Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Witchcraft

American Horror Story has returned to FX with its third season. This one is subtitled "Coven." Though it's already showing signs of mixing several horror tropes like in previous seasons, the title gives away it's focus on a group of witches. More precisely, it focuses on a school for witches; it's kind of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, except they have no interest whatsoever in helping those that hate and fear them.

Each of the students has a specific psychic sort of power. No real Bewitched-like all-purpose spellcasting, but some very powerful witches have more than one power. There are sort of traditional ritual magic spells, too. It's unclear how this might integrate with the innate powers, and I imagine it will stay that way. "Fuzzy on the details" is just the kind of show AHS is.

Besides the general witchery, there's (so far) an attempt to re-animate the perfect boyfriend from the remains of a bunch of dismembered fratboys, a swamp-dwelling Stevie Nicks fan with the power of resurrection, and conflict between the immortal historical figures Marie Laveau and Delphine LaLaurie.

While every season has had things that could be stolen for an rpg campaign, this season probably offers the most gameable setting so far. In fact, there's a suggestion of the European colonial witches versus traditions of oppressed peoples that is a bit reminiscent of GURPS Voodoo: The Shadow War.


knobgobbler said...

Man, I'm tempted by anything with witches... and your description sounds intruiging (and that poster image is pretty cool)... but I forced myself to watch the whole first season and it was such a steaming pile of random horror trope offal... getting worse with each episode... my head might pop if I started on this one and it was more of the same level of crap.
At least the first season had Jessica Lange... but that was all it had.
Is Coven shaping up to be any less ridiculous?

Trey said...

Every season has had Jessica Lange. :)

I'm ill-equipped to judge for you, I'm afraid, as I've thought the first two seasons were each a bit of a mess, but great fun.

Tallgeese said...

We're enjoying the new season as well! We are big fans of Jessica Lange and are really enjoying her in her new role. It will be interesting to see how the "Frankenstein" theme further develops.

Jack Guignol said...

Haha, I'm glad I'm not the only one who took one look at the girls' school and thought "This is the X-Men, innit?"

I'll likely stick with it just for Lily Rabe and Jessica Lange chewing up the scenery, but I kinda wish that such a strong female cast wasn't wasted on motivations like "wants a baby," "wants youth & beauty," and "wants a boyfriend."

knobgobbler said...

OK, so y'all are basically saying it's still crap, but it's fun crap?
Maybe if I go in with that assumption I'll enjoy the ride better.
So many folks had yammered at me that it was 'OMG! THE BEST HORROR EVER ON TELEVISION' that I kind of went in with... expectations.

Jack Guignol said...

@knob - I think the key to enjoying AHS is to take it as it GLEEFULLY goes off the rails, and if you're ready for that it's a less bumpy ride.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Well I am enjoying it so far!

garrisonjames said...

Almost makes me miss not having cable...almost. Might just check out the previous seasons on DVD. This sounds like an interesting show. First time I've seen LaLaurie referenced in something like this, which shows that someone involved is doing their homework/research. The whole clandestine cold war between competing magical traditions thing always sounds cool. How does this compare to Sleepy Hollow?

Trey said...

I've only seen one episode of Sleepy Hollow so I may not be the best judge, but I would say Sleepy Hollow is at it's heart a police procedural whereas this is a drama. There are a lot of little difference of course, but dramatic structure would be the primary one.