From the introduction:
This is a game about heretical philosophies that have been dismissed, ridiculed or suppressed because they don't have "happy endings".
It's a game about people driven to seek truth despite the danger. It's about the double-life those people must lead and the thrill and power that accompanies their exploration of the dark truths of this world.
This is a horror game, yet players are not given the comfort of a monster they know from legends: there are no ghosts or vampires or devils. Instead, the "monsters" are the people, places and things that we depend on and believe in and that suddenly turn malevolent when their true nature is perceived.
In Dark Alleys draws style from three main sources:
- Movies from the Japanese "horror revolution" (and their American remakes).
- A number of American Indie comics whose creators found innovative ways of bringing readers into the damaged psyches of the protagonists.
- A certain sci-fi trilogy that uses questions about the nature of reality to form the basis for furious action.
The game takes place in what seems to be the modern world, yet hidden just below the surface is a world of conspiracies, heretical faiths, occult powers and supernatural dangers. The true nature of the universe is not immeidately divulged to the players, but players know this much: what most people believe about the universe is not only wrong, it is a deliberate deceit. Los Angeles is provided as an in-depth campaign setting, yet In Dark Alleys can be played anywhere in the modern world.
The players are all "touched," people who have had a peek behind the curtain of normal reality and have been irrevocably changed by otherworldly forces.