Episode 137: The Horror Genre

Hosts: Megan, Todd, Timo

What did we play (12:27)
Annalise: Todd, Timo, Megan
Lords of Waterdeep: Todd

Main Topic: The Horror Genre (19:37)
Horror can be a tricky genre to implement in gaming. Concerns exist about pacing and maintaining a certain feel. Different games approach the genre in significantly different ways, and succeed to varying degrees.


Timo: I just got screwed by the city, and I’m pissed I can’t blame anyone but myself.
Megan: Do not leave your kids with me at the grocery store, even if I am tying balloons. I am not a baby sitter.
Todd: Mummies, WTF? Also, both proud and disappointed with our behaviour this


Other Links:

Descent 2
Call of Cthulhu
Trail of Cthulhu
Stealing Cthulhu
Final Girl
Zombie Cinema
Murderous Ghosts
Don’t Rest Your Head
Matt Snyder
44: A game of Automatic Fear

You have been listening to The Jank Cast, copyright under the creative commons license. You can find out more about us at jankcast.com. You can send comments and feedback to feedback@jankcast.com We are sponsored by Chicagoland Games, and encourage you to get in touch with us via our Facebook page, Spooky Outhouse Forum (it’s a little quiet, but we’d love to get it going again), Twitter or Google+. You can also listen to us via Stitcher Radio. Now go out and roll some dice!

7 thoughts on “Episode 137: The Horror Genre

  1. I’m in the middle of listening to the episode, wanted to make a quick observation about the idea of “helplessness” in gaming. The best way to do it might be to take inspiration from The Master (Lovecraft) himself. Use the Dunwich Horror as an example: you might be able to do something about this immediate problem, but you’re helpless to stop the larger and more terrifying problem that lies behind/beyond it. You might be able to banish Wilbur Whately’s 1/2 brother, but you can’t truly “win”. Yog-Sothoth is still out there…

  2. Again a really great episode.

    Very nuanced and it showed a lot of the problems in trying to do horror in a RPG setting.

    From personal taste perspective I don’t “get” horror or it’s appeal. In game where the GM had it introduced, it usually fell flat. Part of issue is horror is a very personally thing with few one size fits all (one of the things I think the podcast really showed) solutions that are generally needed in multi player games.

    By in on the player’s part seems to be really important for a horror game to work, Let alone a horror campaign of any length.


  3. Weirdly enough my gaming group went through a haunted house kind of thing last night and in the post discussion the GM brought up many of the same issues you did. Another player’s suggestion was to have the players close their eyes during the haunted description section.

    His reasoning was that a lot of the distraction in these situation is that the area you are actually in is familiar at best and distracting at worst. Shutting out the visuals makes you picture the creepy verbal detail better and makes you focus on them.

    This would only work for a stretch or so though and wouldn’t really work when you had to roll dice. We all thought that would have been a brilliant experiment though and thought I’d share.

    PS: Great episode as usual.

  4. David

    Now that’s an very interesting idea that I never thought of before. I’ll definitely have to give this a try next time I’m trying to build up suspense.


  5. I’ve always wanted to fool around with physical space and isolation in a horror game. I don’t think I mentioned it on our discussion. Having a game in which each player was in a separate room and could only communicate via walkie talkie or text messages would be an interesting experiment. Or create an incredibly small physical space in which the game and action take place (think Das Boot or Lifeboat). People are the best things to freak other people out, I think.

  6. I’ve had a similar issue with the City Sticker… but I bought one and forgot to put it on until I got the $200 fine. grrr

  7. Great show. I love gaming in the horror genre. Call of Cthulhu was a complete revelation to me back in the day.

    In the show you mentioned how Lovecraft’s big thing is the slow realization that the world is not what you thought – and it is horrible – and what you need to know to fight it will drive you insane. I find that build up the hardest thing to get right. I want to drop hints and clues and have the players put two and two together and – OH MY GOD!! But as you also often say on the podcast – subtlety doesn’t work at the gaming table. It’s that balance of prodding them with NPC questions, recaps, and outright telling them the setup to get them to add it all up that is the part that can make or break a horror game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *