Skip to main content
54 votes
Accepted

What is the Five Layer Model of horror scenario design?

The Five Layer Model for horror scenario design is a handy tool put out by Graham Walmsley, as an aid for GMs to come up with good horror. It's put out as a supplement to Cthulhu Dark, and as such, is ...
UrhoKarila's user avatar
  • 5,973
38 votes
Accepted

How to make combat encounters terrifying?

If they aren't scared of death, make them scared of negative modifiers. DMG pg. 272, Lingering Injuries Nothing is stopping you from having a monster tear a guys arm off in battle with a ...
Lino Frank Ciaralli's user avatar
21 votes
Accepted

Can Lovecraftesque do one-room horror?

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 ...
Rabalias's user avatar
  • 562
21 votes

How to make combat encounters terrifying?

Stephen King wrote about terror. The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling own a flight of stairs, it's when the lights go out and something green and slimy ...
Greenstone Walker's user avatar
20 votes
Accepted

What is this 1990s horror game of otherworldly PCs dealing with monsters on modern Earth?

Sounds to me like the Whispering Vault. That, too, was a horror game that came out in the early '90s — Wikipedia says the first edition came out in 1993, and that jibes with my memory. The ability to ...
Jadasc's user avatar
  • 55k
16 votes

How do you keep the horror spooky when your players are a bunch of goofballs?

You talk with your players and get on the same page I’ll preface this answer by stating that while I ran several scenarios in Call of Cthulhu, I am far from an expert in the system. I have, however, ...
AnnaAG's user avatar
  • 11k
15 votes
Accepted

How can I convey and sustain a level of realism in a given horror campaign?

Slasher-horror movies are about transgression and death. This is wrapped up in the idea of horror movie as "cautionary tale", a kind of morality play where only the people who do the right thing can ...
Glazius's user avatar
  • 41.1k
13 votes

Isolation and the unknown in modern horror/investigative scenarios

For keeping the unknown unknown, it can work to have motives for the PCs and/or for the unknown elements, to keep the unknown unknown. Examples I have seen in play which worked fine: The players are, ...
Dronz's user avatar
  • 5,912
13 votes
Accepted

How do you keep the horror spooky when your players are a bunch of goofballs?

Use table rules and isolation I’ve played a lot Call of Cthulhu, both as player and Keeper. The first thing I'd like to share is that while CoC is of course a "horror" RPG, you need to be ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
11 votes

Isolation and the unknown in modern horror/investigative scenarios

Dronz's answer does a very good job of covering specific ways to keep the unknown feeling like it's unknown and not damage setting cohesion with questions like "but why doesn't the US Government know ...
a computing pun's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

Are there any mechanics for tracking sanity or performing sanity checks?

There are optional rules that add sanity as an ability score. They can be found in the DMG on pages 264-5. The rules for madness start on page 258 and define short-term, long-term and indefinite ...
Szega's user avatar
  • 61.8k
11 votes

Do consent forms genuinely contribute to safer playing environments in practice?

Consent forms have issues because they can never be specific enough, but may still be useful for some people. It is worth having a discussion, especially in horror, about what players may be ...
TimothyAWiseman's user avatar
9 votes

What is this 1990s horror game of otherworldly PCs dealing with monsters on modern Earth?

Is it… Nightbane? Palladium Books's Nightbane (1995) "is a dark urban fantasy and setting very much like our own modern world yet with sinister differences lurking just below the surface." It's ...
Hey I Can Chan's user avatar
8 votes

Creating Horror Atmosphere

General Advice A lot of this relies on your presence as a DM, and the trust and willingness to be scared among your players. At the end of the day, if they want to joke, they're not going to be ...
Doctor Kill's user avatar
  • 3,532
8 votes

Can Lovecraftesque do one-room horror?

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 ...
Z.Moe's user avatar
  • 1,088
7 votes
Accepted

Are the dreamlands compatible with the Cthulhu Mythos-like RPG?

Yes, they are compatible. In terms of system compatibility, Chaosium publishes Dreamlands as a full setting/splat book. I haven't tried (or even read) that specifically, but have read and ...
fectin's user avatar
  • 13.9k
6 votes

Are there any mechanics for tracking sanity or performing sanity checks?

Another option using standard Conditions and Mechanics If you don't want to use the Optional Sanity score in the DMG as suggested by Szega and Kviiri, you still have access to some options in the PHB ...
NotArch's user avatar
  • 126k
5 votes
Accepted

How can I simulate paranoia in a Call of Cthulhu One-Shot?

You simulate hallucination by creating different experiences You don't have to use secret notes, at least not for long. If you give two players, two different descriptions of what they hear, see or ...
ShadowKras's user avatar
  • 61.6k
5 votes

Are there any mechanics for tracking sanity or performing sanity checks?

Variant sanity rules in the DMG Dungeon Master's Guide has optional rules for sanity checks, on pages 265 and 266. The rule is that Sanity is a new ability score (along with Strength, Dexterity, etc) ...
kviiri's user avatar
  • 54.1k
5 votes

How to make combat encounters terrifying?

How to make combat encounters terrifying? Terror/horror mostly happens in the mind. To set the mood, turn the lights down low in the room where you are playing. You could go a step further and ...
KorvinStarmast's user avatar
4 votes

How can I invoke actual fear in my players?

Create atmosphere I had best results with what I experienced as most frightening in horror books and movies as well: Slowly building up. My PCs were students that were cleaning the late grandpas ...
Largo's user avatar
  • 759
4 votes

Isolation and the unknown in modern horror/investigative scenarios

I played and GMed Beyond the Supernatural for some time. That is a modern horror RPG by Palladium Books. There is one option that can help with both: Some government agency was infiltrated by the cult....
Umbranus's user avatar
  • 5,958
4 votes

How can I convey and sustain a level of realism in a given horror campaign?

Simply put; consequences. If you you think a character shouldn't/wouldn't do X, then if they do X make sure there's a 'realistic' consequence. This should ground anything they'll try to do in the ...
robertshippey's user avatar
4 votes

How can I convey and sustain a level of realism in a given horror campaign?

The first thing to consider, is what sort of game does everybody want to play? Do you all want to play a survival-horror? Or do they just want to play an adventure hack-n-slash as a group of vagrant ...
Ben's user avatar
  • 23.1k
4 votes

Do consent forms genuinely contribute to safer playing environments in practice?

Depending on what you mean by "form", they can help or hinder. In all the games I run, I ask the players for a list of things they want, would like, would not like, and do not want in the game. The ...
Sardathrion - against SE abuse's user avatar
3 votes

Are there any mechanics for tracking sanity or performing sanity checks?

The Out of the Abyss module (spoiler below) That's probably the closest you'll get from official sources, although for a campaign that features real threats to the sanity of the characters, I think ...
Phil Boncer's user avatar
3 votes

How can I simulate paranoia in a Call of Cthulhu One-Shot?

I would recommend you provide more fluff details for certain things. If they investigate something that you took some extra time to describe and cant find anything it will make them feel paranoid. ...
Samuel's user avatar
  • 27
3 votes

How to make combat encounters terrifying?

I once used a form of possession in a crypt-like dungeon, where the main evil was a spirit that would/could temporarily take control of a random PC, turning that person against the party. The PC got a ...
railsdog's user avatar
  • 651
3 votes

How do you keep the horror spooky when your players are a bunch of goofballs?

Frame Challenge: A certain amount of comedy can help. First, while I'm offering a frame challenge, I want to make clear that your goal is a perfectly valid one. Other existing answers make good ...
TimothyAWiseman's user avatar
2 votes

How to make combat encounters terrifying?

Combat is rarely scary. It's what comes before and after that matters. It doesn't matter what you do as DM, combat is really just a matter of shouting out spell names and attacks and rolling dice. ...
pokep's user avatar
  • 6,930

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible