Sunday, July 19, 2015

Role-Playing - Horror

With about 35 years of role-play gaming under my belt, I am going to give you the benefit of what I have seen in those three and a half decades: Horror role-play is not for beginners. In fact, horror role-play is only for true role-players. What do I mean by “true” role-players? I mean people who are more into the role-playing aspect of the game than I am.

Why? Well, in order to actually be scared by a game, you need to forget about the rules. When you know the rules, you know that something either can happen or chances are it won’t. But horror requires surprise. I’m not talking about startling experiences; I’m talking about actually being scared. The more you know the less scary it is. Works in real life too, unless you know that the guy with a shotgun is completely insane and likes firing shotguns at people, in which case you would probably be more scared than if you didn’t know the guy. Bad example.

Anyway - For horror role-playing to work, the GM has to do things that you as a player didn’t think the rules would allow. For a guy who writes rules, that can be disconcerting. Let me give you an example: I was playing a famous horror role-playing game based on a famous New England author where everyone seems to go insane. I was told that deep in the cavern, my character saw a beautiful beach and sea. While trying to freak out the other players, I described how I was going to go for a swim and then dove head first into the many mouths of the very creepy monster. I as a player I knew that I had been driven insane and was only seeing what the monster god thing wanted me to see. I sacrificed my character for the role-playing aspect of the game.

But I don’t do that. I play role-playing games for fun, sure. To tell stories, yeah. To gather fame, fortune and experience, yeah, that too. Playing a RPG in hopes of being driven insane and then sacrificing my character; nope, not why I’m playing. I don’t want to start a new character every mission or even every other mission.

You don’t have to be like me. Maybe the story is everything for you. Maybe the role-playing challenges of trying to be true to playing a now insane character appeals to you. Maybe you revel when your GM blatantly twists the rules to allow for something “supernatural” to happen in the game. Guess what - You’re a role-player! A big time, dyed in the wool, devoted role-player. And you’re more into it than I am. That’s cool, but I think you’re in the very small minority.

Now to get back to the fantasy RPG stuff.

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