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View Full Version : Least Favorite Dark/Horror RPG?



darelf
11-20-2008, 10:31 AM
Many people here are aficionados, having tried many different game systems. We have heard many suggestions of game systems that a great for horror/dark future. What games have you run across that you really just can't take? Not necessarily loathe, but you would not play again. (Although if you have one that you loathe, certainly put it on the list!)

Of the ones I've tried, I think Chill might be the worst of the bunch. It seemed to be a rip-off of Cthulhu, and not very well done at all system-wise. And I didn't like the art, either.

fmitchell
11-20-2008, 01:22 PM
This could easily turn into a flame-fest, but from my limited experience here's what doesn't work in horror:

Powerful characters: Some of the best film and print horror relies on the main characters being overwhelmed, and for the most part helpless against whatever threatens them. If your characters are used to slicing up six orcs before breakfast, you need something that *doesn't* slice so well.

Fiddly rules, esp. tactical combat: Good horror games should be rules-light, so as not to distract from the story. Breaking into tactical combat not only destroys the flow, it should be stupid and counterproductive if you heed the first rule. (Call of Cthulhu aces that one; humans tear like tissue paper before creatures of the Mythos. Why spend two hours of tactical combat struggling against your inevitable fate?)

Hollywood endings: Ultimately it's up to the GM to enforce the genre. Humans struggling against the supernatural should never really win. Pyrrhic victories and successful skirmishes in an eternal war are fine, but there's no "happily ever after" in horror gaming. If the PCs are supernatural beasties themselves, every session should remind them of how estranged they are from the mortal world, how dangerous and precarious their existence is, and how they must balance their humanity with their inhuman nature. Never forget, for example, that vampires are at worst serial killers, at best parasites who need to conceal their disgusting affliction from the press, the police, and assorted vigilantes.

darelf
11-20-2008, 01:57 PM
This could easily turn into a flame-fest, but from my limited experience here's what doesn't work in horror:

Powerful characters: Some of the best film and print horror relies on the main characters being overwhelmed, and for the most part helpless against whatever threatens them. If your characters are used to slicing up six orcs before breakfast, you need something that *doesn't* slice so well.


Hmmm... ( and I hope it doesn't turn into a flame-fest... just a what-to-avoid when trying to run a horror/dark future game )

I know what you mean on this point, but I don't think it has to do with power-level per se... but more that the GM can't be afraid to put the PCs in completely untenable positions. Something that wouldn't be countenanced in a different genre ( where the GM is just being a jerk ) are not only accepted but expected in the horror genre.

If you are playing a very powerful Seraphim character in Armageddon that doesn't preclude you being put at the mercy of some greater power. The trick, in my very humble opinion, is to place the character in a truly horrifying situation, no matter the power level. Certainly it helps if the game supports this.... which is the reason for the question.

fmitchell
11-20-2008, 02:25 PM
The trick, in my very humble opinion, is to place the character in a truly horrifying situation, no matter the power level.

True, but the higher-powered your PCs are, the harder it is to get across the feeling of horror. Just a bigger and badder version of their usual threats won't do, most of the time. Using an Armageddon Seraphim as an example (which I know little to nothing about), here are some valid horrific threats:

A planet-sized eldritch horror is heading toward Earth to drain all life and essence out of the world. It's too huge and powerful to even notice the powers you have at your disposal. If you have any hope at all, you need to do research to find its weaknesses.

An unholy plague ravages the humans in your charge. You, as a celestial being, will survive, but millions and perhaps billions will die if you can't quarrantine all the carriers by any means necessary. You may have to violate your personal ethics, for what are a thousand lives compared to a billion ... no matter how piteously they beg for mercy.

The other Seraphim have declared you anathema; they've accused you of unspeakable crimes, punishable by death. Are they mad? Is someone trying to frame you? Has something possessed them? Can it be ... that you actually did those things?

MortonStromgal
01-03-2009, 02:27 AM
Dark Conspiracy... 50% hate + 50% love leads to a confused Morton :confused:
Loose the cyberpunk, aliens, D&D style monsters and my the mechanics do not lend to horror at all.

Character creation and the basic idea rock though.

Etarnon
01-03-2009, 08:51 AM
Well, it's tougher to say what is the worst, since all of the ones people know made it into print, and circulated around for a while.

I liked Chill by Pacesetter, because it was simple, and easy to teach.

Similarly, Dark Conspiracy by GDW was a spinoff of twilight:2000 2nd edition.

I think a system is bad only to the point that you focus on the mechanics, and only the mechanics...though there are systems where the mechanics are too hard to use.

We were even able to use Mechwarrior, 1st edition to play out Roleplayed adventures, via battletech...we just focussed more on the story and the PCs.

Definitely chill was a child of the 80's. But it has it's own flavor. And an imaginative GM could use it very well to tell a horrific story.

Sascha
01-03-2009, 12:25 PM
Dark Conspiracy... 50% hate + 50% love leads to a confused Morton :confused:
Loose the cyberpunk, aliens, D&D style monsters and my the mechanics do not lend to horror at all.

Character creation and the basic idea rock though.
Valid criticism, there. Of course, Dark Conspiracy's a horror game in much the same way Aliens was a horror movie. Author Lester Smith stated as much in the first Demonground (http://www.demonground.org) issue: "Rather than fight [the] fact [that GDW was a wargaming company], I decided to try making a horror game where the point was ultimately to blow the monsters to little pieces."

I definitely understand the sentiment, though; probably would share it, too, if I had the same expectations ;)

For me, Beyond the Supernatural. Was okay, back when I knew little about other RPG lines, but now I have much better tools for horrorish gaming. Some fun memories, but nothing really horror about the feel there.