I am scared of most things (The dark, people, small spaces, long drops, large black cats, spiders, zombie spiders, people etc) I’ve mentioned this before. It really helps with buy in. I am honestly scared of whatever situation I am in most of the time at events (if I’m meant to be scared). Alternatively, I can imagine being scared of it, and use empathy to act appropriately and feel scared.
When we write we expect a degree of this from the players. If you’re playing a game and a situation calls for you to think a certain way you’ll get a lot more out of the scene if you can bring yourself to feel the required emotion. It also helps to improve the game for others, and a lot of LRP is a collaborative effort. We’re telling a story together, and although you may be fighting for a more prominent part in the story you are all trying to tell that story.
I suspect this is one reason why Zapfest ended up being so much about the acting game. We had created a game for special snowflakes - for people who want to the be the centre of attention, and it really worked. However, this meant the on stage stories were competing and it was the offstage story that was most important.
Trying to catch out the big bad by asking a question it is less likely to know ruins the effect for it and the people around you (sorry Matt, well played). Turning on the lights as you’re all creeping through a dungeon and jumping at shadows is likely to ruin the moment. Packing for a horror event requires thought as to how to be scared. Whilst all LRP is comedy, it’s also deeply serious at moments, and needs planning and preparation to make it work.
A few basic things you can do with horror:
- Make torches rubbish. We normally run games with a 2 AA batteries or handheld only rule. We play games with uv torches and red gel over them to make them less effective, and then we find reasons to do that. I often use a lantern that illuminates me and the steps beneath me, and only gives me hints that there’s something out there.
- Split up. It’s really hard to be scared when there’re fifty of you. Visit the big bad alone, let other people visit the big bad alone. Work together to find reasons that things can get to you.
- Don’t hole up somewhere warm with proper light and easily sealed doors. If you OOC know they can’t get to you you’re forcing them to break the moment to move the monsters through a barrier or leave you be. Neither of these carry on the fear. There’s always a reason the safe option isn’t the best option, and whilst it might require doing something stupid you decide on your characters reasoning. No matter how much you talk about it in the third person your character is based on you and hence you can find a way to make them do the thing that gets you the game.
- Make sure someone knows where you are, if you care. I can quite happily terrify myself in the woods for a couple of hours by letting my imagination run away with the noise created by a mouse running past. However, if no one knows where you’ve gone then they can’t send anything to get you and more importantly eventually they get worried you might have fallen down a well.
- Take a radio. If the game allows carry a radio. That way when you fall down a well and get eaten by a terror mouse you can radio your fear back to base and they can share it while the people running the game wet themselves with laughter until they realise they’ve not sent any monsters out and whatever’s eating you is actually real.
Admittedly I play horror games, and I don’t go to be kept in my comfort zone. I stuck to that for the first 18 years of my life and things improved immeasurably as soon as I started taking risks and making things happen.