Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 63: Horror Themes in Other Games

Main Topic

How to incorporate Horror Themes into other non-Horror games?


Fantasy – Resource Restriction and isolation are strong ways to introduce the element of horror to a Fantasy Game.  You may want to reference Episode 61 about house rules, but when a Fantasy setting character is trapped away from their usual resources, and can’t just Teleport away, horror themes are simple to add.  Being stalked by a creature that is well suited to the island environment, while you are trying to keep up with enough food & water becomes frightening.


Super Heroes – There are a lot of Super-Mages in superheroic settings, and the obvious horror introduction can come through Magic, especially if it is a setting where the Magic is unknown and unknowable.  Mechanically, powers that “break the rules” are useful for these sorts of Cthonic horrors. In HERO system Parlance, Transforms and AVLDs that bypass normal defenses with awkward special effects or Psionic based powers in Heroes Unlimited can be used to frighten players when their normal defenses can’t be used.  


Sci-Fi – Sci-Fi tropes include the sort of body horror that comes from nanite based body snatchers and the loss of humanity.  2001 is one excellent example of how to incorporate horror into Sci-Fi in a subtle way while Event Horizon ends up quite the opposite. The inhumanity of the AI Alice in the Resident Evil movies is a way to use parts of the Sci-Fi Horror entries and the human frailty in the Espionage genre.


Espionage – The horror themes that flow from low grade cults and humanity’s own failing can easily be used in an Espionage or other modern game.  Scientists that go too far, cults that have corrupted a local town’s leadership, the banality of bureaucratic evil can all create horrifying stories and themes.


Stat Blocks

Zendead- Dead in the Water

It’s a deep feeling of dread that takes over you.  The rolling and dank cloud of mist and fog envelops you and your entire ship.  It is a feeling you have not felt before as every breath you take, each breath of life that you draw in, sucks your life force back out.  You are Dead in the Water as the very hunger of the sea claims your life.

It’s been around for so long that the maps will even track the patterns of this bank of fog’s movement’ they are sold in every port.  It’s very existence is known and feared. It’s origin, though, is lost in time. Lost to the depths of the very tears that make up the sea.  Only a great sadness and loss can fill the basin of the world, and only your sacrifice on the waves will ever bring that sacrifice to a close.


Joules- Akasha

Ashaka.  The name spoke barely above a whisper.  Her name is synonymous with oblivion.

Ashaka the cold. Ashaka the primordial. Ashaka the unmaker.


No one knows her true origins.  There are rumors she was once a sublime dancer and warrior whose hypnotic movements would immobilize a target before she took his head.  Others say she is a rogue goddess. Banished from paradise because the Old Gods feared her. No one knows for sure. But it is said, in hushed tones, that she turned her own power on her past.  Obliterating it. Thus severing any ties to the world of men and the realms of gods. Erasing all of her prior existence. Removing her thread of fate from the fabric of the world.


And this is why she is feared.


For what is it that defines a god?  What is it that makes us human?

The lives we live.  The deeds we do. It is the past that shapes the future.


Akasha is has none of this. Her memories unmade, her past nonexistent.  She has never experienced existence. And thus cannot understand it. Therefore it has no value.  She sees all of history, all memory as extraneous. For a life lived can be weighty. The past can be a heavy burden.  Memories can suffocate a man.


So out of a strange sense of benevolence she seeks to ease our burden.  Eliminate our history. Leaving us to drift aimlessly through a universe in which we never existed.


Guard-a-Manger – BYTE_M3_F@NB0Y.CSV

Great.  Another spreadsheet in the old email.  Another excuse to make charts and tables for some meeting you’ll never be invited to attend.  Another chance to actually dig into the bits and pieces of the job but never get the credit.

But this is different.  Somebody has a sense of humor with “Bite Me Fanboy” as the File Name.  You don’t think about it. It’s from Chad down in Accounts Receivable, so you know it ought to be fine.  Maybe he got his girlfriend to put it together for him and he hasn’t even realized that the name is a bit of a joke at his expense.  You open it … and it seems empty. Until you notice a window quickly opening and closing almost too fast to see.

You call IT.  You made a simple mistake, sure, but everybody gets phished now and again these days.  At least you caught it, right? Right? Surprisingly, IT comes back with a clean bill of health.  They are sure the computer is clean and the system is fine. Weird. Even weirder is when Chad asks you help with a presentation … and do it with him to the middle management.

Things are going great. Chad is being friendly and the bosses like your work.  There is even a bank error in your favor where they pay you back for overcharging your account for the past two years.  Chad may have slipped up and gotten himself in hot water with HR, but you weren’t at the office that day. Luck has turned around for you.

Chad’s ex even came into your life.  Getting coffee one morning, she took a bit of trip and while you caught her, she spilled coffee on your jacket. She insisted on getting your number and paying for the dry cleaning.  How could you say no? She was … enticing. Long, black hair pulled tightly in a ponytail, like it was slicked to her head and those sparkling green eyes drew you in. A quick beer and a quick bite, and it starts to turn to something more.

Her love of water and swimming is almost as enticing as that slight accent she has … Greece when you finally ask her where she is from … as she pulls you close in the tidal pools if the beach



Liniment   noun lin·i·ment | \ˈli-nə-mənt


Definition of liniment
1: a liquid or semiliquid preparation that is applied to the skin as an anodyne or a counterirritant

2: a liquid that is rubbed on your skin to relieve pain or stiffness in your muscles


History and Etymology for liniment
Middle English, from Late Latin linimentum, from Latin linere to smear


First Known Use
15th century


Bottom 40% of words


Closing remarks

Zendead- Paul E. Cooley


   Get out and Vote if you are able to.


Joules- Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro


Guard-a-Manger- The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Hammer Films) – Crossing Martial Arts with Horror, Hammer Films teamed up with the legendary Shaw Brothers for this critical flop of a movie.


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


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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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