Pelinhar: The Raven's Shadow
Rules of Horror
Horror campaigns have a very different dynamic from your standard heroic fantasy.
In many ways these are best defined as;
1. You stumble in the dark. Horror and mystery are often about coming to understand the unseen secrets of the world and trying to deal with them as they are discovered. You encounter things you don’t understand and can’t explain. Never assume a creature you encounter is anything like it’s standard cousin from the Monster Manual. The main thing you’ll learn is how much you don’t know and if by chance you learn about the secret world beyond the mundane realm most people live in, that knowledge can cause more problems then it solves.
2. You are alone. Often what you encounter defies the common perception of the world and that world will go to great lengths to maintain it’s illusions. Tell the guards of ghost and they may think you’re mad, or if they believe you they might believe you accursed. Tell your friends and they could be imperiled. You are joining a small cadre of those who are staring into the abyss of reality and while they may aid you, they often have agendas and secrets of their own that are as dark as the mysteries that lay before you.
3. You are vulnerable. The horrors that lay in the darkness possess strange, unnatural powers and abilities that often are far more powerful then those at your disposal. Perhaps they have defenses that defy your attacks or their weapons can overcome your defenses. They might move via paths that allow them to travel where you can’t. You and your allies will need all your skills to overcome such creatures and the cost of victory may be painfully high.
4. Be afraid, be very afraid. What you encounter is terrifying and may even be beyond comprehension. Often your character will be forced to overcome their own fears and just as often they’ll fail. We’ll use the expanded fear rules from the Pathfinder Horror Adventures Guide. Characters will be restricted how resistant to fear they can be and often you will be expected to roleplay the horror your character experiences. Some of these horrors will leave you scarred both physically and mentally.
5. No peeking Knowing the game gives players a certain comfort level. They know what their characters chance of success should be, how certain monster should act and what they can do. In this game nothing should be taken for granted. The game will be run by a consistent and fair set of rules (mostly know to you and pretty standard) but you won’t know all of them. Some die rolls (most notably perception and knowledge checks) will be rolled by the GM and you will be provided with the information. Some rumors you hear will be wrong and some allies will be false. The veil on some of the mechanic exist to increase your sense of insecurity and dread.
You have a feeling someone is watching you is this because you rolled a high sense motive check or a low one or is it you’ve crossed some sort of benchmark for fear or sanity and the GM is giving it to you as a role playing situation. The GM mentions that you’re having a hard time sleeping after a particularly terrifying encounter. Is it flavor text, is it a sanity loss or maybe you suffered ability damage. How does your character react to this, can you trust your instincts. You’ll know you standard modifiers so you can make a reasonable guess but you can never be sure.
6. You are in danger I expect that this campaign may have a higher than normal mortality rate. Combat often will be brief and bloody with the unprepared or unlucky suffering for it. Withdrawing from a fight with a superior foe or refusing to engage when you’re not properly prepared aren’t the act of a coward but rather they are strong survival strategies. Plan your engagements and use the massive damage rules to your advantage. Weaker heroes can take out notably superior foes through clever tactics that utilize their advantages or exploit the villains weaknesses. The more you know of a foe, the more likely you’ll be able to find their Achilles heel.
7. Your in the big city now. This is not a murder hobo campaign. You will be held responsible for the consequences of you actions. Burn down an inn while fighting zombies and you could find yourself in debt or even in jail for arson. Kill the local bailiff because he was a serial killer and you could hang unless you can prove his guilt. Even if you can how will those who knew him and were his friends react? Force is best applied surgically and judiciously.
8. I always hurt the ones you love.