The hor rors of dun geons and drag ons are some times over looked, and often times we visit Ravenloft every Hal loween night for a game of hor ror and mys tery, but ele ments such as these can be placed eas i ly into your every day Dun geons and Drag ons game, so if you please, turn off all the lights, light a few can dles, and get ready to be ter ri fied! And be fore warned, if you are weak of stom ach…please, read no fur ther!
Hor ror can come in many ways in D&D, it can sim ply be a twist of the mind or a writhing, liv ing thing stalk ing your play ers. It can only affect one person, or a whole group, it can play off of per son al fears or even unex plained mor bid sce nar ios. I once played a DnD game where the char ac ters hal lu cinat ed a lot, due to the fear that reeked with in the dungeon. A friend of ours got locked in a room and we lis tened to his screams, as he — in his mind — was gut ted by some one he cared about, pulling out all his intestines and string ing them across the room. He watched what appeared to be a newborn which also turned into some sort of vile crea ture that attacked him.
Hor ror can hap pen in many aspects, in fact I was recent ly inspired by skimming through “Heroes of Hor ror”, and for those of you who don’t own the book in one form or anoth er it gives a list of var i ous “Hor ror” sce nar ios that can be played out, and I’d like to list a few here (again, for those of you who don’t have the plea sure of own ing this. )
• A PC hears a voice scream in the dis tance; it sounds like her
• A char ac ter eat ing a piece of fruit dis cov ers that the seeds
he spits out are in fact human teeth.
• The PCs awak en after camp ing or rest ing for a night; one PC
has bite wounds on her neck, arms, and legs, while anoth er
feels far too full to eat break fast.
• While a PC is look ing at her self in a small round mir ror,
her image is sud den ly attacked from behind. She sees her
reflec tion die in agony only inch es away on the other side of
the mir ror, leav ing behind only a blood-splattered sur face,
with out ever see ing what attacked her image. There after
she casts no reflec tion for three days, after which her image
appears as nor mal.
These are only a few exam ples read in the book, for more I’d sug gest purchas ing it, it’s a rather good read. This book goes on to inspire me even more by dis cussing Vil lains in a Hor ror game. Types of vil lains can be impor tant as often our vil lains are the same, money grub bing, power hungry cliché’s that repeat them selves. To avoid that, find a niche your vil lain fol lows.
The Hid den Dan ger is described as being the most com mon vil lain of horror as they are near ly impos si ble to detect. It goes on to describe that this vil lain kills from con ceal ment and “…engen ders mis trust and sus pi cion among all who would thwart her.” Which could be depict ed as a “…dop pelganger, were wolf, a mys ti cal ly dis guised assas sin, cor rupt noble, or the can ni bal is tic witch mas querad ing as a kind ly old lady.“ Now I’m not here to recite the whole book to you, but snip pets of it are appro pri ate. Ways you can inte grate this into your game can even be some one close to you, can be an NPC that is with in the party or stalk ing them the whole way. You never know when these sneaky bug gers will strike, keep them cun ning, keep them guess ing.
Using some thing like the Hid den Dan ger is an advan tage in so many ways, for exam ple my cur rent cam paign I have a cler ic who sits in the background (an NPC) fol low ing them and help ing them. She, in real i ty, is watching them. She’s a spy, and my play ers don’t know that cause she’s been help ful, but every once in awhile she slips off and the play ers tend to dismiss it as if I “For got” about her, in real i ty I didn’t.
Anoth er vil lain you can use is more of an obvi ous approach, but an intel ligent one. Any one remem ber The Watch man? Not only was that some thing that was con sid ered “Hid den”, but was also a genius. Your vil lains don’t have to be igno rant or for get ful, or even naive. Let them be just as intel ligent as your mind can muster, stu pid vil lains are good real ly only for experi ence runs, if you are try ing to get things to move and get them to a high er level so that you can get to the good stuff, but even doing some thing like that can be (if done improp er ly) con sid ered an Expe ri ence Monty, and no one wants that!
Some vil lains have a lot of sway over a town or city, such as a gov er nor or in the movie Avatar the mil i tary leader was the vil lain, and it can sometimes be hard to defeat those types of sit u a tions but can be done. The same high placed man can be under hand ed, or can even be a mask, a pup pet, con trolled by out side forces. So remem ber, it’s your game! Use your imag ina tion, and enjoy gam ing!