Not everyone has seen Them. Most people think they have.
They don’t come out of the shadows and lay waste to everything in Their path. They’ve done that exactly once, that we know of, and that was Jerusalem. Mostly, They wait for you to fall into a shadow and then They do whatever it is They do with you.
Those of us who have been to the Between have seen Their natural environment a little more closely, of course. But it’s always disappointing to folks who want information to use for strategy or analysis. They’re “home” is just…dark. Nothing really there. You get some sense of topography, but…well, the Between’s hard to explain, and They aren’t easy either, so I’ll try and stay focused.
Even if you’ve seen Them, you probably haven’t really seen Them. When we see Them, it’s usually because They’re dragging someone near us away. And we look straight at the person being dragged, and usually what we remember is the screaming and the terror and sometimes the abrupt snap when the…It…carrying the person decides “fuck it” and just kills him. But we’re looking right at It, and the thing is that They are always shrouded in shadows.
So if you look at Them out of the corner of your eye, where the greatest concentration of rods are, you see Them better. Rods are the bits of the eye that see better in dim light, which is why your peripheral vision is better in the dark than in the light. So if you really want to see Them, you look out of the corner of your eye.
While they’re dragging someone away. Yeah, I didn’t think you want to see Them that badly.
But really, you want to know the worst part? Think about all the times in your life – before He took over, I mean – when you thought you saw something move in the dark? Just some little flicker of activity, just for a split second, and you looked into that corner or behind that door or under that bed and there was nothing there except shadows, and you thought, “Hell, I thought I really saw something?”
I’m betting you did. I think They were just waiting for something.
I’ll post something about the Between in particular later, but I wanted to put something up about Them, seeing as how They are the primary antagonists of curse the darkness. I always pictured Them as kind of hulking, humanoid brutes, but in running playtests and demos what I’ve discovered is that everyone has different notions of what “scary monsters from the shadows” look like. One idea that the playtesters floated was that They don’t have real forms until He gives Them forms, and so you might see monsters that are big and brutal, and others that are lithe and insectoid, and some that are more mammalian, and so on. I’m still playing with that notion, and how I want to implement it.
One thing I do want to stress, though, is that if you try and fight Them in a straight-up, one on one fight, you’re probably dead. They’re strong and fast and they can jump in and out of shadows. They killed billions of people inside of 10 years, and there are no reliable reports of actually killing one…
…except it’s not as hopeless as all that. They require Him to coordinate their actions, and unlike people, They can’t Open by themselves. They can be shot and killed, it just takes multiple shots and They’re hard to hit. But it’s not hopeless.
Of course, to directly fight them, you have to light a candle. And that’s a conscious, courageous and potentially fatal choice. When we get into Challenges and how they work, that statement will make more sense. But for now, I just wanted to point that the fight is winnable.