Sundays over Vathak - The Voice of Good

We talk a lot about the forces of evil in Vathak, but part of what makes a setting ripe for horror is how it portrays its forces of good.

Part of that is by their absence. Try considering you're favorite non-horror setting without it's central heroes. Whether it's the MCU overwhelmed by aliens after the Avengers didn't show up for their first movie, a Sunnydale where no one can walk the streets at nights due to vampire attacks, or even Professor Coldheart enslaving mankind because the Care Bears didn't make it.

But it's easy to say "there are no good people in this world, it's basically a miserable place." And that can work for some existential horror stories. Consider a slight tweak, though: there are good people, just not enough in numbers or in power. There are good people around, they're just victims rather than heroes.

Looking through Inaothian settlements, from the capital of Auld to tiny hamlets like Rhodaras... the average leader of Ina'oth is not a good person. The Powers That Be aren't necessarily malicious, but the circle of those they care about is narrow at best.

GM's Guide to Ina'oth

There are no overpowering good gods (unless you listen to the vindari church), the upper echelons of nobility are self-interested at best, and even the leaders of small towns are busy keeping the wolves off their doorsteps. But, and I think this is very important to making most horror work: there are good people.

One of the most profound themes in Gothic horror is the corruption of the innocent. As long as it's not taken in a lurid or tacky direction, that fall from grace can be very emotionally powerful. And it's even more so against a backdrop where innocence is something rare and beautiful.

So, as you're running a corrupt city like Ursatur, be on the lookout for NPCs that might rise above that. And consider who might help the party in that reclusive fishing town or raiding mountain tribe. As in real life, small acts of kindness can make all the difference.

Even if you don't directly threaten those kind NPCs, and you often won't need to, that kindness can form a connection and those few good people can make an entire town seem worth saving. And those few flickering candles will make Vathak's nights seem all the darker.

Until next time: be good,
Landon Winkler, Shadows over Vathak Line Developer