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Horror Campaigns / Running Horror Games

Reason And Perception

Source Starfinder #10: The Diaspora Strain pg. 50
The Starfinder universe is filled with strange beings, alien cultures, and unfamiliar ways of thinking. The PCs rely on reason and perception to take in all of this possibility and parse it into motivations and actions. Taking the PCs and shaking them from this paradigm into one that repulses or frightens them can make for compelling material. PCs unable to trust their senses or how those senses are interpreted in the mind can suffer intense anxiety. Having perceptions rewired by a drug, an experience, or a word can be truly terrifying, especially when the menace hides just beneath those alterations or in plain sight among false sensory input.

These grounds are fruitful for a horror game, and you can explore them to great effect without resorting to stigmatizing and stereotyping mental illness. Don’t talk about PCs losing their sanity. Focus instead on the shift in their perceptions and their way of thinking. Emphasize what’s actually happening to them.

In many cases, such as with the phantasm rules in this adventure, you’ll be describing things to players that their characters experience, but those situations won’t be accurate. Although it isn’t necessary to forewarn players about exact circumstances, it is important that they understand they’re partaking in situations where all is not as it seems. Some truths might be hidden, and some falsehoods might seem true. Horrible secrets might be kept from them until the right moment. All these obfuscations might have hidden mechanical effects in the game. Knowing these possibilities ahead of time allows players to prepare for disagreeable surprises that could seem unfair without this context.