I am hoping to get feedback on some custom procedures for a session of Final Girl that I am running on Gauntlet Hangouts on September 5th. The session is loosely inspired by the 2004 film, The Descent. The basic setup is this: A group of badass women go into a creepy subterranean environment … horror ensues. The custom procedures are designed to collectively flesh out the nature of the Killer as we play, rather than make a bunch of a priori decisions. In coming up with these procedures, I shamelessly stole from Lovecraftesque ( Becky Annison & Joshua Fox ), Swords Without Masters ( Epidiah Ravachol ), and The Pyramid ( Ray Otus ).
I’d love to get feedback on these procedures. Do they make sense? Do you think they’ll work in play? How can they be improved?
In particular, I’d be interested if people have suggestions for the list of “Killer Questions” — questions that the Killer player tries to answer while narrating Standard Scenes.
Thanks for your support! 🙂
Custom Procedures for Final Girl: Descent into the Unknown
The Set Up
– The Killer: We will be collectively creating the Killer as we play. Right now, though, we should decide on a couple of basic parameters:
Is there one or more Killers? (That is, do you wanna play Alien or Aliens?)
Is the Killer supernatural or mundane?
– The Setting: This must be subterranean, like…
– Casting: A group of kick-ass women. For example:
Old college classmates who urb-ex in their spare time
An elite team of scientists & explorers
– Player responsibilities
Establish relationships, per regular rules.
Foreshadow the Killer: Players should strive to add atmospheric details (motifs) that invoke a sense of dread or foreboding. Motifs may hint at the Killer but should not be irrefutable evidence of the Killer’s presence. For example, a half-eaten deer carcass is a good motif: it is creepy but doesn’t necessarily point to the Killer (a regular bear could be the culprit). We will record these motifs as we play out the scenes. Later, in First Blood and Standard Scenes, the Killer may draw from this pool of motifs for inspiration. To continue the above example: the Killer may later narrate that the Victims stumble into a pile of decaying animal carcasses…except now it includes predators like bears! Note: there is no hard requirement or mechanical benefit to re-incorporating the motifs — it’s just a cool thing to do.
Look at the pool of motifs from the Introductory Scenes. What kind of Killer do you see? If you have a cool idea, then volunteer to be the first Killer!
As the first Killer, you will be making some important choices. At the very least, you will need to answer:
What does the Killer look like? (You don’t have to describe everything. In fact, you may purposefully keep the Killer in the shadows, only describing its outline or its blur as it rushes past.)
How does the Killer kill? Stab / bite / etc.
First Blood & Regular Scenes
– The Killer’s Responsibilities
In addition to regular narration responsibilities, the Killer should answer one or two of the below-listed questions. The questions do not need to be answered in order. However, it is recommended that the Killer attempt to answer some of the questions near the top (dealing with the Killer’s behavior) before tackling the questions near the bottom (dealing with the Killer’s origin and nature). Not all questions may apply to your game depending on your setup. Also feel free to come up with your own questions, as well!
Remember to “show, don’t tell” — that is, don’t directly tell the other players the answer; rather, show them the answer through your narration. For example: The Killer narrates how it plays with the corpse of a victim but does not eat it, indicating that the Killer kills for fun or sport, not for food.
Don’t worry if the answer isn’t obvious. At the end of the scene, any surviving characters will collectively ask, “What if anything did we learn about the Killer?” The answer will become an established part of the fiction. New answers should not contradict pre-established facts but may elaborate or build on them.
– Killer Questions
How does the Killer hunt? Sound / smell / infrared vision
Why does the Killer kill? For food / for fun or sport / out of fear
Where does the Killer sleep, eat, defecate, etc.?
How does the Killer reproduce and raise its young?
What is the Killer’s origin? Created in government lab / humans that mutated over generations living underground
– Killer Tips
Play with your victims: Don’t go directly for the kill. Toy with the victims first.
Use the world around the victims: As the Killer, you set the scene. Use the subterranean environment to separate, slow down, and trap your victims. But save the final blow for the Killer. For example, use a cave-in to trap a victim under rubble, then have the killer step in…