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Solar and horror?

Started by NilsH, January 27, 2009, 09:29:14 PM

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I´m soon going to be the gamemaster for a science-fiction/ horror game where the characters are detectives looking for a cultist/ witch with powers to summon demons and psychic powers. I´m wondering how the Solar system works with horror and scaring players/ characters...?

So far I have used Solar system to play games for power where the relationships are focus (which they will be in this campaign also...). I have used the thinking of revealing all information possible to the players so the know what they are up against, and know the backstory- which works great in games built around relationships/ power. Keeping the players/ characters active, forcing them to choose their actions and paying the price.

In horror games I have traditionally kept things secret, not reveling the monsters, not showing the players what they are up against. Keeping the players not-active and the monsters active- making the characters hunted and exposed/ in danger. They should always be insecure, wondering what they are up against.

How does horror work with Solar System? Anything you guys think I should do/ not do, or have in mind?

Is Solar system a game that are built to work with horror?

Anything special to think about? So far we have built the characters like detectives- choosing to not have keys like.... "1 point to go out in the darkness alone in my underwear" "2 points to have sex on the party and not seeing the shadow behind me". We have keys like "1 point to look for clues for my missing girlfriend".

We don´t wanna have keys that create a horror-movie. We wanna have a game where we can drop the horror if and when we want to, and where the keys build the characters, not the over-all feeling... If you know what I mean.

Any advice?


Eero Tuovinen

Hmm... Horror is tricky, but I would perhaps try to do some information restriction as the SG. As you say, uncertainty has a cachet in horror games.

Nobody's done a lot of body work on SS horror yet (except for zombie apocalypses), but I guess I'd start my experiments by going through a normal adventure prep and just filling the field with horror elements. Then I'd just run it with horror gaming techniques to see what works and what doesn't.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Horror isn't necessarily a function of the game system itself. It's a tricky subject, because it's easy for players to break a groups' suspension of disbelief when they don't buy into it. As Solar System is geared towards active characters who eventually overcome the limits of their being, it's hard to use without some re-engineering in terms of skill efficiency and pool refreshment.

One change I remember from another thread of another forum that made things pretty horrific in a pretty standard dungeon environment is to change the way harm collapses to allow it only at the beginning of the next extended conflict. It makes small conflicts way more dangerous, because they tend to fill up the holes in the harm track quickly. Another twist is to deny players easy refreshment scenes; coupled with the way effects are handled in refreshment scenes, this gives players some hard mechanical choices that may lead to basic tension necessary for a horror game.

That said, there is a pretty nice book about horror gaming techniques called Nightmares of Mine by Kenneth Hite. It's long out of print, but available in the used book market.



Thanks for your answers!

making things hard och dangerous is probably a good way to make things edgy.. and maybe horror isn´t that different with Solar system than other systems...?

I´m thinking so far about letting the monsters hunt the characters friends and family.. have things happen out of sight and reach for characters while the characters are involved in the normal conflictss. but the threat is moving closer... A lot of shadows and nightmares... Hmmm, its kinda hard to find things in my own experience as player-that are scary... most of the time its all about problem-solving anyway- even if big monsters are involved...

Hmm, maybe I´ll post some more when I have som time to think my plan through..

Will definetly look for Nightmares of Mine!!