There’s downtown, which can be a bit run down but has its charms, the home of the young and the idealistic, then there’s the slums, where people are out of hope and idealism and many of them have given up even trying to act like decent human beings any more. If you end up in a bad neighbourhood and you really don’t belong you can end up in a great deal of trouble. Wendol Heights is a bad block in the middle of a worse neighbourhood. Abandoned to the gangs, the drug sers, the insane, the destitute and the hopeless it’s part of the city gone feral and savage. Any living made there must be at the expense of others, either welfare or exploitation and every day is a struggle for survival. Those who don’t live in such terrible squalor are hard pressed to even acknowledge that it exists and when confronted with it may fall into denial, or fall victim to it.
The horror here is in being confronted by the failure of society, of being thrust face first into something that goes beyond the most paranoid and hysterical fantasies of the broadcast media. Several uncomfortable things are pushed forward from such a phenomenon as the feral city, man’s inhumanity to man, the worst effects of the drug trade and age old fears and stereotypes about race and gender. The feral city is a cutthroat world where everyone really is out for themselves, or at best their ‘pack’, usually kept in line by a strong leader. Ramping up the horror element the people inhabiting this rat nest become more and more bestial and animalistic the further involved the characters get, dragging them down to their level and into their world where a life isn’t worth spit and the normal rules don’t apply.
Wendol Heights squats in the middle of a hugely run down area of the city. Wendol Heights is a run down concrete block of a building thrown up as housing projects during the last gasp of the city’s industrial period before everything went abroad and the city’s old heart died. It’s surrounded by sprawling slums and rusting industrial parks even older then Wendol Heights itself and the block is hotly contested by the three or four gangs that call the whole area home, the building being considered the main prize, dense with addicts and people on welfare and easier to defend and watch over than most other buildings around the place. There’s no railway station, just a marshalling yard for transport trains, no bus routes come through there and it’s all but abandoned by the police and other services, who only take an interest in cleaning things up afterwards.
1. The characters take a wrong turn off the freeway and end up driving into the area of Wendol Heights. It isn’t long before some scumbag gangbanger has shot out their tyres and they’re stuck on foot. There isn’t a phone booth that hasn’t been vandalised and the locals are after them. Think of it as an urbanised version of the ‘hillbilly killer’ cliché with the drugged up gangsters and their peculiar rituals and codes replacing that of the hill men or swamp dwellers.
2. A social worker who still works the Wendol Heights rounds reports that things are getting even worse down there and police arriving on the scene after a gang conflict find evidence of cannibalism. There’s some new drug or new gang influencing how people are acting down there. With every red cent going on drugs rather than food perhaps the cannibalism is a terrible, but natural occurrence, on the other hand perhaps there’s something more sinister at work and
the new drug is literally turning people into beasts.
3. The characters are a family, down on their luck, moved into public housing in Wendol Heights. The peculiar nature of their neighbours and the neighbourhood rapidly becomes apparent, from strange, tribal graffiti to the, seemingly well fed, homeless. The gangs are blank eyed and feral predators, the forces of law and order are distant or corrupt and coming from the outside they need to prove themselves through trial by fire or they’ll end up dead. Become one of the monsters or feed the monsters, some choice.
Judgement Night and The Warriors are particular good films for projecting the surreal sort of menace and run down horror of the urban setting in the right way for this location/scenario to work. If you like to add a ‘message’ into your games there’s lots you could work into this scenario, comments on race, politics, drugs and Social Darwinism for starters.
Perfect if you want something a little deeper.
This story comes from ”100 Dark Places” by Postmortem Studios.
If You like it, check out this book
SYSTEM: any horror
AUTHOR: James ”Grim” Desborough, Postmortem Studios