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Horror Board Game

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Shoe
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So, I've been trying to design a REAL horror board game for a while now, and scrapped many ideas, but I want opinions on what follows:

I watched today's Extra Credits about horror in video games and In that video James/Dan talk about how horror is best when things are juuuuust a tad "off" but are real and believable. What if (I'm gonna get REAL meta on you here) the game itsself tried to create the sense of dread. What if the way the rules were written implied that something horrible had happened in making the game and that one of the copies contained the soul of a dead game designer. Even more realistic than that, what if it just was dedicated to the game designer who (fake) passed away upon the day he opened the first copy he recieved from the factory

What if the rulebook had morbid typos and the feel of dried (fake) blood on it? (random water damage or something, forgetting production cost for the moment)

What if some cards were slightly larger than others, the die was weighted to always roll a 6 or something and the rules listed zero of a component that was not included, but why list that there are zero of them if they arent a componenet.

All of the figures pictured in the rulebook look normal, but the minis in the game are twisted and horrific versions of the characters, clearly not damaged mind you, just well sculpted abominations instead of humans.

Heck, you could even include a baggie of plastic shavings that look like broken stuff, but not mention it in the rules.

Do I have something here, or is this just a customer service nightmare where everyone will try to return the game as though it was damaged?

let-off studios
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Mistake in the Making

There is potential, but I don't see it as very horrific. It simply sounds like a gimmick that would turn out more annoying than atmospheric.

Now if the resulting calls to Customer Service could be a bit "off," as in, "Sorry, but we've not released a version of that game in over 50 years. Is this a prank?" That's when things can start to become interesting.

Keep in mind, however, that as I recall things like this have been done in computer game format, and the result is massive post-purchase maintenance. Whether you're fielding calls from confused/irritated customers, or you're augmenting the game experience through periodic content updates... It's a lot of work with incredibly-diminishing payoff.

That's likely why it's not been seen in board games yet.

McTeddy
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Remember, it works in video

Remember, it works in video games because you are immersed in the world. You've got a soundtrack, the camera is perfectly controlled, scripted to perfect timing, etc.

Sitting in a well-lit living room flipping through a book with "Dried blood" isn't likely to be scary. Remember, no one is going to try to read your rulebook in the dark for "atmosphere".

Uneven cards would directly interfere with the gameplay. They won't shuffle very well, after some plays you can identify cards from the back and so on.

Broken stuff without explanation will
1) Be reported as "Broken in transit"
2) Complained that the rules don't mention it
3) Cost extra to manufacture for NO reason.

= = =

Here's the good news... all these complaints aside, the core idea actually has some potential.

I remember a computer game from ages ago. It was billed as a "True Crime" that needed to be solved. The FBI was having trouble so they mass produced the evidence and shipped it out.

It came in a cheap CD case with photographs of the murder scene, documents and so on. This actually created an interesting atmosphere from the get-go.

= = =

The most important thing is that you NEED a solid game that people can play more than once. Video games are accepted as a single play, but board games aren't. People might buy a gimmicky bad game, but it'd still be a bad game.

You can easily fit in the horror story to the game. "My friend Sam Phillips dedicate his life to being a game designer. He finished this game only hours before taking his own life."

"Blood stain" inside the box, threatening messages can be seen in rule book in the right lighting and so on. A bunch of dice that the players can grab including one that usually comes up 1. A CD of occasional "Spooky Sounds" that the owner will put in another room that other players won't know about.

These can all fit together to create a good creepy atmosphere.

Just make sure that everything has a purpose and that the game itself is worth buying.

Beggarking
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I like the twists you

I like the twists you describe for in the various components (love the idea of a having to work with dice weighted against you), but have to agree they are somewhat "gimmicky". You might want to also explore gameplay that builds tension and foreboding (hidden information exposed in play, increasingly dangerous stakes, etc)

firstcultural
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in games where i get a

in games where i get a feeling of dread, it's when there's:

- a finite, nonrenewable resource (i.e. health points) that causes losing if you run out of them.

- a large amount of unpredictability / randomness.

- mechanics that nonetheless reward risktaking - for example, playing safe and doing nothing will only make one unprepared for the endgame.

- rising tension with the occasional "free pass" to make one hold onto a bit of hope.

- characters with some backstory. it's hard to imagine oneself as a wooden cube.

- creepy artwork.

Shoe
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Thanks for all the great

Thanks for all the great ideas guys. I have been trying to put my finger on a real thiller/suspense game for a while (you are correct in thinking that horror/fear is something you can't generate with a paper product like a book or board game). I was writing an article on it for the game publisher I write for and I've been trying to pinpoint a Horror/Thriller/Suspens theme/trope that you can transpose to a paper media.

I originally turned to books, Stephen king, HP Lovecraft for ideas, as well as watching the Extra Credits videos on making horror (Video) games.

The things I am aiming for are: Sense of helplessness (but not hopelessness), Things being just a tad....off, the feeling of too much to do in too little time (I've always said, my favorite horror games are Agricola and Pandemic).

I'll post more detailed rules after my latest revision, just wanted to see if the gimmicks had any potential.

-Shoe
shoebox-games.com

larienna
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Maybe that could fit better

Maybe that could fit better as or solo game.

Or maybe it can be a limited replay game like risk legacy.

Archimedes42
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Ouija Eliment?

I've had an interesting idea rolling around in the back of my head for a while: What if you included an Ouija board mechanic in a horror game? (Maybe a game where you are exploring a haunted universe, and the horrifying non-player-characters are controlled by the movements of an ouija board. Also, may have to ask the Ouija questions when investigating a crime.)

Even better, what about a horror role-playing game where the adventurers have to survive a terrifying landscape that is concocted by the Ouija board - which takes the place of a dungeon master/game master.

Whether Ouija is a spirit or whether it's subconscious in action, I think that this would be a brilliant and extremely creepy mechanic in a board game/roleplaying game, and I am surprised that it hasn't been done before - or has it?

Shoe
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I like the oiji idea, that;s

I like the oiji idea, that;s pretty cool. I think that a horror game that uses the same types of suspense and uncomfortable differences that horror fiction works use mixed with a tad more interactivity from horror video games could really create something new and special.

That said, it's a long and difficult road to break new ground in an established media form.

larienna
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I am really skeptical that

I am really skeptical that ouija board actually works for real.

Buy hey! if dead spirit want to play board games with us, I am open to the idea. It will bring in an new element of randomness every game ... as long as you find a spirit willing to play.

Archimedes42
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I Have Tried One

As a matter of fact, I actually own an ouija board, and have used it a bit. (I can honestly say that it definitely works, and that is not so much a problem.)

However, if you mean that you don't think that a spirit controls the board, I would absolutely agree. Personally, I think that what makes the ouija board work is actually a combination of subconsciousness and muscle reflex. But I still think that regardless, it would be a interesting tool to use to create AI in a board game (which would be super creepy in a horror board game/roleplaying game especially.)

Now that I think about it, that might be the solution to creating super-realistic AI in many other board games that don't even have a horror aspect at all.

Either way, I definitely think that it's worth experimenting with!

larienna
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The only issue I see is the

The only issue I see is the time required to operate the ouija. It it takes a lot of time to use, you'll have to limit the amount of time the mechanics is used.

Shoe
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you could have the game react

you could have the game react in real time using the Oiji board and the active player removes themselved from the oiji while the others do whatever that mechanic does and then switch who is using the oiji while others take thier turns.

larienna
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So you are guggesting that

So you are guggesting that the group operate the ouiji board, and one player at a time leave off to do some game operation.

Second, about the ouiji board, it could be a subjective randomness. Some people have claimed that the answers where tricked by on of the players.

I suggest to avoid that problem that the outcome of a ouiji board choice is not known to players.

For example, draw a card hidden, check ouiji board choice, then reveal the card an look at the outcome. This ways players cannot direct their intention toward a specific answer.

But in the end, it would be like drawing a random card or rolling a die, so the ouiji board becomes pointless besides for the look and feel.

Level27Geek
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RPGs already have something like that

There are few RPGs that do similar things. One is DeProfundis by Portal Publishing. It is created as something that the author dreamed of, as this sinister game exists in subconsciousness. The game itself asks you to blend fiction and reality.

The other that comes to mind is Lacuna Part I. It is full of typos and strange graphic design. Its main idea is also connected with subconsciousness.

Check them out, they are both fun games that can give you this element of dread.

Shoe
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Level27Geek wrote:There are

Level27Geek wrote:
There are few RPGs that do similar things. One is DeProfundis by Portal Publishing. It is created as something that the author dreamed of, as this sinister game exists in subconsciousness. The game itself asks you to blend fiction and reality.

The other that comes to mind is Lacuna Part I. It is full of typos and strange graphic design. Its main idea is also connected with subconsciousness.

Check them out, they are both fun games that can give you this element of dread.

both sound awesome I'll have to check them out

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