Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gaming notes

While at Cthulhu Con I attended a panel that was titled "keeping fear alive in games." Because the games in question are role playing games that are based on stories (mainly H.P. Lovecraft's), I figured I'd stick my notes here.

Some of these are ideas that could be used in writing stories, all are excellent ways to torment either readers or players.
  • Bring in the unexpected.
  • Have players think they're trying to do one thing, then change (or redirect) goals -- bait and switch.
  • Distinguish between anticipation/suspense vs. fear?
  • Players burn down bad guys, then you throw regular authorities at the players.
  • The great Sandy Peteresen had a slip of the tongue in which he called the players "the failures."
  • Rush with snap decisions -- push them too fast to retreat.
  • Unknown is always scarier than the known -- uncertainty.
  • Dice -- introduce random (unknown)
  • Withhold info: give descriptions of injuries, but don't give exact XP (this can lead players to thinking their injures or worse or better than they really are).
  • Know the players: one doesn't like spiders, give them spiders. (This is terrible, mean, and awesome, IMO.)
  • When the players don't know what's going on, they can often come up with ideas that are worse than what's really going on...except for when their ideas fall short of just how bad things are.
  • Rules are there to help and govern the game, not hurt it. Change rules if necessary.

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