Thursday, March 25, 2021

Noisy Valley - A Survival Horror Mini-Setting.

Using the same template as I did for the FKR Design Challenge, I've pulled together some of the writhing tangle of notes I've been making on reality-bending survival horror to offer up another mini-setting.

No. You are not.

Noisy Valley.

Noisy Valley is an out-of-the way, apparently unremarkable little town no one ever seems to have heard of until you hear of it yourself, but there it is and there it has always been. The current town is the New Town, with the Old Town having been depopulated, dilapidated, destroyed or even disappeared. It takes its name from a much older name for the region (possibly in a dead language) which means much the same.

This part of the country has long been associated with anomalous light forms (earthlights, corpse candles/will-o-wisps, lights-in-the-sky), out-of-place/ apparitional animals & humanoids, freak weather events, and - crucially - mysterious sounds (hummadruz, piping, EVP, skyquakes, unidentified radio/TV transmissions, localised tinnitus/aural hallucinations). 

It's a lot worse than you think.

Industry.

  1. Livestock
  2. Drugs
  3. Mining
  4. Tourism
  5. Import/Distribution
  6. The Base/ The Plant

Why was the Old Town depopulated?

Roll more than once if you want cover stories/rumours.

  1. Epidemic/ Plague
  2. Contamination/ Pollution
  3. Natural Disaster
  4. Anthropogenic Disaster
  5. Forced Resettlement
  6. Mysterious Mass Disappearance

New and/or Old Town is built on...

Roll more than once if you want cover stories/rumours.

  1. Portal to Hell
  2. Ancient burial ground
  3. Religious colony
  4. Colonial atrocity
  5. Cursed/Holy land
  6. Astronomical impact event

Abnormal Atmospheric conditions.

The 'Fogworld' of Silent Hill - a layer of reality in which the environment prevents you from leaving Noisy Valley. It is sparsely populated, but there are monsters here - it feels like the people have left and the monsters have intruded, rather than reality shifted.

The shift between the levels of reality can be triggered by in-game action/inaction (failing a task, finding an item, killing a monster), follow a set time pattern or be randomised (as a wandering monster check, for example).

  1. Snow/ Frost
  2. Rain/ Flood
  3. Ash/ Smoke
  4. Fog/ Mist
  5. Mysterious Gas
  6. Thin atmosphere/ Low air pressure

The Otherworld.

Apparently the native environment of the monsters, and a twisted mirror of the real world (as encountered via the Fogworld). More obviously inhabited than the Fogworld, even if the monsters themselves are no more numerous.

  1. Arctic/ Ice Age
  2. Pelagic/ Abyssal
  3. Industrial - dieselpunk aesthetic
  4. Industrial - steampunk aesthetic
  5. Interior - ossuary/ sepulchre aesthetic
  6. Interior - liminal space/ threatening aura aesthetic

Mythic/ Symbolic Underworld Influence/ Parallel.

Use this as inspiration for locations, puzzles, traps, monsters, plots, lore etc.

Can be for the whole of Noisy Valley, or discrete locations within it.

  1. Yggdrasil
  2. Graeco-Roman Hades
  3. Diyu
  4. Dante's Inferno
  5. Egyptian afterlife
  6. D&D Cosmology (any edition)

Why is this happening?

  1. Purgatory
  2. Alien Experiment
  3. Tainted Hallucination
  4. Manifestation of Occult Practices
  5. Dream/ Nightmare
  6. Breakdown Between Realities

Roll twice.

Tropes.

  • Businesses/ locations named after horror creators.
  • Puzzles/ hazards based around corruption of beloved childhood stories/series.
  • Individual perceived experiences.
  • Be sure your sins will find you out.
  • Electronic interference.
  • Centralia.
  • Ominous/impossible radio/TV transmissions.
  • There was a hole here. It's gone now.
  • Nurses.
  • Selective/sporadic amnesia.
  • Lump of Wood/ Length of Pipe/ Kitchen Knife/ Fire or Wood Axe.
  • People going about their apparently normal business despite everything.
  • There don't seem to be any animals round here.
  • Monstrous dogs.
  • People going off on their own and reappearing apparently unharmed.
  • Machinery/ technology doesn't work, except when it does.
  • Gas masks.
  • Invulnerable or unkillable enemies.
  • Run and hide.
  • Cages.
  • False scares foreshadowing real ones.
  • Sexualised monsters.
  • NPCs that seem to be 'alternative timeline' versions of known characters (family members, close friends, offspring etc).
  • The fear of blood tends to create fear for the flesh.
  • Pripyat.
  • Time and space distortions/ loops.
  • Sirens/ tolling bells.
  • Animate wheelchairs.
  • Is there something in the toilet?
  • Body, occult, psychological and supernatural horror.
  • Death is not the end.

Supplemental Material - Other People's Stuff.

Over at The Goatman's Goblet, there's a selection of generators for small-town J-Horror which could come in useful, no matter the cultural/geographical placement of Noisy Valley. 

Checking out The Bogeyman's Cave most recent post (at time of writing), I found Raven Hill - Tristan's Ravenloft/ Silent Hill setting (they rightly point out the similarities), covering guilty consciences for characters, corrupt traits for the monsters and some guidelines for exploration of the setting.

Tristan even has a set of survival horror house rules for old school (link below Herbert West), with Luck in there as an Ability Score, replacing Wisdom. 

Wealth as an Ability Score is interesting, the modifier giving you more or fewer starting items. 

I also like the way they break down survival horror scenarios into two zones -  The Cabin and The Woods, even if neither has a tree-trunk in sight.

On the more action-oriented side of survival horror (think zombies and slashers), there's a lot of material over at The OSR Library - which also has stuff for Victorian and Colonial period adventures, the Vietnam War, Cthulhu Mythos, and Kolchak the Nightstalker. 


2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jim - it was your FKR challenge that really helped me bring this together.

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