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Random Acts of... Horror $2.00
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Random Acts of... Horror
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Random Acts of... Horror
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2012 07:45:43

This pdf is 6 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving 4 pages for a total of 100 different "random acts" of horror, so let's check them out!

As with all of the system-neutral random acts, this one provides short, crunch-less descriptions for diverse acts that can be expanded upon by the DM to provide for adventure hooks or fluff. To give you examples of what to expect, here are some examples, taken 1:1 from the pdf:

a)A ghostly figure passes through the closed door and keeps coming toward the PCs. Its wailing gets louder as it closes in on them.

b) The PCs have just entered a building when the door slams shut behind them and can’t be opened.

c) A beautiful woman with fiery red hair attempts to coax one of the party into the cemetery. “It’s somewhere the city watch never goes and the perfect place to not be disturbed,” she smiles sweetly. Five thieves’ guildsmen in dark clothes hide among the tombstones.

I'm a huge sucker for horror-supplements. I love them. Can you feel the dread? The chill? Yeah, me neither. And no, these were not a worst-of, but rather a cross-section of what you'll find herein.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to 4WFG's 2-column, printer-friendly b/w-standard and the pdf actually has bookmarks, which is nice. The introduction to this pdf acknowledges that this pdf is even more generic than other pdfs of the line since horrific creatures may vary from system to system.

While that's understandable, it's also the reason this pdf fails so extremely hard at evoking even the tiniest shred of dread. A plowed field from which zombies rise? Come on - I didn't even consider that to be creepy when I was a child. A man kissing a woman on the neck, blood flowing down her neck? In these days of ours, the sexualization of vampires, be it via this Twilight-crap (pardon all fangirls and boys, if any) or "bloody" vampires, has led to such an imagery being many things, but definitely not creepy. Wailing ghostly figures? Empty villages? Devilish creatures trying to pass off as humans in a town? All been there done that, which wouldn't be bad, would the format of this line not utterly contradict one of the fundamental laws of horror - details. Any good horror stories is completely, utterly dependant on details, imagery, cohesiveness and the building up of suspension - there's a reason jump-scares wear off so fast and true horror, one that elicits fright, stems from a psychological, slow manipulation and a hinting at the uncanny. Think of all the good horror-modules out there for multiple systems- the details are what makes them remarkable.

The problem thus faced by this particular book is twofold - its very format prohibits it from being creepy and its multi-system approach makes it generic to boot. Without a specific implied rule-set or world, the creepy elements remain only the blandest of cardboard cut-outs like "shadows", "someone hunched over a corpse, flesh in his mouth" etc. Add to that that we don't really get acts per se - rather, we get "The pungent smell of rot greets the PCs as they enter a catacomb". Foreshadowing? Okay. Setting suspension? If you're lenient and your players easily spooked, perhaps. But this is one point. Notice something? This is no act - it's a description. A black cat crossing their path, hissing and then dying would be an act, but actually, acts are few and far in between and, due to the setting-neutral approach (fantasy, CoC, Vampire, whatever) remain clichéd.

All of them. I've seen each and every hook herein executed, multiple times and just about every time better due to more space, more setting the stage etc. I honestly am not sure how to rate this - as a book on acts (jump-scares perhaps) it fails as it consists mostly of hooks. As a generic DM-inspiration for horror adventures/fluff, it can't hold a candle to Eureka's horrorsection (which is also setting-neutral, but much more imaginative) and retreads all the tired old clichéd without breathing life into them. A possible reference against which I could judge this pdf would then be "Your whispering Homunculus"'s system-neutral, creepy lists - the use about as many words and suffer from similar limitations - and mop the floor with this pdf. However I twist and turn it, my only constant observation is that this book tries to cater to all audiences and ends up failing to cater to any of them. I can find nothing positive to say about this installment but that its production values (as with all 4WFG-books I've read)are top-notch. That's it. It's the worst of the line, it's not even remotely creepy, fails in each and every category I could endeavor to judge it and does not even make for a valid inspiration for the most novice of horror-DMs. Buy any 4 Wind Fantasy Gaming book - they all have something to offer and several are excellent. Hell, the other lists in the series are much better. My final verdict for this train-wreck will be 1 star.

Endzeitgeist out.

[1 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Sorry you didn't like this one, End. I appreciate you taking the time to review it, though, and I always respect your thoughtful points of view.
Random Acts of... Horror
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/11/2012 06:57:08

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/07/11/tabletop-review-random-acts-of-horror/

Last year I reviewed an amusing little book called Random Acts of… Violence. It was an amusing, helpful, and easy to use book that offered a hundred random “acts” that a DM could use in a role playing game. A DM could simply pick one of the acts, or roll a percentile to get one at random. The idea was great, and it was obvious that we would see some more Random Acts in the future.

Random Acts of… Horror is the latest in this series. Instead of almost slapstick levels of physical comedy, Horror brings about a macabre change to the format. There are plenty of surprise zombie attacks, ghostly figures, and things that go bump in the night.

One thing I noticed immediately, mostly because the preface told me about it, was that things were often a bit more vague that usual. Shadowy figures surround sleeping PCs, but what’s revealed when the lights go on is pretty much up to the DM. The book goes with “horrors beyond all imagining”. It could be a group of demons getting ready to feast on your soul, or something like a troupe of goblins getting ready to put on a striptease. Clearly, the level of flexibility offers up all kinds of… possibilities.

Something interesting to note is that many of these acts allow you to test the alignments of characters. For example, “While visiting a small town, the PCs notice many devilish creatures trying to pass for townspeople.” A good player may go to investigate, while an evil character may gleefully join in on the shenanigans. Depending on the type of campaign your running, such a simple sentence could have some pretty neat ramifications.

Using the book is simple. There are a hundred different acts in the book. Each one has an associated number. If you want something random, merely roll percentile dice (2d10), and go from there. If you’re looking for an idea to jump start your campaign, you can simply pick one you like. With a hundred different options, the book can certainly come in handy. I don’t have too much experience running campaigns of my own, but I do know how difficult it can be coming up with ideas. This book can offer up useful starting points.

There are no stats given for anything in the book. That means its compatible with just about everything out there. It also means that users will likely have to do a bit of work after they’ve chosen an act. After all, if a hungry werewolf is going to attack the party, it’s going to need some stats. Still, I think the flexibility and utility makes up for the leg work.

At two dollars, this book is a fairly safe buy. It many only contain a list, but it’s a pretty good list. If you like, you can also purchase four books in the series as a bundle for six dollars. That’s a pretty sweet deal if you don’t already own one of them. If you’re looking for something to spice up your campaign, this is certainly worth a look

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thank you very much for the detailed review!
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