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Forums » RP Discussion » Best way to slowly introduce lore??

Volitivo Cane Piccolo (played anonymously)

I have an Analog Horror RP Group known as Lillakille's Faithful Camp and I'm trying to figure out how to slowly introduce lore into the group without messing up the "exploration" and "investigating" aspect of this group.

Basically, this 'camp' is secretly a cult, and the campers within, the boys, do not know this. But there is a choice for a character to look further into the camp/cult and try and see the more darker aspects of it, to eventually realize it isn't as nice as it seems. However, I don't want to spit too much lore out and spoil the surprises and horrors that this RP will have.

I also have a few other bits and pieces I'd like to introduce, but fear that might take away from the shock and plot twist-ish value.
(Spoilers for those in the group) Such as the eye tattoo required once going up in rank to "Blink" rank.
or the secret, lowest hierarchy, known as "Tear" rank

What is the perfect way to ICly or OOCly introduce lore like this, without ruining the discovery aspect of the group?
In my personal experience, the worst sin you can do with secrets is trying to save them up for a dramatic reveal. Worst case: revealing them in a big speech from an allied NPC, after stonewalling all their investigations. Usually, in movies big reveals happen at just the right time, and thinking that RPs would be better if they work like that is an easy trap to fall into.
Finding out information yourself organically, while investigating is much more satisfying. Finding religious texts, talking to someone who you suspect of being a cult member and get them to slip up in some way, hiding in the shadows and listening to cult members talk, whatever works in the setting and fits the characters.

Usually when a mystery is revealed, it leads to follow up questions and mysteries - So, there are eye-symbols everywhere, what do they mean? You figure out that they are of religious relevance to the people around here, but… what religion? What are they doing? Why do they keep to themselves? Who is a member and who isn't? If this is a horror setting, is there a chance whatever they worshiping is a real danger?

The cult will also try to hide its activities, and try to slowly indoctrinate new members by only slowly immersing them in their more extreme teachings, thus creating natural problems for the characters to overcome. As a GM, I would ask myself the questions: how would they cover up their tracks? Are members sworn to silence to outsiders? And of course, what are the clues they have left by accident.

And of course the characters should have a reason to investigate, a mystery that grabs their curiosity: a friend went missing at the camp. A friend went missing, but then showed up again while acting totally different. Something that leads to personal entanglement is in my experience best, because it usually leads to the characters wanting to find things out themselves rather than just leaving things up to the police, or just ignoring smaller strange things because there would be no good reason to care about some things just being a bit weird.
Chaotic gave some pretty good advice!

I'm a fan of "show, don't tell". The cult is there and presumably has been there for a bit. You need to start by showing something is rotten about the setup; odd inconsistencies that don't add up, such as mysterious tattoos people won't talk about and midnight meetings, are part and parcel. Especially being in a camp, play up the isolation angle. Who're you going to call for help? Phone reception is probably garbage, the only computers with internet are in secured areas like counselors quarters or the main office, and the camp should be in the middle of nowhere so just walking out of it is infeasible.

A friend could go missing or return acting oddly, like Chaotic said. If there's female campers, easy enough to have a male camper with a crush on her, trying to figure out where she went... or why she's now acting odd. Maybe sneaking out to visit the girls dorm one night leads them to see something they shouldn't have.

Have them find a book or something left behind by campers from the years past, like under the cabin or something. It's an old paperback, mostly eaten away, and on the back page someone scribbled "DON'T TRUST SA..." and the rest is unreadable. Extra fun if you have counselors names Sam, Sarah, Sally, and Sanders. Finding belongings from previous campers, like an old backpack with a 1980's cartoon character on it, in obviously discarded condition somewhere it should be, like the bottom of an old well they find in the woods.

For horror and tension, I tend to focus on what they don't see more than what they do. If there's a monster running loose, they don't see it. They hear something in the night, they find an animal ripped apart near the cabin in the morning, with weird three-toed footprints that go off into the woods before abruptly disappearing near a tree. Extra fun when one of them looks up... and no, it's not the monster up there, but the other half of the animal.

Work towards a paradigm shift where they eventually realize they, and only they (or a small group), aren't in on what's going on here.

What are the cult's goals? What are its practices? If it's themed around eyes, have them find a doll that's missing those. Or a string of dolls heads in the woods, hanging from a tree, all missing their eyes. Think weird, shamanic totem stuff.

Make it immersive. Make it personal. The players need to have a reason to care about what's going on, whether simple survival or because someone they care about is at risk.

Unexpected allies can also come into play. A homeless guy in the woods whose been looking for his sister for decades. A park ranger (or other authority figure) who actually cares about what's going on (but probably doesn't know the details themselves). A friendly animal, dogs work great for that, which shows up at opportune times to help... or provide a clue, like dropping a shoe from its mouth on the inside of which is written the name of a missing camper.

Summer camp in the middle of nowhere is a great trope; run wild with it.

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