Gm notes on The Chosen of The Void

this particular section will be dedicated 2 using the chosen of the Void in the Expedition Demeter setting. it will also touch on incorporating it into other settings. I'm writing this section for future reference for myself during play-testing, for those of you that run your own games, and also as a direct statement for anyone who will run Expedition Demeter in the future should it ever gain traction as an RPG. The primary purpose for this note is to explain how to incorporate the chosen of the Void into your games. The reason for this is simple : they are very hard to pull off as intended. This could be how the written or a fault of my own methods of running games. Regardless I eventually did figure out a way to use them in an effective manner and the manner I intended for them to be used. The key thing to keep in mind with The Chosen of the Void is that they are not standard monsters in any way shape or form. These are not monsters you throw at the party for the purposes of filling time or packing your adventure or session. As representatives of the primary antagonist of Expedition Demeter, the chosen of the Void are to be used sparingly and with the narrative and effect in mind rather than rules. As a GM, your job is to give the illusion of balance and fairness but The Chosen of the Void do not play fair. Each member of The Chosen are unique. Whether they be a member of the taken, the children, or the collectors, they have unique looks, methods of fighting, dread powers, and other elements. Even the most powerful Taken often have their own names and lore surrounding them.

Once the Void Stranger begins to notice the efforts of Expedition Demeter and begins to perceive them as a threat, he will send the chosen to remove the Expedition from the equation. They are meant to be challenging and they are meant to be dangerous. When using them you do not to keep track of health points and instead Focus entirely on the narrative. when they begin hunting the party it will start off subtly. A player May awaken from Slumber with a strange object placed on their chest, this object a stag figurine may seem insignificant but it remains in the player's mind. they may notice movement in the woods soon after and come face-to-face with a taken stag. Your player is likely to notice that connection. Keep doing this for several encounters. Then suddenly figuring stop coming. It could be several sessions before this little seed finally grows. your player is going to notice that the foreshadowing figurines have stopped coming and night after night in the world they're going to start wondering why. Then some session after this they wake up and something far less helpful will be staring back at them. While every division of the chosen is going to be dealt with differently it is important to keep in mind that they are bizarre and terrifying. They are not meant to make the players afraid. Fear is a rational thing, a natural reaction we have to something that likely means us harm. You're afraid of spiders for a reason. You're afraid of snakes for a reason. Terror is different. Terror, while not necessarily an irrational fear, is something else entirely. An example of this is taking certain elements of horror movies into account. A little anecdote for the purpose of clearing things up. I am absolutely terrified of the movie monster from the grudge. This is an irrational fear. I've only seen the American version and to be honest the movie wasn't all that scary. In many ways it really wasn't that good. Something about the way the monster looked though, how it kills, and how it functioned just made me incredibly uncomfortable. This leaves a lasting impression on me as there are times where I hesitate to look under my blanket while it is on top of me simply because I watched the film. That is true Terror and it's the goal of every good horror story. The blood and Gore along with the jump-scares are just cheap tactics to build tension. These tactics focus on fear while trying to establish terror. You don't want your players to jump and you don't want them to run screaming from their seat. You want to see them shudder every time the object of their terror is mentioned. This requires subtlety and often times fails simply because it is something that the individual you are trying to terrify can't really be terrified off. Most creative people tend to be most susceptible as are the most empathetic

Lovecraft had a very very good way of handling that specific problem. He used language in a way that described what it is that he was dealing with without actually depicting it. If you type in any Lovecraftian monster in search of artwork you will find many interpretations of what he wrote even though everyone is reading the same description. The only individual who can scare you more than someone else is yourself. Allowing somebody to imagine something of their own accord based on your direction can yield something far scarier as the person you are trying to terrify is the one building the image. Describing something as not incredibly tall but not short either is going to get a different image from everyone who hears it.

At this point we are going to discuss each of the three divisions and how they are intended to be used with the above information in mind.  

The Taken

  The taken are the cannon fodder of the Void but this doesn't mean they go without ceremony. Generally speaking the taken will be divided into two different forms. Mundane forms are creatures who are starting their transformation and have not completed that metamorphosis. They are perfectly normal apart from the descriptive language indicating the presence of the void. It's the unique forms that you want to pay attention to. The unique forms will usually approach the players individually and rarely will they hunt together. Usually they will only be accompanied by more mundane forms. Each one is different and we'll fight differently as well. these creatures are Mindless and they do not plan well. These forms are entirely transformed and generally they will have their own names and lore surrounding them. the descriptions for them should be as descriptive as possible while depicting as little as possible. The image you have may be awesome to you but the image that your players will have will have a significantly better effect. Artwork is perfectly fine but should be used sparingly and often should be accompanied with "kind of like this but not really" In general the taken or not the Stars of the show when it comes to the chosen and in truth you can use them however which way you like it's the children that really require finesse.    

The Children

Your players should come into contact with the children as little as possible often going many sessions without ever hearing or seeing them. During this time build up the tension. Once your players learn of the void and the chosen they will begin to expect these villains. Use this to your advantage. Build up the tension. Drop little Clues as to what might be coming and when they arrive they should do so with as little ceremony as possible. They don't show up screaming and roaring to make sure the players get a real good look at just how scary they are. The children think and plan. they have a job to do and they need to do it, they are driven to do it. For this reason they're not going to just come in and announce their arrival. They will show up and immediately get to work. They have the element of surprise. As you use your descriptions during the encounter, depict them in whatever way it is that you want. The key element with an encounter is going to be the narrative. Lucy rotten is a damn good example. She is a killer who was pulled from the 1800s and actually sings an old folk song that just about everybody knows called Dem Bones as she approaches her target. She is rarely in a hurry and always carries a large sack full of Bones and stones that drags along behind her as she stumbles forward. Every time it's her turn sing the song while she makes her movement and attack actions. be sure to specify that she seems to feel no pain refusing to stop her song even after being gutted. Most of the game is about giving the players complete freedom and Power over as much as possible. The void and its chosen are the primary reason for this. In the lore the void and its chosen break the rules and there is no better way of relaying that to your players then for The Chosen of the Void to break the rules of the game as well. Unless you are particularly rule heavy, they have no Health points and die when you say they do or they receive Health points when their Fetters are destroyed. You will not tell your players this and you will continuously Mark the amount of damage done to them as you would any other monster. The major reason for this is to completely strip the players of the power and control they had and do so without them even realizing it since you're keeping up the illusion. The children should never unfairly kill a player character or even named NPC's. They can kill fodder just fine but you do want to have some level of fairness for the illusion to work. Doing this is making the child in question powerful but not very strong. Again Lucy rotten is a good example. She has no weapons and in general will only throw stones. She will claw and punch at players and Deals a minimal amount of damage when she successfully lands a hit. She only becomes particularly dangerous when she critically hits or is able to reach a player with 0 health or who is unconscious. this means that your players stand a much higher chance of successfully killing something but that something just won't die. All the while while the encounter is going on reveal information about the chosen. The Countess can be particularly chatty and will reveal information about herself while trying to kill the characters especially if she's asked. Lucy rotten is a child that only hunts shamans and will never be sent after the players but can be hunted by the players. The players who decide to Hunt her will have to uncover her lore and understand her fully in order to be able to find her and kill her. Regardless the true payoff comes from their dread powers. Dread powers are used sparingly but with reason. make it seem realistic that the child does it. Every time they do, your players will be on the edge of their seats. Take a note here, encounters in this game and system rarely last 4 or 5 rounds. The children are no exception. Don't let them overstay their welcome. If the players are having a hard time by round 3, say something on the lines of "You are beginning to feel you cant overcome this foe" to indicate that running may be a better option.  

The collectors

And then we come to the collectors. The collectors can only be encountered if your players actively want to find them. This means your players will be well aware of what they are. The subtlety in dealing with the collectors comes exclusively from the maladies they cause. Each example of universal malady will be slightly different even if it's the same malady. Their will be subtle hints that will build up the collector in question.   Now I will be adding to this but I wanted to start to give those who read an idea of how I use them.

Cover image: by khius from adobe stocks


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