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miishelle

ghost stories

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im going to run a ghost story next session.the group has found a ghost ship, and its going to be spooky.I hoping you guys can help me with mood ideas. I've never run one of these before, and I want to make sure its memorable fory players. im hoping to.get good.jump scared ideas and.what kind of music should I use. im excited and hoping.to.make this as good for them as unwanted it to be. so, please input. player advice would be great, as well as GM.

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Think about what you want the culprit to be, why is it a ghost ship (Aliens, Droid Revolt, Ship AI, Hyperspace accident, Force related like a sith ghost, pirate slavers took everyone, a virus... etc.)

 

then you can work on descriptions for rooms, that will be key, what clues do they need to find or not find? Little hand written notes or diary entries, short recordings are easy to do with a smartphone or computer if you can do a few voices (Or work colleagues who want a laugh!)

 

does it look like the crew just walked out one day? or is there dried blood everywhere? (I like the hints that people where gruesomely slaughtered! probably because i LOVE the Aliens movies)

 

are there survivors, what state of mind are they in? having a pack of some escaped animals that where originally cargo and are getting hungry (Perhaps they ate one of the corpses hiding evidence?)

 

failing ship components is a good one for mood, flickering lights, doors only half opening, hot areas and cold areas, grav systems going offline at tense moments.

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im going Marie Celeste style. nothing wrong, all escape pods there. no fight or bodies. just empty. no slavs circuits. no record or opening doors. just empty. pet the atmosphere and ghost smells and cold.spots and faint noises in other rooms but empty when they get there do the rest.

to get this, I really need a good atmosphere to sell it for the players.

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I think to pull this off, a GM needs to be super-serious. No smiles, no laughter, no quips; a totally matter-of-fact tone and go easy on the description - just give them the bare bones data about what they see and let their imaginations do the rest. Be blunt about everything. If for example there are five NPCs helping out, then later on refer to the four NPCs, then the three NPCs - the players might assume you made a mistake or that something is amiss.

And for extra atmosphere, play around a little table in the middle of a massive room.

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im going Marie Celeste style. nothing wrong, all escape pods there. no fight or bodies. just empty. no slavs circuits. no record or opening doors. just empty. pet the atmosphere and ghost smells and cold.spots and faint noises in other rooms but empty when they get there do the rest.

to get this, I really need a good atmosphere to sell it for the players.

Have some sort of pet on board.The Mary Celeste had a parrot as I recall.

If you can turn down the lighting. Maybe individual lights for the players or try and just light the table leaving the rest in darkness. Be sure to have enough light to read character sheets and dice but shadows everywhere else.

If you can have the lights up at the start of the session and dim slowly dim as the board the ship.

there are tools that allow you to make an audio ambiance. Use one that can play various quiet ship noises at random intervals.  If you have a dolbe 5.1 set up and you can do positional audio have the sounds come from different directions. 

you should also know what really happened.

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One astromech droid that keeps insisting nothing's wrong...

 

Something is wrong with the power generator/deck lighting, so the lights will flicker omniously and/or rooms and hallways will go pitch dark for a few seconds before the lights come back on.

 

Maybe have the players make a check to notice if something is different when the lights come back on. Even when they make it, say" you notice nothing out of the ordinary." Do this two or three times and your players start to get paranoid.

 

Other stuff you could include:

  • An empty cargo bay.
  • With one lone container* chained in the middle of it.
  • And it's empty.
  • (The whole thing could just be a red herring if you want to.)

 

Set up the mood so the players expect a ghost to pop up any moment, the lights on the bridge flicker, and a blueish white transparent figure apears out of nowhere!  Aaaand it's (just) a hologram message being played by the ship.

 

 

 

 

* Or twenty boxes of experimental earth.

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Lots of good tips here.

 

If there's nothing inherently wrong, I'd play up on paranoia on the side of the players. As others have said, talk about lights flickering, but make a note that the party member thinks they saw someone there. They think they heard something in the next room, but it's just a vent that needs maintenance.

 

You can go as dark and dastardly as you want, really. I ran a horror-based Star Wars game a few years back, in which the party found a derelict with no one on board, but they all began to hallucinate pretty quickly. They ended up killing each other due to the nature of the hallucinations, but the players to this day still debate if it was a hallucinogenic released into the air supply or if it really was haunted. I had living crystals (like the shard) who were basically dark side force ghosts causing problems.

 

I also ran a semi-horror game with an experimental droid that went crazy, killed and disposed of the corpses (except a few it couldn't get to, like those who were locked away and starved/killed themselves), so when the party found the location (either big ship or asteroid; can't remember), they found a number of ships with ripped out hyperdrives, only a small number of corpses, and the ship running on emergency power.

They eventually found the droid as it was stalking them and waiting to pick them off, but it was a pretty amusing session. I just kept it serious (except for one or two jokes cracked by the players near the end), played up on the environment, and let the players creep themselves out.

 

Good luck with it!

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Speaking of out of control droids, systems that are strangely out of control can be really creepy. In particular, turning things off only to have the spontaneously re-activate later. See, things refusing to stay on can be simple decrepitude, but things not staying off, now that's just not right. Your party disables the music playing over the ship-wide PA only to have come back on later. Or an automated recording on loop, same story. Maybe a droid you de-activated a while ago has just appeared again, running around and bleeping away.

 

I guess it's particularly akin to a haunted amusement park atmosphere.

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i really like the idea of being completely serious and matter-of-fact.  on the other had of this, if you can't do the whole serious thing, after a quip or joke make something serious happen.  like oh hahaha this is great, floating head draining entrails, room of screaming lungs (from a star wars book) etc.  you know, the flip.  that can make things go from happy-go-lucky to sphincter-tightened, check pants time.

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thanks for all your advice. I really do appreciate it. kryss, I know I'll be joking a few times, but you gave me a good way to get it serious again.

robin, a great idea for the loop. im going to make it a child telling a love story,but only one player WI hear it, and every time they do, if will be different and gruesome. like more of the story is revealed.

Phil,thanks for.things going back on after.they turn them off. I'll be using that, and things being different when lights go back on, perfect.

desslok, im checking out that back story now.

thanks everyone.

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depending on the envrionment you are playing in and your budget you could create some sort of light fog in the room. Dry ice or a fog generator perhaps. If you have a programable thermostat perhaps have the room change temperature through out the game. Let it get cold enought that people want a jacket then let it warm up again.

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Pacing, tone and volume. The volume and pacing of your speach forces the players to focus in on what you are saying. If you  are speaking quietly and slowly this forces them to pay attention and sets them at ease. As you pick up your pace and volume the players become excited without realizing it. By the time you get to the action you have them riveted and not ready for the "Shock."

 

Speak quietly and at a slower pace when you start descriptions. As the group moves through the encounter pick up your pace. Begin to speak faster, and slightly raise your volume. As you approach the "Shock" moment you should be talking at a normal speaking volume, but quickly; not so fast you trip over your words, but fast enough that your players have to pay close attention to catch everything you say.

At the "moment of impact" give them a quick shout! as something exposes itself!

 

The real trick to this is giving them a couple of "false positives" as you build to the real object of Horror, like when the cat jumps out in the movies and as the victim calms down they turn around and get stabbed. Don't shout at the false positive but raise your voice a little to distinguish the "jump moment." You want to save the Shout for the real shock.

 

Practice this a few times with someone who is willing to be a guinea pig, to get the timing down.

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also, read or even better, listen to Death Troopers.  The audio book version does a great job of giving ideas for a hulk filled with spooky.  I completely wrote this book off when it first came out until last night when my wife had it on audio book.  Seriously, a room of freaking screaming lungs!

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A couple of extras to make players paranoid.

Ask a player for there sheet, look at it intently, make a roll, hand it back with a thanks.

Take a player to one side, describe something completely normal to them, tell them not to tell anyone about it, then send them back to the table.

Never underestimate asking the players if they are sure they want to do something.

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In one room, an astromech droid rolls backwards and forward to mindlessly and quietly bounce off a single wall.  Just the regularly spaced ...thud... thud... thud... thud...makes noise.

 

What did it see? What does it know?  It knows nothing. Was its memory erased?  Don't know.

 

The ship's manifest does state this droid was on board when the ship left its last port of call.  It's been with the ship and owner for years, so it's not out of place.

 

And, of course, if you like, deep in its memory core is a hyperspace coordinate you want your players to have.

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