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Horror Versus Heroism

Source Horror Adventures pg. 190
Especially if a GM has run frightening adventures using other roleplaying games, she should understand that the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is not designed with horror in mind. The Pathfinder RPG is a game of heroic adventure where the characters gradually become more powerful than they were at the game’s outset—by accumulating special abilities, treasure, and so on. In most games designed to tell frightening tales, however, the characters instead begin play on a downward trajectory toward corruption, insanity, or death. Yet using this chapter’s techniques doesn’t mean transforming the Pathfinder RPG into an entirely different game.

Nor does a horror-themed Pathfinder game suggest that the PCs become less heroic or that they are suddenly destined for a grim fate. It might change what plots, monsters, and locations are included and what sorts of characters players make, but the assumption remains that the PCs will undertake adventures, win treasure, gain power, and ultimately accomplish their quests. The GM might mask these assumptions a bit more than usual—there’s no sense of threat if success seems like a foregone conclusion. In the end, though, it gives the GM the opportunity to pit the PCs against escalating horrors and levels of terror.