3 Sure-Fire Ways to Run A Successful Horror Adventure!

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    3 Sure-Fire Ways to Run A Successful Horror Adventure!

    This is so easy, and works every time!

    1) Whenever a player asks you a question and you want to throw them off-balance (engendering feelings of fear and confusion), simply answer them with "appears to be," "seems to be" or "you think it is." This freaks people out, because they think you are holding back some vital piece of (dangerous) information. Be sure and grin evilly if they demand a more specific answer, then say nothing or repeat your previous answer.

    Ex.: "The eyes in the portrait don't appear to be moving..."
    Ex.: "Everything seems to be normal..."
    Ex.: "You don't think the substance is blood... at least not human blood."

    2) Describe as much of the setting as possible to create atmosphere.

    Ex.: "The slime-dripping walls are cold to the touch, as if they were blocks of ice trapping all the evil of a thousand years in their terrible embrace."

    Ex: "Just ahead, Jill stops rather abruptly as she is about to turn the corner. At first, you think she is turning around to say something to you, but then you notice the gaping red slit in her throat. She tumbles to the ground as a cadaverous-looking man steps into view, holding a scalpel. Behind you, the sound of the door locking from the other side reverberates like thunder in your head. You are trapped! The grinning madman creeps slowly toward you..."

    3) Be sure and throw in "red herrings" and "bump in the night" noises. These scare the hell out of players.

    Ex.: "Lightning rips the sky. In the sudden flash of light, you think you see a gnarled figure crouching near the base of the old tree on the hill, like some ghastly gargoyle atop a cathedral... (if players advance) But when you reach the spot, there is nothing there. Perhaps your eyes were playing tricks on you. Old Charlie, the gnarled gravedigger, went home hours ago... or did he?"

    Ex.: "You step out into the impenetrable blackness of the hall, feeling for the railing to the stairs... As your hand clutches the bannister and you begin your descent to the mansion's ground floor, an ominous creaking seems to follow you. Could someone--or something--be following you? You stop moving, and the noise stops when you do. It is then that you feel the cold breath on the back of your neck, covering your flesh in goosebumps of terror!" (a window was left open and a chill breeze is blowing in... there's no one behind the player, but they will probably be convinced there is a ghost stalking them!)

    That's it. 3 simple rules to follow for a ghoulish good time Game Mastering! Enjoy.
    Last edited by Kaptain_Kantrip; Friday, 5th April, 2002 at 04:46 AM.

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    Good tactics.

    To extrapolate, never refer to a monster by its proper MM name. Always describe them in an alien and unfamiliar way so the players are never sure what it is that they're dealing with.

    Things like "skeletons" might be immune to this treatment, but even they could be presented in an unfamiliar method, perhaps scuttling along the floor on all fours, like some obscene spider.

    Beyond this, prolong the time before the PC's can see the monster in full light. Scattered corpses and brief glimpses out of the corner of the eye build suspense. Creative use of shadows and surroundings such as sewer tunnels or thick forests can be very effective.

    Even simple things like oversized spiders can be creepy if they sneak up behind you and crawl up your leg, or jump down on you from treetops. Especially if you've been hearing their chittering all night...
    Last edited by The Traveler; Friday, 5th April, 2002 at 07:48 AM.

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    My tips: Split the PCs up. Have attacks come while they're sleeping or vulnerable, and have it come slowly (werewolf under the bed, or "you hear the doorknob to your room jiggle", etc.). Cast suspicion on the people the PCs most rely on or must rely on ("Shelly, your character notices that Josh's character has NO shadow..."). And let them suspect the the worst/terrible truth ("Wait, you mean the monkey head rolled on it's shoulders so that it seemed like it was looking at me, it wasn't really looking at me, right?!?").

    Last edited by 7thlvlDM; Friday, 5th April, 2002 at 08:02 AM.

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    Although describing setting is a good idea, leaving details about the monsters unclear is also a handy trick as it leaves it up to the imagination of the player. Lovecraft always had his "unspeakable horrors" and "dimensions that were so warped and twisted that they defied rational explanation." Give them enough to fill in the blanks with there own fears.

  6. #6
    Okay so here's my Rule #4: Never use MM monsters as is. Basically, all one has to do is alter the description so that it seems like a completely different, unknown monster. If you keep the stats/mechanics the same, you know its playtested and not too strong or weak. But the players won't know what the hell it is! Take the Girallon, for example. It's a tough foe (except for crappy AC). Now, instead of a four armed gorilla (which sounds kinda stupid to me), tweak its appearance:

    "You see what appears to be a human patchwork of horror... some deranged mind has taken various humans and sewn them together. Each has two heads, four arms and two legs, each apparently taken from different sources. The things are naked with blood-soaked fingers twitching spasmodically. They leer and gibber, shuffling forward on unsteady legs, drooling mouths agape and lusting to tear into your shivering flesh!"

    This will creep players out much quicker than any dumb old four armed gorilla ever will! Especially when they realize they could be made into one of these hulking horrors if they lose the battle and the villainous mad scientist gets hold of them!
    Last edited by Kaptain_Kantrip; Friday, 5th April, 2002 at 08:41 AM.

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    Hey, guys, your advises remind me the Chaosium edition of CoC, you only need to add the onion structure for the adventures

  8. #8

    The best way to perfect Horror Roleplaying:

    1. buy GURPS Horror 3e (by Kenneth Hite himself)
    2. read
    3. enjoy
    4. apply
    Last edited by The Cardinal; Friday, 5th April, 2002 at 11:35 AM.
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    Re: 3 Sure-Fire Ways to Run A Successful Horror Adventure!

    Originally posted by Kaptain_Kantrip

    1) Whenever a player asks you a question and you want to throw them off-balance (engendering feelings of fear and confusion), simply answer them with "appears to be," "seems to be" or "you think it is."
    And this would be different from the normal way how?

    I do this every game, regardless of genre/mood.
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    Get this book

    If you are even remotely interested in running a horror game of any kind, you must go out and buy Ken Hite's Nightmares of Mine . It was published jointly by ICE and Chaosium, and should be fairly easy to find.

    It is hands down the best GM book I have ever read. When I played a horror game after reading it, my players would totally spooked out, even though it was a bright and sunny day outside.

    Definately worth the money.
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