hands-on world.

Those Dark Places is a rules light game and depends on a single D6 to decide actions and tasks. The system is incredibly easy and can be adjusted, modified and changed to suit most gaming groups. This is so that the focus can be on the setting and the story, trying to establish atmosphere and pushing the players along a route where a plot can unfold and the entire group can experience a very involved adventure. In my experience, some game systems can slow the story and interfere with the spirit of the game as the action stops to consult rules or tables to decide outcomes; Those Dark Places, I hope, does away with most of that and enables the adventure to unfold without the need to interrupt the mood.

No comments:

Post a Comment