Friday, August 03, 2007

Suspense from the Known

R.G. Male ©2007 Excerpted from "Unnamed Psychic Horror Game"

Every good scary story, and this includes novels, movies, and games, needs suspense. An obvious thing. Often times as much as there is a need to be mysterious, even aside from leaving things to the imagination, some things do work better when they are obvious after a fashion.

The idea that needs to be approached here is that there are a few select times where revealing the horror doesn't lessen it, but instead increases it. A lot of these revelations are in scenes usually not involving the main characters. This is useful in a gaming context as well. For example, there is the type of scene where a monster stalks its victim. It is seen through the victim's eyes as much as from an outside point. While it does not give everything away, maybe even not a lot, it does make some things clear. For instance, the monster chases its victim, but yet on occasion, sometimes, somehow, gets ahead of the victim and they run right smack into it. This adds suspense in the fashion that the monster could pop up anywhere at any time.

R.G. Male ©2007 Excerpted from "Unnamed Psychic Horror Game"

There are mode insidious methods of ratcheting up the horror. The monster corners its prey. As it begins to do whatever it does to them, there is a flash of green light, and the scene goes to black. Now later, the audience, in this case the players, knows about this little tidbit out of character. Then the characters are somewhere, and they see a flash of green light, say in an alleyway, or behind an only partially closed door. Now the players start to sweat buckets, just like the movie audience does, because they know what is going on. At the same time there is nothing they can do about it, just as the movie character that is ignorant of what is happening cannot do anything.

Another example could go something like this... "Hey, what's this ash here?" It's one of the missing people being sought out for a clue, or they need to verify is indeed missing, and not just out of town. The players know this and they are biting their nails bloody, the characters have no idea as of yet. There are a number of different ways to express similar ideas, and beyond that there is a myriad of different concepts making use of this same principle of revealing things but not spoiling the suspense with a "look it's a werewolf" sort of let down.

R.G. Male ©2007 Excerpted from "Unnamed Psychic Horror Game"

Mood: melty.
Music: All I Want Is Everything by Def Leppard and Riders Of The Storm by Hammerfall.

Def Leppard: Slang
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Hammerfall: Crimson Thunder

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