Thursday, September 30, 2010

Out of the Darkness

I live out in the country about 20 minutes from the nearest small town. Life out here is a little different and, for me, sometimes a little creepy. Last night I was loading some stuff into the SUV for the next day when the dog starts barking at the darkness. The moon was not out, so I only had the light from the porch to see and it only goes about 30 feet.

As I peered into the abyss, you know the kind when you lean forward hoping that the extra three inches will improve your site distance, two huge apparitions came lumbering forward swaying from side like creatures from Stephen King's "The Mist". Now they were not moving fast enough to startle me immediately, but I was taken aback at their proximity. Standing half way between the SUV and the porch, these two ghostly creatures were only twenty feet away when they slowly came into view. The fact that the dog was barking incessantly at them the whole time is probably what set me on my nerves.

Well, after about 15 seconds, I realized that the two night stalkers were actually my kid's horses. They are mostly white with small brown dots. With the darkness of night, their slow walk, and an eerie silence approach I wondered:

"How would an actual adventurer feel when confronted by unfamiliar creatures in the darkness of a fantasy world?"

Well, since there are probably no travelling troubadours telling ghastly tales of Zombie Armageddon, they probably would not be as alarmed as I was. But if your characters are those stalwart souls that are constantly coming through battles by the skin of their teeth and the creatures you throw at them are from an endless horde of things that scurry in the corner of the light and feed off the entrails of the fallen, something as simple as two large horses can sure be creepy.


  1. Having been deer hunting in the cold black county dark at 4 AM, I know exactly what you're talking about. I've had players argue with me about what they can and can't see in a dark cave with just a candle or torch. Some folks just don't realize how scary the real dark can be when you don't know what's lurking in it.

  2. I remember as a teen, and avid gamer, we decided to make our own torch and go out back in the 'boonies' behind my friend's house. What we didn't realize is how much it screwed with our normal night vision. Once lit, we could see about 15 feet, and then it was like a sheet of blackness beyond. We couldn't see the stars, we couldn't see the trees, we couldn't see someone standing outside the radius of light, even though we could before we lit the torch. That was just plain scary.