This week, a little something different. Something I've been toying with as a tool to pitch new games to my group is writing up a "trailer" for the game, as though it were a summer blockbuster. I've had somewhat mixed results -- players tend to get a little overwhelmed if there are too many options -- but I like the basic idea. It's a good way to make sure players understand the tone and style you're aiming for.
The first trailer is for a horror game (via World of Darkness) called STRANGERS.
What happened was not your fault.
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
We see a small bedroom with Winnie the Pooh wallpaper. Two young boys, six and four, are tucked into their beds. Their mother kisses the younger boy on the cheek and shuts off the light. A dim ORANGE LIGHT comes on as she closes the door behind her, and we see a plastic NIGHT LIGHT in the shape of TIGGER glowing in an electrical outlet. The younger boy rolls over and sticks his thumb in his mouth.
You were only a child. There was nothing you could do.
FADE TO BLACK
Silence for a moment. Then, over black, we hear the sound of something SNIFFING at the air like an animal. Snuff. Snuff snuff. We hear an electrical crackling sound.
THE OLDER BOY – CLOSE
as he pulls the covers up over his nose so that we can only see his WIDE, TERRIFIED EYES.
THE NIGHT LIGHT winks out with an electrical sputter. CUT TO BLACK.
We hear the sound of a child breathing quickly – terrified, hyperventilating.
THE OLDER BOY – CLOSE (Same angle)
as we see a dim BLUE LIGHT begin to fill the room. We REVERSE ANGLE and we can see that the light is coming from the children’s CLOSET. The silhouette of a FIGURE begins to appear inside the closet.
THE OLDER BOY pulls the covers up over his head.
UNDER THE COVERS – CLOSE
We see the Older Boy huddled under the blankets, with his eyes squeezed shut and his hands over his ears. He is shaking, tears running from his eyes. The BLUE LIGHT can be dimly seen through the sheets, and as we hear the sound of THE CLOSET DOOR OPENING with a groan, we see a dark SILHOUETTE cast against the sheets.
We hear the sound of something SNUFFLING AT THE AIR. The Older Boy tries very hard to hold still and not make a sound.
THE SILHOUETTE MOVES CLOSER, passing right over the huddled child. Although the outline is human, the arms seem impossibly long and they move in an unnatural, boneless way.
THE OLDER BOY – TIGHT ON FACE
The Older Boy’s eyes open, nervously looking about. It is QUIET. He begins breathing rapidly again, and after a long moment he tosses the sheets aside...
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
...and the room is exactly like it was before. The orange NIGHT LIGHT casts a warm glow. The closet door is closed. Nothing is out of place. No one stands over where the Older Boy is huddled peering out from the sheets.
The other bed is empty.
As the Older Boy sits up, tears running down his face, we see that the WINDOW IS SLIGHTLY OPEN, and the curtains billow slightly in the breeze.
THE OLDER BOY – CLOSE
The Older Boy opens his mouth to SCREAM and we CUT TO BLACK.
If you had done something, tried to fight, cried out... it would have taken you too. You know that, John.
INT. SEEDY APARTMENT – DAY
We see JOHN, an older version of the boy we saw in the earlier sequence, sitting amongst the debris of his life. The room is a disaster, and we can see any number of empty liquor bottles scattered around the room. John sits hunched over a table, where we can see a POLICE BADGE sits in front of him. He is holding a SERVICE REVOLVER in his hands. His eyes are the same, haunted eyes of the child in the previous scene.
He lifts the REVOLVER and holds it to his temple –
CUT TO BLACK
Yeah. I know all that. And none of it matters a god damn.
BACK TO JOHN
As we see THE HAMMER FALL on the revolver. Click. Nothing. John begins to shudder, great wracking sobs, and he collapses. FADEOUT.
John... What if I told you there was a way...
A way what?
A way to deal with your loss. A kind of... special support group. For people like you.
There are no people like me.
INT. MEETING ROOM – DAY
We see a group of four people – two men (including JOHN) and two women, sitting around a long wooden table. They are all, somehow, as haunted-looking and edgy as John.
There are others, John. People like you, people who need... closure.
We see a MAN WITH WHITE HAIR enter from a door at the far end of the room and stand at the head of the table. We see he is standing in front of a large WOODEN CARVING on the wall that depicts a man in medieval jester’s garb playing a flute. A line of dancing children follows the jester. There is a legend emblazoned at the bottom of the carving: THE HAMELIN GROUP. FADEOUT.
We see a montage of John and the others from the table:
- A woman backs up a flight of stairs, blasting away with a SHOTGUN at a group of small figures moving up the stairs after her.
- John and a group of others huddle at the edge of an open grave in a stand of woods, covering their mouths with handkerchiefs.
- The headlights of a vehicle catch a figure standing in the middle of a darkened roadway – and it unfolds HUGE WINGS and soars overhead, the light reflecting off huge RED EYES.
- We see a MAN RUNNING TOWARD THE CAMERA, ON FIRE from head to toe.
CUT TO BLACK
What would you say to that, John? For a chance to pay them back for what happened to your brother?
I’d say sign me up.
CUT TO: EXT. PLAYGROUND – NIGHT
We see JOHN standing in the foreground, pointing a pistol at something off-camera. Behind him, we can see two young boys in basketball jerseys are backing away, terrified expressions on their faces. There is a DIM BLUE GLOW in the foreground and we see a TALL, SKINNY SHADOW fall over the group. Its arms are long and move in an unnatural, boneless way.
JOHN (to boys)
HE OPENS FIRE. BLAM! BLAM! And we CUT TO BLACK.