Posted by : David Guyll August 28, 2014

When Paranormal Activity came out a lot of my then co-workers didn't really like it; nothing happened, not enough happened, not enough blood, gore, and/or jump scares, you didn't get to see what the demon-thing look liked at the end, etc.

Personally I always chalked this up to their viewing environment, by which I mean they all watched it in the theater, probably with one or more friends, and at the least definitely surrounded by a bunch of people.

As for myself I ended up watching it at night, in the dark, alone, in an apartment where the neighbors upstairs would randomly what I could only assume knock their refrigerator over. There was never a predictable time, frequency, or explanation for this, which might have made it somewhat more tolerable, but I guess you could say that it still added some "atmosphere" to my experience that those "4D" seats at some theaters certainly don't.

Basically, I was inadvertently immersed in the perfect setting for it, so it made a more...lasting impression, I guess you could say.

But as tricky as horror can be in films (which has the added effect of visuals, audio, and a budget), it's even trickier for tabletop games: you're almost always in a well-lit area (gotta see your sheets, dice, maps, and/or minis), at a familiar table, surrounded by familiar faces. Plus, people often fuck up the mood with jokes, getting up to get soda, asking where it is, nuking a pizza, going to take a shit, and generally making it very obvious that you are in fact not, say, an ill-equipped mortal delving into a ghost-haunted castle.

Another problem is that, even in with the right lighting and location, horror is still hard to pull off. Some people confuse horror with gore and just describe the most fucked up thing they can think of, not realizing that in most cases it's better to leave out some details and let the player's mind fill in the blanks. The horrible, horrible blanks. Oh, you also gotta give it time to build and grow in their minds, so you hopefully you're good with that whole pacing thing (and no one farts). And probably some other stuff I'm not thinking of right now.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that I've never played a roleplaying game that was scary, and even other games like Dead Space only hit me with the occasional jump scare before I learned to just shoot every "dead" body I found (though the ending still got me, as I was up at 3am, in the dark, etc, etc).

Sooo unfortunately there's no scary story here, and a big part of me really wishes that there was. Instead I'm going to take the time to pimp Fright Night again since horror is what it's intended for, it's keeping in the spirit of this RPG-a-Day post, and has definitely come closer than other roleplaying games I've played. If you haven't already check out the preview pdf, and even if you don't think it's the right game for you we'd still appreciate spreading the word!

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