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Colonial Gothic: Horror & Design

June 26, 2007

When I first signed on to working for Colonial Gothic back in August of last year, my main concern as we worked through the concept process was creating a mysterious setting that allowed magic and monsters to exist, but wouldn’t come across as an “authoritative” ideal. My personal bias against inflexible settings colored the creation process; I’m not a big fan of the “tell-all” reveal and never have been, and that did come into play. As a team, we needed to build a world that would not only make logical sense for the Villains and Heroes to fight in, but also give them the chance to face untold horrors.

Since I’ve always felt that building suspense in a horror game can be even more important than describing the horror bits, more than a few of our setting-related discussions addressed how much players and GMs could contribute to the setting in their own games. As a result, we figured out a way to provide players with opportunities to tailor the gore to their group’s level within a setting that had its own physical rules based on the 12 degrees system.

There is a mystery that has driven the conceptual design process for Colonial Gothic, outside of its historical influence. While I worked on writing a basic template for the legend which was heavily influenced by darkness and nihilism; Matt McElroy (from Flames Rising) and I would have endless conversations to twist, turn, and mold the idea into something that would work in game. Once we came up with an idea, we threw it back to Richard, where it went through yet another process to incorporate the historical aspects of the game.

What we ended up creating is on a massive scale; it colors everything from Faith and Sanity to Magic and Villains. It also allows players and GMs to have a horror-based template to make into their own game. There is no such thing, in Colonial Gothic, as an “official” storyline-the horror, and the history, of this game is what you make of it.

With the launch of the first book, the mysteries are subtle, creeping behind the scenes as we explore the time period but they are there, waiting for you to discover them.

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