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66

Powerful drama requires powerful motivations. When everyone at the table agrees that they want a Horror game, they must craft their characters around these motivations. If they don't buy in, then you get the kind of power-fantasy where the heroes do the quite sensible thing of feeding Cthulhu a couple cases of dynamite and legging it. That isn't horror, ...


46

If your players are playing their characters then you are a really lucky GM, and you should be proud of them. But yeah, I understand. We've spent ages preparing an encounter for the group. We've gone over all their possible approaches dozens of times and put stuff to gently railroad them into the right places to cover every eventuality. And yet still, the ...


39

You've only talked about retaliatory responses to players who step out of line. Have you tried a group conversation before the game, so everyone can set parameters and know what they are? That works a lot better than punishing them for crossing lines they didn't know existed. This is especially important with horror games. Suspense, dread, terror, and the ...


31

Pacing The key to a good horror game/movie is the pacing; if the characters are constantly in peril and exposed to horrific things then it will become bland. From my Cthulhu games I've found keys to this are: Build up Slowly lead the players into somewhere dangerous, use mundane things to build tension like smashed glass, scrawled notes, lightning blasted ...


28

I hate railroading and GMs breaking immersion to enforce their hackneyed vision of "the plot" so I figured I needed to contribute another perspective in the answers. Try not being completely in love with the specific idea of "there at night" you have. So they can go there during the day, and it's still scary. You can employ fog, rain/snow, and/or thick ...


26

As usual, there are several grades of response. In order of goodness: Option 1. Talk to him. Discuss this concern with him as a fellow adult, outside of game. Bring to his attention that he's behaving like a homicidal maniac rather than the character he claims he's playing (sounds like a good reason to deny him Willpower restoration in WoD, too). ...


26

There are several choices. Just make it night. No matter how long it looks like it should take them to get there, they get there just after sunset. Might feel like railroading, but in a horror setting your players shouldn't mind too much. You can even use it to play up the creepiness factor: in the movie Army of Darkness, at one point the sun sets ...


26

Building Tension to Build Horror I’ve played RPG’s since I was a kid, but I’ve also written narrative as a hobby for years. RPG’s combine the intellectual stimulation of board games with the deep engagement of storytelling (books and films). When the players calmly intellectualize their attempts to WIN, they’re in board game mode. When players FEEL ...


25

I think you're metagaming. You, the GM and player, know that continuing to pursue the truth will lead to madness. Your characters don't know that. They don't know the risks yet. Your characters are just finding out (possibly for the first time) that "magic" or something like it is real. If you, in real life, just found out that magic was real, wouldn't you ...


23

I ran a game where players had their spirits projected into the realms of the damned and they were damn1 glad to get out of there by the time they'd escaped. Wraith: the Oblivion is a game you should consider having a look at for ideas but there are several things (depending on your world) that can threaten those who are already dead. Insanity – There's ...


22

One way to implicate the players is to offer them horrific, impossible choices. (Let me go back a bit to explain this.) Conventionally, in horror games, we present players with horror. We show them something horrific, usually a monster, and expect them to respond. Instead, try giving choices. For example, do you kill the person who's trapped inside the ...


22

Any sensation, experienced in full without stop will eventually allow or force those who experience it to adjust to or move away from it. For a 'horror' campaign to be effective, memorable, and successful for a good duration of time it is necessary to have a solid understanding of two things, everything else is secondary and dependent on your performance ...


16

An appeal to role would fit very nicely here. Lawbringer: The bad guys will only operate at night. It is your job to catch them in the act. Msytical Ingredient: The mystical ritual can only be completed under the jet black sky of a new moon. Appeal to masculinity: "I double dog dare you to spend the night at [X]!" Appeal to Curiosity: "You can hear ...


16

Think about a horror movie for minute. Pacing: most horror movies are pretty fast paced, and move from scene to scene quickly. This can help keep viewers (or players tense). But sometimes they slow dow Mix it up: there isn't something gross in ever scene. Sometimes a chase is a chase and you get away. Sometimes there are moments for character development ...


15

The central monsters of Eclipse Phase are a family of man-made (but incomprehensibly alien) killing machines called the TITANS. The TITANS take different forms. Examples: Killer robots Flesh-eating nanomachines Nanotech computer virus strains that can infect a living person's brain "Singularity" AIs whose intelligence grows exponentially, dwarfing human ...


15

You cannot sustain a horrific setting all the time. Thus pacing is key. Allow the players some normal and fun times -- both IC and OC. However, there are a few things you can do to always unsettle them. Mostly they boil down to alienation. You want a disconnect between nice comfy reality and the game world. You want to mess with players' minds -- just ...


14

In addition to the excellent answers already posted, let me suggest that you look at the kinds of protagonists that Lovecraft wrote about; police investigators ("The Call of Cthulhu", "The Horror at Red Hook"), artists looking for unique experiences ("Pickman's Model"), and people who actually wanted to find out more about the squiggly things under the bed ...


13

Oblivious Sage already made a perfect reply, but I just wanted to add that scary places can be just as awfully scary in daylight. Perhaps the players get to the haunted forest and experience all kinds of unsettling stuff as they travel through it by day - something moving beyond a cluster of trees, objects and people appearing and disappearing where they ...


12

This is a pretty large topic. I'll offer up my essay on Horror in Roleplaying as a partial answer. A quick summary of the approach: Create personal investment in the story for the characters Use descriptions and props etc. to make it more tangible to the players Use information compartmentalization and PC conflict to remove feeling of safety Leverage the ...


12

It's a good idea to make sure everyone in the group understands what the point of the game is about, so they can build appropriate characters. Sometimes people go in building "survivalist" characters, which means the motivations also don't fit the genre expectations. It's also important to remember that the key point of horror stories is some point of ...


11

I second everything that aramis has said. But, it seems you were looking for more specific examples and I have done some of this in the past. As AceCalhoon pointed out, you should look at White Wolf's full catalog to start with. They have done revenants (a minor expansion to Wraith) and Frankenstein's Monster-types (see Prometheus: The Created). I have ...


10

Ars Magica's supplements can actually do a fantastic job of this. Counterintuitively, Ars Magica without the magi can support this feeling of desperate dread quite well. When suggesting Ars, I must recommend against my academic-philosophical-mechanical playstyle. I treat the rules as a fascinating treatise on Aristotelian thought, and play accordingly. ...


10

Dogs in the Vineyard You'll need to make some setting adjustments, but not as many as I first thought. Location: You'll have to tweak this a bit, but not much. It's set in a fictional version of early Mormon Utah, meaning it's actually quite a bit like the European Dark Ages: towns are isolated, the space between is wild, and religion is the glue that ...


9

Besides all the solutions already proposed by others, you may also want to try and consider his character and playing style as a creative challenge. Try to approach this challenge as if you've been asked (by a huge publisher/studio :)) to write a story for, or at least, prominently featuring the Joker (of Batman fame), for example. Or to write a story that ...


9

Any intelligent monster with free will and the ability to manipulate its environment is a potentially good PC. It needs free will to be suitable, otherwise it's no fun at all. The ability to manipulate its environment is a prerequisite for effective PC's. It can be by magic, tools, or its own limbs, but it's not fun to play the brain-in-a-box. Intellect ...


9

The book that you describe sounds a lot like "Nightmares of Mine" by Ken Hite (published by Iron Crown in 1999; ISBN: 1-55806-367-6), although that isn't specific to Ravenloft or indeed any RPG or genre. This book explores the ins and outs of what makes a great horror story and what it takes to make a great horror story into one of the most memorable ...


9

Make it so the PCs have to go there at night. E.g: The door to the temple of Bflaghnrwtw only opens when the unholy plaque of Xloptox is hit by moonlight. The ghosts in the haunted house on the hill are only active at night, so daytime investigations will yield next to nothing except clues that stuff is going down nighttime, yo. The PCs' friend gets ...


8

If you're tied to it being night per se to make it scary, many of the other suggestions here will serve you in good stead. But if you want to make it scary and creepy, there's a general formula: Make things almost, but not quite, normal. Sure, darkness is scary because you can't see. But what if you suddenly stopped casting a shadow? Or if you stopped ...


8

Create Contrast (Preventing Desensitization) I have found that the most effective way of showcasing horror is to contrast it with comedy or general happiness. À la Disney's Cars, "Sometimes you have to turn left to go right", the easiest way to set up a horror is with a bright and sunny scene with happiness and joy, then crush it to a pulp in front of ...


7

Fear of the unknown is the kind of horror I'd link Eclipse Phase too. Humanity is more powerful then ever before but there are new things which despite our extremely advanced science we still don't understand. Imagine a world where you can't die and then add the something that can kill you. There are places people don't go because they don't come back and ...



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