A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    I'm planing to run a game session of Cthulhu Dark ( http://www.thievesoftime.com/news/cthulhu-dark/ ), a rules light horror game set in the Cthulhu Mythos.

    This is my first horror game so I've read a few articles on the subject. Most of them involve details for how to DM, but I was wondering if I could get any advice on setting the mood for a game. By this I mean things like playing music in the background or dimming the lights. Does this kind of stuff have much effect on the players and if so what kind of stuff works?
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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    Well, one of the things you MUST do is completely remove ALL banter unrelated to the game. No talking about the movie you saw last night, or no matter how hard you try, you'll never be able to set the right mood.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    Quote Originally Posted by Madeiner View Post
    Well, one of the things you MUST do is completely remove ALL banter unrelated to the game. No talking about the movie you saw last night, or no matter how hard you try, you'll never be able to set the right mood.
    Thanks for the advice. Most of my players are pretty good about this, but one regular is always on his cell phone though.
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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    Dim the lights in the room. Tape a (thin) blanket to the overhead light if you don't have dimmers. Have a system set up to turn the lights off completely and without warning without getting up to walk to the switch, or letting your players see you do it (tie a string to your toe?).

    ...I really don't know. Set up a Tesla Coil on the underside of the table, inside a Faraday cage, of course, to shock your players (emotionally, not physically! ) when you turn it on for the first time?

    Always remember, when you have a gimmick set up, use it when it's most appropriate story wise. Never use a Tesla Coil unless a PC gets zapped, being pushed into an electrical transformer or live wires, but when they do, turn it on.

    I really don't know, though. I'm not much of a horror fan myself.
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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    Honestly, I've played plenty of horror games or games with a horror element as pbp on here, in my well-lit house with no sorts of background gimmicks, and been properly scared/horrified/whatever. You don't need any gimmicks if you've got players who buy into the game. If you do want to use them, make sure your players are into it -- if someone has vision trouble, a dimmed room will be more likely to take them out of the game if they have to squint at their character sheet every time they need to check something, for example.
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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    Get a stereo/music player with speakers.
    Set the volume low enough so that the players aren't sure if they can hear it.
    Play creepy/atmospheric music.

    I agree with dimming the lights, try to make the room colder as well.

    No electronics, no banter, no meta (well, as little as possible)

    Speak slowly and deliberately, only make eye contact with a character that something bad is going to happen to.

    Don't do a cryptkeeper voice.

    Don't include a lot of combat.


    Also: Location, location, location! If it is nice outside, and the game is at night, play outside! It's always creepy to sit under a dim light in the middle of the night to let your eyes play tricks on you. Take this step into your game, as well. Make sure that if you include a haunted mansion or something lame, its a really ****ing creepy haunted mansion. That includes but is not limited to:
    • lack of electricity/lanterns
    • empty rooms
    • creaky floorboards
    • that feeling of being watched, which is revealed to be some crazy guy or something. I don;t know.
    • a draft

    The key though is to underplay all of the spookiness. This isn't scooby-doo.
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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tough_Tonka View Post
    Thanks for the advice. Most of my players are pretty good about this, but one regular is always on his cell phone though.
    Tell him to cut that. That kills the mood in any game.

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    Speaking as a person with poor vision, I won't enjoy a game where the lights have been dimmed if at any point I am called upon to look at anything like a character sheet or die rolls. Your players might not care at all, but check if you're not sure.

    Make the offending player turn off his cell phone before the game starts. In front of you, and show you that it's off.

    If you can manage environmental sound effects without too much hassle, that's a really good thing to have going for you. Then again, I've always played in a rather creaky old house with some architectural oddities that make whispering/whistling winds common whether you want 'em or not.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    I would be pretty upset if I was at a GAME with FRIENDS and one of them made me turn off my phone in front of him and show him that it was off. I assume your all adults and he might have some real life stuff that needs addressing. Probably better to have a quick conversation about how it's detrimental to the game and you would appreciate his undistributed attention. Besides, what if his wife calls because there was an emergency but his phone's off so he can play DnD (or whatever game) with friends?

    I think barring the cell phone user, if you guys role play well and you set the tone and mood your players will pick up on it. I think that describing the setting well would defiantly help. You could use cliched material, that would still be fun and can be scary, but like it was said above, try not to make it a Disney Halloween Special.

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tough_Tonka View Post
    Thanks for the advice. Most of my players are pretty good about this, but one regular is always on his cell phone though.
    Underlined by me
    Quote Originally Posted by INDYSTAR188 View Post
    I would be pretty upset if I was at a GAME with FRIENDS and one of them made me turn off my phone in front of him and show him that it was off. I assume your all adults and he might have some real life stuff that needs addressing. Probably better to have a quick conversation about how it's detrimental to the game and you would appreciate his undistributed attention. Besides, what if his wife calls because there was an emergency but his phone's off so he can play DnD (or whatever game) with friends?
    I'm working from the assumption that "the talk" about the cell phone has already taken place. If it hasn't, then by all means have that discussion first. If that player is a repeat offender and knows that it's detrimental to the game, then time for other measures. If you're "always on" the cell phone when you're going to a gaming session, clearly you have your priorities in a different place. That's totally fine, I respect that. That being said, I don't like to play with people who have to spend all their time yakking with someone who's not even there to make the time bearable. If said person doesn't want to play or has other obligations, fine, no hard feelings, we'll hang out in some other circumstance.

    When I'm gaming, and another person is constantly taking calls, it ruins my experience. While I most certainly could quit the game, I'm not the one chatting on the phone during a time when (in theory), I've set that time aside for something else. I respect the people I hang with enough to give them my attention when I'm hanging with them. If I feel that I can't do that, then I will arrange to hang with them at a different time.

    It is an issue for me, but then again I'm also the sort who thinks that cell phones have made people generally a lot more rude than they used to be. Trying to set a certain mood and the cell phone rings and a conversation ensues, the mood suffers a serious setback, if not being completely destroyed.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for setting the mood in horror games:

    Quote Originally Posted by Winter_Wolf View Post
    Underlined by me


    I'm working from the assumption that "the talk" about the cell phone has already taken place. If it hasn't, then by all means have that discussion first. If that player is a repeat offender and knows that it's detrimental to the game, then time for other measures. If you're "always on" the cell phone when you're going to a gaming session, clearly you have your priorities in a different place. That's totally fine, I respect that. That being said, I don't like to play with people who have to spend all their time yakking with someone who's not even there to make the time bearable. If said person doesn't want to play or has other obligations, fine, no hard feelings, we'll hang out in some other circumstance.

    When I'm gaming, and another person is constantly taking calls, it ruins my experience. While I most certainly could quit the game, I'm not the one chatting on the phone during a time when (in theory), I've set that time aside for something else. I respect the people I hang with enough to give them my attention when I'm hanging with them. If I feel that I can't do that, then I will arrange to hang with them at a different time.

    It is an issue for me, but then again I'm also the sort who thinks that cell phones have made people generally a lot more rude than they used to be. Trying to set a certain mood and the cell phone rings and a conversation ensues, the mood suffers a serious setback, if not being completely destroyed.
    Fair enough Sir. I agree with your point, but just thought that it would be very rude if that was the way you initially addressed that problem. I agree it's rude. I DM and I try to tell my wife ahead of time that I'll be available for emergencies but will be pretty much off line for a couple of hours, it would be nice if the person in question would do the same.

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