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D&D 5E Have you used D&D 5e to run horror fantasy?

Have you used D&D to run a horror fantasy game?

  • Yes I've run an extended adventure or series of adventures and it/they were ok

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yes I've run one off adventures or one shots and the games were unsuccessful

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yes I've run an extended adventure or series of adventures and it/they were unsuccessful

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yes I've run an entire campaign or multiple campaigns and it/they were unsuccessful

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    16
  • Poll closed .

Imaro

Hero
Inspired by a discussion happening in another thread and the release of the Ravenloft campaign setting... I am curious about who on this site has been able to run their D&D game in a horror vein either successfully, ok, or unsuccessfully. For the purposes of the poll let's say successfully is however you would define a success, ok means it was a mixed bag where the good and bad pretty much evened out and unsuccessfully means you consider it the opposite of what a success would have been.

Any info you want to provide in a post below would be welcome, and I am especially interested in what type of horror, any optional rules, houserules or descriptions of what did or didn't work for you. Thanks.

NOTE: The later categories subsume the earlier categories... In other words if you've been able to run an entire campaign I am assuming that means you are able to run a series of adventures and a single adventure in a horror style as well.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
1. You need multiple choice or a clear instruction; does "entire campaign or multiple campaigns" subsume the earlier categories as well?

2. You forgot the main answer- Yes, I've run horror in D&D (5e) and it was SPECTACULAR!
 

Imaro

Hero
1. You need multiple choice or a clear instruction; does "entire campaign or multiple campaigns" subsume the earlier categories as well?

2. You forgot the main answer- Yes, I've run horror in D&D (5e) and it was SPECTACULAR!

1. Sorry yes they do, should have been more clear about that.

2. D'oh... that would have been my answer...lol!!
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I voted "Yes, I've run an extended adventure or series of adventures and it/they were successful."

The adventure was gothic-ish horror / murder mystery and eventually I published it as The Beast of Graenseskov. I say "gothic-ish" because there was a dash of Grimm's fairy tales and psychological horror woven in. Optional rules... the one that stands out is rewritten chase rules to be more cinematic, reflecting close calls with a monster unable to be hurt by conventional weapons. Lots of careful crafting of things behind the DM screen to sell the horror experience.
 

Imaro

Hero
I voted "Yes, I've run an extended adventure or series of adventures and it/they were successful."

The adventure was gothic-ish horror / murder mystery and eventually I published it as The Beast of Graenseskov. I say "gothic-ish" because there was a dash of Grimm's fairy tales and psychological horror woven in. Optional rules... the one that stands out is rewritten chase rules to be more cinematic, reflecting close calls with a monster unable to be hurt by conventional weapons. Lots of careful crafting of things behind the DM screen to sell the horror experience.
I'm curious is this more along the line of mechanics or advice for the DM?

EDIT: Also... looks interesting, I just got the Ravenloft campaign setting so I may pick this up.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I'm curious is this more along the line of mechanics or advice for the DM?
Well, my priority was crafting a well-designed murder mystery. Even though the horror tone/feel was tied up in that, it was a secondary goal. There were little mechanical touches, yes, but mostly it was story/NPC/location crafting, with a dash of advice.

Let's see... mechanically the random encounter table started at a d4 but as things got more dangerous (according to specific events called out in the adventure), it escalated during play to a d6, d8, d10, and I think d12 was the max. With higher results being scarier and more more dangerous. So traveling you'd have an encounter with wolves escalating to three worgs giving an ominous prophecy to potentially meeting a character of fable who may or may not be an arcanoloth.

Narratively... an example would be discovering that the entire manor population basically was in cahoots on stoning a dwarf NPC to death, and then when the dwarf NPC came back there was a "wrongness" about him. That was a very human touch of horror – the inhumanity of man upon their fellow man. Also the constant threat of hidden monsters (that were dangerous for the low-level PCs) lurking among the population, potentially with hidden minions, built up that horror feel. Also, I really delved into motive – the WHY the villain believes they're justified in their killings – which is really essential for gothic & psychological horror.

Advice-wise... the main thing was giving advice on how to handle curses in horror with the existence of remove curse. That became like a half-page writeup that involved a mix of narrative specifics in the adventure (I carefully crafted a "resilient" curse) & general thoughts echoing the original Ravenloft boxed set's discussion of curses, just updated to 5e's spell description.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I've run Ravenloft using several systems, most recently 5e. In all cases, the majority of the success goes to using proper description and making sure I describe invoke all the senses. I also don't use the player's names and only ever refer to their characters' names, since I find it helps to keep the players grounded in their PCs.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I've run an AD&D 2e Ravenloft adventure ("Circle of Darkness") in D&D 5e, plus one of my own creations, "Terror at Horror Lake" which is like a slasher film. D&D 5e neither supported nor took away from the experience. I chose "okay" as my response because, while the games did achieve the goals of play, I wouldn't say that anyone was particularly horrified or scared because of anything the rules themselves brought to the table.
 

I've run various adventures with Lovecraftian themes, but never an extended campaign. Keeping a level of tension and mystery for a session or three is very doable, but ongoing horror seems like it would play out pretty quickly.

I've only known one DM to run Ravenloft and it was... well, terrible. He liked the weirdness of the setting, but he never translated it well during the game itself. Of course, he wasn't a good DM to begin with, so I'm willing to try it again with my current DM (if he chooses to do so).
 

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