Some initial thoughts on a possible horror game

Sorry for the long silence, but things have been going on behind the curtain. Hopefully fun and interesting things!

One of the more intriguing horror RPG designs of late has been Dread: in attempting to solve the perennial problem in horror gaming of conveying actual tension to players who are at a remove from their characters, Dread creates a growing anxiety in players by tying task resolution to pulls from a stack of Jenga-like blocks. It also implicitly captures one of the essences of good horror, in my opinion, in that eventually there will be catastrophe. Although it’s not always a popular design choice with players these days, I’m of the opinion that having characters fail in a game can be more fun than unending success – and in the horror genre, that’s doubly important. Characters, and players, should be able to lose.

With that in mind, I’m playing around with the basics of a possible horror game that promises to be flexible enough to cover different variations of the horror genre: with a few adjustments, I think this could be used for everything from Universal monster movies to Japanese horror. At the core of the game, just like in Dread, is an attempt to make the impending doom in the fiction manifest at the table for the players. In this case, though, it’s a visual track of the progress of the evil you face, as your dice pool grows ever consumed in shadow…

That’s enough of a tease for now. I’m planning to bring the playtest version to Metatopia in a couple of months, though, so look for more soon.