So about three weeks ago I got sent a link to Harbinger a Lovecraftian short with a bit of a difference, it's entirely shot from the first person perspective. Harbinger has got some very interesting twists and turns to it. The film is a quick watch and very well done in my humble opinion and remains true to its Lovecraftian roots. Is there a gaming twist to this film as adventure fodder? Yes and not the obvious Lovecraftian goodness. Go watch the film first before continuing this review and article.
As you can see here we've got lots of plot twists and turns that bring home the predicament that our protagonist finds himself in. With the cabin and the rest of it, I was reminded of the cultclassic Army of Darkness films. The cabin the woods, the odd perspective shots, the soundtrack, and even the odd twisted ending of the film. So what does this have to do with old school gaming? Well quite a bit, especially a concept that doesn't get talked about a lot. One on one play with OD&D, and before you go running off hear me out. Some horrors by their very nature are on a personal level and a week a go I did a one on one D&D expert game with a friend. The results were interesting because he's a big Evil Dead fan. But instead of the usual modules I chose Maze of the Riddling Minotaur by Jeff Grubb. Which I've had this adventure for years and many moons ago had its sections coloured in. I decided to change some of the elements out and add in some of my own Evil Dead style Lovecraftian plot elements to it.
So basically it goes like this a splinter group of Star Wisdom cultists has kidnapped the princess to the island of Vacros and it is feared that a page of the Necronomicon is being kept there. You have been sent to the island to find the princess and rescue her from the clutches of the depravity of the cult. The rest of the module can be kept intact and then it could be used for group play or you could even make your own version with this numbered version of the maze here at the bottom of the thread on Dragon's foot.
The game adventure went very well but now the player wants to bring a party back to the island to rid the world of these mad bastards hell bent on bringing the undead to an unsuspecting world. The play session and intensity was light and fun, I didn't over do the horror. The intensity and energy of play was really something that came from Harbinger. These seem inspired by other horror movies. Harbinger's intensity and situations seem to borrow some its elements from early Eighties horror; this especially reminded me of the first of the Evil Dead films in a good way. This was one of the reasons why I used a one one on one style of play. The elements are very well done and the Lovecraft vibe is pretty damn sweet in what it does.
One of the things that I came away from this film was the fact you can't really over the jump elements and scares in both a horror film and a one on one session of old school horror rpging. I also dialed back the adult themes and gore a bit so as not to act as a trigger for my player. Yes it seems like its a bit of stretch coming from me but the factor here was to have an origin point for a possible campaign opener and that's one of the things that this film brought to the table for me. A slightly different direction and jump off point for a Summer campaign but all in all I really love the exuberance and energy that Harbinger pulls from its audience. I'm really hoping to see more from this folks.
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