How do you make your sessions scary? It’s not something I’ve had much success understanding.
It certainly doesn’t seem to relate to the difficulty of the battle. I’ve had the characters face battles which came very close to TPKs, and I think I was the most scared – the players were fairly blasé.
It seems to be something about conjuring up an atmosphere. The time I most remember a player saying after the session “that was scary” was a session where the group were investigating a tumbledown building looking for clues as to where the person they were chasing had gone. The upper floor was rotten in places, and one character fell completely through while another almost fell through and then got shaken by a third running over to try to rescue her. There were rats and frogs and creepy-crawlies and rotten walls and slippery puddles.
A player getting to the point of saying “that was scary” is a sign that they’ve been really engaged in the session, which is something which I haven’t felt recently. Even if I don’t get them feeling scared, maybe I can work on engaging them more.
I definitely find I am better at writing than improvising, and the sessions where I do more preparation work best. Even if I am running a published adventure, I still need to flesh out the details and the NPCs and know a bit about them so I can play them, and to write up the descriptions of the settings.
So, rather random rambling today with not many conclusions, but I maybe it will have sparked something for you. If you have any suggestions of how I can make the players feel the tension more, please add them in the comments.
Tomorrow we have “Noble”.