[Horror games] Suggestions: creepy memory stealing antagonist

Shan Andy

One man and his giraffe
Validated User
My players have asked to play something in the vein of It Follows.

The basic idea I've got is that there is an antagonist that feeds off emotions by eating memories with strong emotions attached. It provokes those emotions by being scary and then sucking the memory of the encounter out of the victims head. So, the basic horror is going to come from the players having an encounter with it but escaping with their memories intact. The problem is that no one will believe them when they say what happened, as everyone else there will have had their memories eaten. Then the thing will slowly stalk them in order to keep itself hidden.

It's going to be set in small town England, with teenagers (just finished their A level exams) as the protagonists.

The only problem is that I've run into a bit of a wall about how to make it less, well, shit basically.

Hit me with your amazing suggestions for how to turn this idea into a scenario.

You will win my eternal (or at least long-lasting) gratitude.
 

Nooch

Registered User
Validated User
Here's a thought:
You're premise allows for kind of a loophole - if the monster is completely successful, the memory of it is completely erased leaving the PC's essentially unharmed and none the wiser. You could have the players remember it and the PC's not remember it, but that doesn't quite strike the right chord for horror. It could work where the experience, although forgotten leaves a phobia - that way you can leave both the PC AND the players in the dark about what happened, and only hint at it when they get scared. For example:
The PC's go to the basement to get something. They need to wipe away some spider webs to get what they need and then return back upstairs. A few days later, when they need to return to the basement they freeze in terror and must make a check to move passed it. The PC is scared and the player is thinking, "oh no, it was spiders..."
Sooner or later the memory wipe can be interrupted and you can show in full glory what the phobias have been foreshadowing.
 

Snow Goon

Credible Hulk
RPGnet Member
Validated User
If you can find and watch the second season of Channel Zero (it's only 6 episodes), it revolves around a house that lures people inside and then seeks to keep them lulled into a false sense of security until it can full digest their memories. It was remarkably effective, especially in giving a visual representation to "eating memories."
 

Shan Andy

One man and his giraffe
Validated User
Have you decided anything else about the antagonist other than it eats memories?
Not yet. We only confirmed that's what we're playing yesterday.

I'm thinking of centring the scenario on a camping trip to celebrate finishing exams. Probably having the thing live in the woods where they choose to have their campfire and having it aroused by the fire.

Beyond that, I'm still seeing what sticks
 

SunlessNick

Mildly Darkened One
Validated User
What came into my head was a ghost whose own memories, capacity for feeling, and sense of existence have eroded to nil. It's stealing memories to give it vicarious life experiences.

I like the fire idea - whatever it is should get energy from fire, or be vulnerable to cold, so that the quintissential means of survival is now a threat.
 

AbjectQuestioner

Low SAN Score
Validated User
The basic idea I've got is that there is an antagonist that feeds off emotions by eating memories with strong emotions attached. It provokes those emotions by being scary and then sucking the memory of the encounter out of the victims head. So, the basic horror is going to come from the players having an encounter with it but escaping with their memories intact. The problem is that no one will believe them when they say what happened, as everyone else there will have had their memories eaten. Then the thing will slowly stalk them in order to keep itself hidden.
My question is how the monster provokes the scary emotions, i.e., "how is it scary?" Because if it uses violence, extreme violence, say, such as ripping somebody apart in front of the PCs, slowly dismembering some poor son of a gun while the characters are huddling together for safety, and then, after the violence, sucks out the memories of the event from the characters, then you have a situation where you have some very grisly remains but no recollection.

The police might find evidence of the PCs being there; but no one believes their story of being "unable to remember" dismembering this dude. It's the perfect persecutuon nightmare, where even the PCs might be wondering whether they performed the crime or not while in a fugue state.

On the other hand, reading the OP, it seems that whatever the monster does leaves no physical evidence.

This suggests either

1) The horrifying event as above . . . but then reality twists around upon itself, and whatever horrible thing that was done was physically undone. This is a truly supernatural creature . . . it could kill someone horribly, then bring the victim back to life, and then somehow live off the memory of the original event.

2) Whatever the monster does is entirely mental . . . an illusion or dream. This would then suggest a two-way telepathic rapport . . . first to implant the horrifying event (which doesn't actually happen), then to suck that memory back out along with the vicious emotions the fictional event inspired.

Or another idea: perhaps a side-effect of the memory sucking could be a victim gaining a memory he or she did not generate. Nothing particularly horrible, but suddenly Mary has a recollection of John's grandmother giving him cookies while John no longer remembers it.
 

BMonroe

Registered User
Validated User
What came into my head was a ghost whose own memories, capacity for feeling, and sense of existence have eroded to nil. It's stealing memories to give it vicarious life experiences.

I like the fire idea - whatever it is should get energy from fire, or be vulnerable to cold, so that the quintissential means of survival is now a threat.
I was thinking something similar. Maybe something like the Colour Out of Space, a weird roving energy that destroys memory in it's passing. Maybe a nod from the weird energy in the Tommyknockers, and those who've been affected by the memory loss begin to change into something else. Like their memories are destroyed in order to make room for alien presence which takes hold and starts to evolve the hosts into an alien form.

Questions to ask:
  • Does the entity steal or destroy memories? If it steals them, does it do anything with them? If it destroys them, what fills the void?
  • Does the entity gain energy/sustenance from this act, or is it a side-effect of being in the creature's vicinity?
  • Is the thing self-aware, have some kind of animal instinct, or just a non-directed energy?
  • Is it a singular entity/event, or are there others like it?
  • Is it directed by another character, self-directed, or...?
  • How much memory is destroyed? Just the memory of the creature, or do the victims begin having weird black holes in their memories?
  • What happens to those who's memories have been destroyed? Do they eventually just become husks with no memories at all? Do they evolve into something else?
Good luck!
 

Shan Andy

One man and his giraffe
Validated User
I'm on my phone at the moment and am not able to reply to everyone individually right now.

But thank you for all your suggestions and, particularly, your questions. I feel like I have the seed of something good but I'm not there yet. I'm much closer than I was a few hours ago.
 

Shan Andy

One man and his giraffe
Validated User
On the other hand, reading the OP, it seems that whatever the monster does leaves no physical evidence.

This suggests either

1) The horrifying event as above . . . but then reality twists around upon itself, and whatever horrible thing that was done was physically undone. This is a truly supernatural creature . . . it could kill someone horribly, then bring the victim back to life, and then somehow live off the memory of the original event.

2) Whatever the monster does is entirely mental . . . an illusion or dream. This would then suggest a two-way telepathic rapport . . . first to implant the horrifying event (which doesn't actually happen), then to suck that memory back out along with the vicious emotions the fictional event inspired.

Or another idea: perhaps a side-effect of the memory sucking could be a victim gaining a memory he or she did not generate. Nothing particularly horrible, but suddenly Mary has a recollection of John's grandmother giving him cookies while John no longer remembers it.
Yeah, I'm aware that my idea is really half-baked and half-formed at the moment. I appreciate the understanding.

I'm thinking that it does things that don't leave an evidence trait. Maybe it appears in the darkness with a horrifying visage.

Actually, better yet, it gets people alone and then hits them with one of the victim's memories that have a real terror for them. Bringing it to the surface allows the entity to feed off that emotion. as it feeds off the emotion it erases both the old memory and the memory of the event. That way, the victim is none the wiser about what has happened. In an odd way they're better off without that emotion.

Hmmm....thinking about it more, does the memory have to be bad, or does it just have to have an emotional power attached to it. Teenagers would be perfect food for it with the way that everything is *THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER* all of the time.
 
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