Sunday, 25 January 2015

Scotland as a setting

In honour of Burns Night (because it was this or eat haggis, ha ha) what does Scotland have to recommend it as a location for a game? Plenty of history, for one thing. Much of it pretty weird.

When asked about Edinburgh for Chill, I came up with this guide to the city for horror and urban fantasy:

Ghosts
We’re contenders with York for most haunted city in Europe, starting with Edinburgh Castle and including Mary King’s Close (a 17th century alley/tenement which wasn’t actually walled up with plague victims still alive inside but that's how the story goes) and the Vaults, with no particular legends attached but lots of reports. We also have a big cemetery at the edge of the Old Town, which is best known for the story of a dog but is apparently a hotspot for poltergeist activity nowadays.

There are a few local monsters, though none call Edinburgh home by default.

Magic
Major Weir recently made the cover of the Fortean Times, a puritanical Covenanter who suddenly and spontaneously confessed to sorcery, backed up by his sister.  His house has been identified in the last year if you need a cursed location.

Body Snatchers
With Edinburgh a major centre of anatomical study and the dissection of bodies almost totally illegal, some enterprising citizens took to feeding the demand by stealing fresh corpses. The most famous examples, Burke and Hare, rarely bothered with the trouble of digging bodies up so they just killed people themselves. Dr. Knox’s house could be a site of “pilgrimage” for a mad scientist.

SAVE and other hunters
My first thought here would be the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University.

General lurking
The Vaults would make a good hiding place for physical monsters as well as ghosts, being large, centrally located and handy for grabbing tourists. The little-used areas around Waverley Station would be a good bet too. Things preferring open spaces might like the Meadows, or the park around Arthur’s Seat, as these are still near the human population and especially all those students heading home after late nights. Also near the university and Greyfriar’s is the National Museum of Scotland, home to a variety of artefacts if you need something cursed. (One example: tiny coffins.) Further out there’s a port, low ominous hills, disused churches from various smallish religions some of which are now clubs and some of which are still empty, and plenty of narrow alleys...

... And that’s just Edinburgh, for a specific genre.

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