Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Horror you can relate to / Changeling: the Lost

I flicked through my copy of Changeling: the Lost a couple of nights ago. It's still the best game that White Wolf have ever produced.

Unlike most of their games, it's a proper horror game. Ok, you're not playing / hunting a Vampire, Werewolf, reanimated abomination or channeling unknowable power. The horror in Changeling is subtle, rather than overt. There's none of the "I am a monster, and I must fight my unnatural urges lest I become nought but a callous soulless killer" angst.
Instead it is replaced with a more human horror, one that regrettably exists in the real world; the horror of abduction, separation, loss of self/identity, loss of family and friends.

It is much easier to imagine and empathise with this type of horror, much easier to imagine and to react to.
Many White Wolf games rely on the players reacting to the game line's driving horror - Vampires clinging onto their Humanity as they hunt humans for food, Werewolves struggling to balance their bestial rage with their conscious mind, Mages fighting the temptation to use magic for everything and anything no matter the cost - yet these horrors are conceptual stretches. These are things that we cannot experience, that are completely outside the frame of human experience.
Changeling, however, centers on a horror that people have experienced. Child abduction stories are unfortunately regular news stories. Tourists are abducted on holiday with alarming frequency. Home invasions happen. I've been held at gunpoint during a bank robbery. It's scary shit, and I can imagine what it's like. I can also imagine what it's like to live in fear of it happening again. Hell, I know what it's like. For weeks after my experience I was afraid that they'd come back, that they'd come to my house because they'd threatened me they would if I talked to the Police.

That's a real horror game. I really want to run it