Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Black Fish (Night's Black Agents)

Back in January when talking about piracy I mentioned a rule I have for character backgrounds: keep it to one descriptive sentence. This week I'm going to talk about how to make that description interesting, and in the process provide a scenario seed for Night's Black Agents.

This Guardian article about illegal fishing and the people who fight it is worth a read. Briefly: though there are laws which are meant to prevent or ameliorate environmental damage through over-fishing, these laws are routinely ignored and the authorities are over-stretched. There's enough money in the trade to attract organized crime; the same people who smuggle drugs across the sea are keenly interested in the millions of euro available for, say, sending tuna and other delicacies to Asia. An environmentalist named Van der Werf has organized a self-appointed marine protection detail to counter this, the Black Fish.

The Fish are ordinary people who use equipment available on the open market to track, identify and record evidence concerning illegal fishermen and the boats they use. Van der Werf uses tactics perfected by the Royal Observer Corps during the Second World War, and unleashes dozens of observers with one task: gather information, however you can. Selfie sticks, drones, social engineering, the works. If it's not recorded, as Van der Werf is quick to point out, it might as well not have happened; the main focus is on gathering enough credible information to secure a conviction.

All of which sounds like an excellent introduction for a Night's Black Agent operative. This template could easily fit the Investigator, Analyst or Asset Handler. Turned on its head, it could also be made to fit a Mule.

The point being this: that when you rely on real world concepts to design your character, it adds to the game. Anyone can be an Analyst who studied the Mafia before becoming a vampire hunter. What does that mean, really? Studied the Mafia doing what, exactly? Now you know what: studied the trade in illegal fishing off the coast of Italy, particularly Sicily. In so doing, Interpol relied on your evidence to prosecute a human trafficking ring, and that's where things got seriously weird.

Or, in once sentence: I was a member of an ecological group investigating illegal fishing in Sicily, who stumbled onto the larger conspiracy when a human trafficking ring was exposed.

Alternatively, for the Mule: I was a Sicilian fisherman who worked with the Mafia as part of an illegal seafood harvesting ring, who angered the wrong people when a human trafficking operation went south.

A character archetype like this one is probably going to have a decent Driving or Piloting pool, but there are all kinds of options. Electronic Surveillance is a natural fit, as is Infiltration, Outdoor Survival, Streetwise, Conceal and Bullshit Detector.  Flying drones is a bit of an odd one, and could fit in either Piloting or Driving; Driving specifically says it covers remote control vehicles, but under the circumstances Piloting seems the more obvious choice.

Now, about that scenario seed ...

This takes place off the coast of Sciacca, a port town with a medieval past. Among other things, it's famous as the epicenter of what's called the Mediterranean Scene, which according to the internet is a Sicilian Black Metal movement. The Hook is this: an eco-warrior group - fictional, the Sea Foxes - which had been cooperating with the local authorities, is suddenly brought low when three of its members are gruesomely murdered in the same night, with signs that indicate to a Vampirologist that something otherworldly may have been behind it. What happened?

The Node operating in Sciacca, a smuggling ring, is feuding with a rival Node, as per Double Tap. The rival thought it would be amusing to start a fight on the smuggler Node's turf, but things got out of hand when its scheme to disrupt things at a Black Metal concert and beat up a few eco-warriors, thus making the eco warriors think that the smugglers were retaliating for squealing to the coast guard, resulted in three deaths and the unintended creation of a feral vampire.

This feral, previously Dutch agitator and anarchist Van den Zwolle, is completely out of control and running on almost zero Stability. [Therefore there's a very small chance to reason with what's left of his personality, which could save a protagonist in a desperate situation.] Van den Zwolle, the former leader of the Sea Foxes, is tracking down his former friends and vampirizing them, with a view to eventually taking out the smuggler Node in a bloody confrontation.

Naturally this isn't what the rival Node intended, but it's keeping very quiet lest this whole mess be revealed to be its fault. Meanwhile both the smuggler Node and the protagonists will want to track down the ferals and eliminate them before things really get out of hand. Van den Zwolle isn't acting rationally or carefully, but he's a cunning devil who's determined not to go gentle into that sanguinary night ...


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Baader-Meinhof (Night's Black Agents)

Unfortunately I've had to end my Dracula Dossier game early due to the sudden departure of two out of four players. As the group hadn't progressed that far, it seemed more fitting to end that campaign and begin a new one with the two remaining players, than it did to struggle on with the two remaining characters. It would have been a different thing had they encountered any Node above the lowest rank, or been involved in the underlying plot.

I thought that I'd take advantage of the recent Field Manual release - I believe it's only for Kickstarter backers in .pdf form now, but the rest of you will see it soon - to switch viewpoints and have them play Edom field agents. For their first mission the characters will be off to Poland to investigate a certain Nazi ghost train. However that's not the focus of this post.

As one of the minor obstacles the characters will have to overcome before digging into the main meat of the narrative, I intend to pit them against Alraune and a few of her friends. Alraune is interested in the ghost train because she believes some records, perhaps even physical samples, relating to her old project is aboard. As for what she's been up to since the war, I intend to get the old Baader-Meinhof gang involved.

Baader-Meinhof is an early form of what became the German terrorist organization Red Army Faction (RAF),  and I'm taking inspiration from the film Baader-Meinhof Komplex based on the novel by journalist and former Der Spiegel editor-in-chief Stefan Aust.

Having watched it, I came away saddened by the colossal waste, of energy, lives and hope. None of the principals seem inspiring, particularly miserable whiner Andreas Baader, and I found it curious that Bruno Ganz played the intelligence service chief set to capture or eliminate the group. Not that Ganz did a poor job - his performance is, as always, excellent - but I could not forget that four years prior he had captivated the world with his performance as Hitler.  Given that the RAF was driven in no small part by anti-Nazi sentiment, Ganz's performance seemed to verge on stunt casting.

The RAF was - or perhaps is, since there are rumors that it is active again - a far-left group determined to resist the authoritarian German state, controlled at that time by the Hitler generation, if not actual ex-Nazis. "The moment you see your own country as the continuation of a fascist state, you give yourself permission to do almost anything against it," says Aust. "You see your action as the resistance that your parents did not put up."

It had a hard-core Marxist tinge to its ideology, and its members trained with Palestinian liberation groups. Dividing itself into Commandos, each group knew very little about the other groups, allowing it freedom of operation without having to worry about its secrets being betrayed by its members, or its organization threatened when its leadership is captured. Even when the founding members Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Ulrike Meinhof were captured, the RAF was able to continue operations almost without interruption.

All told, the RAF lasted until the 1990s, by which time it was in its third generation. By that point the original team had committed suicide - or been murdered, depending on which story you believe - and the second generation had bathed in blood during the German Autumn of kidnappings and murders, only to sputter out by 1980. The third generation carried the torch, but this lacked glamour after the collapse of Soviet Russia. It's hard to convince yourself that Leninism is the way forward when the USSR dissolves.

Though the third generation is supposed to have declared itself kaput in 1998, recent bank robberies seem to suggest that the spirit of revolution is not yet dead. Though it's probably reaching for the Viagra right about now, since at best its active members must be in their late fifties if not early sixties.

Alraune, being a semi-immortal with every reason to dislike the German authorities, would fit right in with Baader-Meinhof. So here's where things get fictional.

Alraune joins the group in the 1970s. It accepts her unquestioningly, at least in part because she ingratiates herself with Baader and his girlfriend Ensslin. In return, she uses the RAF to help track down anything and everything the Nazis may have collected or uncovered about her past as a  Abteilung IIIb experiment. She's confident she recovered most of that data back in 1911, but her abiding paranoia is that she missed something, or that some other group was able to replicate the experiment.

One advantage Alraune has is that she can die, and be reborn. On at least two occasions with the RAF she arranged for her current persona to be shot dead in an encounter with the German authorities, only to reappear a short while later as a grieving relative or friend. The great thing about the RAF's decision to divide into Commandos, from her perspective, is that the group finds it difficult to compare notes. This allows her to infiltrate Commando after Commando without arousing too much suspicion, and she uses her own innate abilities to make up the shortfall.

Her current group is the (fictional) Kevin Lynch Commando, named after a dead Irish hunger striker, and she's playing the daughter of a previous incarnation. The Lynch is responsible for two sniper attacks, three kidnappings and one attempted kidnapping, and two bombings. Its last known action took place in 1997, when it was involved in a botched bank robbery that led to the deaths of two of its members. The two dead included Alraune's then-current incarnation, and the robbery failed because Alraune tipped off the authorities. She could see which way the wind was blowing, and thought it was time to bow out.

Though she believes the current German authorities know little or nothing about her, that isn't entirely true. DNA profiling wasn't even on the horizon when she first took up arms in 1970, but things have changed since then, and several samples of her unique biology were retrieved from crime scenes. Also, although in the early days she was careful to ensure that the records concerning autopsies of her dead personas were removed from the record, in 1997 she got a little sloppy. Some biological samples and computerized records escaped the purge. 

Hearing about the Polish Nazi ghost train, and worried that she might have missed something when she first investigated Project Giant in 1946, she decides to go after the train. However she feels she needs muscle so she reactivates her old comrades, claiming to be the daughter of her 1997 persona. Persuading them that there really is Nazi gold in them thar hills isn't too difficult; as former terrorists they're all living hand to mouth and desperate for money. It seems almost poetic justice to them that Nazi gold should pay for their golden years.

And that's where complications ensue ...


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Silent Hill 2: How to Design Survival Horror (Fear Itself)

Last time I talked about designing Silent Hill for Pelgrane's Fear Itself. Now I'd like to spend some time discussing what makes Silent Hill tick, and to do that I'm going to talk about survival horror as a genre.

Survival horror, appropriately enough, is a subgenre of horror in which the survival of the protagonist is what drives the narrative and provides the scares. It isn't about external threat - though there are plenty of those - but about the internal, as the vulnerable, easily killed protagonist tries desperately to exist in a world inimical not just to all life but to the protagonist's life specifically. There's a healthy dose of paranoia here, but then, is it really paranoia if the world is out to get you?

What in Silent Hill makes this apparent?

  1. Even the normal is a little weird. There's a moment in Silent Hill 2 where James Sunderland explores Neely's Bar. Like everything else in Silent Hill, Neely's is deserted. However there's an odd note painted roughly on the window: There Was A HOLE Here. Now It's Gone. The meaning of this note is unexplained, leaving it up to the player to decide just how to interpret it. However the mere fact that it exists begs all kinds of questions, the most obvious being, who wrote it? Who's supposed to read it? Is it like graffiti, a message for anyone, or was it intended for James specifically? There's nothing more normal than a bar, but adding that extra touch makes it seem somehow other, perhaps even tied specifically into the threat that may yet engulf James. This crops up again and again, perhaps best in the town itself, where you can wander the streets only to find that your path is cut off by a vast chasm. How did that happen? What kind of tectonic event can cause a rift like that, and yet leave the buildings roundabout still standing? Or what about the fog that swallows the town whole, or the way everyone else you meet seems either to accept the situation or to perceive things very differently than you ...
  2. The weird is very weird. If you play the game more than once, the characters get the chance to pick up and use different items in different ways. Often this means getting a better weapon, perhaps a chainsaw or a flamethrower. However in Silent Hill 2 James has the option of picking up a peculiar star stone which, if he uses it in exactly the right way in exactly the right places, opens up the true meaning of reality. Again, as with point 1, there's a strong presentment that these things are set here specifically for James to find, to use, to explore, further establishing the central concept that nothing happens by chance. The strange, twisted creatures James encounters are designed especially for him; they play on his frustrated sexuality, his darker side. But who or what did this? Or was it James himself ...
  3. Sure, you can find weapons, but don't expect them to help. Stick with a nail in it, pistol, shotgun, rifle; all are useful tools, but when the chips are down it won't matter what you're armed with. The real threat here is from within. That's why Silent Hill often has a suicide option as one of the alternate endings. In Gumshoe terms your dwindling Stability is the problem you'll have to manage, or die trying. 
    1. Using Night of the Living Dead as an example, although zombies are clawing at the walls the real threat is that posed by your fellow survivors. They all fight like cats in a sack, convinced beyond reason that their plan is the best plan. They have a rifle, a defensible position, molotov cocktails, and what happens? Chaos and blood, that's what happens. In survival horror if you depend on guns to see you through, you might as well climb into your grave and beat the rush.
  4. Supplies are limited. In Silent Hill the protagonist eats health packs and drug ampules like they were candy. There's never enough. You wander the streets half dead, because you only have one or two health packs left and you know, just know that you need to save health packs more than you need to actually be healthy right now. In Gumshoe, items like these might count as free Medic pools, perhaps 1 point for Health Drinks, 3 for Health Packs and 5 for ampules. Funny thing about those pools; in my experience players either consume them early and then regret it later, when they've got nothing, or they save them and save them and save them, waiting against the time when they're desperate. Which, oddly enough, is exactly how players of survival horror video games behave. 
  5. The enemy is very dangerous. The external threats the player faces are always real. There are no Mooks in survival horror. Some may hit harder than others, but they all hit hard, and you misjudge the threat at your peril. The same applies to traps and other potentially harmful situations. Stick your hand in the wrong place and you may lose a few fingers. Not that this ever stopped James Sunderland, but still ...  
  6. Everything happens for a reason, and that reason is usually bad for you. As in you specifically, not you, the abstract. This goes back to the Neely's Bar note. When something happens, when you go to a location, when you encounter a Shadow, these places, people and incidents exist because of you. They are linked to you, and often are a reflection of your mental state. As in, your rapidly deteriorating mental state. This is the polar opposite of Lovecraftian horror, in which the whole point is how powerless we are, how insignificant, in the face of cosmic forces. Nothing could be further from the truth here. In Silent Hill, and to a great degree in survival horror as a genre, the protagonist is the most important person in the entire universe. Without that person, none of this could happen. In fact, in Silent Hill there's good reason for thinking that the entire mess is the protagonist's own making.
    1. The cavalry isn't coming, by the way. If you stick yourself in a cupboard somewhere and huddle up, crying softly, waiting for the police or the army to rescue you, good luck and God bless. Just remember what happened when the survivors in Return of the Living Dead called the telephone number printed on the side of the can of toxic waste.
It's a good idea for the Keeper to discuss things with the players beforehand. Much of what's about to happen will depend on their characters, that Worst Thing they did, their state of mind, fears, and goals. For that to really be effective the Keeper needs to at least sketch out some scenes and ideas in advance. Even in a landscape as malleable as Silent Hill, it's helpful to set a few boundaries. Not unlike massive chasms in an otherwise pristine street, these boundaries funnel the character towards the desired destination.

Always bear in mind that the two most important aspects of survival horror are these:

First, it is always about the character, not the situation. Nobody cares about a zombie apocalypse if there are no brains to munch on, nobody cares about dinosaurs on the rampage if all the humans have already escaped via helicopter, and nobody, but nobody, cares about a spooky castle on a desolate peak if the protagonists skip past it and go on vacation in Monaco instead.  This isn't about sinister plots or grand Illuminati-style machinations. This is about what happens to ordinary people when plunged into extraordinary circumstances.

Second, not only is the threat real, it will almost certainly be fatal for someone. Probably several someones, in group-style play. When six co-eds vacation in that charming little cottage in the woods by the lake, it's practically guaranteed that only one or two, at the very most, will come back to tell the tale. Or to take the Silent Hill route, it's perfectly possible for James Sunderland to survive every single threat the town has to throw at him, and still have his life ruined.

Now, enough of that, I think. Next time, something completely different!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Silent Hill (Fear Itself)

Over the New Year's I tried to play Silent Hill 2 all the way through to the end. I had no choice; my copy is an aged PC version that, among its many bugs, wouldn't let me save, so it was play through till death or not play at all. I've seldom enjoyed a horror title more, and even half-bust as my copy is, that old corpse didn't disappoint.

For those who never had the pleasure, Silent Hill is a survival horror video game series originally developed by Japanese studio Konami. It's set in the one horse town that is Silent Hill, populated only by shadows and the damned. There's a map of the surrounding area, but you can't rely on it. There were other people here, some of whom are dead. The others? Well, you probably want to avoid them if you possibly can ...

People who come here seldom find what they wanted to find, and are lucky if they get out alive at all. Sometimes they stumble in, like Harry Mason, who just wanted to find his missing daughter. Some of them deliberately make their way there, like James Sunderland, who wants to track down his supposedly dead wife, or Heather Mason, who'd leave Silent Hill alone if only it would do her the same courtesy. Or you could be like Harry Townsend, who just wakes up one day and finds that he's trapped in his apartment, with no real idea why or how.

Silent Hill 2 is the best of the series. The rest? Eh, they have their moments, but none of them are as consistently frightening as James Sunderland's trip into nightmare. It's one of the most effective horror games of all time, and for good reason. No other game, and certainly none of the other Silent Hill titles, is as good at reaching into your mind and making you think; and once you do that, the shadows can get into your brain. After which, there's no chance at all.

This game partly inspired the hot mess that is the Silent Hill movie, with Sean Bean playing a Sunderland-esque role. Bean's a reasonable physical match, but that's about the only good thing that can be said about it. The terrible thing is, there are times when it becomes a really good movie, only to disappoint the viewer in the very next scene.

What makes Silent Hill work? Ultimately its character. You believe in James, Harry, Heather and the rest. You understand what they want, and why they're in the situation that they're in. Those strong characters then get to bounce off the weirdness that is the town, which will explore and exploit all of their flaws, until they break.

Silent Hill the town is a very odd place, even more so than it seems at first glance; and at first glance it's pretty damn odd. It's shrouded in mist and darkness, so you can't see all of it, and it's easy to get lost. Your initial impression is that it's a one horse burg, the kind of place that hasn't many young people because they all move off to the big city as soon as they can. Maybe it had a past, but it definitely doesn't have a future.

Then you begin to explore, and to wonder. How many one horse towns have apartment buildings? A fully functioning hospital and a separate medical clinic? A prison, a Civil War museum, a Historical Society, a lakefront Hotel, a funfair, a park? Suddenly it seems much bigger than before. But where are all the people? Yes, there are abandoned cars here and there, and signs that something cataclysmic happened. But there are far fewer corpses than you'd expect if there was a natural disaster, and far fewer survivors.

One of the first living people James Sunderland meets is Angela, whose importance you only really understand when you see her for the last time, at the end. Without wishing to spoil, it becomes clear that the Silent Hill she experiences is a completely different kind of Silent Hill to the one James has had to fight through. Here's her final scene. "You see it too? For me, it's always like this."

This demonstrates two very important truths: first, that Silent Hill is different for everyone. Second, that everyone in Silent Hill gets the experience that they think they deserve.

Ultimately, this is about Hell. But this isn't about scales being balanced or some kind of judgement. This is about the punishment we make for ourselves.

Angela sees the things she sees not simply because she's being punished, but because she thinks she deserves to be punished, and in that particular way. Taking that example, James too must see the things he sees for the same reasons. Which suggests that Silent Hill, the town, bends its appearance, its essential being, to the expectations of people like James and Angela. There's a Hotel, yes, but perhaps it only exists because James needs it to exist. For Angela, there may be no Hotel. She's clearly somewhere, in that final scene, but it might not be the same somewhere that James thinks he's in.

In that case, Silent Hill is just a set, a dreamscape. For James, the Hospital is clearly designed as a insane asylum. For someone else it might be an ordinary hospital, or a school, or some other building. Two people can be in the same place, the same room, and yet have completely different experiences.

Moreover this malleability doesn't stop at the streets and buildings. As James proves in his relationship with Mary not all the people are really people. But as with the environments, these phantoms aren't created by a god or devil figure. It's people like James who invent them out of nothing at all. Ultimately all they are is a reflection of the protagonist's mental state. Nor are they there to be helpful; after all, this is about punishment, not salvation.

So taking all that on board, how can you, as Keeper, simulate Silent Hill with a ruleset such as Fear Itself

Fear Itself has at its core the idea that ordinary people, without special abilities, magic or some kind of overarching Destiny (with that all-important capital D), can be plunged into terror beyond their imagining or control. This works nicely with Silent Hill's insistence that its protagonists be ordinary people, without powers or indeed weapons beyond the sticks and items they can scavenge. Often its scenarios are designed to be one-shots, which is perfect for a Silent Hill session. Also, in its character creation mechanic the players are encouraged to identify and describe The Worst Thing You Ever Did, which fits perfectly into the Silent Hill punishment trope. 

Finally, the characters are encouraged to develop a goal, and again, this is perfect for Silent Hill, since its protagonists are usually very goal-oriented. James' goal is to find out what's going on with his supposedly dead wife, for example. Heather's is to find out what Silent Hill wants from her, and incidentally to avenge her dead father figure Harry Mason, so that's both a goal and a Drive in one easy package.

My suggestion would be that, in addition to developing a character, each player also develop something that the Wraith RPG would call a Shadow. Don't worry about Stats for these creatures; the main points are the archetype, Drive and Goal, which work in just the same way as they would for an ordinary character. Except, as with Wraith, the Shadow's goal is to oppose the player's character, to drag them further down into the abyss. So their archetype, drive and goal ought to be a polar opposite to the player's character. 

A Jock player type might have a Brain Shadow, for example. That Brain's Goal might be to show up the Jock in front of his girlfriend, if the Jock's Goal is to rescue his girlfriend, and so on. An alternate Shadow for a Jock, assuming that his goal is to rescue his girlfriend, is to have a substitute girlfriend whose personality is the polar opposite of the Jock's actual girlfriend. So if his original girlfriend is a Good Girl, the Shadow is a Sexy Girl.

Instead of abilities, a Shadow has an Aberrance pool. That pool can only be spent to help, or frustrate, the character. Helping in this instance means adding points to a character's Pool, to help with tests or to uncover clues. Say a character wants to interrogate an NPC. The Shadow can contribute Flirting, Intimidation or Interrogation to assist, by using Aberrance on a 1 for 1 basis. If an important door is locked, blocking progress, the Shadow has the key, or knows how to bypass it, on a 1 Aberrance spend. Or say an Athletics test is needed to overcome an obstacle; the Shadow can contribute points to the test. 

Frustration is the same thing, in reverse. Though the Shadow can never willfully obscure clues, it can contribute pool points to increase the difficulty of a test. I suspect this will often be used to increase the difficulty of Stability tests, but not always.

This pool should be two points less than the Investigative build points used to create the character. Assuming 16 build points, then the Aberrance pool is 14, and so on. Aberrance can be refreshed whenever the character loses Stability. For each point lost, the Shadow regains Aberrance on a 1 for 1 basis, up to a cap of the Shadow's original Aberrance pool.

Shadows have no General abilities. They piggyback on the characters. So in a Fleeing contest, for example, if the character successfully flees, then so does the Shadow. Shadows also have minimal Health, and no Stability. However they can never truly die. If killed in a scene, perhaps by a monster, a Shadow can reappear, apparently unharmed, a few scenes later. Ultimately as a reflection of the character that created it, a Shadow cannot die unless and until the character that created it dies. 

A Shadow is never played by the person who created it. A Shadow's role should always be taken by another player, whenever possible. If that isn't possible for whatever reason, then the Shadow should be played by the Keeper.

OK, that's it for the characters. What about the town of Silent Hill?

Well, the great thing is that there are plenty of online resources that can help you create it. One of the most useful is this fan-created map of the town, but there are plenty of map examples online. That part of the map used in Silent Hill 2 is marked as South Silent Hill, but really you can pick and choose as you see fit. Print out this map. That way the players can draw on it, just as happens in the games.

What, exactly, is in Silent Hill? Ultimately that will be up to the players, but I suspect that it will depend greatly on whether or not they have played any of the Silent Hill games. Those who have will almost certainly expect to be able to go to their favorite locations. Brookhaven Hospital is a recurring setting. Heaven's Night nightclub may turn out to be a fan favorite, as might Neely's Bar. If you have the time it would be a good idea to ask, preferably at least a week or two before the session, which locations the players want to visit, and then build scenes around them.

If the Keeper's uncertain about an area, there are plenty of online resources that describe them. Alternately, make it up out of whole cloth. So long as there's plenty of atmosphere and fog, you should be fine. Even within a Silent Hill location there were always plenty of fenced-off or gated areas the player could never get to. The bit of the Hospital the characters are currently in could easily be one of those. 

The creatures encountered in Silent Hill often depend on the protagonists themselves. So James Sunderland, for instance, first encountered Pyramid Head because Pyramid Head is intended as a play on his frustrated masculinity and libido, all gleaming muscle and huge weapon. Ideally, as with the locations, the Keeper should get a week or more worth of heads-up about the Worst Thing The Character Has Ever Done, which should give enough material to design the look and basic behavior of the creatures the character encounters. 

It may also be useful to ask if there are particular creatures the players want to encounter, or avoid. Some long term fans of the series may feel that a particular creature type is done to death and just not interesting any more. Others may really look forward to, say, the Nurses, or Robbie the Rabbit. 

However the key to monster design here is to take a hard look at the character and see what can be done. So in Silent Hill 3, for instance, where there's a strong undercurrent of sex, Heather is often attacked by creatures that resemble walking spermatozoa, or giant misshapen muscle-men, and in one section has to kill a giant purple worm that suddenly emerges from a huge hole in the wall. As I recall, I beat it to death with a stick. Paging Doctor Freud. But the point is that the enemies she faces are dependent on Heather herself, so you as Keeper need to know about the characters' goals and Worst Thing. 

Try to keep it simple. Dividing it up into the Seven Deadly Sins is a handy reference that may help you in a pinch. A creature motivated by Lust is bound to be different from one motivated by Gluttony, and so on. Also remember that the Sin will affect the environment as well. Angela sees Silent Hill in a completely different way from James, because her motivating sin - linked to her goal and Worst Thing - is different from his.

Once all that's done, send the characters off into Silent Hill. Each character will probably arrive on his or her own; this isn't a moment for the Mystery Machine to rock up and start disgorging plucky teens and their crazy dog. But after they arrive each character will probably encounter the other characters one by one, just as James first meets Angela in the graveyard and leaves her there, or finds Maria in the park and brings her along with him. 

You shouldn't be afraid to let the characters split up and explore the town on their own, because when not on stage a player can assume a Shadow role. If there are a lot of players this becomes tricky, so you may be better off doing this in a smaller group. 

Alternately if you don't mind things getting really complicated, you can assign off-stage players recurring monster roles of one kind or another. Robbie the Rabbit returns, or one of the Nurses takes on a more human intelligence. 

I'm going to leave it there for the moment, and come back to this in a Part 2. So long for now! See you in a bit.