Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 34: Horror - What Are Horror Games? What do you shoot for?

Main Topic


Horror games can run a gamut of options so first we have to define what we are talking about when we say “Horror.” Different styles of horror include Urban Fantasy Horror rooted in classical Fairy Tales, Jump scares that are built around sudden and unexpected changes, Cosmic Horror like the Cthulhu mythos where there is a deep and almost existential dread, and Mendacity of Horror – the Horror of Everyday life.


A majority of horror stories have elements or at least indicia of the supernatural – Think about the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Event Horizon, or It.  Other stories, especially when suspense or thriller styles are used often find their horror in the human element like Scream or the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So how do you use these elements and styles in building a Horror themed game?


Stat Blocks


The Hangman’s Noose


This old thick hemp rope is about a dozen feet in length one end is frayed and unraveling a touch and the other is an expertly tied hangman’s noose. At first glance it is just any other noose you might find in any sheriff’s office. It is on closer inspection that elements of this rope seem off. Intertwined in the rope is a gold thread and a silver thread. There is also a thread of some sort of blue material that shimmers like metal but isn’t. On each of the loops in the noose is a name in what appears to be dried blood. Well all but the highest loop which is blank. As you are looking at it the crack of a pistol firing from the direction of the saloon across the street. You look up and back down and a name appears on the Hangman’s Noose.


Joules- The Gleet

The world is full of mischievous but non malignant spirits. There’s the coblynau and knockers of wales (which are known as Cousin Jacks in Nevada and California), kobolds of germany, and duende of south america just to name a few.  These sprites would steal tools from miners, make mischief in the house, and get humans lost in the forest. But their tricks (usually) were to poke fun at us humans, delighting in our gullibility. They only became violent and malicious if they were disrespected.  But if treated with respect, they would often (in their own way) find ways to protect the humans that they played with, often with a slightly mischievous twist. So with the rise of technology and electronics, it makes sense that prankster spirits would make the move as well.


There’s a prankster type of tech spirit called the Gleet and they pick their targets well.  The Gleet choose humans with technical proficiency and intelligence. Techies that can roll with the punches.  The Gleet don’t mess with n00bs or luddites (their more malicious cousins, the gremlins do that). The Gleet are responsible for the “accidental” forgetting of a semicolon when writing a program.  Or when Adobe Flash crashes in the middle of an export. Waiting for an important file to download and your network speed drops to almost nothing? That’s a Gleet kinking the network cable. Betcha he’s giggling too.  Lulz


But the Gleet know not to push a joke too far as they have a sort of affection for their humans.  So catastrophic instances come with a good reason. A computer’s power supply fails. 5 minutes later, after when the human has unplugged his computer and walked away, lightning strikes the tree next door, arcing to the home and causing a massive power surge.  Frying a bunch of electronics. The human may have been electrocuted too if he was still at the computer. Disc drive fails to read a disc, preventing the user from ripping a new CD. Turns out that the music publisher had a nasty rootkit on the disc “for security purposes.”  No one messes with their human but them.


As with most spirits, offerings are expected.  The last sip of an energy drink, the few small remaining pieces of beef jerky, and the last few pieces of popcorn or potato chips are standard offerings to the Gleet.  Variants, depending on the human’s diet, are fine. But the food usually consumed during crunch time or the “final all nighter” are their faves. They also enjoy silly and random notepad doodles that folks make while brainstorming.   So once in a while, leave your scratch pad out for them to flip though, you may find the solution to your problem jotted in the margin the next morning.


So if a Gleet has taken a shining to you, consider yourself luckier than most.  Your life is going to be interesting, at times frustrating, but you’ll come out on top 99% of the time.  Just do your best to be respectful of them, or else the bannanashark will be the least of your worries.



Razor’s Edge

The Razor’s Edge is a cliff on some far flung island that looks and feels like a tropical paradise.  It is a sharp cliff face jutting out over the ocean with a truly picturesque view. It is a hotspot for Instagram worthy selfies and you’ve probably seen it in your feeds.  Every so often, a strange shadow appears over someone’s shoulder; the more fanciful claim it looks like a ghostly face stalking the tourists. When your friend goes missing on vacation, all signs point to The Razor’s Edge as the last place he or she was seen.  When you try to take a look, you don’t find anything … and that’s the strange part of it. It is perfectly and precisely manicured with no indication of all the visitors there have been over the years. Pristine and beautiful … oddly so.


Can you find out that there is a cult maintaining this area for its beauty?  That the cult is venerating a wild creature that lives not far from the cliff face?  And what is this wild creature? Is it just a simple predator like a big cat or a komodo dragon … or something more?  Legends go back centuries that the creature protects the island’s residents but maybe this is just human depravity in the Instagram age. And where does that strange shadow come from?


Kern  noun \ ˈkərn , ˈkern \


Definition of kern

1 :a light-armed foot soldier of medieval Ireland or Scotland
2 :yokel


Origin and Etymology of kern
Middle English kerne, from Middle Irish cethern band of soldiers


First Known Use: 15th century


Closing remarks

Zendead- Zoo on Netflix


Joules- Gantz


Guard-a-Manger- The Cabin in the Woods (2012)


Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp


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Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter


And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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