Matthew Surridge wrote:I will say, though, that I've had a lot of the same hesitations with Orrorsh that you've had. And I've felt the same since back when the original Orrorsh sourcebook came out. At first glance an entire world of horrors is a bit unsubtle. My eventual rationalisation was that a certain chunk of the Victorian population was living in denial (the people who'd be shocked by the discovery of the supernatural) while a lot of others were … well, there were a disproportionate number of highly weird people. So the Victorian authorities maintain there's nothing wrong with the Empire, these things some call 'retreats' are just advances in a different direction, the natives appreciate the benefits of Victorian culture and the occasional massacres are just the work of malcontents and radicals, and so on; but many people have a knowledge of the world that goes beyond the official line, and that aligns with membership in the Orrorshan equivalents of things like The Society For Psychical Research and The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and so forth. So that sort of allows for M.R. James–style subtle horror, and also more straight-ahead monster-hunting.*
So you inspired me to read the old Orrorsh cosm book, and here's what I've found (I was going differentiate what the book says and my suppositions based on it, but that's too much work. I believe what I'm saying is all more or less in agreement with the book.)
1) The Gaunt Man derives power from fear. He wants to maximize the number of people who are alive and afraid. Therefore, he aims to carefully control how many people actually get killed. The goal is to keep people living in fear so he can draw power from them--not to kill his fear batteries.
2) Everybody knows they have been invaded by a horror realm. (I'm assuming the initial invasion did involve a lot of carnage and mayhem to make sure everyone knew what was out there to be afraid of.)
3) The Orrorsh cycle is stable
, and society goes on more or less as normal. People raise kids, plan for the future, even enjoy parties and going to opera (a Victorian opera experience is a specific example in the book).
4) The number of horrors is actually relatively small. Killing a few monsters really can make a dent in the Gaunt Man's plans (that's almost a quote).
5) The Gaunt Man knows that if horrors were too common (a "siege state" I'll call it), people would become numb to them, rather than afraid.
6) Most adventures will only involve one (or a few) carefully crafted horrors, rather than a stream of monsters.
7) Assuming growing up in a stable Orrorsh, not the initial mayhem of the invasion, most people probably never see a monster. (Those who see monsters tend to end up dead.) But they know they are out there, and occasionally people get killed or driven insane by monsters (off screen of course--the evidence is found, but the monsters are only found by those who hunt them). This creates an atmosphere of subtle fear and denial. People travel from village to village without expecting to get slaughtered by a creature of the night. People hunt in the jungle. People walk on the streets at night (when they have to). The omnipresent fear is an undercurrent they can deny and ignore most of the time. In fact, life seems so normal (well, normal Victorian), that the fear would disappear entirely without the occasional dark things (or the results of their activities) surfacing. The Gaunt Man's lieutenants are supposed to carefully monitor this situation and keep the activity optimal for continued fear production. There must be some hope for there to be the true terror he wants by contrast.
8) In summary, initial invasion reveals monsters and kills a lot of people, then life settles down into a state of "normalcy" with a constant, unavoidable undercurrent of fear, punctuated by reminders that the fear is justified.
So that makes sense, and works. The problem I'm seeing with Torg Eternity (so far, we don't have a cosm book yet of course) is that the Beta Primer seems to imply that the initial mayhem has kept on for the entire first year. It presents a "siege mentality", which, unless I'm totally missing something, just doesn't seem to work. It doesn't work from an in-character perspective, and it doesn't work from a meta-perspective of creating a realm that can tell actual horror stories. The Primer even says, "Outside of hardpoints, communities are usually tightly knit villages that have erected protective walls and spiritual defenses."
I hope the designers won't take this criticism as personal (they've done a great job on Torg Eternity IMO) but, no, No, NO, NO!
That doesn't work
. Orrosh isn't supposed to be a constant siege of survivors huddled behind walls manned with machine guns shooting down creatures of the night. That is a completely different and incompatible
genre to Gothic/Victorian, or even slasher horror. That's something you can see in Tharkold, or the right places in Asyle, or even in the Living Land with a pack of raptors or something. I can imagine isolated incidents where that happens with swarms of gospog, but as far as the general point of having a "horror" genre it just doesn't work.
With the cosm book still a ways off, I sincerely hope the designers will reconsider those few paragraphs in the Beta Primer, and return to a functional, horror Orrorsh that allows the telling of horror
stories, rather than a constant siege by alien invaders as it seems to be currently presented as.
Okay, just felt that I really needed to get that out there.