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D&D General Genres of Horror (per Ravenloft) Lets discuss

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
So Van Richtens Guide has expanded Ravenloft beyond Gothic Horror to include guidance across a number of Horror Genre. Having now scanned them I do appreciate that they do help to generate ideas for how some of the lesser domains can be used.

So considering the following blurbs for each Genre lets discuss your favourites, which Domains you can see them applying to and what adventures you might be inspired to create for these. Are there other genres that are missing? (Also dont just confine it to Ravenloft setting, imc I’ used Mordent for the bleak haunted moors and windswept coasts of my own world)
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From the blurb:
1Gothic horror is about the terror within, not without. It shatters the illusion of humanity in a poignant way by holding a mirror up to us and saying: look at what we truly are, and look at what we pretend to be. (I’m not sure this description captures the emotional/romantic bleakness inherent in Gothic stories, but the mirror analogy might point to character introspection v dread)

2Ghost stories touch on the issues of human existence: the nature of the soul, the weighty fact of morality, and the burden of ancestry and history. Spirits represent supernatural justice, as well as grief and the need for closure. (Personally I’m uncertain why Ghost stories were given special mention beyond Gothic or Psycological Horror, but I do love a good Ghost story)

3Folk horror explores fears of isolation, superstition, paranoia, and lost truths. Seemingly idyllic communities, rural reclusiveness, forgotten traditions, and naturalistic cults all frequently feature in folk horror adventures. (I tend to use the idyllic rural community a lot, and dropping Cannibals and Murderous cults in the mix is always fun)

4Cosmic horror revolves around the fear of personal insignificance. The genre is predicated on the idea of entities so vast and so genuinely beyond our comprehension that we cannot fathom their simplest motivations.

5Dark fantasy is as much a genre of fantasy as it is a genre of horror. Dark fantasy refers to fantasy worlds where grim themes, nihilistic plots, or horrifying elements inform a fantasy tale.

6Body horror as a genre examines a universal fear: our own failing anatomies. We rarely think about what goes on beneath the skin.

Then the Subgenres -
7 Slasher Horror where the focus is on surviving a single killer monster
8 Disaster Horror where the focus is on enduring the havoc of a hostile environment
9 Psychological Horror where the focus is on perception of what is true and what defines reality
10 Occult Detective where the focus is on investigating the unknown or delving deeper into a mystery
 

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Faolyn

Hero
I tend to not focus on the specific genre of horror, at least not at first. I usually go for creepy and disturbing, uncanny valley-esque and surreal. From there, one of the "actual" genres tends to show itself, based on how I'm setting up whatever the horror is. Basically, I find it easier to start with the monster (source of horror) and work backwards from there than to start with the setup and figure out what the monster is. Dunno if that's how others do it.
 

Arilyn

Hero
My favourite is the ghost story. My players know one is coming if it fits the genre at all...

Gothic not something I've played in or with but maybe?

Yes to Folk horror. A really good source to dive into.

Don't like cosmic horror except as a Fantasy Flight board or card game. Those are fun.

Body and Slasher is a hard no.

Dark Fantasy is a maybe.

Occult detective is fun.

Survivor horror is rarely.
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I don't know about Occult Detective - usually the detective is investigating a mystery in one of the other genres.
Yeah Occult Detective seems more a character approach to horror than a distinct Genre, but I’d like to see what others think - does Occult Detective have any specific tropes beyond an Investigator-type in other Genre?
I tend to not focus on the specific genre of horror, at least not at first. I usually go for creepy and disturbing, uncanny valley-esque and surreal. From there, one of the "actual" genres tends to show itself, based on how I'm setting up whatever the horror is. Basically, I find it easier to start with the monster (source of horror) and work backwards from there than to start with the setup and figure out what the monster is. Dunno if that's how others do it.

Yeah thats often an approach that I’d look to as well - starting with Monster theme or sometimes Setting-theme (eg Bleak Moors inspire different elements than would a Castle in the Mountains or a deep woods).
I do wonder with the Ghost Genre if they thought to start with the Creature-type discussions but deciding that was too onerous a task then switched to wider Genre as inspiration - each of the main Genres gives a list of suitable creatures for the Genre, so it wasnt entirely forgotten.
 
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I think the idea is that all the "subgenres" overlap with the main genres, so you might have, for example, a cosmic horror disaster, or a folk horror slasher, psychological ghost story, etc.
 


I add the surreal horror.

 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
That breakdown seems at least as flawed as WotC's, if not more so. Why does "vampire" and "wolfman" get their own categories, but Frankenstein get lumped in with "classical and mythological"?!
  • I actually think the WOTC list is better. Although the popcorn horror list is broken down more, the two list do cover the same things but WotC also has Folk Horror (which the other one groups as supernatural)..

    That said I’m actually tending to think that a break-down based on Monster Type may have been a better approach than Genre, not least as it would give an idea of Monster behaviour within each genre.

    eg By Creature could include

    1 Eldritch Aberrations - Aboleth, Cthulu, Gibbering Mouther, The Thing
    2 Mundane Folk - Cannibal, Cultist, Tyrant, Witch, Zealots
    3 Ghosts and Paranormal - Banshee, Ghost, Poltergeist. Demonic Presence, Alien Intelligence, Leanan Sidhe
    4 Slasher/Stalkers - Werewolf, Serial Killer, Clown, Golem, Mummy, Zombie
    5 Seducers/Maniupulators - Vampire, Dark Fey, Devil, Mesmerist
    6 Imposters - Doppleganger, Puppeteers

 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
The Folk Horror episode of Torchwood "Countrycide" is unusual for not having anything supernatural or SF.

The Wicker Man doesn't really have anything supernatural either.
Ae, Countrycide was imho the best Torchwood episode and all the more horrifying because it was just mundane humans doing things.
 

I add the surreal horror.

As the page says, it overlaps with others. It's really up to you if you want to treat it as a separate thing or not. The whole of Ravenloft is somewhat surreal, something that some people seam to have issues with.
 

Aldarc

Legend
That breakdown seems at least as flawed as WotC's, if not more so. Why does "vampire" and "wolfman" get their own categories, but Frankenstein get lumped in with "classical and mythological"?!
What is interesting though is that Dracula is not listed under "Vampire," but, rather, under "Classic and Mythological" alongside Frankenstein. So it may have to do with pre-existing characters that are part of public domain (e.g., Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, etc.).
 

What is interesting though is that Dracula is not listed under "Vampire," but, rather, under "Classic and Mythological" alongside Frankenstein. So it may have to do with pre-existing characters that are part of public domain (e.g., Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, etc.).
What does "classical" mean anyway? It could refer to classic literature, or it could refer to Greek and Roman myths. If you study "Classics" it means you are studying Greek and Latin. So, The Gorgon. Dracula and Frankenstein are both literary classics. Vampires are mythical. "Frankenstein" is pretty much a genre in itself, including things like The Terminator, Blade Runner, Demon Seed, and pretty much anything where humans create the monster with science.
 

Aldarc

Legend
What does "classical" mean anyway? It could refer to classic literature, or it could refer to Greek and Roman myths. If you study "Classics" it means you are studying Greek and Latin. So, The Gorgon. Dracula and Frankenstein are both literary classics. Vampires are mythical. "Frankenstein" is pretty much a genre in itself, including things like The Terminator, Blade Runner, Demon Seed, and pretty much anything where humans create the monster with science.
A minor point of semantics regarding your initial question. The category doesn't say "classical." It says "Classic & Mythological." What distinguishes the vampire category from the classic and mythological one? I don't know. I only know that this list includes Dracula as part of the latter and not the former. I suspect that the article the image belongs to breaks down their reasoning. I do, however, agree that the categories they present are flawed so I'm not terribly interested in debating that point.
 

A minor point of semantics regarding your initial question. The category doesn't say "classical." It says "Classic & Mythological." What distinguishes the vampire category from the classic and mythological one? I don't know. I only know that this list includes Dracula as part of the latter and not the former. I suspect that the article the image belongs to breaks down their reasoning.
It gets even worse if you read the rest of the article:
Classic Monsters and Mythological Monsters

This sub-genre regroups the monster films that have either been inspired by early roman (e.g. Frankenstein in 1818 or The Invisible Man in 1897)
The 19th century is early Roman?!
 

Aldarc

Legend
It gets even worse if you read the rest of the article:

The 19th century is early Roman?!
I think that you are misunderstanding what they likely mean by "roman" in this context. Note that it's lowercase "roman." It's a reference to novels and literary books rather than Roman history. This use even exists in other languages: e.g., the German word for 'novel' is "Roman" (capitalized because a noun) as is the French word for 'novel' likewise "roman." And this exists in certain literary terms used in the field: e.g., Bildungsroman, which refers to a novel about a character's formative period, education, or a "coming of age" story. So they are talking about early "horror" novels and novellas (i.e., 19th century): e.g., Frankenstein, Dracula, Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, etc.
 
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I think that you are misunderstanding what they likely mean by "roman" in this context. Note that it's lowercase "roman." It's a reference to novels and literary books rather than Roman history. This use even exists in other languages: e.g., the German word for 'novel' is "Roman" (capitalized because a noun) as is the French word for 'novel' likewise "roman." And this exists in certain literary terms used in the field: e.g., Bildungsroman, which refers to a novel about a character's formative period, education, or a "coming of age" story. So they are talking about early "horror" novels and novellas (i.e., 19th century): e.g., Frankenstein, Dracula, Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, etc.
Not a term I've ever come across, but it certainly makes more sense. But it still doesn't seem like a particularly useful way to categorise things. Dracula is based on much older myths. Frankenstein is pretty much "the genre starts here". The Invisible Man is science fiction, and a variation on Frankenstein.

As for D&D, it has monsters - all of them - by default. So all that matters is what kind of story you tell with them.
 


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