Gaming and horror, and Cthulhu, oh my!

One of my favorite game of all time is Call of Cthulhu.  Back when I first started gaming I started out with 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons.  That game will always have a special place in my heart, but after playing it for a year or so…I needed to play something different.  Then a friend of mine introduced me to two things that changed my life a bit. 

The first was Call of Cthulhu.  What a great game, where you get crazier the more you play it.  Not to mention it was set in the 1920’s, which made the setting that much more dark and gloomy.  That was always driven home by the artwork you have seen associated with the game (and others like it) since.  The second thing I was introduced to was H.P. Lovecraft.  Not every one of his stories were what you would consider “good”, but the imagination it took to write them was crazy to me. 

I have loved horror since I was a kid.  I remember being really young and I was at a drive-in to see the Exorcist.  I was a terrified child, and it scared me so much I could not even watch it.  Which is funny, because I am still too afraid to watch that movie.  But my love of horror took off after that.  Do you remember just how creepy the first Nightmare on Elm Street was?  It is easy to laugh at now, but it came out when I was around 14.  That movie gave me nightmares for weeks. 

Then you have horror novels, which I tend to not get into as much anymore.  I feel like everything has been so commercialized that it is hard to be afraid of them anymore.  I remember when vampires and zombies used to be scary.  Now you have Twilight and all those ridiculous mash up books with zombies.  The most recent I read for my book club was about The Beatles, whom were zombies.  This book made me so mad I wanted to find the author and smite him somewhat. 

So that brings us back to gaming.  I started playing CoC when I was around 22 or so.  I remember sessions of that game that were terrifying.  I kind of miss that.  Now I am 40 years old, and sadly I realize the older we get, the harder it is to be afraid.  Imagination gets replaced with pragmatism and logic.  Don’t get me wrong, my inner child is still running the show, but it much harder to be afraid now.  Maybe that is because life is scary and I have looked down the barrel of a gun before.  We have things like 9/11 to remind us of how frail we actually are. 

That is not to say that other people have any problem with this.  Roleplaying as rule means you have to step outside of yourself and buy into whatever setting the game you are playing uses.

I have not really played many new games that deal with fear.  I still plan on playing Don’t Rest Your Head with my gaming group at some point.  That game has the capability of being creepy if the right person runs it.  I also really like Trail of Cthulhu.  It just brings me back to when I was a 22 year kid learning how to game.  Not to mention, I am a big fan of the Gumshoe system Pelgrane Press came up with.  I have played that game 5 or 6 times and I love, love, love it.  I also still want to play Mutant City Blues, but that is a whole different type of game. 

Which brings me to the game they made last year that I REALLY want to play.  Fear Itself. http://www.pelgranepress.com/site/?page_id=420

I only found out about this recently, and boy does it look promising.  I want to have that feeling of walking down in to a basement and wondering if something is going to try to eat my face.  (Smile).  I miss the adrenaline rush of that type of feeling.

So, I guess the questions I am asking myself, is can I still be afraid of things in the dark?  I hope so.  I would love to find a game that can bring all of that feeling back.  That tension of knowing something dark and dangerous is around the corner. 

What are your thoughts on this?  What games out there has the kind of feeling I am looking for?  Suggestions? 


  1. I'm also a long-time CoC player and fan of all things Lovecraftian.

    I'm not very familiar with Fear Itself, but if you're looking to simulate tension, take a look at Dread, which uses a Jenga tower:


  2. I have heard of it and will check it out. Thanks.

  3. My busy body is ready for this one, even my ever chaotic mind. Huh, ever since I've played silent hill never once I come to play games like this. So this is it, ready! Wuh. wow accounts for sale