Steven King famously wrote in his defense of horror that we’re all mentally ill; “those of us outside of the asylums only hide it a little better” (Why We Crave Horror Movies).
These days, it may be questionable what exactly defines a person as mentally ill, but most horror lovers would probably agree by and large with this sentiment. We all have fears– fear of the dark, fear of snakes or bugs, fear of tight places, of crowds, fear of death. When we engage with horror as a genre, whether on screen, in literature or in gaming, we are confronting these fears and tapping into a bit of our subjugated insanities. In doing so, we face and confront them, from a safe vantage point of course. In effect, we push through so that we (hopefully) come out the other side, alive and well and ready to face another day of usually much more mundane horrors. If only slightly less sane from the experience.
And so we partake these carefully constructed thrills knowing that our lives, however safe, however stable and normal they appear, can be overturned in a moment, shattered to pieces in a sheen of red or smothered over with a suffocating blanket of icy darkness. And this, I think, is why we pay the price of admission when it comes to horror– we want to experience these thrills. Vicariously.
When we immerse ourselves in horror, especially at the gaming table, we are affirming our own continued importance and our existence in the face of annihilation and overwhelming trauma. Just as there exists those players who love to swing an axe through an orc skull, thereby vanquishing ‘evil’, there are some of us who prefer instead to explore the full implications of what ‘evil’ is as well as how it changes us when we truly confront it. Then again, some of us just like descriptions of eviscerated remains lying on a dungeon floor or in a back alleyway, left like so much trash by an unseen Jack the Ripper. Some of us love to explore the Dangerous Arts and what it means to be a master of undeath and undying as a bone-chilling Necromancer.
This blog is aimed at:
- Gamers with a love of horror, and whatever subgenre you prefer (splatter, extreme, home invasion, slasher, monsters, occult and everything else out there)
- Gamers looking to explore the possibility of a little horror in their games
- Gamers of any type of system there is, Dungeons & Dragons, World of Darkness and others.
- Horror fans looking for games with a horror flavor.
Some great, gaming and non-Gaming horror resources about the genre:
- Faculty of Horror Podcast, a unique and charming podcast by the engaging and passionate duo, Andrea and Alex, who tackle the genre with a modern, progressive bent.
- Why We Crave Horror, the master himself speaks, Steven King on why people enjoy horror movies so much.
- Horror Genres and Sub-genres, explains to the discerning palette all the subtle flavors of what makes a particular work a particular genre by Popcorn Horror.
- The Problem with Horror Movies Today, a unique take on the differences between modern horror flicks and the more ‘classic’ ones of the past by YouTuber Chris Stuckman.
- How to Run a Horror Setting in Your RPG by Guy Sclanders is a great resource for storytellers and players hoping to capture the spirit of horror at the table.
- A nice Intro to the History of Horror RPGs that details their creators and inspirations – a must read for anyone looking for a quick primer on Horror RPGs by Husband & Wife bloggers Eric & Karen from the Strangers Bookshelf blog.
And Lastly, my Affiliate Disclosure: This blog uses affiliate programs for monetization, which means when you click on certain, but not all, links to various sites that I recommend, mention or cover in my various posts, I may receive a commission.