Weaving elements of the grotesque, horrifying and utterly non sequitur into the story is a longstanding tradition in my group. As a natural consequence of this, most of our GMs are engaged in a fierce contest to see who can inflict the most emotional trauma on the player party. The lead is currently held by a brilliant upstart of a first-time Storyteller, so in the spirit of getting off my complacent keister and busting out some serious soul-searing, here are three… unique tumblrs and some of the possible campaigns that could be wrought from them!
DISCLAIMER: You probably shouldn’t read these at work. None of them are particularly graphic… but you still probably shouldn’t read them at work.
The Content: User and author submitted photoplasties swapping the faces of various Disney Characters. Most of them are just funny, but some of them are scary beyond all reason.
The Campaign: An ancient curse/pseudoscientific virus causes those afflicted to blend and melt together over time, transferring large chunks of their Souls/DNA between themselves into a horrible hodgepodge of flesh. These hideous abominations roam the countryside in a constant state of confusion and agony,out the unaltered in order to devour their vital essences in a vain effort to become whole once more.
The System: World of Darkness
The dot-based system of either flavor of the WoD would be the easiest mechanical way to represent the ebb and flow of abilities between the the infected, but keep an eye on your powergamers to make sure they aren’t transforming themselves into some sort of horrible, min-maxing voltron.
Content: A fledgling Tumblr started by a fellow Dusty Peterson, Mundane Monsters draws inspiration from normal world to create strange and fantastic beasts. It’s a great idea and the page is definitely worth visiting, but it’s hardly all that unsettling on its own, right?
The Campaign: The potential for a frantic game with ruthless, break-neck pacing is right beneath the surface. Anything can become a monster at any time. Need to use a phonebooth? You’ll probably pay with an ear. Want to drift off in a hotel bed? It’s probably going to devour you in your sleep. While you shouldn’t constantly besiege your player characters with monsters springing into existence from every mundane object, a pervasive, inescapable threat can maintain a high level of tension for a shorter campaign.
The System: …Is extremely important for this one. Luckily, I can suggest three different systems that would work beautifully with this concept. My first choice would the ubiquitous Don’t Rest Your Head by Evil Hat Games, which is a fantastic game about staying awake for a little too long and the maddened world your find yourself in as a result. If that’s not your style, then the ever-present threat of mundane monsters could serve as the driving menace for a group of particularly jumpy children in a game of Little Fears. Last but certainly not least, we have Dread, which has been one of our go-to party RPGs for a couple of years, now. It’s a great game that uses a Jenga tower as a conflict resolution system, and it’s highly flexible mechanics are well suited to the task.
The Content: This page is home to some of the most skillful photoplasties I’ve ever seen. The proprietor blends the human body and skin with various pieces of baked goods, and does so with enough skill to take it from an “unsettling hobby” to a “extremely disquieting art form.” The page has a fairly sizable archive, and the only thing more terrifying than the bread people are the puns that go with them.
The Campaign: A terrifying infection is spreading throughout the city, likely caused by the accidental release of some sort of bioweapon/batch of incredibly tainted bread. Those who suffer from the mutations endure large portions of their body growing porous, granular and wheaty. They are fearfully shunned by the public at large, even as a group of highly baffled scientists race to find a cure while armed government task forces sweep the streets to help combat the menace posed to the infected by the local avian wildlife. As the players investigate the cause of the bizarre malady, the come across rumors that one of the infected has taken to prowling the city streets at night, looking for fellow mutants to consume in a cannibalistic rite of blood and barley.
The Systems: Call of Cthulhu would be a good choice, though the various mechanical possibilities of the Mutation could also be put into play using the 6d6 core system.