If you have ever harboured thoughts of running a horror campaign, read this book before you settle down to plan your adventures!
It begins by analysing horror itself. Horror as an emotion, to be instilled in characters and (judiciously and to a lesser extent) into the players as well. Horror as dread, shock and terror - defining each and looking at ways of creating the effect within the context of a table-top game.
From this grounding, the different sorts of character that might be played in a horror game are examined. Throughout, reference is made to Hex Game's QAGS (Quick Ass Games System), although it will not take much effort to adapt material for whichever game you prefer to play. With an eye to the cinematic, each character archetype is defined by 'Who might play this role in the movies' as well as by more familiar characteristics such as skills, aptitudes, attributes, likely job and typical reactions. From here, the composition of a party is discussed; and then the ways in which the players should approach playing in a horror game, be it one-off or campaign... and how to, when the time comes, die gracefully at the hands (claws, fangs) of whatever horrible monster gets you in the end!
This player-centred view is then set aside in favour of the wider canvas of the GM. From original planning to detailed plotting, how to generate an 'atmosphere' and cope with anything from wise-cracking players to interruptions from visiting neighbours, just about every aspect of running horror games is discussed.
The anatomy of a horror game is dissected out. Develop an overall setting and put a plot in, work out how the characters encounter, investigate and finally reach a position to challenge whatever your main 'horror' is... and even how to wrap everything up at the end. Several ideas are presented, and I'm already itching to try out the concept of a 'Horror Hollywood' where as if the movie business wasn't deadly enough the actors and film crew have to contend with their movie monsters being REAL...
Overall, this is a recommended read. Even if you are an experienced 'horror' GM, you'll find ideas here, and if you are contemplating your first game, it will help you make your first attempt a success.
Return to Spooky: The Definitive Guide to Horror Gaming page.
Reviewed: 18 April 2009