Scary : RPG a Day 2019

Running a scary game is a difficult thing to do.  I have always wanted to run a game that had people scared.  Closest I ever came was a Shadowrun game I ran of all things.  That was a game that I ran off the cuff also and it haunts me to today because I cannot recreate the perfect storm it was born from.


It was when I was young and I was working in Launceston, Tasmania.  Every month I needed to go to Hobart and spend a week there.  I stayed with a mate and ran games at nighttime as payment for letting me stay.  I decided to run a haunted house style game.  Barghests galore and walls that seemed solid but would warp with the spirits contained in the area.  I had most things work differently to what was expected so the players just struggled to work out exactly what was going on.  It was scary and it was one of the games that I will remember for the rest of my life.

But I took that game straight back to Launceston with me and tried to run it for my group that lived there.  It completely fell flat and was about as scary as a child’s Halloween movie.  I keep trying to remember the bits and pieces that made that game so scary.  I try to keep away from gore, but most players want that in a horror.  I find the games I run now that are meant to be scary in fact draw more laughter than anything.  When I crack the code I will report it back here!  Keep rolling.


  1. I’m with you in preferring to avoid gore. I’ve played with a few people over the years who are very uncomfortable with gore and have seen people enhance the blood and guts aspect of games specifically to mess with them, which I really don’t like because it’s never felt done in a fair way. Also, gore is gross but not horrifying – can even detract from what makes a game truly scary, in my opinion.

    I enjoy being scared as a player, but I think the players need to come to the game prepared to be scared, to play into it, for it to work, and that might be where the Launceston game didn’t work as expected


  2. Maybe – though the Hobart gamers had no idea what they were getting – I did not telegraph it to them. It was just another game of Shadowrun and they were thrown into it – I would have loved to have bottled that nights game because it was true gold.

    It is hard to find a group that actually react the way they did. It was a serious game that just elevated to a brilliant level. Not sure I will ever be as successful in a game like I was then.


    1. True – I guess a lot of it comes down to the chemistry of the group as a whole (why our Pathfinder games are so much less satisfying since my brother left and we brought in someone who doesn’t want to play the same way), and how everyone is feeling in that moment, too.


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