References

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References

Post by Neo Bahamut on Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:56 pm

In this topic, I shall be listing the various inspirations for the RP as they are uncovered.

The Shadow Man

The monster that other monsters fear is derived from a phenomeonon variously described as shadow people, black masses, etc. Interestingly, even though all or nearly all of the alleged cases involve either physically unidentifiable or masculine beings, all of the methods of referring to the phenomenon are gender neutral. I chose to call it the Shadow Man because I thought it sounded scarier, & often use The Shadow to highlight that it is not a man, or even human. Shadow People are almost always described as hostile & often claimed to be demons, which make them perfect central antagonists. Shadow People similar to my version appear in the cult horror series John Dies At The End & its sequel, written by Cracked writer David Wong.

In addition to various masculine silhouettes or amorphous black masses, there are 2 iconic shapes that Shadow People are often reported as taking. One is a "hooded man," often with yellow or red eyes, which is where the Shadow's occasional glowing eyes come from, & the other is a man wearing a hat that is usually described as a tophat, but when the "witness" draws the shadow person, turns out to be more of a porkpie. Because it is an unusually common claim, it is sometimes seen as some kind of "leader." In the RP, I have explained the different shapes as various manifestations of a single being, & given the iconic porkpie hat the distinction of being the main form.

The Shadow's abilities come from pseudoscientific "theories" that the Shadow People are interdimensional or time travelers. Alleged cases often involve the Shadow Person disappearing right before they get to the observer, or the observer fleeing, which has led to wild speculation that touching one would be disastrous, hence the Shadow's tendency to burn flesh. Their motive is also usually attributed to either driving the person to their deaths or kidnapping them, both of which the Shadow Man does. In fact, the Shadow Man exists outside of time, & the phenomena that accompany it are caused by the inappropriate meshing of different parts of the timeline or timelines. I don't know if I was thinking of anything specific when I wrote it this way, but it is very similar to Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen.

The Shadow being made of radiation is actually inspired by the "radiation theory" of Slendervlogs, in which Slenderman's effects on technology & the human brain come from some radiation that it emits & is possibly made of, which may also be how it senses its surroundings. A good example is the Sigma Radiation from EverymanHYBRID, or as Evan calls it, "Monster BO." I like the idea that a paranormal entity is associated with a high amount of energy that can allow it to seemingly defy physics, & this worked well with the notion that the Shadow isn't an earthly being. Some of the Shadow's postures are also borrowed from Slenderman, such as its occasional head tilt.

The Shadow's effects on technology have also been likened to Slenderman's distortion, but are actually more closely based on the effects of ghosts, which Shadow People are often reported alongside, as are the appearances by dead people bathed in moonlight even when there is no moon present. This is in turn based on a pseudoscientific "thoery" that ghosts are actually just past events being replayed. When the Shadow is near, recording devices will also pick up strange sounds that may be voices, often whispering or screaming things that barely make sense in context. This is meant to imitate electronic voice phenomena, or EVPs.

The Shadow is also partially inspired by a horrifying waking dream I once had, which featured a 2D shadow monster with a Glasgow grin & an odd warping effect on the surrounding air, prowling around in 3 glorious dimensions.

Ira

Often compared to HABIT from EverymanHYBRID, older players may remember that Ira is actually Roatha's Superpowered Evil Side, who had not been used in some time, before I decided to bring him back for SU & KH. Ira is usually a combination of Roatha's innermost dark thoughts & some external power that has been forced into him.

This version is a totally separate entity from Roatha, with only a tangential relation, that can infest other people & come & go at will, which is one thing that IS inspired by HABIT. However, unlike HABIT, Ira cannot possess multiple people at once, he can only control blood relatives, & his origin is definitively known.

Ira controlling the town via secret occult conspiracy was inspired by the narrator of Voltaire's "Don't Go By The River."

Orbs of Light

The whispering lights that sometimes lead the characters astray are based on orbs & will-o'-the-wisps. These are among the less common spooks in the RP because their effects are quickly learned & easily avoided.

White Monster

All of the monsters were based on alleged paranormal phenomena, in this case, the "Mothman" of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. This is something I think becomes incredibly obvious if one is familiar with the story of the bipedal creature covered in what seems to be white fur with huge wings that enable flight & bulging, glowing red eyes. There are various theories about Mothman, but of course I couldn't choose to base my version on any of the reasonable ones if I wanted a spooky monster.

Since aliens, government experiments, & interdimensional travel don't really fit well with the tone of the rest of the RP, I chose the belief that the creature is some kind of primitive evolutionary "missing link." To this end, I made the creature very primal, with a gorilla-like aesthetic, protofeathers, & primative nervous system that allows it to maintain strong reflex responses even after it dies. I also incorporated insectoid features, including an exoskeleton, open circulatory system.

A final point is that everyone who came into near-contact with the White Monster had a dream about a future event soon after. This is a subtle nod to the belief that the monster foretold the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge. In other words, canon to this RP, Mothman has prophetic abilities, & for its own reasons, it imparts cryptic messages to those it comes near in a manner similar to the Shadow's abilities rubbing off on others. Nevertheless, the monster of legend seems to be pretty aggressive, relentlessly following & sometimes even attacking moving cars, suggesting that it is neutral but not benign.

Crawling Monster

Rounding out our rogues gallery, this beastie is based on the South-&-central American legend of ]El Chupacabra. The Chupacabra is said to be a highly intelligent but scavenging creature that sucks the organs & blood from various animals (most famously goats, hence the name "goat sucker") from a small wound with surgical precision. Hence the dead animals with missing organs that sometimes turned up in the RP, posed as if it wanted to intimidate the cast (on Ira's direction). Unlike the other phenomena, supposed eye witness descriptions of the Chupacabra vary hugely, so I tried to combine several elements from different stories.

It is variously described as either deep black or green to fit in with its surroundings, so I gave it a mottled dark green pattern that looks black from a distance. It is described as either looking a bit like a dog or a humanoid dinosaur, so I made it a humanoid creature with vaguely reptilian features that can move either on 2 or 4 legs. The dog form is described as having batlike wings that at least enable it to glide, so I gave it retractable skin a bit like that of a flying squirrel with a batlike aesthetic. It is most often described as having huge, bulging red eyes & a row of dark quills down its back, both of which it has in the RP. It's been said to either devour its prey using fangs or a proboscis, & since I prefer the latter, I gave it distinctly insectoid mouthparts with a bit of influence from the Predator of Schwarzenegger fame. Various heights are given, but the most common is around 4 feet, which is what I used in the RP.

Its purported origins are very similar to Mothman's, so I decided on it being a primitive, mysterious animal as well. I also thought that if the Shadow exists in this world, it stands to reason that there are other strange beings, though most would probably be more down-to-earth than the thing from beyond time & space.

I decided to use Mothman & El Chupacabra for a few reasons. I find the stories fascinating, they fit with the semi-rural setting, they employ a similar stalking motif to what the RP does, & they both more-or-less stopped being sighted in recent history, which in the RP is suggested to be because Ira found them--or at least the ones that appeared to humans--& convinced them to accompany him & help him with his own goals. I also felt I had to outsource because, as far as I can tell, Germany & Europe in general lacks really good modern parnormal monster stories. The closest I could find was the Spring-Heeled Jack, which is British & a bit silly since its main abilities are jumping really high & attacking people with a gas canister. Older, more mythological stories have a very different tone that I didn't think would fit with the rest of the RP.

Themes & Motifs

Much of the atmospheric themes & motifs, however, are derived from Slendervlogs, including:

*Monsters prefer rural areas at night, but have no problem appearing in the daytime &/or urban areas.
*Monsters can appear from anywhere, even within dead ends in the home.
*Multiple monsters with different roles (I specifically took this concept from EverymanHYBRID, which features Slenderman, The Rake, & HABIT).
*Being stalked & recorded by a hostile observer who sends cryptic messages.
*Style of horror focused on paranoia.
*The focus on the woods.
*The focus on college students, which I thought was a good way to bring a wide variety of characters together in a somewhat urban setting.
*Investigating a paranormal situation threatening to oneself with scant leads.
*Knowledge of the paranormal leads to being stalked by it.

However, others are not:

*The town's poor safety features, including street lights that aren't kept up-to-date & narrow alleys, along with the mayor being in on the conspiracy, are both inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm not sure how far this would have gone, since I didn't develop the mayor character much at all or even give him a name, as the RP was nearing its end one way or another by the time players got around to discovering this link.
*One thing I have made it a point to avoid that Slendervlogs (& horror in general) do is the lack of explanations. If I don't intend to explain something, like the Shadow's origin, I make it known well in advance.
*Each of the monsters is intended to represent a different source of horror. Ira represents the horror of human cruelty & social conformity, the White Monster the horror of a predator or other aggressive animal, the Crawling Monster that of scavengers & things that pursue their pray in hiding, the Orbs of being led astray by nature, & the Shadow of the occult & of fear as self-perpetuating. This isn't based on anything in particular, it's mostly a more literal way of taking the advice of incorporating different aspects of horror into a story, & I got to thinking about it after discovering that there is a similar motif behind the Limit Breaks of Vincent Valentine, from Final Fantasy VII.

Locations

The Black Forest was decided upon because of how terrifying the concept of being lost in a forest that was so dense that you couldn't even tell night or day in was. Pforzheim was chosen because the black forest would mean that the RP had to be primarily in either a German or a French town close to the mountain range, & Germany seems scarier. I do not know if there is an Ulm University campus in Pforzheim, but Ulm University is an easy-to-pronounce & well-known German college, though it's actually a scientific institute. Many of the features of the University are actually based on the Penn State University Park Campus, including:

*The creepy-ass library stacks
*The central building is a combination of the Hub & Old Main
*The biology building is based on the Mueller & Osmond buildings
*The dorm building is based on the East & West Residence Halls.
*The small forest at the north end of campus with a road running through it is based on Hort Woods, the road itself based on Curtin Road, & the other roads framing it obviously based on Burrowes, Shortlidge, & College Avenue. Downtown is obviously loosely based on, well, downtown.
*The heated sidewalks.
*Tunnels are common in a lot of colleges, for various reasons including maintenance, need to safely transport experiments, avoiding weather in some cases, etc. However, it is illegal to enter them without permission & doing so as a student can get you expelled, so I have to piece them together from what little images/experience I have.

Topic Names

Schatten Unmenschen: The big one, obviously German because the RP takes place in Germany, it translates to "Shadow Monsters" or literally "Shadow Not-Men." There was initially going to be an intermediary stage where Ira referred to himself as "Unmensch" to preserve his identity, hinting that he's "not a man," but he was discovered too quickly for that plan to materialize. Of course, "Shadow Monsters" obviously refers to the Shadow & associated monsters.

Cabin in the Woods & Cabin in the Woods II: "Cabin in the Woods" is a relatively recent parody horror film by Joss Whedon, in which the titular cabin is a front for corporate observers to sacrifice the campers to horror monsters to appease a Cosmic Horror. Replace white collar workers with Ira & you have a similar idea in the RP. "Cabin in the Woods II" is merely a continuation of the topic. I know of no sequel to the movie, & if there is going to be one, I don't know what it will be called.

Homecoming: No significant meaning other than that the protagonists were returning home. Sorry, couldn't think of anything horror-related.

The Arrival: From the indie horror game "Slender: The Arrival." I'm unsure what the title of the game is supposed to mean, but in this case, I intended to refer to the fact that the Shadow had come to Pforzheim.

Better Left Forgotten: Refers to the phrase "some things are better left forgotten." This RP deals with attempts to delve into the history of the Shadow, & knowledge of the Shadow leads to being stalked.

Evil Dead: Shares its name with a horror movie franchise. This topic deals heavily with Ira, & I split the topic where Nero remarked incredulously that Ira was "Roatha's Evil Dead Grandpa, or something." Of course, Ira is actually a distant uncle, since he was clearly in no position to raise children.

Waiting to Die: Refers to the increasing sense of hopelessness among the few remaining protagonists. The reference may be a bit out of place, having been derived from Miracle of Sound's "Dream of Goodbye," a musical tribute to the Bioshock Infinite DLC "Buried At Sea." It is vaguely creepy, but mostly just stuck in my head.

Fear, Itself: Obviously a reference to the famous line from Franklin D. Roosevelt's first inaugural address. As this was most likely to be the final topic of the RP, it was a toss-up between this & "Final Destination," but ultimately I felt the more foreboding title was better even if it was not a horror reference per se. In this topic, those who are left decide to take the fight to Ira & the Shadow directly, hoping to eliminate them before they can be eliminated. As a confrontation with the ultimate source & embodiment of the horrors of Pforzheim, this topic is figuratively & perhaps literally a battle with Fear itself.

Character Names

There isn't much to go here, since as with most RPs here, most characters are repeats of stock characters.

Dr. Lara Anne Schreiber: Her names mean, respectively; protection, favor or grace, and scribe. Obviously named after her apparent story role, though the reason she got a full 3-part name was to reconcile a continuity error where I accidentally gave her 2 different names. The Doctor herself is loosely based off of my French teacher, which I now realize is a terrible idea, as anyone in a horror RP will most likely die, betray you, or both. In the unlikely event that you ever read this, I am sorry.

Officer Jane: Her full name, though never revealed, is "Officer Jane Doe." Just the "stand-in" name for an unidentified female victim. It's meant to mark her as an everywoman & signify that plenty of police have no knowledge about or connection to the conspiracy. Takes on a darker turn when she is eliminated.


Last edited by Neo Bahamut on Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:19 am; edited 9 times in total

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Re: References

Post by HarleyThomas on Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:31 am

Because it's not a reference until you have to explain it.
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Re: References

Post by Neo Bahamut on Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:06 am

It doesn't really work so well here, because here I am listing mostly references that people already figured out. Also, when I say, "Reference," I really mean more like a citation, rather than an Easter Egg.

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Re: References

Post by Neo Bahamut on Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:59 am

Added something I forgot to the end of the Shadow Man's section.

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Re: References

Post by Neo Bahamut on Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:21 am

As the RP is most likely dead in the water, even though the identities of the Crawling Monster & the White Monster were never explicitly deduced by the players, I have decided to add them & finish up this topic. I also elaborated on my plans, or rather lack thereof, for the mayor.

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Re: References

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