Last week, my four players and I sat down and did HQ creation of our Chill playtest (we made characters next session).
We started off with a quick summary of the Chill world and SAVE history (I was the "expert," seemed like the best choice), and then I asked folks what kinds of horror media they liked and wanted to see emulated.
One player doesn't really dig horror movies, but does enjoy the games I run, so he didn't have much to contribute on that front. He said he'd prefer antagonists other than vampires and ghosts, since we see a lot of that in other games.
Another player made a request for suspense, Hammer-film style horror. A third said that she finds creepy children especially frightening (a la Poltergeist). And Michelle (who is Chill's editor and my wife and business partner and fellow dog wrangler) is a fan of all things gothic, and prefers to avoid slasher style horror.
All the players requested a kind of black-and-white morality to the monsters; that is, the bad guys are bad guys and we don't need to try and make them sympathetic. This, of course, is easy in Chill (the Unknown is pretty much openly hostile, and while some monsters might be relatable at times, they're still jerks), but I have this habit of making villains that my players can't quite bring themselves to hate fully. I took note of all this. :)
We then talked about what city to set the game in. We've done a bunch of games in the US, so there was some request for someplace in Europe. We talked about London, but it's got some SAVE history that we didn't want to get into, so we settled on Edinburgh.
The players decided that the SAVE office in the area is traditionally the responsibility of the Earl of Perth (presently a fellow named Robert Drummond; I'm playing somewhat loose with nobility and rules thereof, so apologies to any Scottish nobles here). Drummond isn't a field agent, though, he's basically just the money and titular head of the office. The actual head of the office is a fellow named Liam McAllister, who coordinates missions and envoy cells.
Edinburgh typically has several cells of four envoys each; if circumstances conspire to give more or fewer envoys, then they either wait and train until they can be put with a cell or they get sent to another city for missions (I don't expect this to come up much in play, it's just setting detail).
Rules: Mostly autonomous, Liam gives assignments. Cells of four people, which has been the case since HQ was founded. Odd-men-out are sent out of Edinburgh. “Come back clean.” “No personal contact between cells.”
Unknown: Empty graves; ongoing for centuries. Spectral hound that no one has caught. Cyclical random killings every 25 years. Drummond family has a Beansidhe.
Aptitude: Resource friendly. Envoys don't have access to gobs of liquid cash, but they do enjoy the fruits of the Earl's position in society; they always have a nice place to stay, car service, that kind of thing.
Failing: Overly specific archive. The Earl has a rare book room with lots of very specific information, but it's highly centralized on Edinburgh, which is great when it's useful, but dangerous when it's not.
People: Quartermaster (Annabelle Blackwood — trains local envoys in combat, lots of tats), Coroner (Jordan McElroy — SAVE contact, calls Liam when something goes weird, might be romantically linked), Bradley Frye (SAVE envoy, leadership, Art instructor, older, brought in after Unknown killed sister)
Places: Manor house with large basement used as meeting/training.
Things: Grave of unknown soldier in Greyfriars Cemetery holds spooky feeling. Xmas Party for cells hosted by Earl (only time when envoys are allowed personal contact). Earl has globe from 1740s, bleeds during conflicts.
(Players stop reading here.)
So, I need a case, here, and ironically I've been too busy developing Chill to put a lot of work into it. I keep coming back to the spectral hound, the one that's probably hunting one of the characters anyway. I kind of want to make this story about chasing down and finally destroying the Hound, only to have it show up again (actually a copycat, since I think that creature's cool).
A Spectral Hound is a pretty easy creature:
Injury: Superficial, Minor -10, Serious -20, Major -30, Critical -50, Lethal
Disciplines: Control Weather (fog), Corporeal Manifestation, Deadly Attack (Serious Injury), Gnarl (Unique), Hunter's Mark, Throw Voice
Aspects: Incorporeal, Special Weakness (throat), Spectral Attack
So, as written, the Hound uses Hunter's Mark, and then calls up a fog bank, uses Gnarl to have trees grab the victim, and then mauls the poor sucker to death. Ian (Toasty's character) is already Marked, so should he be the one that gets attacked? Might be interesting to run an opening scene like that, but I don't know that I want to make it that personal right away.
Ooh, but. Suppose the Hound kills Ian's dealer? That sounds good. We'll say that Donald McGovern was camping at Mortonhall Caravan Park, wandered off to take a leak, and got hit by the Hound. Jordan McElroy calls it in, and the envoys kind of get yanked in cold so they can look at the scene before it gets too overrun.
I'm gonna have to wing the clues, but I'll take more notes for next time.