Friday, April 5, 2013

Horror Genre in RPGs: Play on Target Podcast Ep. 7

This time we talk about horror gaming- our favorite classics,  effective mechanics, advice for running a horror game. I enjoy horror rpgs, and I've run more than a few sessions players still remember fondly. But our local group generally isn't a "horror" group. Most enjoy a one-shot from time to time, but they don't care for horror as a primary campaign element. That wasn't always the case- tastes have shifted and some players who enjoyed it more moved away. I still insert a horror beat or episode every once in a while in my campaigns. But I doubt I'll be running a purist Call of Cthulhu or AFMBE game anytime soon. 

We cover a wide range in the podcast, but don't fully examine the horror spectrum. Horror, terror, disgust, disquiet, anxiety, loathing, fear, etc- these distinct colors on the fright palette create different combinations in a game. GMs can more easily create some effects than others, shock and revulsion for example. There's the question of the immediacy of the medium. But more importantly there's the social structure of the situation- IMHO there's little way to escape the cracked joke and goofy response of some players to awful situations like these. A good GM balances the horror moments so that players don't 'break silly'. They also take the players seriously and at their word when they say what they doing. I try to really consider the implications of off-key responses- which often horrifies players who'd only meant those things in  jest. I don't force them down those paths or make them follow through on everything they say. Instead I  demonstrate that I listen and never assume they're joking.  

Horror Genre in RPGs
Play on Target Episode Roundup

I've posted before on Horror Gaming- including my extensive History of Horror RPGs. Here are a few good posts to look at:

History of Horror RPGs: Part One (1981-1990)
History of Horror RPGs: Part Eight (2010-2011)
The Year in Horror RPGs 2012 (Part One)
The Best in Horror RPGs
Behold the Beast: Last Thoughts on Horror RPGs
A Dread Awakening: First Play with Dread
Changeling the Lost as a Lens of Horror

If you like RPG Gaming podcasts, I hope you'll check it out. We take a focused approach- tackling a single topic each episode. You can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the podcast's page at

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