One of the biggest challenges facing GMs that run horror games are keeping things scary. Much of horror’s strength lies in the unknown. A monster’s weaknesses are part of the game to be investigated. If players know what they’re up against it can destroy the atmosphere. This element of the unknown is one of the reasons for the popularity of the Cthulhu Mythos. Strange, unusual monsters keep investigators on their toes and their sanity drained. But thanks to the popularity of Cthulhu themed games over the years, even these once mysterious monsters have started to lose their luster. What’s a Cthulhu Game Master to do?
Enter Stygian Fox Publishing‘s new Kickstarter, Occam’s Razor. Stygian Fox has made a name for itself with a pair of critically acclaimed adventure collections for Call of Cthulhu; The Things We Leave Behind and Fear’s Sharp Little Needles. Both collections offer modern Cthulhu cases full off dark riffs on mythos monsters. The title of this new collection offers a clue as the unusual nature of cases within. Occam’s Razor is a philosophical principle that states when choosing between two explanations for an unusual event that the simpler one is the correct one. The book offers six cases that have mythos trappings but mundane explanations. Sometimes a serial killer is just a serial killer.
Anyone expecting comedy scenarios or ones with a Scooby Doo-style ending should look elsewhere. These cases take their inspiration from shows like American Horror Story and True Detective which still send chills down viewers’ spines despite revealing non-supernatural beasties behind their scares. By running an off-speed scenario or two from this book, GMs can put the seed of doubt into player’s minds during their games. Is the book everyone is killing for really full of working spells or does everyone just think they are? Does the cult leader have powers claimed from unnatural sources or is she just bilking her followers for money? That doubt enhances the scenarios where the monsters are real and the players have to gear up to put the Mythos down again.
The scenarios are written with Call of Cthulhu: 7th Edition game information but should also be useful for horror games set in the modern day like Delta Green or CHILL. The current Kickstarter is adding stretch goals that include detailed handouts for each case, more NPC art and everything needed to get investigators on the case as quickly as possible. Fans looking to help expand the content have until October 1st to back the book. Occam’s Razor might be about the simpler of two solutions, but that doesn’t make the correct solution the easy one.
What’s your favorite red herring? Tell us in the comments!
More Cthulhu goodness!
- Mansions of Madness: Board Game of the Year!
- Fall of Delta Green makes Cthulhu scary again
- Literally lose your marbles while investigating the Tower of Madness
Images Credits: Stygian Fox Publishing, HBO
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is here. You can watch him livestream RPGs with the Theatre of the Mind Players here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.