Prey - a new setting idea

After reading some excellent modern horror short fiction in the last few weeks (most of them by German authors, but probably in the vein of Clive Barker or Thomas Ligotti), I kept wondering if it was possible to translate this radical feeling of the horrorible breaking through the walls of reality and simply assaulting you into an rpg campaign. Fear Itself sets out to do this, but it is mostly a one-shot system. ET is about agents who hunt terrors, not about normal guys who are assaulted by them (even though the hunters might easily become the hunted ...).

What I am looking for is basically a rationale for player characters from all walks of life to get attacked by the supernatural again and again, barely surviving, sticking together and defending themselves by all means possible. They might become more hardened, jaded, borderline insane or simply very good at surviving through the process (if they not die), but they will definitely not become monster hunter heroes. Their lifes will fall apart. They will probably find out much more about the underlying nature of reality, but it won't help them.

Here's my shot at a setting that would allow for such a campaign: While our world seems relatively civilized on the outside, there is a more primeval layer of reality, where living beings are fundamentally either predator or prey. Prey has a scent, and predators know and savour this scent. Instinctively, the predators not only hunt the prey; some of them toy with it, torture it. There's no sinister conspiracy to it (although there might be lots of sinister conspiracies involving it) - it's just the way nature is.
The characters are prey.
They will probably find out about this sooner or later.
They might be preyed upon by other human beings or eben by animals born as predators; they will be confronted with the hideous aspect of these creatures as soon as their masks fall. They might even be able to turn the tables on a specific predator. But there's always more predators out there ...

That way, it is believable that the characters are attacked again and again and seek out each others help to survive; while on the other hand, they won't be facing a big conspiracy that could not possibly be taken on by a bunch of joe normals.

It would be easy to use the creatures from the BOUH as predators; I'm also thinking about the notion that some predators might be able to draw prey into their "hunting grounds", which would be alternate realities á la Silent Hill.

Any thought on that? There are obviously some problems. The outlook of such a campaign may simply be to bleak. Also, the very premise makes it hard to introduce overarching themes besides the this basic premise.


  • I would just say that each contact with something from the other side taints the character with the 'scent' of the other-side. It is this 'scent' that attracts them. The more encounters you have the greater the attraction.

    This makes it so that anyone could potentially be Prey. All it takes is one brush with the unknown and their fate is sealed.
  • Thanks - that actually makes much more sense!
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