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Nightmare 4 - Walking Nightmare

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  • Nightmare 4 - Walking Nightmare

    Hi,

    The new Nightmare design is really fascinating me. Nightmare 3 is so cool with plenty of room to be useful in a game.
    Nightmare 4 is really awsome as concept but I'm struggling to find concrete application in a game, especially against PC. I mean, using it in a way that is really making a difference other than just creating atmosphere.
    In example: I often succesfully used Obfuscate 4/5 to let a player attacking another player or an ally. That's great! But it's more dificult with Nihtmare 4 as it should always be a "Nightmarish" hallucination which is easy to recognize as a trick of mind.
    E.g.: I attempeted to describe to a player the paranoia of a lot, small, hidden creatures moving in the shades and then the sensation of something biting him everywhere, also inside himself, and a bloody rat digging out from is belly hoping he would have atacked him, hitting himself. Bu thebolayer said: I know Nightmare and I understand it is just this.

    I'd like to collect here your most creative, useful or simply most suggestive Nightmare 3/4 application.

    Also I know that a Nightmare is irrational and also if you know it's fake you would react to it irrationally (what, in example, happens when you are in an horror Escape Room with an actor chasing you. It suddenly become hard to even think 😅)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Marcus View Post
    Hi,

    The new Nightmare design is really fascinating me. Nightmare 3 is so cool with plenty of room to be useful in a game.
    Nightmare 4 is really awsome as concept but I'm struggling to find concrete application in a game, especially against PC. I mean, using it in a way that is really making a difference other than just creating atmosphere.
    In example: I often succesfully used Obfuscate 4/5 to let a player attacking another player or an ally. That's great! But it's more dificult with Nihtmare 4 as it should always be a "Nightmarish" hallucination which is easy to recognize as a trick of mind.
    E.g.: I attempeted to describe to a player the paranoia of a lot, small, hidden creatures moving in the shades and then the sensation of something biting him everywhere, also inside himself, and a bloody rat digging out from is belly hoping he would have atacked him, hitting himself. Bu thebolayer said: I know Nightmare and I understand it is just this.

    I'd like to collect here your most creative, useful or simply most suggestive Nightmare 3/4 application.

    Also I know that a Nightmare is irrational and also if you know it's fake you would react to it irrationally (what, in example, happens when you are in an horror Escape Room with an actor chasing you. It suddenly become hard to even think 😅)
    If you're wanting the effect to be subtle (i.e., the player and the character aren't aware of it), make the output less overt. It doesn't have to be so grand guignol. Maybe they think someone's following them. You don't even have to sell it that hard: You realize that guy's been following you. For hours. He's got a gun and you keep catching a glint of it...

    That's a nightmare to me, at least. It's a little more understated than the power describes, but it's not a huge stretch from rat monsters to unrelenting stalkers.

    And like you say, knowing something isn't real doesn't make it less scary, especially when it supernaturally makes you feel afraid. Realizing the rat biting through your skin is a trick won't make it go away (at least not the way Nightmare works). Sometimes it's hard to get players to go along with RP intensive effects; convincing people to make the detrimental choice is tricky, even if it can be fun. Maybe emphasize the first rule of good improv: "Yes, and..."



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    • #3
      Well, like with a lot of social and mental effects in games across the board, they lose a lot if your players aren't into ROLEplaying and just want to win the game.
      It's part of the social contract of roleplaying. Either players accept that, and react to to world how their characters would perceive it and just you roleplay/act out the scene the characters are in accordingly. Or you simply throw mechanics at each other and see who wins. If that is fun for all partys involved have at it, but then probably focus on stuff that simply does damage etc.

      In both cases however it would also be perfectly within your rights to give someone negative modifiers on rolls because he is distracted. Or let them do a contested roll to see how much their character suffers mentally under the effect and have them lose willpower accordingly.

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      • #4
        I also agree that with a relatively free form power like that, it is perfectly reasonable to give Conditions, Tilts and modifiers depending on the exact hallucinations inflicted. The Distracted Condition when the character believes themselves to be crawling with bugs, Arm Wrack when they "feel" their arms slowly dissolving, requiring Willpower expenditure or a Breaking Point to shoot the enemy they perceive to be their Touchstone, and so on and so on. Remember, even if the players know these things are not real, the player characters do not or even if they know, Nightmare works on a more primal level than that and so always forces some negative reaction, from cognitive dissonance if nothing else. Even if a character is absolutely aware the hallucination is not real, I would still require at least a Willpower point for a Scene to ignore the negative effects.


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        • #5
          Some ideas I've had. I stole the first one from the Magnus Archive Podcast.
          1. Whenever anyone talks, you only hear x (your secrets, the grudge sound, a bell)
          2. All of the religious imagery around you is horribly changed.
          3. The voices say terrible things at the worst time.
          4. The sun is raising
          5. The stab wound burns. The veins are turning black. It's spreading to your heart. The wound won't heal. Only I have the antidote.
          6. He's got a gun!
          7. Who do I shoot? They all look like the Haunt.
          8. Everything smells like blood.
          9. People tell you terrible things. Make terrible confessions about how they've betrayed you. How they always hated you.
          10. Anyone you kill looks like your wife.
          11. The stoplight turned green.
          12. Suddenly you're falling.
          13. Whoever he was, he was definitely a Savage. Because of the shape shifting.
          14. How did he get through the wall?
          15. The call is coming from inside the house.
          16. The room is on fire.
          17. Roots grasp for your ankles.
          18. That one, with the yellow eyes!
          19. Oh God, you just hit a little kid.
          20. Can't go that way, there's a wall.
          I think the key is that the hallucination needs to be plausible -- at least in context. You aren't creating a situation whole cloth -- you're altering an existing one.
          Last edited by DubiousRuffian; 09-10-2019, 10:35 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DubiousRuffian View Post
            Some ideas I've had. I stole the first one from the Magnus Archive Podcast.
            1. Whenever anyone talks, you only hear x (your secrets, the grudge sound, a bell)
            2. All of the religious imagery around you is horribly changed.
            3. The voices say terrible things at the worst time.
            4. The sun is raising
            5. The stab wound burns. The veins are turning black. It's spreading to your heart. The wound won't heal. Only I have the antidote.
            6. He's got a gun!
            7. Who do I shoot? They all look like the Haunt.
            8. Everything smells like blood.
            9. People tell you terrible things. Make terrible confessions about how they've betrayed you. How they always hated you.
            10. Anyone you kill looks like your wife.
            11. The stoplight turned green.
            12. Suddenly you're falling.
            13. Whoever he was, he was definitely a Savage. Because of the shape shifting.
            14. How did he get through the wall?
            15. The call is coming from inside the house.
            16. The room is on fire.
            17. Roots grasp for your ankles.
            18. That one, with the yellow eyes!
            19. Oh God, you just hit a little kid.
            20. Can't go that way, there's a wall.
            I think the key is that the hallucination needs to be plausible -- at least in context. You aren't creating a situation whole cloth -- you're altering an existing one.
            Thanks for the idea, about your last statement, are you suggeeting you can't create a whole cloth or just that is better to not do that? Because in the book there's an example of a monster chasing the victim and also the 20th example from your list seems a creation from scratch

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            • #7
              I think that in general, it's better not to. Given the limitations of the ability, you want the rest of the situation to reinforce the hallucination.

              Example 20 I was thinking of in the context of a chase or something. So you're in a building/street, and it's plausible for a wall to be where you're looking.

              As for the example in the book... I'm not sure how credulous the characters are supposed to be. Success on resisting the discipline means "victims do not hallucinate, or it does not
              particularly affect them." I might interpret that to mean that if you fail the resistance roll, then you believe the hallucination.

              If I make you hallucinate something terrible, and you know you're hallucinating it, you might just end up on the ground, hands over eyes, whispering "its not real its not real its not real."

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              • #8
                Look, one of the first rules of horror is "don't show the monster" (to the audience). You hint at it. You make sure everyone knows its there. You demonstrate how the audience knows more than the actors do, and that they are in trouble and you can't tell them.

                You demonstrate the presence of the monster by the wrongness around it. How things don't act they way they are supposed to and the world breaks, sobbing, as it approaches. When the monster IS shown, it turns the story from a horror to a slasher flick, depending on how its handled.

                So in the case of Nightmare it's about putting together things the subjected character *knows* thanks to the supernatural power acting on them, with things that the character *knows* because of their senses. The dissonance between these defines the terror.

                * The wall shouldn't be there--but it is, and that should be your way out!
                * Why do you hear rats in the walls, and why do you hear so many of them, and what could they be chewing for so long?
                * When you turn on the engine, only blood comes out of the car.
                * Everyone is asleep. Why do you hear the bell on the table ring?
                * Everything is normal in the kitchen. You walk past the open microwave and something inside hisses at you!

                Last two were actual nightmares of mine when I was a youth. Dead simple. Fucking terrifying.

                --Khanwulf

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                • #9
                  You could throw a wrinkle and have some Nightmare/Vigor devotion or some such which allows these nightmares to inflict damage. After a few times of these "oh it's just nightmare, I know it is" actually bash them with damage, it will become much harder to ignore all of nightmare, since you won't know which one can actually mess you up.

                  Or someone with Nightmare and Obfuscate...


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                  • #10
                    What do you think you'd do with a Nightmare/Obfuscate devotion?

                    There's the obvious Touch of Shadow + anything to just lock an effect to a location/object.

                    I'm thinking maybe a Cloak of Night + Grand Delusion Devotion to just remove or scramble abilities/capacities. Like, bam now you can't talk. Or now you have pika. Now when you do x you feel extraordinary pain. Now you can't understand spoken language.

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