#RPGaDAY2015, Day 29: Favorite RPG Blog/Website

I don’t have a favorite RPG website or blog, mainly because I don’t regularly read RPG websites or blogs.

lacunacoverI had a whole thing written about why, which I can sum up with “hyperfocused on games I don’t play”, and a bit about forums that I don’t read any more, but it wound up turning a bit negative as I wrote about toxicity and the whole bullshit ban RPGnet gave Jared Sorensen. (To summarize: He had a marketing campaign for Lacuna, which would be released on April Fools Day. While he never posted about it on RPGnet, other people posted wondering what was going on; he responds saying he can’t talk about it. Entire viral media campaign revealed to be an April Fools Day joke; pissed off RPGnet mods that fell for the joke ban him for…what, exactly? Pulling a prank somewhere that wasn’t RPGnet? Not explaining to the RPGnet mods and admins that a weeks-long buildup to an April Fools Day joke he was doing somewhere else entirely and had nothing to do with RPGnet at all was a joke? Getting fooled? Either way, it turned into a permaban later.)

So, let’s just leave it with this: I don’t regularly read any RPG websites or blogs.

#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 28 – Scariest Game Played

Ah, for Scariest game I’ve played, there’s not many to choose from — I usually run the games. Last year, when coming up with an answer to this topic, I went with the Don’t Rest Your Head game that my friend Brian ran. When preparing to run it, he asked each of us for a recurring nightmare we had. We told him, because we trust each other. We knew that the nightmares were going to manifest somehow in the game, so it would be interesting to see how they would come about in that dream world. Brian went away and came back next week to run the first of two DRYH sessions.

That first session was incredibly tense. He didn’t incorporate our nightmares in the game. All that game, we were wondering When? When is this going to happen? What is it going to be like? and it kept getting delayed and stretched out and… Suspense.

That whole session was crazy spooky.

Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_-_The_Nightmare_-_WGA08332

Anything to follow-up on that topic, Thomas?

Most of the games I run also aren’t horror games, but there have been a few. We did a Chill one-shot in Venice which had some horribleness happening that creeped out the players, with a Headless Horsemen-like creature that could only be seen by the person it was going to kill (yes, concept stolen from Doctor Who, sure). The Lacuna game I mentioned in an earlier post. My friendly guy-next-door character in the Shadowrun/CthulhuTech mashup game where he kept his “wife” locked up in a room in the basement whenever he went out of the house.[1] Oh, and The Armitage Files, but I’ll talk about that in just a little bit.

Horror is like comedy in a game. You can’t force it. It just happens.

Unless you’re playing Dread (which has that Jenga tower in the middle, threatening to kill your character off) or you share secrets, like we did in Don’t Rest Your Head.

  1. I actually played in a game! []

#RPGaDAY2015, Day 20: Favorite Horror RPG

chill

Favorite Horror RPG? To play fair, I’m not going to list anything I’ve worked on or are contracted to work on. Around this time, last year, it seemed that if there was a horror RPG in the planning stages, I was on it. Chill, Demon Hunters, and Urban Shadows come to mind. There’s probably another horror RPG in there I’m missing.

So for horror–hang on a second.

What is horror, anyway?

Would Buffy, the Vampire Slayer be classified as “horror”? Even though it follows the same steps as your Chill does — there’s a monster, and there’s some monster hunters and they track down whatever is threatening Normalville — the same can be said of Dungeons & Dragons with that game’s monster slayers.

No, it’s got to be something else.

Something about a modern setting and “dark forces” manipulating things from the shadows? Some sort of urban fantasy like the World of Darkness (which even the Hunter game with humans against monsters probably comes closest to “horror”, but I really have doubts it should be classified that way). But that way also leads to Dresden Files.

Maybe it’s something that involves scaring the players? Making them uneasy, the way Dread does. (Does Call of Cthulhu evoke that feeling?) I might go with that.

We played The Armitage Files, which is an excellent campaign for Trail of Cthulhu, a GUMSHOE-driven game, but GUMSHOE didn’t click with the group. While I loved the heck out of the campaign, the system didn’t work with us — I’m not sure if we missed something key in the game or not. While we had some neat spooky bits, I don’t think we had anything creepy as Lacuna, Part One.

Like humor, I think most horror comes from play. If a game is set up to facilitate that, all the better.

Lacuna was a great horror game when I ran it.

lacunacoverIn Lacuna, you’re basically travelling into the land that everyone travels to when they dream. You’re hunting down serial killers in this dreamland — the murderer has already been caught and is sleeping right next to you — where you can cleanse his or her personality. It’s heavily implied that your characters were psychopaths who had been cleansed in the exact same manner. It’s also implied that the organization behind this rehabilitation isn’t reliable.

So, off to the city you go, where party balloons are filled with cockroaches, where the city’s spider-faced policemen hunt you down, where each action you take to survive might send your body in cardiac arrest.

As an aside, most horror games give crap advice for making a scary atmosphere. Turn the lights down low. Use candles. Use a soundtrack with scary music. No, no. What you want to do is turn all the lights on in the room. Then open the curtains and drapes to the night — all the windows in the room. It’s dark outside. Anyone could be watching. It’s a little unnerving. It’s a little unsettling. It puts your players in an uncomfortable spot. The unease comes in and that’s what you want. I did that in the Lacuna game we ran, and man, was it effective!