Maintaining the Horror Campaign – Introduction

Section 0 – Why?! WHY?!!

“Do you like Scary Movies?”

It’s a common question. One that could pop up when working with a new co-worker out in the field, or behind the registers. One that you need to show a bit of jurisprudence with. It’s a safe bet that the person who is asking this question likes horror movies, and wonders if you do to. Saying “No. I hate them.” could spoil the afternoon.

“Do you like Scary Movies?”

It’s a good question to ask a date, or a good conversation starter in a bar. It asks people for their opinion andasks them for an emotional response. Plus, it’s such a common question, that most people have a ready response for it, and are comfortable expounding on it. “I like Horror, but only if it’s done right.” “The Ring was scary, but The Saw series is not.” “I’m a fan of slasher flicks, but only if the director doesn’t take himself seriously.” And why? And why?

“Do you like Scary Movies?”

Some people don’t. Some people can’t handle the anticipation of watching a scary movie. They take the whole category and bundle it together with a little sign that says “Do Not Like.” They feel like they’re in the back seat of an out of control car. How can you enjoy that?

Of course some of those same people like Army of Darkness, which is too campy to be a real Horror story. Oh, and Silence of the Lambs isn’t Horror, it’s a Psychological Thriller, and a Detective Story at that. And how can you call 2001: A Space Odyessy a Horror movie? That was a work of Science Fiction! Interview with the Vampire? Well I suppose it has the elements of a horror movie…

“Do you like Scary Movies?”

It’s a little unfair, isn’t it? Many people aren’t willing to admit that there’s a part of them that likes to be scared. Perhaps, just a little bit. But, a good scary movie excites, then relieves its audience. A good scary movie revs the heart, electrifies the senses and races the mind. It whips our conciousness around dangerous thoughts, hurtling down reckless mountain roads of twisted plot and spins out of control and slams to a stop. Then we’re driven to our front door and let off, as the ideas drive away.

Or maybe it drops you off, engine idling, on the side of the road by the woods.  Then, when you turn to say something,  it slams the door and speeds off into the night.

Do you like Scary Movies?

Back around Halloween, Josh wrote Dungeon Mastering Horror: Tips on Making your Halloween D&D Game Memorable.  In that article, Josh spelled out a number of tricks to help get the players in the mood for a night of blood curdling horror. But what if you aren’t satisfied with one night? What if you have you’re licking your teeth in anticipation of a (Gasp!) Horror Campaign?

I’ve had the pleasure of running two successful horror campaigns, both lasting a year a piece. While both games heavily relied on Dungeons & Dragons setting Ravenloft for its source material, this article series is written with the intention of being used with any role-playing game system.  In fact, my second campaign used Ravenloft as the setting, but employed the game mechanics from Savage Worlds, to streamline combat.  I consider these two campaigns to be the pinacle my role as a Game Master, and my players  often hint that they would like more.  How did these two games not devolve into snorts, chuckles and eye rolling? Why don’t we continue on to Maintaining the Horror Campaign – Chapter 1?

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  2. […] players afraid of the dark, but to keep them in a state of fear through the length of a campaign.  The Introduction , Chapter 1 ,  Chapter 2,  Chapter 3, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 can be read at their […]

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  5. […] players afraid of the dark, but to keep them in a state of fear through the length of a campaign.  The Introduction , Chapter 1 ,  Chapter 2,  Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 can be read at their respective links. […]



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