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Despair Event Horizon / Tabletop Games

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  • Warhammer 40,000
    • This is the Chaos God Nurgle's modus operandi: prey upon those who have succumbed to despair and cynicism, especially if this anguish comes from a hideously-disfiguring disease. His victims wallow in self-pity until they fully embrace decay and entropy, find themselves perversely enjoying the experience, and begin worshiping him. In other words, through Father Nurgle you can fall past the Despair Event Horizon and end up Affably Evil.
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    • For another example, this is a significant chunk of the Soul Drinkers' fighting style - you break the enemy's will to fight, and then you can just kill them with ease.
    • The whole idea of Night Lords, whose Primarch coined the space marine battlecry "I fear no evil, for I am fear incarnate" - They are a legion of The Dreaded and just their arrival to a planet is usually enough to cause mass suicides. Then they use orbital bombardment to cover the atmosphere with ash, blocking out the sunlight, jam communication with broadcasts of tortured civilians screaming and go on their hunt.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Investigators (a.k.a. the PCs) wage a never ending war against the Elder Gods, slowly learning more and more of the Mythos. At one point or another, they get a view of what they're fighting, a clear unobstructed view. Those who don't Go Mad from the Revelation typically lose all motivation to fight out of finally understanding how small they really are in this fight.
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  • It's implied in some articles about the Dirigible Engine Daystar in Exalted that the Unconquered Sun has crossed it at some point after his Chosen crossed the Moral Event Horizon and the whole world went to the dogs. This is a sign of how bad things have gotten in Creation; the cosmic embodiment of virtue is caught in a spiral of despair and denial.
  • Twilight: 2000: Since it's about the last survivors of the last major battle of World War III, the game starts its players right next to the horizon, and it's up to them to find a way to avoid crossing it.
  • Being that they're both settings about personal horror, crossing the horizon is horribly frequent in The World of Darkness games — so much that many have mechanics for it.
    • Mages use their beliefs and sheer willpower to shape the reality around them. Pushing them over the edge and sending them into utter despair, naturally, has some terrible consequences... If luckynote , their mind (and magic) breaks and the mage becomes a Marauder, who enforces their shattered vision of reality upon the world by existing. If unlucky, they might decide that it is better for reality not to exist at all and join the Nephandi. This process involves ripping their soul inside out.
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    • Werewolves have a word for this: Harano. It's the breaking of spirit that comes from the realization that the Wyrm has already won, and anything they would do would be utterly pointless. Werewolves who succumb to Harano lose their connection to Gaia, and worse, their connection to what makes them a werewolf, rendering them a normal human from then on. A few rare lucky souls manage to reconnect with their werewolf side, usually just in time to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • In a world full of unwilling monsters, Prometheans probably have it the worst. The universe does not want them to exist. The very earth rejects them and the people are supernaturally urged to hate them. Learning to become human is a very difficult and bitter task, but many see it as a worthy goal to fight for... But many still fall to despair and pursue a very different goal: to become monsters. A Centimanus revels in their inhuman nature and uses their alchemical powers to dissolve and disintegrate.
    • In Changeling: The Lost, crossing the despair event horizon is the reproductive cycle of the True Fae.
  • Princess: The Hopeful, a fan game from the above WoD games, also plays on this.
    • A normal person crossing this before death can can become a Cataphract, a monster that thinks it's human but does a terrible job at being so.
    • A Princess dying while crossing this becomes a Dethroned, something far worse, having all the power they had, but only able to lash out in an unrelievable pain with their power.
  • In Sentinels of the Multiverse, Legacy crossed this in the Iron Legacy timeline when Baron Blade killed his daughter, cutting the Legacy line short rather bluntly. He left the family ring on her gravestone and pulled a Face–Heel Turn, becoming one of the more notably destructive supervillain characters.
  • Arkham Horror has a game variant called "Personal Story", in which every player is dealt two cards. One has a small bit of backstory on what the character is doing and on the flip side it has pass/fail requirements, and the second card is the prize for succeeding or the punishment for failing, with each side of the card representing this. Some of the characters are trying to avenge friends, save the city, or uncover the truth, but if you read the lore on the failure card, you can see that a lot of them basically lose hope for victory.
    • Jenny Barnes is looking for her sister. Passing her quest has her reunite with her sister, and the card becomes an ally card that gives Jenny some great benefits, but failing the quest has Jenny get mailed a package by an unknown cult, of which contains the body parts of her sister, and she begins screaming before opening. She then has to either draw a madness card, or keep the failure card and lose 2 maximum sanity for the remainder of the game.
    • Dexter Drake's backstory states that he has always wanted to learn real magic. Failing his personal quest has a child apparently ask him if he can do real magic, to which he responds that nobody wants to know real magic.
    • Mark Harrigan finds peace if you complete his personal story, having avenged his wife, however failing his card shows that Mark not only continues having nightmares about it, but it's as if he can hear his wife's screams all the time, even when awake.
    • Ashcan Pete's personal story states he's been having progressively worse nightmares to the point he can't even sleep. If you pass his card, then he manages to get a full night sleep without a nightmare, but if you fail it, Pete apparently loses the ability to tell reality from fantasy, and reels through the streets, demanding everyone leave him alone. This results in him no longer gaining allies, however Duke, the dog, follows faithfully.
    • If you fail Charlie Kane's personal story, he doesn't get reelected. This happens after he just started learning of the Ancient One, and inevitably this means that the next person in the mayor's seat has no idea what is coming. To rub salt in the wound, he finds out that his own campaign secretary didn't even vote for him.
    • If you pass Darrell Simmons personal story, he finally gets photographic proof of a monster, but should you fail, he pulls the picture from the chemicals in the dark room and sees he got nothing but smeared images and motion-blur, and then remarks to himself that he knows his career is over.
    • like Mark Harrigan, George Barnaby is out for revenge, however while Mark is out to catch the beast that killed his wife, George is out to kill the cultist that killed his wife and burned his home. Should you fail, George cannot gain any allies, and his failure card just has a somber sentence where he apologizes to his deceased wife that he couldn't pull it off.
    • Gloria Goldberg's pass is called "I'm writing it" and her fail is "It's writing me", as one can surmise, the "It's Writing Me" failure card basically has Gloria realize that nothing she has done has any real importance, and she's doomed.
    • Hank Samson finds his father missing, however he appears to be a rather oblivious guy who doesn't pay attention to details well. If you pass, you get a humorous card wherein he finds his father tied up and asks him why he's sitting there like that as if it was his dad's choice, however the failure card, "The Boy who Learned Fear", has him never find his father. Instead, he sits on the ground, rocking back and forth, and repeating that he just wants to go home.
    • Jacqueline Fine's Failure card succinctly says "There's no way out, we're doomed."
    • Lily Chen's failure has her come to the realization that all of her training to stop the Ancient One and save the world were ultimately pointless, and that she's just going to die anyways.
    • Minh Thi Phan is reading a series of tomes to discover what happened to Mr. Thomas. Failure of her quest has her so distraught with everything she's read that she just outright tosses her research into the river, giving up and unable to proceed to help Mr. Thomas.
    • If Monterey Jack manages to pass his quest, he kills the beast that killed his father and comes across his dad's things. If he fails, however, he bleakly realizes what killed his dad has escaped, and that he will never see his dad's belongings again.
    • Norman Withers, if lost in Time and Space, basically realizes that he has no way to understand the Ancient One, and basically surrenders to the inevitability of the situation.
    • Patrice Hathaway, a violinist, cannot ever play her violin again if she fails her quest. She finds out that every time she plays a beast can hear her, and she can never risk enjoying her passion ever again.
    • Rex Murphy, in his failure, returns to his desk, frustrated and distraught, just begging the air as to why he can't catch a break in anything.
    • Skits O'Toole is looking for information about his deceased friend. Failing his personal quest, he just loses hope and can never find any information.
    • Tony Morgan is one of the only inversions of this situation, as he actually gets a better ability by failing his quest, and realizes that he was being played. Nothing bad happens if you pass, but he gets $15 and the buyer simply leaves without ever explaining why he wanted the creatures to start with.
    • Trish Scarborough tries finding leads as to what is actually going on on the government level, but failure of her card makes her realize that she has absolutely no idea, and all of her leads go absolutely nowhere.
    • Vincent Lee begins loathing himself for killing monsters if you fail his personal quest. He seems to try to convince himself that he had no other choice, but doesn't believe himself.
    • Wendy Adams can't find her dad, and her mom is locked up in an asylum. If you pass, her dad comes to her and explains that he has something important to do, likely related to stopping the Ancient One, but failing her quest has her realize her dad was never human, and she walks away crying. It's stated that she was aware of this, but wanted to believe he wasn't a beast.
    • Zoey Samaras isn't the most stable person, but she does actively use her belief that she has been chosen by God to stop the Ancient One. If she fails her personal quest, she basically loses all faith and asks where God has gone.
  • Played With , and ultimately averted in Ravenloft. Having a DEH as a Darklord is their Curse Escape Clause. It means they admit that they brought this fate onto themselves, and they deserve it. But the lore states if they were capable of admitting that, they would never become Darklords in the first place. The one time it happened, with Lord Soth, copyright issues were pressuring the writers to let him go.


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