20 August, 2015

RPGaDay (Day 20)

Favourite Horror RPG


At last, a game question where I'm not tempted to write Mage: the Ascension.

It's a bit of a mess system-wise, and I heard about the Kickstarter for 3rd Edition too late, but my favourite Horror RPG has to be Chill 2nd Ed (by Mayfair Games). The core rules themselves are adequate, maybe a bit better than Call of Cthulhu for actual emulation of horror, maybe not as good as "Jenga Dread" for delivering tension, but on the whole adequate.



It's the Chill Companion that really makes this game for me. This book takes the core game and rips out the fairly bland setting and gives you everything you need to make the game emulate all sorts of horror subgenres, including short essays on what make those subgenres work and how best to convey those concepts in a roleplaying context.



I first read this not long after reading Stephen King's non-fiction horror thesis "Dance Macabre", and between the two of them it laid bare the whole genre and changed a lot of my thoughts at the time. It exposed so many shortcomings in other games and settings of the time (TSR's Ravenloft, Palladium's Beyond the Supernatural, etc.), each of which were also adequate and might sing with the right GM...bit there weren't really any pointers to show how the rest of us might produce the horror experience in a game. I also read Lovecraft's "Supernatural Horror in Literature" around this time, and while it felt like it provided a grounding in what was to be...it felt dated compared to the horror stories currently in the world.

As a bonus, this game had some of the best supplements around for different types of supernatual characters...such a lycanthropes, undead, etc. Each written from the perspective of research notes, focusing on how it feels and how these monsters horrifically fit into the world, more than focusing on stats or numbers. In some ways, these supplements were never surpassed by the work of the World of Darkness. (While Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: the Appcalypse are solid games bordering on the Horror genre, they've always felt more "angsty/emotional" in the games I've played rather than horrific...in the games I've run, these two have only verged on actual horror through the things I learned from Chill.)

I need to get around to reading the mew version of the game. Especially since I've volunteered to do some writing for it.
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