“Grisly Reminder” by MidnightSyndicate.com from “The 13th Hour” © 2005. Used with permission.

"Unlike FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL FICTION and SCIENCE FICTION -- terms which describe generic structure - horror is a term which describes an affect.
A horror story makes its readers feel horror."

- "The Encyclopedia of Fantasy"

Beyond the Inspiration

This is compiled list of various Horror and Dark Fantasy related materials that have provided inspiration and influence to my Beyond the Supernatural games over the years. If your having trouble conveying a particular type of feeling or mood to your game, some of these might be useful to you.

  • Movies
  • Books/Comics
  • Television
  • Video Games
  • Music/Ambiance

Movies

There are hundreds of movies out there that offer inspirational ideas for BTS, but these are movies that have had a direct impact on my game/storytelling style and/or writing. Note that this is an ever growing list. As I recall or come across a movie that has contributed to or influenced my game, I will add them below.

The Changeling movie poster

The Changeling (1980)

The Changeling, starring George C. Scott is truly a masterpiece of film work and THE BEST ghost story I've ever witnessed on film. I was ruined to other ghost movies at an early age as I first watched this one when I was only eight or nine years old, and I couldn't sleep for a week after watching it.

Dealing with the loss of both his wife and daughter, musical composer John Russell moves to a new city (Seattle) and into a historic old house as he rebuilds his life and makes demands of himself. But John is not alone in that house; a haunting presence still lingers, and its desperate to communicate with him!

Even today this one still induces chills in this grizzled horror vet. From the mature way the ghost story is handled, to the incredible acting by everyone involved, they just DO NOT make em like this anymore, and that's a shame!
The Mist

The Mist

'A freak thunderstorm storm unleashes a species of bloodthirsty creatures on a small town in Maine, where a small band of citizens hole up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.'

The Mist is a very good movie in my opinion, and is based on a short story by Stephen King (the short story is a very good read as well). It has all the ingredients needed for a fine BTS adventure scenario: Lovecraft inspired monsters, psychological damage, religious fanatics, desperate individuals, military shenanigans, make shift weapons and fortifications, all accompanied by a moody and atmospheric musical score.

This one is also good about hitting you below the belt (the ending in particular), something that's rare these days. So if you haven't yet, make the time to wander into the mist.
Insidious movie poster

INSIDIOUS

INSIDIOUS is a movie that any BTS fan worth his/her salt needs to see. There are many thematic elements similar to BTS, and many aspects from the movie can be used in your own paranormal related games.

 While trying to avoid as many spoilers as I can, I will say that there are great examples of a psychic sensitive/medium, parapsychologist, Psi-Mechanic (with excellent use of a gas mask and a view finder) and entities along with other surprises that I won’t spoil. In fact, some of the elements are examples of things and places I want to flesh out in my Beyond the Paranormal sourcebook (and only adds to my growing frustration at how slow the thing’s coming along).

Point being, it’s not only an excellent film, it’s an excellent paranormal film. While it’s got some obvious roots in movies like Poltergeist and Paranormal Activity (both of which are great BTS sources), it also takes you places not quite explored in a paranormal movie before (at least as far as I've seen, and I've seen a lot of ‘em).
Sinister movie poster

Sinister

Sinister is an intelligent, mature, old school styled horror flick that starts with a slow burn, but packs a serious supernatural punch by the end!

True crime novelist Ellison Oswalt moves into a new home with his family to work on his next book. The catch is that this house is the same one that belonged to the family he's writing his book about, and where they were all murdered! While packing away some boxes in the attic, Ellison spots an old box, which holds an 8mm film projector and several reels of film. What he finds on the films goes beyond the supernatural.

As mentioned, this one is a slow builder (my favorite kind) and the more Ellison learns about the family and the bizarre events of their murders, the more he's put through the meat grinder (both emotionally, mentally, and physically). The supernatural events provide some seriously good BTS inspiration.
Altered movie poster

Altered

Altered is from the director of the Blair Witch Project. It’s a horror film centered around a pack of buddies who are out to extract revenge on a monstrous alien life form. If you take out the word “alien” and put in “supernatural monster”, you've got a very BtS inspiring tale on your hands. It's also full of memorable quotes that you might hear during a monster hunting adventure. For Example:

Wyatt: “Is it still alive? Is it breathing?”
Otis: “Do they do that?”

This one has it all: altered weaponry, disturbing creatures, dark and claustrophobic scenery, hunters becoming the hunted, and some very witty dialog to make it a worthwhile trip.
The Thing movie poster

The Thing (1982)

“Trust is a tough thing to come by these days.”
- R.J. MacReady

The Thing is one of my all time favorite horror films, and my favorite John Carpenter film. It’s had a serious impact on me as a fan of the “monster” genre since I was a kid and since then my horror RPG style of playing and GM’ing.

 The desolate, icy, claustrophobic feel and isolation of Antarctica , the paranoia and mistrust everyone goes through (I’m not sure I've seen a film portray it better), the feeling of imminent doom and hopelessness this film continually conjured up, the surprise attacks of the monsters and the still incredible creepy special effects of the monsters (which still surpasses the best computer generated effects), to the impeccable acting of the entire cast (this baby is a gem in the crown of Kurt Russell’s impressive career), there’s something for every BTS fan in this one!

This is a staple of the horror movie diet and BTS inspiration; that’s not my opinion, that’s a fact!
Creepshow movie poster

Creepshow

Creepshow was one of the first horror flicks I ever watched as a kid, and it’s been near and dear to my black heart ever since. All five tales are BTS worthy!

Inspired by the controversial E.C. Comics of the 1950s, director George Romero and screenwriter Stephen King serve up five delightfully frightful stories. Utilizing comic-book panels, animated segues, and exaggerated lighting and camera angles, Romero comes very close to replicating a horror comic in film format. The results mix fine acting with the morbid sense of humor and irony that made the E.C. books so popular in their heyday.

This bad boy includes tales of a sinister father's day celebration, a mysterious meteor, seaweed-draped zombies, a monster in a crate(which I swear inspired the
Tasmanian Devil adventure and the cover of Boxed Nightmares source book), and a cockroach-phobic millionaire.
In the Mouth of Madness movie poster

In the Mouth of Madness

God's not supposed to be a hack horror writer.”
– John Trent

While everything John Carpenter made in the 80’s was golden (and BTS worthy), he had some duds in the 90’s. “In the Mouth of Madness” was not one of them! This one is a rare psychologically deranging gem that’s a must watch for any BTS fan.

It’s very Lovecraft inspired and stars Sam Neill as John Trent, an insurance investigator who’s searching for and researching a missing popular horror writer named Sutter Cane. As John tracks the writer down, he begins to realize that Sutter’s books and stories are coming to life before his very eyes! And things only get more horrifying and indescribable the further he looks into the mouth of madness.

Any GM who’s yearning for ideas of how to send his player characters down the rabbit hole will want this baby in their tool kit!
Hellboy movie poster

Hellboy

“There are things that go bump in the night, Agent Myers. Make no mistake about that. And we are the ones who bump back.” - Professor Bruttenholm

While I love both Hellboy & Hellboy II, the 1st one is particularly good for BTS inspiration. In fact, it’s such good for inspiration that I've got several movie posters hanging up in my man cave/RPG room to help inspire and set a mood when needed.

It’s got a great mastermind villain, a couple of good cronies and a kick ass minion that keeps returning (and in greater numbers). It’s got a great secret government operation (the B.P.R.D.). It’s got psychics. It’s got a grimy, slimy, icky supernatural feel to it. It’s got a great final battle scene in the giant Russian cemetery/Rasputin’s Mausoleum. It’s even got Lovecraft inspired monsters!

The only non-BTS issue I have with this flick is that a supernatural monster is the lead character (not that this makes the movie any less enjoyable, just pointing it out as BTS is all around average Joe's and Jane's dealing with the supernatural).
Species movie poster

Species

Species is a flawed movie, but its still a total B-movie guilty pleasure of mine, and its feels very much like a BTS movie.

Take out the "Human-Alien hybrid" and put in a "Succubus" or something similar, and you've got a game adventure ready to go!

Even the crew put together to find Sil is a player character group in the making; a molecular biologist, an anthropologist, an empath, and a mercenary who specializes in tracking down fugitives. If you haven't seen this one yet, make the time; its quality B-movie enjoyment!
The Mummy movie poster

The Mummy

“NO! YOU MUST NOT READ FROM THE BOOK!”
Sure, its an blockbuster film, and its more pulp-adventure than pulp-horror, but there is a certain pulp-horror charm to the 1999 version of The Mummy that can't be denied!

It's very BTS inspiring, especially for a group of players who enjoy a more “tongue-in-cheek” kind of game (which I tend to go for during the summer season). Its got the undead, dark curses, man-eating bugs, archaeology, tomb raiding, secret societies, adventuring, cliffhangers, and of course its got mummies! What's not to like?
The Awakening movie poster

The Awakening

“All the children are gone... except one.”
In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves.

The Awakening
is one of the better English ghost stories films to come out in awhile. Its bleak, its atmospheric, its unique in how it plays out, and actress Rebecca Hall is simply incredible in this movie. Very BTS worthy!
the_Apparition movie poster

The Apparition

When frightening events start to occur in their home, young couple Kelly and Ben discover they are being haunted by an apparition that was accidentally conjured during a university parapsychology experiment.

The Apparition is one of those weird horror movies that could have been good, but it had no idea what it wanted to be, the studio obviously got its hands on it and changed what the entire movie was about (watch the trailer to see how different it was supposed to be in comparison to what it became), and spent too much time imitating other horror films rather than try to be its own.

So while I cant recommend this one of its film merits, its still got some good ideas and a few nuggets of adventure inspiration to dig for if your willing to take the time to watch it. Paranormal research, paranormal investigating, making good use of the supernatural affecting its surroundings (the way it rotted the house was a pretty cool) are highlights of this otherwise flawed movie.
cover for a Haunting in Conneticut

A Haunting in Connecticut

When the Campbell family moves to upstate Connecticut due to their son's health, they soon learn that their charming Victorian home has a disturbing history: not only was the house a transformed funeral parlor where inconceivable acts occurred, but the owner's clairvoyant son Jonah served as a demonic messenger, providing a gateway for spiritual entities to crossover. Now terror awaits when Jonah, the boy who communicated with the dead, returns to unleash horror on the innocent and unsuspecting family.

A Haunting in Connecticut is one of those 'based on a true story' movies which are blatantly NOT. The VERY INSTANT you start questioning the validity of this being a true story, the entire movie collapses in on itself. So here is my advice: completely ignore the based on a true story blurb at the beginning and you'll find a potentially inspiring BTS movie underneath it. When you go that route, this aint too bad of a film to sit back and enjoy, especially for BtS fans.

Paranormal investigating, seances, a haunted house, ectoplasm, angry spirits, dark secrets, there's plenty of goodies here to be inspired by.
Cover art for Atlantis: the lost Empire

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

1914: Milo Thatch (grandson of the great Thaddeus Thatch) works in the boiler room of a museum. He's certain that Atlantis is real, and he can get there if he has the 'Shepherds Journal', which can guide him. But he needs someone to fund a voyage to get it.
His employer however thinks he's nuts, and refuses to fund his search. After resigning his position, Milo goes to his apartment and meets Helga Sinclair, a representative of billionaire Preston B. Whitmore. After learning that Whitmore is an old friend of his Grandfather, he gives Milo the 'Shepherds Journal', a submarine and an expert crew. They travel through the Atlantic ocean, face the 'Leviathan', travel an immense underground cavern, to finally reach Atlantis. But does the Atlantis crew have a lust for discovery, or something else?


Inspired by Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth (and Stargate in my opinion), and visually inspired by Hellboy comic artist Mike Mignola, this is one of my favorite Disney movies. The lack of songs are replaced by a strong action-adventure theme, and the script and vibe is geared towards an older audience. Atlantis has a BtS feel to it, including magical aspects, linguistics, adventuring into the deep unknown, excellent visuals (the underwater fight with the Leviathan was particularly cool to watch), and interesting characters.
cover for Trollhunter

Trollhunter

Documentary footage chronicles three Norwegian college students filming the exploits of suspected bear poacher Otto Jespersen. Instead, they discovered that Otto hunts trolls for the government. Together, the group encounter one bizarre monstrosity after another.

Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal found a new angle on the found footage horror genre by swapping out demons for trolls. I LOVED Trollhunter and thought the well made 'found footage' could very well have been real. The trolls themselves aren't overtly scary, due both to the limited special effects and the fact that trolls simply aren't as ingrained into American folklore as they are in Norway. While I suspect this is a terrifying flick in Norway, its got the chops to scare anyone.

Nonetheless, the tension is palpable as the intrepid hunters find themselves deep in troll country and in over their heads. And of course, there's plenty to farm for inspiration in this fine piece of foreign film.
cover for Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers

A British Squad is sent on a training mission in the Highlands of Scotland against a Special Operations squad. Ignoring the childish 'campfire stories' heard about the area, they continue with their mission and come across the bloody remains of the Special Ops Squad, and a fierce howling is pitching the night sky... With two mortally wounded men, they make an escape, running into a zoologist by the name of Megan, who knows exactly what hunts them. What began as a training mission turns into a battle for their lives against the most unlikely enemies they would have expected... werewolves.

Dog Soldiers to me is not just a great and realistic feeling survival horror film, its a great example of how using whatever weapons, equipment and materials on hand can be useful in combating supernatural creatures. Backed up with a great script, dialogue and acting, this is a great flick to watch regardless, but its a gold mine for BTS fans!
Absentia movie posterIt was recommended that I watch the movie "Absentia" by a fan on the Palladium forums, and now that I have, I have to pay it forward. Its not often I say this, but Absentia should be considered “Required Watching” by any BtS fan (I plan to make a movie night for it in my group). Its a small production film (made for only $70k) but its THE best small production I've ever seen!

“Tricia's husband Daniel has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie comes to live with her as the pressure mounts to finally declare him 'dead in absentia.' As Tricia sifts through the wreckage and tries to move on with her life, Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house. As she begins to link it to other mysterious disappearances, it becomes clear that Daniel's presumed death might be anything but 'natural.' The ancient force at work in the tunnel might have set its sights on Callie and Tricia... and Daniel might be suffering a fate far worse than death in its grasp.”

Its dark, its minimalistic, its nihilist,its got an amazing sense of encroaching dread, and its production values, writing and acting are all very well done!

Books/Comics

Cover for the Nimble Man

The Menagerie book series

The Menagerie is a dark fantasy series based on a hodgepodge mix of supernatural characters, ranging from the spiritual to the fantastical.
Favorite characters of mine include:
"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle"-the 2nd most powerful sorcerer in the world.
"Eve"-The first woman, who eventually became the first vampire.
"Clay"-In short, he's god's own clay that was used to create the world. Clay can shape shift into any animal, real or imagined in the mind of God, or any person with whom he's had contact.

All four books in the series are excellent reads and I recommend them highly!

Cover for Dark Hallow

Dark Hallow

Dark Hallow, by Brian Keene (one of my favorite authors) is ripe for mature audience BTS inspiration.
 After two miscarriages, writer Adam Senft's marriage is on the rocks, and his only satisfaction comes from his bond with his dog, Big Steve. Spring time brings brings trouble this year as all the women in town begin disappearing, summoned to the woods by the satyr's hypnotic piping.

When Adam gathers the menfolk to hunt down the satyr and retrieve the women, what they uncover is an unholy evil bent on protecting itself and spreading its seed.

Cover for Ghost Walk

Ghost Walk

Ghost Walk is the sequel to Dark Hallow, and is my personal favorite Brian Keene tale (thus far).

Haunted-attraction designer Ken Ripple has designed his masterpiece, the “Ghost Walk”, a trail winding through the mysterious woods of LeHorn's Hollow. He doesn't realize that the woods are truly evil and a gateway to hell has unleashed a real demon.

This book introduces Levi Strauss, an ex-Amish powwow magus, who's one of the coolest characters I've ever read about, along with Adam Senft, the protagonist from Dark Hallow. Fans of Levi can find him in the book
A Gathering of Crows
, just as bad ass as ever!

Cover for Criminal Macabre

Criminal Macabre

“I think one of the key things I've learned over the years is THERE ARE NO RULES when it comes to killing freaks. Sure, some die from a bullet to the head, some by burning, and evidently some by the original superstitions like stakes and silver bullets. The key is to improvise. The key is to adapt to the situation and destroy the threat by any means at hand.”

Criminal Macabre is a great Cal McDonald mystery and a wonderfully bleak and drab looking graphic novel.
As is his style and his way, Cal goes through the ringer all throughout the book in the process of dealing with monsters, plagues and the L.A.P.D.

Cover for Criminal Macabre: complete

Savage Membrane

While Savage Membrane is no longer able to be purchased as a short story on its own, the complete Cal McDonald Stories can be bought in Criminal Macabre (ignore that its the same title at the graphic novel above) and Savage membrane is worth the purchase alone.

Its lively, its hard boiled, its humorous at times, its one foot in the real world, and the other in the supernatural. Its not for kids either, so readers tread carefully.

Cover for Nevermore

Nevermore
a Novel of Love, Loss, and Edgar Allen Poe

On the banks of Lake Drummond, on the edge of The Great Dismal Swamp, there is a tree in the shape of a woman.

One dark, moonlit night, two artists met at The Lake Drummond Hotel, built directly on the borderline of North Carolina and Virginia. One was a young woman with the ability to see spirits trapped in trees and stone, anchored to the earth beyond their years. Her gift was to draw them, and then to set them free. The other was a dark man, haunted by dreams and visions that brought him stories of sadness and pain, and trapped in a life between the powers he sensed all around him, and a mundane existence attended by failure. They were Eleanore MacReady, Lenore, to her friends, and a young poet named Edgar Allan Poe, who traveled with a crow that was his secret, and almost constant companion, a bird named Grimm for the talented brothers of fairy-tale fame.

I recently read "Nevermore: A Novel of Love, Loss, and Edgar Allen Poe" by David Niall Wilson (one of my favorite writers), and I loved it! Its got a great BtS vibe to it with its subtle, yet fantastic elements of the occult, dark mysteries, ancient curses, familiars, witches, and one of the most original ways of helping the trapped souls of the world move on that I've ever heard of (and something that I might have to work on developing for BtS someday).

Cover for Hell House

Hell House

Wealthy magazine & newspaper publisher Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is frail and dying. Faced with his mortality, he's seriously contemplating his impending death and offers a physicist and two mediums (one physical and one mental) $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death.

Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist accompanied by the mediums, travels to the 'Belasco House' in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues set out to investigate what is known as the 'Hell House'. But can any soul survive the evil that lurks in the most haunted place on earth?

In my humble opinion, Hell House by Richard Matheson (who is said to be Stephen King's biggest influence) is the best haunted house book ever written, and I've read quite a few. Beyond that, Dr. Barrett is a great example of a "Debunker" archetype, and I swear the mediums in the book inspired Kevin S. & Randy McCall when they wrote the BTS book. While its mature audiences only with this one, its a must read for BTS fans!

Coverfor Dept. of Monsterology

Dept. of Monsterology

Officially, it's the 'Department of Cryptozoology, Mythological Studies, Parapsychology and Fortean Phenomena'. But to the rest of the students and staff at the Dunsany College, baffled by the cloak of secrecy that surrounds the Department and its affairs, it has another, more dismissive, name: The Department of Monsterology. Funded by the mysterious Hampton Foundation, the Dept. operates several field teams that roam the globe on extended research expeditions.

Their brief: to investigate the dark and unexplored corners of our world - the places we've forgotten, lost or believe to be mythical. And to study those things that may still be lurking there.

Dept. of Monsterology is in short a fun read for anyone interested in the the paranormal, which you should be if your into Beyond the Supernatural.
Currently its only a four-part series, but more in on the way, so I encourage you to read these and get ready for more fun in the future. Read my review on flamesrising.com for more details about this wonderful comic series.

Television

X-Files cover

The X-Files

The X-Files is still my all time favorite television show and is a very serious influence on my home games. Mulder and Skully are still some of the best inspirations for those in need of a coupled of good player character ideas in a BTS game.

Compelling stories and characters, alien conspiracies, government interference and manipulation, cults, lots of unexplained phenomena, paranormal activities and metaphysical abnormalities, mutants, creatures and monsters, and an awesome soundtrack... what more could you ask for?
Rose Red cover

Stephen King's Rose Red

Rose Red is a TV 'mini-series', but its a good one!
Dr. Joyce Reardon, a psychology professor and aspiring parapsychologist, leads a team of psychics into the decrepit mansion known as Rose Red. Her efforts unleash the spirit of former owner Ellen Rimbauer while uncovering the horrifying secrets of those who lived and died there.

Virtually every type of BTS psychic shows up (including an Autistic Psychic Savant) and gets spotlighted moments to use their abilities. This one is VERY BTS friendly and worth the 254 minutes watching time.
Cover for Supernatural

Supernatural

Supernatural had to come up somewhere in this list didn't it? While certainly this show includes a couple of bitchy, whining pretty boys who can really get on my nerves at times, but when they’re dealing with the Supernatural, they’re golden!   The 1967 Chevy Impala and its trunk that’s loaded with monster hunting goodies, the great rockin music, the monsters, the occult lore, dad’s diary, their awesome mentor and friend Bobby, the variety of locations … it’s all good very BTS inspirational.
cover art for Kolchak

Kolchak, The Night Stalker

I was raised on Kolchak thanx to the wisdom of my parents, and I’m sure it had a hand or two in nurturing my love for all things modern horror. For those who have been living in a cave, Kolchak is about a Chicago reporter who investigates mysterious crimes with unlikely causes, particularly the ones law enforcement authorities won't pursue. Usually these crimes involve supernatural and/or science fiction angles.
It’s also very BTS like in that Kolchak could never come up with any evidence to prove his claims and “wild stories”. This show happened to be Chris Carter’s inspiration behind creating The X-Files.
cover art of Buffy

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

C’mon... you know what this show this is, and how awesome it was to watch on TV (and how great it is to still watch it on DVD). To me, Buffy was one of the reasons modern horror came back in vogue on television.

While I'm on the subject, its spin off show Angel was just as awesome (in some respects I thought it was the better show).
cover art of Charmed

Charmed

The poor cousin to Buffy, I ended up watching Charmed due to my wifey being a fan. While its stories are really predictable in most cases, and whatever this show did, Buffy did it better, but the trio of hottie witches and the occasional nugget of something kewl or interesting happening helped me watch the entire series. Don’t go out of your way on this one per se, watch it when you need something that's lighthearted and lightly coated with magical goodness.
cover for Criminal Minds

Criminal Minds

While Criminal Minds is not supernatural related, its one of the best shows I've ever seen in relation to character studies. There is an absolute wealth of the Player Character & Non-Player Character related character flaws and how evil characters and NPC's may think and react in particular situations.
The inner psychologist and profiler in me LOVES this show, not likes… LOVES!
cover for Fringe

Fringe

Currently sitting amongst my 'top 5 all-time TV shows' list, Fringe tickles my 'Evil Science' fancy, and doesn't stop till I’m spitting up blood!
This show frequently encourages me to get more into the 'Evil Science' and 'Fringe Science technology' angle more often in my home game.

I may write an adventure or two for the Rifter someday that’s dedicated to such subjects. I have some great ideas, its just a matter of getting the time and energy to write it all up.
Cover art for Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th and Warehouse 13

I lump these two shows together for the fact that at their core, they’re the same show. That being said, Friday the 13th was the superior show, regardless that it didn't’t age well and used lots of clichés (such as every friend and acquaintance they ever knew or had just met dies at some point).
Still, it had a great grip on the creepy and the horror factor at times, had some great cursed items, possessed some really good story lines, and has some truly memorable episodes.
  Warehouse 13 on the other hand is a lot more fun and lighthearted.
To me, this show is the lazy version as the 'cursed items' are all based on the previous (historic) owners of the objects. To me, this idea is clever on paper, but in production it gets old as it takes a lot of the potential mystery out of the items. Still, it’s got fun characters and a cast who obviously has great chemistry together, making it a joy to watch.
Cover art of Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Sanctuary is one of those shows that I feel is worthy of an honorable mention amongst my all time favorite list, but never quite makes it on the list. This one has a lot going for it: Amanda Tapping in a role I feel she was born to play as Dr. Helen Magnus (while the rest of the cast is gold in their own right), the unique creatures that the team finds to study and protect, the near high tech items they use, the globe trotting adventures, the beautiful soundtrack and music… what’s not to like about this show?
It’s VERY BTS worthy and it might yet one day make its mark in my all time favorite show list.
Coverart for Grimm

Grimm

"Remember the fairy tales your parents used to tell you before bedtime? 
Well, those weren't stories, they were warnings."
While it started off kinda clunky, I've gotten to dig the Grimm TV show. Its got some good BTS worthy bits and pieces, such as aunt Marie's trailer full of weaponry and tomes of history and lore, Nick's ability to see the creatures as they really are (showing how even subtle powers can make a big difference in BTS) and the creature's perform a lot of traits that are common to BTS creatures (especially Adalind, the Succubus-like creature).
Its worth watching for any BTS fan, so check it out!
Cover art for Alphas

Alphas

“Impossible is what they do best”
I've always disliked the way the Syfy channel treats its shows, but Alphas is the exception to their rule. While it treads no new ground in its material (X-Men, X-Files, Heroes, Fringe, and other shows have covered it already), the way the show carries itself manages to stand out and apart from the others.
Alphas treats psychic abilities with subtlety, restraint, and with scientific and neurological explanations behind them, and the cast is surprisingly strong and capable in their roles. Virtually every type of BTS psychic class can be spotted in this show, particularly Dr. Lee Rosen (who's an ideal Parapsychologist) and Gary Bell, an Autistic Psychic Savant type who's played with unbelievable credibility and finesse by actor Ryan Cartwright (its worth the show just watching him work).
Cover art for Dracula

Dracula

I admire the time honored masterpiece of a novel called Dracula, and I was leery of this show from the moment I first heard it was coming. But I took a leap of faith and watched an episode, and it honestly took me by surprise at how mature and intelligent this show really is!
This series introduces Dracula as he arrives in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who maintains that he wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. In reality, he hopes to wreak revenge on the people who ruined his life centuries earlier. There's only one circumstance that can potentially thwart his plan: Dracula falls hopelessly in love with a woman who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.
Dracula has only gotten better as it goes on, and its teeth have sunken deep in me. Check this one out!
cover for sleepy hollow

Sleepy Hollow

In this modern-day retelling of Washington Irving’s classic, Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to find that the world is on the brink of destruction and that he is humanity’s last hope, forcing him to team up with a contemporary police officer and her captain to unravel a mystery that dates back to America's founding fathers.

The modern day setting, the Headless Horseman, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, reanimated bodies, dark magic and curses, a good fish-out-of-water theme with Ichabod, covens, occults, the Astral Realm... there is a lot to enjoy in this show, and enjoy it I do!
Sleepy Hollow
is as fun as it is interesting to watch.

Video Games

Note: While there's a LOT of obvious and worthy horror game series that I could go into (like Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Silent Hill, Castlevania, and Alone in the Dark), this space is being reserved for video games that have had a direct influence or inspiration of some sort in my BtS home games.

Cover art for Condemned

Condemned: Criminal Origins

If there's a single word that describes Condemned best, its dark: dark themes, dark motivations, dark revelations... and just plain dark locales.

Think of it as a psychological survival horror game that’s part first person shooter and part brawling, with a lot of puzzle and crime solving elements thrown in to help FBI agent Ethan Thomas solve the mystery surrounding the elusive 'Serial Killer X'.

Madness, psychic powers, hallucinations, the homeless, dead birds and pieces of scrap metal have never been more menacing!
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Condemned 2: Bloodshot

While it seems that 'SKX' is gone, the dregs of the city continue to go mad and the violent crime rate has kept rising over the last year.

Ethan isn't doing well either; he’s homeless, he’s an alcoholic, and he’s slowly going further down the rabbit hole as delusions and hallucinations (or budding psychic talents?) are starting to get to him as well.

The scary part is that these newest aspects of his life make him the best hope the city has of solving the growing mystery of a possible clandestine cult.
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F.E.A.R. Trilogy

All of the installments of the F.E.A.R. series has been a mind job, both on both me and my BTS game.

Produced by the same maniacs that created the Condemned games above, F.E.A.R. tells a horrible story centering around the Armacham Technology Corporation playing with supernatural forces that they do not understand, and everyone involved suffers the consequences for their actions. Every truth unearthed only reveals just how vile and disgusting the minds behind this corporation are, and you have to go in and clean up their mess (good luck with that by the way).

Every twist and turn only gets more sinister and the ending of the 2nd game still bugs me to this day.
Oh yeah, and then there's Alma, who's story alone is enough to sicken you. It all makes for great evil corporation inspiration in your BTS game (it has in mine).
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Alan Wake

Alan Wake is one of the most well written & well designed games in history and one of my personal favorites. This one is the epitome of a psychological horror action thriller, and I keep coming back for more (so far I've completed it six times and I’m ready to go again).

Set in the deceptively idyllic town of Bright Falls, Washington, Alan Wake immerses you in an intense and expansive cinematic world with a deeply engaging and suspenseful story line that unveils new twists and profound character revelations at every turn. Alan will need unravel the riveting plot through multilayered character interactions, unique problem-solving while facing terrifying enemies.

I get so engrossed in Alan plight to rescue his wife (and saving the rest of the city of Bright Falls in the process) that I've even gotten a little teary eyed at the ending (twice I think). It’s simply an amazing game that needs to be played to be appreciated. Nearly every theme and experience in this game is worthy of inspiration and its no surprise that Alan Wake has had a lot of influence on my home game.

There are two additional chapters to look into after you've completed the main game
(The Signal and The Writer) and the quasi-sequel Alan Wake's American Nightmare is also a worthy game to check out.

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Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

Eternal Darkness is exclusively on the Game Cube, and is the sole reason I've held onto mine.

This is a great survival horror game centered around a mansion in Rhode Island, one that Alexandra Roivas has just inherited from her grandfather. Her grandfather was mysteriously murdered however, and her investigation into it leads her to finding a mysterious book titled
'The Tome of Eternal Darkness'.

While reading , Alexandra learns of her family's history with terrible evils (which is played out in twelve different locations, time periods and protagonists). The more she learns, the shakier her sanity and safety becomes.

Ancient secrets, monsters, magic spells, insanity, puzzles, runes, secret rooms... this one has it all! If you somehow still have a Game Cube (or access to one), check this game out!

Music/Ambiance

I'm a big fan of using music, sound effects and ambiance in my games. In fact, I've made arrangements of music to fit particular themes and story  developments as take place in my game, usually by creating specific CD's or by setting them up in my X-Box. This is a list of the CD's that are on common rotation in my player.

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Midnight Syndicate

For over fifteen years, dark music pioneers Midnight Syndicate have been creating Halloween music and Gothic, horror, fantasy soundtracks for the imagination. Formed by composer/director Edward Douglas in 1995, their music has become a staple of the Halloween, Gothic music, haunted attraction, and role-playing game industries. I own all of their materials and recommend anything they make, but there are some CD’s in particular that I enjoy using in my games: The 13th Hour, Gates of Delirium,
Realm of Shadows and The Rage.

Note: I'm very appreciative to Midnight Syndicate for giving me permission to use their music on the House of BTS. In fact, you might be listening to one of their tracks right now.
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Nox Arcana

In a similar vein as Midnight Syndicate, Nox Arcana is renowned for creating haunting, gothic-themed soundscapes with classic horror references, strong literary influences, original and captivating story lines, and hidden riddles and elaborate puzzles. The name Nox Arcana is derived from two Latin words, which roughly translate to "mysteries of the night."

Several of their CD’s are in common rotation during my home BTS games, including Necronomicon, Shadow of the Raven, Grimm Tales, and Blackthorn Asylum.
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Shadow's Symphony

The new kids on the block, located just down the street from the House of BTS.

Inspired by the horror genre, Shadow's Symphony is the sound of horror music. Shadow's Symphony has haunting melodies, and captures the fear and excitement of the imagination. Shadow's Symphony can be described as Gothic, Dark Ambient, or Halloween Music. Shadow's Symphony is available on Facebook as well as iTunes & Amazon.

Note: Shadow's Symphony as also given me permission to use their music, so you will hear their ambiance echoing throughout the dark hallways and corners as you wander the house from time to time.
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SAW

While the SAW soundtrack contains an extremely familiar title track (you know the SAW theme from a mile away), while I don't encourage playing familiar themes during game play as it can take you/the players out of the moment, the rest of the soundtrack is worth playing in the background.

SAW Part 3 and SAW Part 5 are also pretty good soundtracks to use while playing.
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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

While the rebooted movie from 2003 was actually pretty good as far as reboots go, its the soundtrack that really holds its own in a game session.

From subtle ambient moments to harder edged chase scene worthy moments, this one has it all.

P.S.: I was lucky enough to get an CD with an autograph from composer Steve Jablonsky.
Be jealous.
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The Messengers (2007)

The Messengers is another one of my proud autographed CD's that sees a lot of air time in my BTS home game. Its got a great "rising tension" feel as the CD plays from start to finish and its creepy enough to get under your skin at times.

While the movie itself is flawed, its still got some good ideas and scare tactics that can be inspiring to your own game; its worth a watch.
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Doomsday

While Doomsday is a favorite flick of mine, it's better inspiration for games like Dead Reign and RIFTS than it is for BTS. That being said, the soundtrack is very well suited for a BTS game. Its bleak, its a little off putting (at times it can be outright jarring), but these qualities can serve you well when trying to set a particular mood.

Note: Be careful to NOT include The Can Can (track 23) in your play list unless you mean to.
I did by accident, during an intense moment of game play, and the sudden blaring of "The Can Can" completely derailed the moment.
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SINISTER

The SINISTER soundtrack is a strange and unnerving series of tracks that works well for not only writing supernatural horror game adventures, but for playing during your BTS game sessions.

It can only really be described as an industrial sound with a splattering of sound and eerie voice samplings added and tweaked to extreme and jarring levels.

Don't listen to it in the dark, you've been warned.
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INSIDIOUS

I've already mentioned it in the movie section, but INSIDIOUS also possesses an incredibly eerie and unnerving soundtrack that works well in any BTS game backdrop. Its got a few subtle piano score tracks, some tension raising tracks, and many eerie tracks that plays with a variety of sounds, and finds creative ways to sound different than almost anything else I've heard before (and I've got a lot of soundtracks in my collection).
I consider this must have ambiance for any BTS group.
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The Conjuring

The Conjuring is an incredibly dark, unsettling and creepy soundtrack composed by Joseph Bishara, the same devious mind that wrote the INSIDIOUS soundtrack above. It seems that when he and director James Wan get together, horror magic happens!

Play this one when you want to get under your players skin in the middle of an investigation (which you should as the movie is based on paranormal investigating).
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The Awakening

I love this movie, and one of the many reasons is because of the beautiful and gothic orchestrational score that underlines the amazing story telling and melancholy visuals that makes this film so good.

The Awakening offers dark orchestral sonorities, haunting vocals and elements of an almost operatic choir writing; all of which form the backbone of the this thoroughly elegant and engaging score. Ideal for ghost stories and melancholy themed BTS adventures.