Sunday, July 11, 2010

Horror Game Manifesto

I believe it is possible to run a truly scary game at a roleplaying convention irrespective of the environment.

I've been on about this for a while now, so I think it's time to try and tie in the things I've written about this, as a first step in trying to actually put together a game which delivers on this aspiration.

The principle framework will focus on:

-Player buy-in and empathy (through a degree of shared narration)
-Visual and audio aids (not in a major way - just to cover learning bases)
-GM ground rules and time out zones
-Table discipline
-System reduction
-Shared Character development
-Identifiable setting
-Identifiable sitations and choices
-Distance closing techniques
-Disruptive player techniques
-Increasing the stakes with (almost) every successive scene

I will attempt to detail my thinking, and the way I tackle this as I move toward the Experimental Paradigm Of Contemporary Horror (EPOCH).


  1. Irrespective of an environment? Like on a roller coaster? ;)

  2. Anywhere there's a roleplaying 'con. Personally I'm looking forward to the bluetooth enabled Coaster-Con 2012!

  3. Hey, just wondering if there was anything more on this... you put the teaser out a month ago. :)

  4. Thanks for caring ;)
    Thought about it some more, started a word doc to expand on this outline, and started to flesh out the bones of a scenario which might be the first test. As with all things a pressing deadline is likely to spur more action.
    But then Confusion happened and I wasn't really in a position to be ready for a test-run.
    Then Fright Night stuff happened, and I'm not likely to need to prep a game.
    And with needing to finish and run the LARP at Kapcon, and already promising to run Curse of the Yellow Sign part 2 in round 1 and possibly another Supers outing on Sunday, it seems I'm unlikely to find a lever for action any time soon...

  5. An interesting attempt at trying to consolodate horror techniques:

  6. Reading your manifesto has me thinking about Fright Night and what I might run this year.

    What do you mean by distance closing techniques?

  7. Distance closing works like this: When you succeed in evoking horror in a player, they block, by making a joke or OOC comment or something similar. This relieves the tension they're feeling and means they break the horror and push out the distance between player and character - it's an entirely natural human response to feeling uncomfortable. To combat this response you need a range of techniques which can be tailored to prevent such a break, and close the distance between player and character, heightening the horror. These need to be employed with player consent IMO.