Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dread and Breakfast: Appendix A

Here's a little something that's pretty neat, but doesn't really need to be done to enjoy the game.  I promise this will be the absolute drop-dead last entry in my series on Dread.  So if you read through the whole list of events, you'll see that the little alien goblins carry weapons which, instead of affecting the players physically, forces them to face horrible hallucinations which they can only escape for the price of a precious pull from the Jenga board.  Since I got permission from the player who made George Worthy to post his questionnaire here, I figure I'll show you the hallucinations I came up with for George.  It's all based solely on my bold and decisive psychoanalysis of his character.  (Trust me this is easier with players like the one who made George, where more information was given rather than less.)  It's neat, especially if you're running this particular scenario, although not strictly necessary.  (You could always say, "You're surrounded by terrifying hallucinations.  Pull a Jenga piece to escape them.)

Also, I should probably warn the kiddies under 18 who frequent this blog (numbering in the millions, no doubt), these hallucinations are a bit intense, so get your parents' permission before reading further.

(in ascending order of gruesomeness)

1.  Your beloved cat, Cassie. Her figure is gaunt and emaciated. She struggles to breathe, in the last throes of asphyxiation.  (This is where the pet question was valuable.  I figured players would probably go with something close to home.  George's player also specifically said that Cassie saved him from a gas leak.  He should certainly have trouble seeing the goblin as this in just killing it, being reminded of his beloved pet.)

2.  Your beloved cat, Cassie. She is coughing, as she did before her death. Looking closer, though, you see that her throat is slit. But that’s not how Cassie died. She died from a gas leak. Something tickles the back of your memory but fizzles.  (This is, of course, just a step up from the last hallucination.  Now in addition to the question about the pet, the question about the animal that George kileld comes into play.  I found this was a good combination for generating hallucinations - juxtaposing the beloved animal with the one you regretted killing.)

3.  The lamb whose throat you once cut. His neck is slit through and through again, as if by a dull and inexperienced hand. His esophagus is exposed, the rings of his throat rippling in the air. His eyes are accusatory.  (This is simply a graphic depiction of the killing of the animal George described.  If George keeps getting flashed with the alien weapon he will connect the second hallucination with the third, and the third with the fourth, and so on, so I tried to make them go sequentially in a sense.)

4.  Your mother, lying in a pool of her own blood. She looks up at you with damning, sheep’s eyes. Her throat is slit. You feel your hands shaking and hesitate to look down. When you finally do, you see a knife in your hands. You killed her. She raises a single quivering finger at you and says, “Judas!”  (Ah!  Creepy.  This is again nothing more than combining two questions: the one about the animal George killed and about who he was bringing with him to the B&B.  Again, this was a good vein for most of the character hallucinations, except when they didn't have both of those questions.)

5.  An astronaut points at you accusingly. You see that the line to his airtank is cut. Looking in your own hands you see a pair of scissors. As you step closer you see behind the mask that the astronaut is you, zombified and skeletal from vacuum exposure. It is the phantom of all your squandered dreams.  (This, again, was just a graphic depiction of a single question, in this case the second part of the first question: what do you wish you did instead of your current job.  It brings up all of the character's regrets.  Easy peasy.)

6.  An astronaut points at you accusingly. You see that the line to his airtank is severed. You step closer and see your own face behind the darkened visor, dead and zombified from vacuum exposure. You suddenly realize that the air line is not a line at all, it is an umbilical cord. The astronaut lifts his helmet. It is your own mother. She has murdered all your dreams and haunts you still.  (This is where the sequencing is important again.  Again, this is just combining two questions, what he wished he did and who he brought with him to the B&B.  I just made the logical leap that his mother was the reason he never became an astronaut, and then it was just a matter of making it super-creepy.  Now he should at this point be expecting the next hallucination to be an even more graphic depiction of an astronaut, but...)

7.  Your fiancée. Her throat is slit multiple times by a dull blade held by an inexperienced hand. Her eyes are like a lamb’s, which is when you realize that her throat and her whole visage is the same as the lamb you once killed on your cousin’s farm. You look down and in your own hand you hold a blade, the same blade you used to kill the lamb all those years ago. Your fiancée is murdered by your own hand, in the same manner that has haunted you all these years.  (Another good combination for the hallucinations: what would you do anything to protect, and then the animal that they killed.  Man, I got a lot of mileage out of that animal killing question.  Plus, after all the astronaut hallucinations he won't be expecting this to pop back up.  It's almost like playing on the character's repressions and just figuring out what "seems" important as opposed to what is "really" important to the character.)

And that's it, kids.  Hope you enjoyed our little foray into grueling terror.  I have no idea what the future holds for the blog, so stay tuned.  And if you're wondering how I'm staying up to date, check out my Nano page.

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