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 Post subject: Tips & Tricks & Tales : Scary Scenario
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:02 am 
Minotaur
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Hello everybody,

I am going to host a tabletop game this Halloween and I am preparing a one-shot scary scenario for my veteran, adult players.

... and I was wondering if any body had some advices or stories that particularly worked in the past ?

This particular scenario will likely take place in a "near-past" settings (1990)

Thanks :)


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 Post subject: Re: Tips & Tricks & Tales : Scary Scenario
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:58 pm 
Creator
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Draad wrote:
Hello everybody,

I am going to host a tabletop game this Halloween and I am preparing a one-shot scary scenario for my veteran, adult players.

... and I was wondering if any body had some advices or stories that particularly worked in the past ?

This particular scenario will likely take place in a "near-past" settings (1990)

Thanks :)


I used to run a Halloween game every year on "The Thursday Before Halloween." I ran it like a one-shot horror movie with sequels, but eventually moved on to unconnected one-shot stories. My old gang still run halloween horror thursdays every year and occasionally get me involved peripherally. (Once just via Skype to witness the game and once as a phone-in NPC. They're awesome.)

Some of them went really really well with players commenting that years later they still got chills from some sequences, to really lame sessions that were immediately forgettable.

A lot of it depends on all of you agreeing to take it seriously and cooperating in trying to make it work. If even one of you is just going to crack bad jokes and derail the story, it will crumble. That's not to say that there isn't room for humour, in fact just like a movie a real tense story needs some moments of release for the tenstion to work, but you've got to all be ready to help make it scary.

One-off characters are also great because they're far less likely to survive the game. Feel free to kill some (or all) of them off.

BK

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 Post subject: Re: Tips & Tricks & Tales : Scary Scenario
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:27 am 
Enforcer
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I second that you and your player should agree on cutting down the joking and goofing. If they are in a goofy, heroic mood, there is no salvaging anything.

Two more pieces of advice: the players get scared when they have something to lose. If they have invested on their characters, even if they are one-shot, things would be much more intense. I would suggest spending some time on the character building and maybe giving them some item or feature they really want to role play.

Another advice that worked for me was raising the stakes immediately. Last horror oneshot i ran, the players began the session imprisoned in an asylum. They could roll for minor successes such as keeping awake through the drugging or noticing tiny, telling details on the guards' uniforms or overhearing their captors. They felt powerless without getting bored, as they fought for every small thing. When they escaped they had no equipment or allies or even clear memories of who they were. As the story progressed, they heard about a great debilitating curse but there was no hint that they would have to go against that, it was meant as something beyond their capabilities. When in the end they found themselves close to it, they did not view it in the traditional rpg mindset (if the DM brouugh it in, we can probably beat it), since it had been established that nobody ever beats that, so they were properly freaked.

Other things that work: small but grotesque details, uncommon horrors (everybody expects skeletons, corpses, posessions etc but have someone who conceals a slashed neck while talking to them or repeats a word twice for no reason hinting at a non human speach pattern and the skin could crawl).
In the end the game will be more frightening if the stakes are completely personal (they wake up imprisoned, they are experimented upon, one day nobody remembers who they are and there is a doppleganger taking their place) than if they are supposed to act as heroes. It should also start with small horrors and disturbing hints and escalate in the end, even though there should be intensity for the whole ride.


A very good white wolf suggestion i read: in their game, changeling the lost, you are a human who has been abducted by the True Fae, lived as a slave in an alien, cruel and sublime land and when you escape, slightly maddened and altered of course, with your memories really scrambled, you discover that someone else has taken your place, has your memories and lives your life. This creature is the Fetch, it is made of rags and a piece of your shadow and even though it is a bit distant it is, for all intents and purposes, you.
Now a great horror game could come out of a bunch of players desperately running throught the Hedge trying to escape their cruel masters, losing their memory of their captivity even as they run and then coming back to a world no longer theirs and discovering someone else being them, but White Wolf suggests another kind of horror as well: have the players be normal people, if a little sad at times, who discover half human creatures grotesquely resembling them, stalking them and trying to kill them. In the end, after all their struggles against these monsters, the players discover that their enemies used to be human and they themselves are the real enemy: they are fetches, puppets of the Fae put there when the original was abducted, and the monster trying to take them out is the person whose family and life actyally belongs to. Somewhere in all this, the original True Fae that made you could be watching all this and playing its own game on your expense.

Damn. Now i have to make that game.

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Chaos is the Law of Nature, and Order just a Dream of Men


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 Post subject: Re: Tips & Tricks & Tales : Scary Scenario
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:51 am 
Minotaur
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Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 6:57 am
Posts: 102
Thanks a lot for the advices, there are a few things I did not think about and I will put them to good use : )

I have no worries about my players breaking the mood, these ones like role-play over anything.

My scenario is set in 1990, in a reunificating Germany a few months after the fall of the Wall of Berlin. The players are a group of government workers who have the mission to evaluate east-german buildings for privatization. Their latest assignment concerns an old soviet complex located in a Wend district...

The themes will be a mix of Cthulhu, a bit of Silent Hill 2 and a pinch of Slenderman.

I will tell you how it goes :)


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 Post subject: Re: Tips & Tricks & Tales : Scary Scenario
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:59 am 
Enforcer
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It does sound atmoshperic! Best of luck.

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 Post subject: Re: Tips & Tricks & Tales : Scary Scenario
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:17 pm 
Minotaur
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Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 6:57 am
Posts: 102
Well the players told me they had fun and at least one of them was scared enough to not go to sleep right away after the game ;)

I think my scenario was a little too condensed, I had to cram / mix several things together in order for my players to complete it in one session and the debriefing yielded some great ideas to improve it into a monster of a scary scenario.

PS: among the things I discovered making this scenario, the music of "2001, a space odyssey" with the monolith scene can be really really frightening.


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