I'm planning an adventure which seems very suited to Lovecraftesque except for this one thing: all the horror takes place in a confined space which the Witness never leaves.

This seems like a problem, because Lovecraftesque's third act requires movement to a new location:

The Journey into Darkness is a scene in which the Witness moves from their current location to the location where the Final Horror will occur.

This movement may be voluntary or involuntary, mundane or mystical, but the game assumes that the movement itself is physical and the new location is a new physical setting. The exception given is mental settings, like dreamscapes, but I'm looking at an adventure where the horror is revealed as having "been there all along."

Does this mean that Lovecraftesque is a poor fit for horror where the Witness doesn't physically change his location at all over the course of the story?

Can Lovecraftesque handle one-room horror, and if so how?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you have to create the lovecraftesque tag just to ask this question? Just out of interest. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2016 at 0:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @SoldierofVol Yes, I did; I think it's my fifth new system tag? I'm happy when I can help broaden the site's scope. (You can access a tag's revision histories via its info page, accessible by mousing over the tag itself.) \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


It absolutely can, but it creates some challenges:

  • Why is this a one-location game? Is there some reason the players can't leave? Bear in mind it's an improvised game, so it's tough to prevent the players just narrating their way out of the trap. You might want to include an explanation up-front saying "in a variation from the normal rules, you can't leave location X, because Y".
  • You're in one location, so it's tougher to introduce Clues one scene at a time. Think about hidden compartments, strange phenomena that manifest over time, dreams, the behaviour of other people in the location (if there are any) - anything that won't be immediately apparent at the start of the game.
  • You're in one location, so the Journey into Darkness must either be over a very short distance (like, I think the book gives an example of the journey down the stairs into the basement - which might only be a few steps, but each step is fraught with tension), or figurative rather than literal.
  • Examples of figurative Journeys include dreamscapes, yes - but also psychological journeys like a thought process, or even developing situations. I ran one game where the Journey was focused on the steps of a ritual, with the Final Horror occurring when the ritual is complete.
  • Of course, the Final Horror is more likely to be a revelation than a confrontation. Your example of "realising the horror was there all along" is a perfect example. For a Final Horror like that, you can move from subtle, implicit information revealed in the Clues to clearer more explicit information. (It's hard to be specific without thinking about an example, which might be wildly inappropriate for what you have in mind.)
  • Then again, there are options for horrors coming from outside the room. Like, think about the hound of tindalos coming in through the angles, or the possessing creatures in the Shadow Out Of Time. The physical boundaries needn't be a barrier. Indeed, it could be quite cool to have Clues that are exlusively sensed outside the room. You hear or see something but you can't investigate it because it's outside. This would lead to a delightful sense of helplessness. The Journey and Final Horror could then be the sudden arrival of whatever it was, inside the room.

It's worth saying that the standard approach to Lovecraftesque scenarios is to provide a set of characters, a set of locations and a set of sample clues, which the players can then use to create their own horror story. So, while it's helpful to think around the possibilities, you won't in practice be able to control what the Journey into Darkness is, or the Final Horror. Let me reassure you that the players always find a way to make this cool. Give them enough ideas and they'll get on with it.

Edit: I'm told it may be polite to disclose that I'm one of the co-designers of Lovecraftesque.


You can absolutely do this without leaving the room and without resorting to dreamscapes and such. A location is just a fixed point in space. Points have no dimension so there are MANY locations in your one room. Think of stories like Poe's Telltale Heart.

The horror is in the closet, under the floorboards, under the bed, inside the piano, within the grandfather clock, just pick a spot in the room that is not in plain sight and make that the final location.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Something that immediately springs to mind is for the initial setting to be a mental landscape. The Witness has been trapped within a delusion, or within their own memories, the entire time. Only when their mind has allowed them to put the pieces back together do they "return" to the here-and-now to see what has been there all along, but their mind was subconsciously blocking out. \$\endgroup\$
    – user28753
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I love these suggestions. In fact the grandfather clock puts me in mind of a Journey into Darkness that saw the Witness dragged across a room and fed to a monstrous clock. Well, more embedded in for all eternity. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rabalias
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 18:34

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