View Full Version : Doing horror in pen-and-paper

2016-02-24, 01:32 PM
After taking a look at the World of Darkness: Slasher sourcebook, I have a sudden yearning to gamemaster a slasher movie setup: The players, in an isolated, rural region, plagued by various creeps and spooky myths.

The problem is, my players are real-life people, and have seen horror movies, and know better than to, say, turn their back on a "dead" Jason as long as his head is in the same room as the rest of him, investigate a strange noise without heavily armed backup or relaxing before checking every single corner and shadow of a room.

Horror is about feeling powerless and threatened. How does one accomplish this in pen-and-paper? If anyone has tried this and succeeded I would love to hear some stories.

2016-02-24, 01:59 PM
If you're adding house-rules (it sounds like you are) you might consider some sort of sanity/fear metric, where at certain points their character does things outside of the player's control. Or the players may have their characters avoid things which would cause more fear.

A lot of it is to have random things happen which feel out of the player's control and/or too powerful for them to deal with.

A game that does this very well (not an RPG - but a board-game) is Betrayal at House on the Hill. I'd suggest it both because it's an awesome game, and it fits the vibe you're looking for, using tropes without being silly etc.

Basically the players are all classic horror movie characters (jock/gypsy/librarian/little girl etc.) and go through the creepy mansion where random ghosts etc. mess with them - hurting but very rarely life-threatening. The players may even get creepy magic books, or weapons to be handy. Then *cue creepy music* IT happens. You get a card & roll a die, and one of scores of betrayals happens! It turns out one of the players (chosen at random) had lured the others here to blow them all up for revenge, or becomes possessed, or needs to steal their youth for immortality etc. Suddenly it's 1vAll in random creepy scenarios.

It's the game that actually hits that horror movie vibe the best I've seen.

2016-02-24, 02:52 PM
I suggest looking at this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?479278-How-do-you-do-horror-in-your-games) for discussion in this topic. It's on the front page, too, so it's even current (i.e. you won't be doing thread necromancy if you post in it).