#rpgaday2015 20. Favourite Horror RPG:
And finally we reach my specialist subject!
The easy answer here would be Call of Cthulhu. In my earlier entry for Favourite Publisher, I enthused about Chaosium and mentioned that Call of Cthulhu was the first game I loved. We did part company for a number of years, but +Paul Fricker
's enthusiasm pulled me back into the cult some twelve years ago. I haven't looked back since. No, really. There are some horrifying things hiding back there.
On the other hand, I've already talked about it this month, so I'll give the honour to another game.
I almost picked +Malcolm Craig
's Hot War
as my favourite SF game, but I wasn't too sure which genre suited it best. It's a powerful mixture of alternate history, post-apocalyptic SF, horror and political intrigue. When I've run it, I've usually played up the horror aspect, so here it is.
Hot War is set in an alternate 1963, where the Cuban Missile Crisis turned nuclear, and much of the world is smouldering ruins. London has managed to escape, but is being torn apart by hunger, panic, an influx of refugees, Soviet machinations, the renewed rise of fascism and the increasing brutality of a desperate government.
The weird horror elements come in through secret government experiments, on both sides, based on the fruits of Nazi mad science, recovered after WWII (which happens in the companion game, Cold City). These are either being deployed against the people of London by Soviet agents (or other parties with reason to do so) or have escaped containment on home soil.
Ultimately the setting is bleak and tense enough that it would be horrific even without the twisted technology. This is as close to Threads: the roleplaying game
as you're ever likely to see.
The atmosphere of the game owes a huge debt to the incredible artwork and layout from +Paul Bourne
. The creature designs in the book are amongst the most nightmarish I've seen in an RPG.
The mechanics are also immensely hackable. Hot War has become my go-to system for any convention game that involves conflict or mistrust between the player characters. I've used it for Cthulhu Mythos stuff, weird science fiction, East End gangsters and political intrigue, all with little effort required.
If you're interested in learning more, there are some free downloads on the Contest Ground site. We also covered it in a special episode of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, and also interviewed Malcolm as a follow-up. Be warned, these are early episodes, from before we got the hang of audio quality.http://blasphemoustomes.com/2014/04/01/episode-29-good-friends-go-war/http://blasphemoustomes.com/2014/04/18/episode-30-good-friends-interview-malcolm-craig/