Apr 18, 2022
Mythos with Jon & Seth - Episode 14: Chaosium Con & Horror
this episode, Jon and Seth discuss ways to effectively create an
atmosphere of horror at your gaming table, and the guys were able
to finally meet each other in person for the first time at Chaosium
Con in Ypsilani, Michigan. It was a blast, and they've got lots of
thoughts on it as they reflect on the convention weekend and look
forward to the next year's convention.
is overrated – a playlist set to
run in the background can’t be relied upon to provide appropriate
support for the rise and fall of emotions around the table. But, if
used judiciously, music can be helpful.
as a Timer
Location-specific music & background sound
music for a major villain
Volume can be difficult to judge. A classic problem is
the music is too loud for everyone to clearly hear one another
Opening song/pump-up song to begin game.
– in each location and scene, the
players only know what is told to them by the Keeper. So use of
colorful descriptive language is used to paint mental pictures for
the players. Things to keep in mind as you describe a
is the player’s POV? What can be seen as you first enter the room,
versus after the character has crossed to the other side of the
room? (If a monster or something dangerous and obvious, mention
that last. Once you mention the monster, the players will not hear
or remember the rest of the description after that)
on as many senses as possible – Sight - Sound - Smell (best writing
tip I ever got was to always use 3 senses)
all characters experience a scene in the same way. It’s possible
for two different characters to see two different things in the
same scene. So sometimes the Keeper should describe the scene
differently for some of the characters. Maybe the new scene is more
personal for Character A and could shake their sanity more than it
would for Character B.
What’s just as important as the words you say is how
you say them. Speak quieter if in a library, louder in a bar.
Convey the mood of the scene through your voice. The Scott Dorward
Trick that I now use. (tone of voice)
Voices… accents can really cement players into a
– like music, lighting can be used
to invoke a mood. For most games, enough lighting needs to be
available to read the dice or manage the character sheet, but with
that assumption in mind, uses of lighting include:
Candles – with enough candles each player can see their
sheets and dice as the close-set shadows help set the
Colored gels could be used to highlight mood, and they
can be easily interchanged so the mood can change and flow as
quickly as it does at the table
– this is something that Call of
Cthulhu has been doing for over forty years. The simplest of props
is better than no props at all. But if possible, the use of
high-end props, (like those made by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical
Society), can exponentially enhance the game
handout King. Handouts are great for investigative adventures
because they can contain subtle clues that might reveal themselves
deeper into the scenario, such as handwriting,
Handouts can be referenced again and again, versus
telling the players what they read and expecting them to remember
details hours or even sessions later.
Tea-stain paper or use manilla envelope
I ran Ravenloft, my players were amazed when I picked up sealing
wax and seals for the letters, and they had to break the hard wax
– it is near-impossible for a
Keeper to solely create horror at the gaming table. If the Keeper
listens, they may hear subtle suggestions that the players
unknowingly reveal that would be scary for them, in that moment, at
the table. The Keeper can then use that subtle suggestion and
reveal it to be exactly the horror that the players were
and Seth each recount their experience at the con.
Shout-outs - Thank you to our recent
O’Connor, Joe Collins, Ken Austin, Marc Storey, Xtroce, Joe Todaro,
and Ken Frankovich
you all for your support
can’t do this show alone. We want to thank our amazing editors Max
Mahaffa and Edwin Nagy for their hard work and keen skills at
making us sound awesome!
also want to thank John Sumrow, for our badass logo. He’s a very
talented artist, so please follow him on Facebook, check out his
official website, and please consider joining his Patreon account.
Links in the show notes.
finally, we want to thank The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets for
generously allowing us to use their song,
Gluttony, as our
intro and outro music. If you are a fan of Lovecraft’s writing and
the Call of Cthulhu RPG, then you need to check out The Darkest of
the Hillside Thickets. Please check out their BandCamp site and
their official band site. Links in the show notes.