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Horror Campaigns

Preparing For Horror

Source Starfinder #10: The Diaspora Strain pg. 48
We must ask ourselves what draws us here. What do we seek in the macabre, unsettling, and repulsive realms of horror? What is so fascinating and thrilling about such a morbid genre?

Answers to these questions are neither easy nor unanimous. As you delve together into this abyss, you could find that you and your fellow players disagree.

Before you play in any type of horror game, examine the following questions as a group, including the GM.
  • Why horror? What compels us to play a horror game?
  • What’s out? What do we leave unexplored?
  • What’s scary? Within the bounds we’ve established, what scares us the most?
The following sections examine each of these questions in more detail. But first, a word of caution:

Don’t judge your fellow players.

Everyone, player and GM alike, should answer these questions as honestly as possible. Don’t feel you need to be brave or that your answers should be edgy. You might find sexy vampires the most compelling horror, leaving all else unexplored. The scariest thought could be that such a vampire might not love you. These are legitimate answers.

Likewise, don’t conceal the horror fan that lurks inside you. Be respectful of your fellow players, and spare them unsettling or shocking details. However, if you’re fascinated by tales of forced surgery, wish to leave nothing unexplored, and can think of little more terrifying than self-inflicted violence on your own eyes, this is the genre for you.

To find the boundaries for your group, start safe and probe outward. Ask in vague terms if its okay for you to describe violence before going on to depict it. If someone says no, stop there and go no further—they don’t need to explain. You have found a boundary. Make note of it. Do not cross it.

Together, you explore horror with careful attention paid to each other’s limits and comfort. You shouldn’t judge each other for what you each find scary or for what you each find fascinating. You accept and work within the affordances and constraints you build together. Chase thrills together, but keep each other safe.

Why Horror?

Source Starfinder #10: The Diaspora Strain pg. 48
Take turns naming one thing you find compelling about playing a horror game. Is it a fear you want to face? A monster you’d like to confront? A feeling? A specific scenario? What horror media have you enjoyed?

Heed your fellow players’ answers. Respond to them. Does the same thing compel you? Is it something you’re willing to explore? And if it is, does it give you any ideas about what shared interests you can explore together?

You need your players’ consent for a horror game. If someone in your group isn’t uncomfortable playing in a horror game, set it aside as a genre—there are many other great options available!

What’s Out?

Source Starfinder #10: The Diaspora Strain pg. 48
It’s likely you already have some answers to this question based on the previous one. That’s as it should be. Here we find the boundaries of play. If there are places you don’t want to go in a horror game, bring them up. You needn’t explain why. You need only tell your fellow players where those boundaries are.

During this question, you might acknowledge, agree with, or ask for clarification from your fellow players. However, don’t justify why you want to explore a horror element someone else is unwilling to delve into, and never argue or push back. Enforce your pact. None shall be judged—neither them for their aversion, nor you for your interest.

What’s Scary?

Source Starfinder #10: The Diaspora Strain pg. 48
Now, consider what has already been discussed and take turns finding what scares you. Players each offer horror elements they find to be scary, revealing something that terrifies them but exists within the boundaries you already established as a group.

This frightening thing doesn’t have to be specific to the Starfinder universe. It doesn’t need to be original, either. It could be a movie you saw, a book you read, another game you played, or a nightmare you’ve had.

Reasons for this exploration are twofold. First, you might find someone’s answer to this question crossing a line you didn’t know you had. Speak up, and as before, say only that you wish to leave the subject unexplored. No justification is needed. If someone stops you while you give your answer, be respectful of their boundary and find a new answer. You needn’t justify your answer. Second, this discussion sets the mood and whets your appetites. It lets you prepare for the horrors that lie ahead.