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  #1  
Old 09-30-2008, 09:58 PM
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best way to create fear in DnD
So I've been running a game, its my first so I'm learning as I go. I originally was trying for a horror campaign but it didn't turn out like that. I still have a plot that makes my friends wonder about my sanity but there's no real feeling of fear and making their characters afraid seems a bit tricky, and not just making them roll for it (since at this point most of them have a relative high will save.

So in everyone's experience what is the best way to create fear?
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Old 10-01-2008, 03:05 PM
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I've never been a DM, but I think the problem in creating the atmosphere you are looking for would count a lot on your players willingness to suspend disbelief. Do you give a role playing bonus? Sadly, a lot of people are motivated by rewards. How many distractions are there going on outside the game? Set a mood? Quiet room, creepy music, dimmer lights? Just some thoughts.
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:05 PM
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Here's the problem: "Fear" and horror concepts generally only work if the players are willing to actually role-play. As Drunkenfairy mentioned, players motivated by rewards aren't going to mind participating or allowing horrific things if it means getting to the prize. Often times, horror can fall into less "fear" and more "splatterpunk" situations. Oooh, it oozes and is evil and is trying to molest my girlfriend? I kill it, splatter blood in my face and grin with satisfaction as I pop it like a zit with my axe.

That said, I take cues from other horror games like Call of Cthulhu that play on the person's sanity. There are some evils, forbidden lores and things that should not be that even the strongest of human conviction suffers at knowing. If you can actually track down a copy of Call of Cthulhu d20, give it a looksy. It has a sanity point system, but you can easily abstract the concept so it's less game mechanic and more role playing device.

The beautiful idea: You save with high will Rolls? Good, you only lose a few points of sanity, as opposed to collapsing in the fetal position crying.

Get to know your players, their quirks, their impulses. Play off of that. I usually watch the Saw movies for inspiration for both traps, sinister devices, and just generally how to mind-fuck someone. Don't go too crazy, but with a mature group it could be fun putting them into akward situations that play their (the characters) sins out on the table, exposed to everyone.

You might also want to draw inspiration from other RPG's and how they handle the horrific. Just browse over ideas and synopsis's, brainstorm a few things:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor...-playing_games

Hope this might be a small catalyst for ya. If nothing else, if you want, share the concept of the campaign and what you're trying to accomplish. What kind of scary you going for?
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:18 PM
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I came up with a decent Idea for a horror campaign. Since I am a huge fan of the Silent Hill series and a few of my friends are too I decided to research a little of silent hill and incorporate it into the D20 modern system. Since Silent Hill is based around the persons "Sins" in life and fears it was easy to devise a plan.

I decided that each character would not know exactly what the campaign was, other than D20 modern. I told them to build a character that is semi set around their real life fears, and life experiences. They then have to come up with a small back story involving a terrible act or accident; i.e. The character was driving with their sister and ended in a car accident in which they had to watch their sister trapped in the car burn alive. Something to that extent.

One of the players is afraid of needles in real life so I would make a monster revolving around needles, which would in tern pulse at the back of that players mind imagining the actual monster.

Another very good idea which I used was dim lights, enough to see sheets and other important documents. A good mood setting music or sound, something without lyrics. Most importantly everyone has to be in the mood to play and not distracting. If someone is not serious it ruins the mood for everyone.
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:25 PM
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Thanks everyone. My group is split in half when it comes to role play. I try my best to give opportunities for role play. But then one side will complain about too much role play or too much battle. I don't give in its just I go through what my plot is. And distractions? We'd be fine the all of a sudden some one mentions WoW.... Yup. Now I'm venting, sorry :P. Though I will give every ones thoughts consideration with my next game I run. Which wont be for a while since I'm two sessions away from completing this one.

And CoC is actually a consideration for next time, hell I tried to base some of this game off of H.P since I love him to bits.

Hmmm... type of scary... Well I guess disturbing, I would love it to have the same impact as Silent Hill does, and in some ways I have. The places and things that they fight are a rather disturbing idea. Best bad guy is always children. If you play them as an "innocent evil" (if that makes seance) that usually hits the spot for them.

Holy crap Kanashi that's an awesome idea, lol good luck with that campaign.

I'm a very visual person and some times wonder if this game would be better as a computer game than anything ><. Anyway thanks all.
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:14 PM
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Texture, detail and consequence. Don't be afraid to kill a few PCs. Let them know that the world out there is bigger than them. Let them know that stupid mistakes are deadly or horrific. Horror takes a certain level of seriousness and maturity, as otherwise it just gets silly.

Time pressure is a great thing to cause suspense. Making players figure out puzzles in a time limit is fun.

Occasionally if players were approaching a door, I'd make them stand up... go to a door in the room and show me how they were approaching it or opening it. Often nothing would occur, but sometimes something would.

One problem is that you can't do the "shock" horror that we see in movies like Saw or whatever that something jumps out at you. It simply doesn't convey as well verbally.

I'd suggest reading some classic Stephen King like the Stand or the Shining.

You have to build up a tense and painful world around the players. They must feel little to no hope.

Even doing what is right for survival must have dire implications.
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  #7  
Old 10-16-2008, 07:26 PM
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You want to go for horror - the fear of the unknown. Let them hear bumps and wonder wtf it was. Let them catch mere glimpses of what is ahead. Even in D&D where you have spells that let you see whatever wherever there are ways to block them, and daemons (and worse) have access to that kind of stuff. This should make them have to think their way out of a problem.

Of course this is why Call of Cthulhu is better for horror than D&D, but it can still be done.
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Old 10-17-2008, 04:49 PM
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I found the greatest horror is reality...So think raw, think simple and think about morals and their views on differant things. Uncomfortability= fear.
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Old 10-17-2008, 11:53 PM
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Oh yeah and any opportunity that requires the players to read Latin in reverse, out loud, steady rhythm, while making them roll dice for Will saves will ALWAYS invoke teh fear >
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:00 AM
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For some reason whenever I DnD with my friends, we always have a hard time really getting into our character's feelings--I'm never exactly able to express fear, I guess, when we meet the boss of the campaign, as determined by our DM...so maybe it's not really possible to create real fear in a campaign?

I mean everyone else has had great ideas, but how far can you go with fear when you're just roleplaying?
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