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🎨 Creative 101+ Horror Settings

SorcerousMelnibone

drugs and magic
Validated User
#1
Horror is my favorite genre. I've played just about every horror game out there. We hit 101 on the supers settings thread. Can we come up with 101 unique horror settings that you could use as the foundation of a campaign?

Most horror stories are set in our own world but with the addition of some horrific threat. We just need to make sure whatever the threat is it's deep enough and interesting enough that you could play an ongoing campaign in that world.

And hey, I love Cthulhu and zombie apocalypses as much as the next guy but let's try to get creative and break some new ground! Also bonus points for working blood and gore into your description!

1.) Witch-Finders

Dogs in the Vineyard meets The Exorcist/Carrie

It's the future. Or maybe it's the past. Or another world. Anyway, the place you live in is a vast wasteland, dotted with small oases and tiny towns where the people survive by barely scraping by. You and your party make your living as Witch-Finders. You carry a gun, a cross, a revolver, a bible and your wits. These are your only weapons (and honestly, the cross and the bible don't actually DO much).

Sometimes you roll into a new town and you spy her immediately. Sometimes you've got to ferret her out. When you find her, don't listen to her. Don't look her in the eye. And whatever you do don't let her touch you. Just make her dead by any means necessary.

WITCHES - in this world, young women of the ages 14-25 sometimes become Witches. A Witch is a fantastically powerful supernatural being that derives its power from a Demon, a horrible unfathomable THING that lives and lurks out in the wasteland.

Each Witch is unique and poses its own set of problems for our Witch-Finders. They all have different powers and different ways that they are destroying the community. One might be a powerful psycho-kinetic. Fires keep starting out of nowhere all around town and villagers suffer strange accidents, but they can't figure out who is causing them. That's where the Witch-finders come in. After they figure out who she is, she barely escapes from them in a battle set in a burning barn. They follow her over the ridge to the Demon that empowers her, a wailing, screaming thing that is always on fire.

In another town the crops are failing. Careful observation shows that a type of insect that eats the insects that ruin the crops is...missing. Nobody has seen one this season. Making a thorough search of the town they find a collection of jars with shining witchlight in them that draws the necessary insect to the jar where they are captured. This leads our Witch-Finders to the Witch, a 17-year old girl who consumes the jars full of insects with gluttonous abandon. She has amazing murderous strength, can leap prodigious distances, and can use her tongue as a tentacular weapon, breaking bones and strangling attackers. Her Demon, when she appears riding astride his back, happens to be an enormous 14-foot tall toad that dwells in a poisoned bog outside of town.

The game should have a kind of regular monster/horror-of-the-week formula. PCs get into town, figure out who the witch is, have a super fun / terrifying boss battle with her then have a fun/horrifying boss battle with the Demon.

Of course the thing to do once they have the formula is to change it up. This week, the Demon attacks before the PCs even know there's a witch, etc.

Finally, this would be a true horror setting because the PCs will come to find out that the young women that become witches are often women who have suffered mistreatment at the hands of their communities, whether it be physical, psychological, or spiritual in nature. Alternatively, they may come to a community that PROTECTS the witch, whether out of guilt or a civilized sense of protectiveness for their fellow man. Lots of heavy roleplay moral choices - if your group is into that sort of thing.

Oh, and when a man ( in VERY rare cases) inherits these powers and becomes a WARLOCK? Well, let's just say it'll never happen...again. Let's hope to God it doesn't.
 

Blackwingedheaven

Crystal Human
Validated User
#2
2) Collection Services

Making deals with the devil is easy--after all, the devil wants people to make deals, since it's just about the only way for him to collect human souls at death. Only the absolute worst of humanity goes to hell naturally, so there's a premium on human souls. Various demons offer various things for souls: wishes, vengeance, wealth, money, fame, power, any number of things. The terms of the deal are just as varied: souls collected in one year, ten years, one hundred years, at the moment of death, soul of a firstborn child, and so on.

Unfortunately, many of those people wish for things that they then use to try and cheat the devil of his due. When that happens, the collectors are called in. Collectors are former humans, shaped and twisted by the powers of hell and sent back to earth to act as the agents of demons, who cannot directly affect mortals due to ancient pacts with the Creator. Collectors are sent in small, elite teams that can make quick judgment calls in the field on how to go about the collection, whether to be subtle or blatant, violent or diplomatic, and so on.

In between missions, collectors are given leave on earth to act as they will--rape, murder, pillage, have a happy home and family life, whatever. When the call comes, though, they must drop everything to meet with their collection agent, a demon who gives them their assignments. Fail an assignment, and it's back to the pit. Keep succeeding and damning others, and it's high living for as long as you keep up the "good work." Sometimes, that means sending an absolute sack of garbage screaming into the flames. Sometimes, that means stealing a crying woman's baby, or scraping up what's left of a life of charity and good works after a moment of horrible weakness.

You are a collector, one of hell's repo-men. May god have mercy on you, because your employer certainly won't.


Jeremy Puckett
 
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Behemoth

a cache of old photographs in a trunk
Validated User
#3
3) The Fleshing Factory of the Soul

You are one of the favoured few. The Angel Metartornorogamoael has sent you a messege in your dreams from the Fleshing Factory, a nightmare place filled with rust, broken machinery and the screams of damned. You are Righteous. You will see the Revelation come to Earth, when the scales fall from the eyes of the mad and the poor and the thirsty hungering souls that slither around this pitiful earth. The mad Gods will rise, the demons will scream and dance, and the World will end.

There is nothing you can do about the Revelation. You will, in all liklihood, survive, as you are Righteous. of course, this does mean that you will attract the demons and the gods and the monsters like flies to rotten meat, and that you will watch everyone you know crumble and fall into the Pit of the New World, but that is life after the Revelation.

Each night the Angel sneds you a new Dream from the Fleshing Factory, telling you about a new arrival from the lands of Hell into the World of men. This is not meant to get you to try and destroy these creatures, you actually don't have the ability to do that, rather it is more of a running commentary.

What you can do is try and lay the foundations for the world after the Revelation. You may go in with the New Order of Mad Gods, Demons and Monsters, or you may try and protect humanity. You may be Righteous, but that doesn't mean anytihng about your Morality, think about it instead as more like an inherited genetic condition.

You will survive the Revelation, but your humanity may not.
 

s/LaSH

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#4
4) The Lie Machines

Go to school. Get a job. Work 9-5. Sleep a dreamless sleep. Wonder about leaving the City. Never do it. Then They come into your life.

Freedom fighters against the Machines that enslave humanity. They're outlaws, terrorists, psychos: but they're right, and you know it, and so you're one of them now.

The Machines are behind everything. Literally. They call your boss at night and tell him to cut your pay. They crawl inside the telephone wires and listen to your email. They hold the walls of your apartment together with muscles of wire and laugh at all the people who never look up and notice.

The freedom fighters want to bring the Machines into the open, to expose them to the public eye. But it's hard, because the Machines are in people too. Maybe they planted a bug in you: a clockwork lobster thing clutching at your liver. It talks on your cellphone while you're asleep. Maybe they put a chip in your neighbour's head. When her back is turned, there's a machine looking at you, and it has knives.

Uncover their plots, foil their plans, and run from their retribution.

(Heavily inspired by early scenes from the Matrix, but without an overt virtual reality angle. Add in a mix of Dark City and Terminator. Then have things with scissors crawl out of the kitchen sink every time you fix something.)
 

Toxoplasma

Deletrious Protozoan
Validated User
#5
The Shrinking City

It's always damp here. Paper's soggy and the gas hesitates to light. The walls sweat.
When geometries here are wrong, space falls in on itself, and the city shrinks. There is a Ministry of Geometry, who walk between the walls when the city slumbers, pushing and pulling shelves and doors and stacks of books to try and keep the angles of the city healthy.
When space is about to fold, men go mad, monstrously mad, with a sickness breeding in them that wants to draw as much and as many as possible into the Abyss; many become warped into gruesome and irrational shapes, deadly, immense agglomerations of limbs and glistening organs.
They say they are also Heralds of the Abyss, and that everything moves by their diabolical plan.

Uzumaki + Se7en + Dark City + Europa.
 

Behemoth

a cache of old photographs in a trunk
Validated User
#6
6) Baby it's Cold Outside

It's early november, and the second month of deep snows, bone ripping blizzards and sheets of black ice covering every surface. Things are only going to get worse, as the tempreture keeps dropping.

The scientists talk on the TV about the tilt of the earth, and complicated weather systems. But you know better. In your dreams you have seen the Lords of Winter rise in the far north, and they are coming south to spread the frost and cold into the warm lands of civilisation.

You have to leave your family, your home, and the possiblity of surviving the winter, and venture out into the cold to find the Lords of Winter and defeat them, and bring Spring back into the world. Cold Wights, Snow Wolves, the screeching Bansheees, all these things will be dogging your footsteps. Further north whole towns have fallen to the ice, and cannabilism, blood sacrifice and deals with the Ice Wraiths have become matters of survival. You will have to go to these and even more terrible places.

And you will have to die. For only in death can the world return to spring. And even if you succeed, someone else will have to do it all again next year, unless you can defeat the Lords of Winter for good.
 

The Tim

God-Machinist
Validated User
#7
The Onion Has No Core

Environmental destruction runs out of control, obvious solutions to problems are ignored, the rich get richer and the world suffers for it. You've always known it had to be a set-up, a plan, a conspiracy (though how you hate the company using that word casts you in with).

You pierce the first layer, peel back the skin, and find another organization, with different motives. The first layer is just patsies and dupes. As is the second. The third. The fourth. The fifth...

Each layer is different, working towards different ends, exploiting the layer before it. It isn't that neat and simple, and they have terrible resources at their disposal. Technologies not fit for use, monstrosities and abnormalities kept in cages and exploited against the enemies of the conspiracy, nightmares given waking form.

And you keep going deeper. You dig, and you collect allies, and you move in secret, and you have some of the technology and some of the monstrosities, and you know you are becoming a nightmare, but you need to find the head, the center, to end the conspiracy.

Except, the final layer is empty. You peeled the onion back and found not even rotted remains. Look behind you, there's someone else chewing through the maze of organizations and arbitrary initiations, looking for the architect of the world's woes. If you were still young and kind, you'd leave a mirror in the empty room.
 

zeth

Retired User
#8
8) Ever Green

After the great nuclear war you crawl out of your bomb shelter but to your great shock the world is NOT a wasteland but lush and green. Radiation and ruin is mysteriously absent giving way to natural growth and animal habitats. Then as you start to settle and find shelter in this new world you start to encounter THEM. The mysterious beings who revived the world and are bent keeping 'the balance' so humanity doesn't ruin the planet again.
 

Behemoth

a cache of old photographs in a trunk
Validated User
#9
9) My Heart Will Go on

You were on a boat. That's the last thing you remember. It... sank? Anyway, now you're in the afterlife. Or 'a' afterlife. Or then agian, you might not be.

In life(?) you had emotional links to people. You have found the group of people who you loved and hated the most, the people who made you feel the highs and lows. Only they remeber things differently. They have all assigned different identities to each of the members of the group, with different emotions, so the guy you hate might remember you as his brother, and the girl you love might remeber you as her abusive father. Yeah, it's kind of weird like that.

You are currently trapped in the corridors, engine rooms, recreation rooms and other paraphanalia of some giant cruise liner- only one which doesn't match the shape of any boat you've ever heard of. Added to that you can't find the deck, and there are other 'survivors' wandering around, acting out their own little dramas. Sometimes they are friendly, sometimes they are aggressive. There are no monsters, demons, or anything else but people who can't really remember who they are exactly, and the endless corridors of a surreal liner.

There is only one way off the boat. Persuade the otherss in your group to accept your identities for them, and then you'll be King of the World, and you can go. You don't know how you know this, but you do. So you have to try and make the others remember your own memories, while avoiding accepting theirs. Memories can be given, but they have to be accepted, so you'll have to engineer situations where you'll only help the others in your group if they'll accept them. Of course, if you turn the guy who thinks he's your brother into your worst enemy, then this will make working with him in future quite difficult, but hey! Don't you want to get off the boat?
 

SorcerousMelnibone

drugs and magic
Validated User
#10
10) Grand Guignol

So you need just a couple coins and you can turn your whole life around? Get that pimp off your back? Buy that bicycle you need to get that job to feed your family? Yeah, right, you're just going to spend it on more gin. No? Well, the Theater might have job for you... How are you with children?

The setting is Paris, London and/or Berlin in the early 1900s (1900-1930).

The PCs are prostitutes, drug addicts, vengeful barbers, shamed surgeons, nannies who strangle children, ruined aristocrats, perverts, brutes and burn-outs. They are desperate scum, every one of them. They all have a dark secret and they all want something very very badly. Maybe they want vengeance against the powerful magistrate who raped their wife. Maybe they want the chance to quit crime and buy a cottage in the country. Maybe they lust after that special someone who just won't look their way...

The Theater can help them. The Theater has a job for them. The Theater is literally a theater where plays are performed. But what plays! They are all about lust, greed, envy, hatred, murder, mutilation and madness.

But the Theater is so much more. After hours it becomes a black market, a neutral meeting ground for every thug and cut-throat in the city. The theater acts as a broker, helping people who have jobs that need done connect with people who are willing to do them - the PCs. They say you have to sign over your soul when you work for The Theater and that the Auteur at the top is Satan himself. Ah, well, as long as his money's good, right?

Example Jobs:

- "I have here a list of six people and their addresses. Think you can get them all here by dawn?" (PCs are perhaps horrified that to discover, after agreeing to a kidnapping spree, that everyone on the list is a child)

- "They're an old noble family. Nobody has seen or heard from them in a long, long time. Nobody has seen the necklace in years. But it's never been sold at auction, even though they fell on hard times back at the turn of the century. It's still somewhere in that old house and I want you and your friends to bring it out. Just don't worry about all those old stories about the entire family going mad..."

- The heist should have gone off without a hitch. Tunnel K, right here, runs right under the old opera house, through these tenements, and back to the warehouse. But our fellows never showed up for the rendezvous. I think something happened in the tunnels. Maybe the police have figured out our escape routes. Or maybe it was something else. Bring back word of what happened to them, or even better, the loot, and i'll make sure you get a share. Just be careful. Some say there are people living down there. And they're not down there for business, if you get my meaning."

The campaign is Sweeney Todd & From Hell meet Ocean's 11. The system should highlight character flaws, letting their worst vices ignite during missions. Hopefully by the time the curtain falls on any single mission, it will have ended in murder, madness and BLOOD. Always make sure there's a lot of blood. And get graphic! An old lady with her own knitting needles through her eyes. The young bride, her face burnt into a grinning skull. The bodies in the butcher's icebox. Oh God, we've been eating people!

At some point during each mission the characters get a brief glimpse of the play being performed at The Theater that week. Hey, isn't this story a lot like what we went through last week? Just a coincidence...right?
 
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