A quick post in response to this month’s RPG Blog Carnival being hosted over at Troll In The Corner. This month’s topic of choice is about horror whether at the gaming table, or in your games themselves. One thing I find is that gamers are a pretty impatient bunch and the tension of not knowing can be pretty nerve racking. Every so often when the players are exploring have them throw a perception check, or even make a save for no real reason.
Maybe your characters all make perception checks and you could describe some features of the landscape to them no matter how high they get. Having to make the check is sure enough to get them wondering what could possibly be out there: especially if they rolled high and still didn’t see anything of particular note. Random saving throws could be a bit trickier to work in though.
- Fortitude saves could be used in cases where the environment could play into the characters comfort level. For example: rolling low-ish on a fortitude save in a humid or frigid environment could lend to describing the uncomfortable conditions under which the players travel. This could leave them worried that there is a reason they needed to make a fortitude save.
- A reflex save could be used in a situation where the players are interacting in a dense environment could show how much the players are disturbing their surroundings. For example: a player who gets low might possibly get a description of how with each step they can hear the pop and crackle of twigs beneath their feat, or the soft tumbling of rocks as they trek through mountains. This might make them worried that they could be drawing attention and out of character bracing themselves for an encounter.
- A willpower save could very well represent how unsettling an environment is. For example: you could call for will saves and describe the eerie silence of the dungeon corridors, or the movements in the woods that they could swear they saw moments ago. Willpower saves are a big one when it comes to the meta game thought process because few non-dangerous things invoke them so this will get their gears really turning.
Ultimately these types of rolls could be used to obfuscate actually important checks while keeping the players on their toes and squirming in their seats waiting for the action to commence.
With the frequent rolling it is important to emphasize that describing how they wish to approach a situation as detailed as possible will either mitigate the need for dice rolling or improve their chances so they don’t really on solely dice rolls to solve issues. Ultimately this is a fun little technique to use the players metagame mindset to your advantage, but I would probably be careful how much you used something like this.
What do you do to keep the players on their toes and crank up the tension?