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All Rules in Horror Storytelling

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How to Scare Heroes

Source Horror Adventures pg. 201
There’s no one route to telling a good horror story, nor is there just one way to run a great horror adventure. GMs can take a three-pronged approach to unsettling the PCs.

Narrative Dread: Something can be made frightening by building tension. A GM wants her story to evoke a sense of dread, which is the expectation of harm or terrible things. Stories should be built so the characters expect horrible things before they actually see anything. Situations should get gradually worse and be punctuated by encounters that feature terrible creatures or that provide evidence of gruesome fates. Don’t give the characters all of the details, though. Let them imagine that things are even worse than they appear. Then, when the situation is at its most tense, the monster or other shocking feature of the story is revealed. For more details, see Creating Horror Adventures. Dramatic Storytelling: The Art of GMing section of the GameMastery Guide presents numerous tips to help anyone become a more engaging Game Master. A GM is the window through which players experience a horror story. A GM can follow the techniques of skilled ghost storytellers and consider how her voice, tempo, movements, and what she chooses to focus on can work to build an ominous atmosphere.

Ominous Setting: The adventure’s most fearful moments transpire in the players’ imaginations, but what happens in the real world can help it along. See Creating Atmosphere for suggestions on how to prepare a game space for terror.