In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Scary Game For Scary People.

Before role-playing games were made with ones and zeros, they were made with pen, paper, curiously shaped dice and, of course, your imagination. That’s not to say that tabletop RPG’s, like the iconic Dungeons & Dragons don’t still exist today, but they certainly never became as pervasive as the current rash of MMORPG’s have over the last few years. I played my share of D&D when I was younger, but I also sampled some of the other universes that were out there. Back in its heyday, every genre had its own RPG. There was Top Secret, which explored the world of spies and secret agents, a Star Wars RPG (which I once played as a red & green-striped-Mandalorian-armored bounty hunter named Neddy) and even a Marvel Superheroes one that I sampled a time or two - dibs on Wolverine! A few weeks ago, my friend Darryl lent me a reference book on an RPG I had never even heard of called Chill.

It is a horror role-playing game, which immediately peaked my interest. Mayfair Games published Chill in the early-nineties, after purchasing it from Pacesetter Inc. It is not the only horror RPG to exist, as I know Call Of Cthulhu has a pretty big following and Vampire: The Masquerade also had its moment in the sun (though I guess that’s a poor choice of words), but I never got into either of those. Basically, Chill is a world where you play as a member of a secret organization called SAVE, which is an acronym for a Latin phrase meaning ‘The Eternal Society Of The Silver Way’. SAVE is charged with protecting the Earth from evil forces, which are collectively referred to as The Unknown. The scenarios you play are investigations, which usually lead to encounters with minions of The Unknown, such as spirits, vampires and every other creature that is not supposed to exist. In a lot of ways, Chill is similar to D&D, with the use of dice, though it only uses two ten-sided dice as opposed to the sack full needed for the latter. The game is mediated by one person, designated the Chill Master - I know, original eh? Your character has abilities like Strength, Stamina and Dexterity, as well was Perception and Willpower. Also, being an agent of SAVE, your character will be somewhat versed in The Art, which is the ability to perceive The Unknown.

Fear is a large factor in the game, as whenever you are confronted with The Unknown, there is always a chance your character will turn tail and run. I read through the introductory scenario ‘Caulfield Place: Rest In Peace’, where players try to rid a haunted house of its incumbent evil spirits, by deciphering a mystery hidden within its history. The combat seemed very complicated to me, but that could just be because I’m used to the D&D way of doing things. I’m sure that if I actually played through a round, I’d pick it up pretty quickly. The world of Chill is certainly a strange one, but also rather involved. The whole history of SAVE is documented in the book I read. It includes a timeline going back hundreds of years. SAVE was founded by an Irish man named Charles O’ Boylan in 1844, who was later killed in Egypt by animated mummies.

1989: The Central Archives fire in Dublin, Ireland.

Perhaps even more fascinating are the minions of The Unknown, all laid out in the back section of the book. In addition to the usual ghouls, ghosts and creatures of the night, there are also some more reality-based oddities. The most insidious of these may be the ‘Mean Old Neighbour Lady’. Everybody knew one of these growing up. She lived in an old house and was often accompanied by a large and menacing dog. Whenever your ball went over her fence, you knew it was lost and the neighbourhood kids would dare each other to ring her doorbell. In our world, they are just ordinary seniors who want to be left alone, but in the realm of Chill, they are pure evil. The Mean Old Neighbour Lady will single out a child and lure him/her into her house with treats and then lock them in her cellar. She will then go about starving and brainwashing said child in darkness until eventually, he/she transforms into a ‘Gamin’. They are then sent out to cause even more mayhem. Gamins are beings that appear to us as malnourished children and insinuate themselves into healthy families by befriending one of its younger members. They then go about playing their favourite game of ‘murder’. Once the family is completely destroyed, always killing the child that befriended it last, it moves onto another one. So, as you can see, danger in the world of Chill lurks everywhere. It is pretty odious stuff. I love it!

Even though The Horror Section is first and foremost a blog about horror films, I love to cover all different facets of the genre and Chill is certainly an intriguing example. For more info on Chill, check out their website here.


Faith said...
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DirtyRobot said...

I have this in my basement somewhere, only played it once though, used Call of Cthulhu for my horror role playing needs. Although I also had the Evenings of Terror with Elvira module, for obvious reasons ;)

Jay Clarke said...

Anything with Elvira is good crack! :D

Maze game said...

The scary maze game - try and reach the end! at