Posts Tagged horror

tension cycles

Extra Credit’s ‘How horror games create tension cycles’


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CRAM in more powerful tension and horror

  • Cliches
    Cliches from film and books, can be over-used. However, while they can telegraph a potential outcome they will create an atmosphere and tell your players something about what to expect and how to behave. They create a form of anticipation. Use them to set the tone, switch them up to avoid over-use or removing any surprise from the plot.
  • Relationships
    Relationship is the connection that the player has to other characters, to the story and to the environment. Creating space for players to create and form relationships can be challenging in a fast paced or action story.
    Look for opportunities for shared experiences that create emotional connections. Some of the strongest bonds that people have are established throug highly emotional circumstances that release chemicals in to the player’s mind.
  • Anticipation and Pacing
    Anticipation is everything and is key to building any kind of tension in your game. Build and release, repeat. Consider foreshadowing as a means to create anticipation – Checkov’s gun
  • Moral decision
    Moral = ‘of or concerned with the judgment of right or wrong of human action and character’
    It is likely to be a point in time, at which the players have to consider their situation, the story, their relationships and character. Explicit choice is good for a game. And a situation with consequences leads to a meaningful choice that player’s will remember.

Ultimately it all need wrapping together in a good story

  • Story is king
    The power of story in your level comes down to two things. The story of the environment; and character’s story in that environment. As well as the relationship between each other.
    Story is what we remember. We love to tell stories. We love to listen to stories. There is no better way to communicate and to connect with someone. We don’t care about facts.
    Look for ways to tie the environment and story together, select the environment carefully to add to the mood and atmosphere.

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add some fear

a great post from

  • Fear of the unknown (Alfred Hitchcock once said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”)
  • Fear of the known (create a sense of helplessness)
  • Fear of the unexpected (set up a situation with an expected outcome, and then switch the ending on them)
  • Avoid paranoia (by over doing it)
  • Avoid mechanically inspired fear (using game mechanics alone)

Adding Fear to Your Game.

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horror game or discovery plot structure


Building a scenario from Call of Cthulhu 6ed

  • a mystery or crisis is posed…
  • the investigators become linked to the problem…
  • the investigators attempt to define the mystery…
  • the investigators use the clues and evidence to confront the danger…
  • the mystery is solved.

Complex discovery plot;

  • onset
  • discovery
  • confirmation
  • confrontation

The Philosophy of Horror, Noel Carroll

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