Pacing in Horror Games

We’re back and we’re putting ourselves through our paces. Over on our Google+ Community, Tore Nielsen recently asked us to explain a little more about how we handle pacing in games. It’s a topic we touched upon back in our discussion of Beginnings, Middles and Ends. We hope there is enough new material here to justify a new episode. We certainly found plenty to say on the subject.

Paul making strange noises

And anyway, people are normally more interested in shutting us up.

Main Topic

Controlling the pace is an essential part of being a GM, especially for horror games. Nothing kills the sense of dread more than long, drawn-out conversations about rules or possible strategies. Similarly, rattling through a scene too fast makes it difficult to build any atmosphere. It is not always easy to tell if you should be speeding your game up or slowing it down. It’s even harder to actually make this happen. We share what tips we’ve learnt during our horrifyingly many years at the gaming table.

I swear I still had skin when we started this campaign.


Our news segment is somewhat brief this time. We are not long back from our trip to Necronomicon in Providence and simply haven’t had a chance to meet and record inserts. Paul has provided a short solo update to tide you over. There is so much we want to tell you about our visit to the US, however, and we promise to do so next episode. The short version is that we met many wonderful people and had a delightful time.

Although not everyone we met was alive at the time.

If you want to get some idea of what we got up to before next episode, we have posted some videos documenting our adventures. There are a couple more still to come, so keep an eye out on our YouTube channel.

Other Stuff

Our inability to meet this week also stopped us recording our usual thanks to new Patreon backers. We have two new songs bubbling away, ready to serve up to new patrons and splashed wantonly over the rest of you. They shall have to wait until next episode, however. That may prove a mercy, as our voices have been made even more gravelly and inhuman by jet lag and con crud. You are safe until September.

UK Games Expo Seminar 2017

Paul attended the UK Games Expo in Birmingham recently. While he was there, he took part in a seminar about running horror games, with Mike Mason and Lynne Hardy. Unfortunately, neither Matt nor Scott could make it, but we were there in spirit.

If you squint hard enough, you can see our astral forms pulling faces behind Paul’s back.

We recently bought a Zoom H6 Handy Recorder to make it easier for us to record field pieces at conventions. This seminar was its first official outing and we were rather pleased with the results. Expect to hear more from it when we visit Necronomicon in Providence later this year.



We’re back and we’re mostly live! No, we haven’t fallen into the clutches of Herbert West. The bulk of this episode is a live recording of a seminar we gave at the Continuum 2016 convention in Leicester. Mike Mason joins us for a discussion of what makes convention games special. This is a subject close to all of our hearts. We not only love convention games, but they have honed our skills as GMs, players and writers. Conventions are not just opportunities to sit up drinking until 3 AM, talking bollocks about games.

continuum 2016 seminar

And the fact that we all look tired and hungover is completely coincidental.

Convention games may be a niche experience within the hobby, but there is plenty we can learn from them for general gaming. We discuss pacing, spotlight time, dealing with uncomfortable content and general etiquette. The consensus on the last point is that you should always raise your pinky when rolling dice.


And never add the milk to your dice cup before rolling.

We also talk about some of our favourite gaming experiences and what made them so special. This was a nice excuse for some nostalgia. Possibly more usefully, we offer some suggestions for people interested in going to conventions but find them intimidating. The high point, however, is the excellent questions asked by audience members. It’s going to be hard to go back to just relying on our own ideas when recording.

twin peaks bob

Happily Bob is always somewhere nearby, ready to whisper suggestions into our ears.

When we talk about the different requirements of pacing convention and home games, Paul mentions Cory Welch’s excellent recordings of his run-through of  Blackwater Creek on Skype of Cthulhu. We have been remiss about sharing them, and this was a good reminder.

Skype of Cthulhu

We heartily recommend Skype of Cthulhu in general to anyone who enjoys actual play recordings.

We also give a few updates about books we’ve worked on. In particular, we mention the new Section 46 Operations Manual for World War Cthulhu: Cold War, the print release of World War Cthulhu: London, and the new scenario collection, The Things we Leave Behind.

The Things We Leave Behind cover