Cypher Chronicles, vol. 14-2015

Iadace and welcome to this week’s edition of The Cypher Chronicles! We have news about International Tabletop Day, a shiny image from the French translation of Numenera, and a look at the horror genre of the Cypher System Rulebook!

Also: Happy Easter! May your eggs never hatch anything you don’t expect, and may all your bunnies be real chocolate.

 

Product News

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Other Exciting Things

 

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Behind the Scenes

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One of the cool things about the Cypher System Rulebook is that it will include ways to play Cypher games in a whole bunch of different genres. We are deep in the middle of a space game, for example, and last week, we started a brand-new horror game. Here are a few of the tips that Monte included in the book about running a good horror game.

Running a Horror Game

Running a good horror game is difficult. You’ve got to maintain mood and atmosphere at almost all times. Here are some tips:

  • Give the players some time to develop their characters before going right to the haunted house, the spooky cemetery, or mysterious ruin. The point here is to let them get attached to the characters, at least a little, so that when those characters are in jeopardy, they will be frightened.
  • Use music, lighting, and the environment of your play space to help create a mood. Don’t hesitate to use candles or flashlights in a dark room rather than conventional lighting. Shake things up—if you normally play in the dining room when you play non-horror sessions, play in the basement for your horror game.
  • Unnerve your players as well as the characters. While you describe a scene in the game, glance occasionally out the window or toward the door, particularly if it’s behind one or more players, as though you hear something strange. Make it seem like creepy things are going on, but be subtle. Make the players sense it without being fully aware of it.
  •  Startle your players as well as the characters. When the monster finally appears, shout at the top of your lungs! Turn out the lights suddenly. Do something shocking.
  • Horror needs to be brutal and ruthless, even if—or rather, especially if—other games you run are relatively “safe” for PCs. Kill characters. Maim characters.
  • Fear of the unknown is the greatest, most primal fear. It’s the thing the PCs don’t see that scares them the most. Take your time and allow them to hear the horrific creature approach before the encounter begins. Let them see its shadow before they see it. Let them react to the unknown threat before they can truly identify it.

 

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Shanna Germain

Over a 20-year career, Shanna Germain has penned six books, hundreds of short stories, and myriad other works, along the way garnering a Pushcart nomination, the C. Hamilton Bailey Poetry Fellowship, and the Utne Reader award for Best New Publication. At Monte Cook Games she has contributed to dozens of products and was lead designer for No Thank You, Evil!. She is a cofounder of the company, and our Creative Director.