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Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!
So what is the difference between Cosmic Horror as opposed to horror in general? What are the specific requirements that make up a scenario - but also the interpretation at the gaming table? Which elements from the FHTAGN rulebook can be used to specifically arouse fear of the unnatural? The following chapter aims to provide answers to these questions.
The essence of a Weird Tale
The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain—a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.
– Supernatural Horror in Literature,
SUPERNATURAL HORROR IN LITERATURE
The basis for Cosmic Horror in FHTAGN are Lovecraft's fictional stories and not least his treatise Supernatural Horror in Literature, in which he already described many elements that contribute to a successful horror story. The respective passages are first presented in the original and in German translation and then examined for their content on the topic of Cosmic Horror in TTRPG.
H. P. Lovecraft wrote this essay on basic elements of the Cosmic Horror genre between 1926 and 1927, and from this work comes perhaps his most famous sentence:
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
This strong image characterizes both his own stories and can equally be considered as stylistic for the entire genre of Cosmic Horror. Lovecraft himself calls this kind of literature a Weird Tale.
The complete text can be found among others on the website The H.P. Lovecraft Archive at the address http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/essays/shil.aspx for pleasing reading.
The unknown is the element that is the essence of Cosmic Horror. Horror in general often focuses on the danger posed by the forces of nature, animals, or humans. Underlying cosmic horror, however, is an alien, incomprehensible threat coming from outside. This is the driving force that leads to unease and irritation. If the usual framework, the rational expectation or the laws of nature are blown up, then the normal reaction patterns of the human mind do not function any more and let finally the fear of the unknown appear.
Now this cosmic horror poses an enormous challenge to both authors and game masters. How to describe what cannot be described? How can something unknown be the subject of a story that is not simply written down, but is to be experienced together with other players, whose development is therefore impossible to predict? And finally, how should something like creepiness arise again from time to time, when you are sitting together, relaxed and safe at the same table?
The following classification is rather pragmatic and focused on eras that are particularly suitable for a Lovecraftian setting.
However, it is by no means conclusive and its transitions to subsequent eras are quite fluid.
LESS IS MORE
First of all, in order to follow the concept of the unknown, a strong focus must be given to the subtle description of horror. The more explicitly something is depicted, the easier it is to grasp and thus control. Cosmic horror thrives on innuendo, vague and even contradictory descriptions, and inexplicable facts. It is important that this fantastic incursion into the normal, logical world happens as seriously as possible and, above all, that the reaction to it is demanded as consistently as possible.
If you look at the rule system of FHTAGN as such, it defines (like many other systems) certain mechanics that make up the truth and natural laws for a player character. For example, if you lose hit points due to damage and they drop to 0, the player character dies. These mechanics commonly cause the following reactions, which can be exploited.
Immersion through controlled interaction: A player gets an immediate rule-mechanical feedback when her player character is in the game world and acts there. Not only does the player character effect something in the world, but the world also has an immediate influence on the player character and her stats. This influence of the rule mechanics combined with the engagement with the player character and the game world create immersion, the feeling of being part of a story that is perceived as true or real. This is quite instrumental in triggering emotions such as fear.
In order to anchor the player character in the game world and strengthen the bond with it, the bonds and motivations of a character are of central importance. They can be used by the game master in a meaningful way by giving the player the opportunity, for example, to shape the life of the character in intermediate scenes and to thematize the influence of the character's experiences on the bonds and motivations.
The rules determine the logic: When cosmic horror enters and is also embedded in terms of rules, this is perceived as inherently logical. It follows the laws of the game. A player character loses sanity when he witnesses violence, helplessness or the unnatural. This is a strong stimulus with a strong reaction. Players should generally be encouraged to play out the loss of sanity as they see fit and with their own creativity.
The rules break logic: when something large, shimmering with oil and smelling of death or worse comes rolling towards a player character and cannot be hurt by the normal arsenal of weapons, the rules again provide the inner logic on the one hand, but also break it on the other. Then it becomes immediately clear that the cosmic horror does not have to struggle with the given laws of physics and metaphysics. This shows on the level of rules that a player character as a human being is only very fragile and insignificant on the stage of the cosmos. A selection of such game elements can be found in the Unnatural Traits section.
Some fears are greater than others, referred to as primal fears, and they are generally considered to be strong triggers of emotions. However, the term primal fear is interpreted differently in science. In the context of cosmic horror, moreover, by far not all known primal fears are equally suitable.
FREEFORMS AND LARPS
Of course, a freeform roleplaying game (few to no dice and tests) or a live action TTRPG (LARP) also creates immersion. However, due to the physically more active role of the players and without the focus on rule mechanics and dice trials, this works on a different level than the classic pen & paper TTRPG. While there the random factor decides the outcome of dice tests quasi fate-like, freeforms and LARPs transport a completely different attachment to the events of a scenario by directly slipping into the role and portraying the player character.
PLAYING WITH PRIMAL FEARS
When to this sense of fear and evil the inevitable fascination of wonder and curiosity is superadded, there is born a composite body of keen emotion and imaginative provocation whose vitality must of necessity endure as long as the human race itself. Children will always be afraid of the dark, and men with minds sensitive to hereditary impulse will always tremble at the thought of the hidden and fathomless worlds of strange life which may pulsate in the gulfs beyond the stars, or press hideously upon our own globe in unholy dimensions which only the dead and the moonstruck can glimpse.
– Supernatural Horror in Literature,
Fear for the character: If there is an emotional attachment to the player character, then the worry of negative repercussions will affect the player. The stronger the attachment to the character is perceived by the player, the more impact it will have. If the fate of a player character does not matter, then it will be difficult to feel anything like fear or horror.
Fear for bonds: If a player character is well established in the game world, the character's bonds can also be used to create fear. A beloved partner is threatened, a friend disappears without a trace, or is blackmailed - including bonds makes the game world more vivid and threatening.
Despite all the horror and the desire to be creeped out, it must not be forgotten that FHTAGN is a party game and that all people involved will hopefully have a lot of fun together. Anyone who notices something to the contrary in themselves or others should definitely bring it up - in the group or even in private with the game master. It is important to keep in mind that your own idea of horror is not necessarily shared by everyone. Particularly in the case of sensitive topics and taboo breaches, it may be advantageous to ask your fellow players about their limits beforehand.
loss of freedom, pain, and death.
These very physical primal fears are common companions of player characters in cthuloid horror scenarios. Nevertheless, game masters should keep in mind that there is, of course, a great distance between a player and her character. As with the other primal fears, it is important to create an image in the player's mind and to transport a feeling in order to trigger corresponding effects in the player through immersion and attachment to the character.
The loss of freedom can therefore already contribute to a certain atmosphere in the scenario as a mere threat. The action Pin in the combat rules even gives a defined mechanic for the loss of physical freedom against the will of a player character. However, the loss of freedom that is threatened or has occurred can be of a different nature. Local restriction of player characters to a particular room or building (chamber play or enclosed space) can also convey this fear. Restrictions of freedom by state authorities such as police or judiciary (questioning, surveillance, or restrictions) - e.g., due to previous actions of the player character - can also create high pressure without directly restricting the character. Last, mental influence or domination also represents a form of loss of freedom. In this case, the game master can communicate separately with the affected player, e.g., via small pieces of paper. However, this game element should not be overused and should only be used in special cases, as it robs the player of the decision-making authority over her character.
Pain is rule-mechanically associated with the loss of hit points for a player character. Conditions such as stunned, exhaustion, or permanent damage also allow the player to reflect her character's physical situation and how she feels. A game master can make a great deal of difference by putting the loss or condition into figurative words.
It is imperative that the possible death of a player character be a constant companion in the room. Otherwise, the lack of this final consequence will cause the players to feel too secure. However, since character death is something final, it also leads to the end of the (current) game for the affected player. Pain, permanent disorders, or permanent damage therefore generally generate more play than the death of a player character.
UNPREDICTABILITY, LACK AND LOSS OF CONTROL
The unknown, being likewise the unpredictable, became for our primitive forefathers a terrible and omnipotent source of boons and calamities visited upon mankind for cryptic and wholly extra-terrestrial reasons, and thus clearly belonging to spheres of existence whereof we know nothing and wherein we have no part.
– Supernatural Horror in Literature,
The three primal fears of unpredictability, scarcity, and loss of control are essential components of a dramatic scenario and cannot be emphasized enough as key elements.
Unpredictability: The unpredictable actions of non-player characters, unpredictable plot developments, or natural events can put the players' plans to a severe test. Plans create security, security takes away tension. So a game master should listen carefully when players talk about next steps or share ideas around the table. Basically, "the unpredictable" decreases more and more in the course of human history up to modern times. What for Stone Age man was the inexplicable work of divine powers is for 21st century man simple natural science. But this does not apply to the unnatural, to the myth. The game master should always keep in mind that the motivations, goals and actions of unnatural entities are not or need not be humanly comprehensible. Unnatural rituals need not follow logical laws. The unnatural does not have to be explained - it may and should remain incomprehensible and mysterious.
Lack: Good equipment, the right means of transportation, enough money - all this also gives the feeling of being safe and well armed and thus leads to a turning away from tension and uncertainty. Scarcity should be an integral part of the player characters' lives, always on the sidelines and ready to surprise the players.
Loss of control: This is a strong primal fear that builds up slowly. However, it is not meant to take away the players' ability to act and make decisions (rail roading). On the contrary, the player characters should lose more and more control through their own decisions, which are logical for them, or fall deeper and deeper into the abyss of chaos, e.g. because their actions have problematic consequences in the game world or lead to hit points or stability losses. A good scenario promotes the loss of control by presenting the players with problems that cannot all be solved equally or where one has to choose between several bad options (dilemma). High stability losses cause a temporary loss of control or a permanent mental disorder of the player character, and these in turn give the player a rule-mechanical feedback of the downward spiral within the game world.
DISAPPOINTMENT, INADEQUACY, AND HELPLESSNESS.
These three primal fears can be the result of the effects described above. They take into account the idea of cosmic horror, in which man is an insignificant phenomenon. Similar to the loss of control described above, however, the point of being a game master is not to impose these feelings on the players. Ideally, they should arise as a result of character decisions and actions.
At the same time, these primal fears provide a new gateway for cosmic horror - those who are desperate may resort to immoral means or even cruel unnatural rituals to turn the tide in the face of their own inadequacy and "fight fire with fire."
Even with the help of well-designed and acted-out non-player characters, these fears can be triggered in the characters and transported well. Non-player characters are a very important part of the atmosphere of a scenario. They allow the player characters to be anchored in their environment. Reactions of non-player characters to the characters or to the unnatural can sometimes be used to great effect.
IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN HERE!
One facet of cosmic horror is that man's great point of reference - Earth - is precisely not the peaceful refuge in which modern man is at the center of events and himself influences the course of the story. Rather, the powers of myth have been here long before man - and they will be here when mankind itself will one day be history. This realization is all the more effective when not only the player characters themselves learn of it, but when their environment learns of it as well and reacts accordingly.
ATMOSPHERE AND FEELING
Atmosphere is the all-important thing, for the final criterion of authenticity is not the dovetailing of a plot but the creation of a given sensation. We may say, as a general thing, that a weird story whose intent is to teach or produce a social effect, or one in which the horrors are finally explained away by natural means, is not a genuine tale of cosmic fear; [...] The one test of the really weird is simply this—whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim. And of course, the more completely and unifiedly a story conveys this atmosphere, the better it is as a work of art in the given medium.
– Supernatural Horror in Literature,
No rules system, however solid, and no plot that has been thought out down to the last detail can guarantee a successful game round. However, the atmosphere that a scenario conveys and the feeling that it creates in the players can contribute significantly to the success of a scenario. Therefore, the points described here should already be taken into account when writing a scenario.
EMOTION AND PLOT
The primal fears described above, but also other feelings and sensory impressions, can make the events of a scenario more vivid and even help drive the plot forward.
Therefore, when describing a scene, one should not forget to appeal to different senses of the players: What does it smell like? Is it loud or quiet, cold or warm? What tastes do you perceive and how do things feel? In some circumstances, the merely observed reaction of a nearby non-player character to the cosmic horror can also provide an indirect description of the horror.
The loss of hit points (HP), Willpower points (WP), or sanity (SAN) can also be described in terms of the associated feeling or pain. The taste of iron in the mouth, the warm, sticky trickle pouring from an open wound, or the numb and, as it were, throbbing sensation of a broken bone combined with the soft crunch that every move produces - descriptions of this kind generate more intense emotions than simply stating the loss of 5 HP.
EMOTION BEFORE EXPLAINABILITY
In FHTAGN, beings such as Great Old Ones or Elder Thing do not have play values, as do lesser beings. Azathoth, Cthulhu, or Yog-Sothoth are far too powerful to be squeezed into a rules-based framework. Instead, certain characteristics of these beings are suitable to create an appropriate mood. These can be found in the respective descriptions in the unnatural entities section.
Especially with regard to the unnatural and unnatural entities, the game master can also address rather rare or distorted sensory impressions: How the fine hairs on one's arm stand up when one can feel the horror more than see it; the nausea- and dizziness-inducing effect of shifting dimensions and geometries; an altered - stretched or accelerated - perception of time at a particularly critical or threatening moment; the vague feeling during an encounter with a creature of myth of not being able to perceive or comprehend it - perhaps fortunately - in all aspects at all; a sound that one can feel more than hear, or that seems to be happening just outside human perception.
These subtle, fuzzy descriptions help to convey the incomprehensible and incomprehensible while still preserving the strangeness in it. Therefore, when a player character is about to encounter the unnatural, the game master should have some appropriate terms and descriptions in mind beforehand to make the encounter memorable and incomprehensible. It is important to emphasize once again that the unnatural does not have to follow any logic or humanly comprehensible explanation. So, for example, if a creature is encountered on the ground in one scene, it may well be depicted as a flying something in the next scene without any problems.
AT THE GAME TABLE AND BEYOND
A lot has already been written in various sources about these rather general hints for game masters. Lighting, music, appearance, preparation, presentation, handouts - all these things can contribute to the right atmosphere for the group and its play style. Here, too, it is often necessary to find the right balance first. In case of doubt, it is better to use a little less than too much. Music for music's sake or handouts, where a verbal summary would have done, are in the best case just wasted time and in the worst case disturb the atmosphere. Surprises that fit the situation and the scenario, on the other hand, generate curiosity: spoken handouts (hear-outs), unusual locations, candlelight, extensive darkness or, for a change, an episode with freeform elements enrich the spectrum and promote a dense atmosphere and intensive play.
A group contract refers to the code of conduct of a role-playing group, which is usually not written down. Composition of the group, appearing on time, preparations, behavior - all this is commonly regulated between the participants, even if only loosely. In terms of horror TTRPG, one may assume (some would say must assume) that the gaming group wants to be creepy. This means exposing themselves to the characteristics of a Weird Tale and, in the best of all cases, having a good time role-playing with the fears of their own character and the fears for their player character.
It should be noted that the intensity of horror is very individual (see Trigger Warning). In the end, however, the setting of FHTAGN is primarily that of cosmic horror. This does something to the characters and to the players and a game master will have to take this into account. In case of doubt, this leads to situations in which the personal comfort zone is at least challenged. Therefore, conversations about the just experienced scenario in the aftermath are a valuable help.
In order to define the limits of a turn in advance and to maintain them during the game, it is a good idea to use safety mechanics. See the Safety Techniques section of the FHTAGN rulebook for more information.
bringing the horror to the player characters
So I say that I have not murdered Edward Derby. Rather have I avenged him, and in so doing purged the earth of a horror whose survival might have loosed untold terrors on all mankind. There are black zones of shadow close to our daily paths, and now and then some evil soul breaks a passage through. When that happens, the man who knows must strike before reckoning the consequences.
– The Thing on the Doorstep,
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1937
In many of Lovecraft's stories, it is a certain tendency toward the morbid and the unknown that draws the protagonists to their doom. Sometimes, however, it is also simple coincidence. Since even in a Lovecraft-oriented TTRPG not every player character can be accused of occult interests, it makes sense not to bring the characters to the horror, but the horror to the characters. The sudden intrusion of cosmic horror into a player character's everyday life can be very disturbing, and interstitial scenes, bonds of the player character, or the FHTAGN Network are perfect for this. The intrusion of horror into everyday life can also serve as a hook for a scenario. If the influence of the horror on bonds or other non-player characters is made clear, there is hardly any retreat into an "ideal world" for the character - neither walls nor weapons protect against the work of cosmic powers.
However, looking the other way in connection with the unnatural - especially when it directly threatens one - is not an option either. In Lovecraft's stories, those who have recognized the horror are often compelled to fight it - even if their self-destructive efforts can only be a drop in the bucket.
Often, confronting the unnatural will involve problematic choices. Whatever decision is made, it is never perfect. Either others suffer or the player character himself suffers. Fighting the horror must be painful - it costs nothing less than physical and mental integrity. The change in a player character over time, also known as a downward spiral, is preordained and inevitable. Sanity declines and motivations erode over time, making way for mental disorders. Hardening can also be used to illustrate this effect. It does something directly to the player character, because hardening also means deadening. The same can be controlled at the beginning of a character's life through the facets of experience of violence and experience of helplessness.
LOOKING BEHIND THE VEIL
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
– The Call of Cthulhu, I. The Horror in Clay,
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1928
Looking behind the veil can most easily be compared to peeling an onion. Peel by peel, in the course of a scenario or an entire campaign, the supposed reality peels away from the terrible truth, revealing the cosmic horror behind it. In addition to the actual action in a concrete scenario, this effect can also be hinted at repeatedly in intermediate scenes. The FHTAGN Network, too, aims in particular at building up the image of the veil behind which one can look cautiously or which, in case of doubt, can even be torn.
INDIFFERENCE OF THE COSMOS
The last terrible realization behind the veil is that man is only a marginal note in the universe. The concerns of player characters, indeed of humanity, are of no consequence. They are simply indifferent to the cosmos. This is even more true of the motivations of Great Old Ones - they do not care about people and their motives are incomprehensible to us. The human mind is not able to comprehend the backgrounds and behaviors of Great Old Ones in the beginning, therefore any explanation is also superfluous. The further they lift the veil, the more the gracious ignorance is taken away from the player characters in the course of the game. The exchange of motivations for mental disorders as the game progresses introduces the players to the futility of human action and the fragility of the human condition.
Typically, people try to make sense of events, for example, by grounding them in concepts of religion or fate or otherwise embedding them in their worldview. But there is no meaning in cosmic horror. The question of why remains unanswered. The game master should therefore be aware that with every explanation or justification of her actions within a scenario, a piece of this indifference is lost. For human antagonists of the player characters, one may depart from what has been said, but even an insane human follower of the Great Old Ones is likely to act from motives that must remain incomprehensible to a sane mind
REALITY AND HISTORICAL REFERENCES
Cosmic horror in the universe of H. P. Lovecraft in particular lends itself to embedding and interweaving with historical references. This can contribute enormously to the atmosphere of a scenario, as it increases the believability of the setting and plot. This in turn facilitates player immersion in the game. FHTAGN itself enables play in all eras and settings. The key technologies and special achievements present in each (see FHTAGN rulebook) can be a source of inspiration as well as provide concrete clues to such references.
Nor is it to be thought that man is either the oldest or the last of earth's masters, or that the common bulk of life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, they walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.
– The Dunwich Horror,
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1929
Lovecraft's actual name for the beings he created was Great Old Ones. By this he meant both individual entities that had been dormant on Earth for eons, and external cosmic powers at the center of the universe. The Great Old Ones are thus a collective term for the unnatural, without meaning a structure, a hierarchy, or even a pantheon. Lovecraft himself referred to his idea as Yog-Sothothery (sometimes also as Cthulhuism & Yog-Sothothery). It was only after his death that this was modified to the now more common term of the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft's entities have subsequently been pressed into various forms of classification.
FHTAGN follows Lovecraft's original view and does not use the Great Old Ones, Outer Gods, or lesser entities classification. On the one hand, this structure is only an effort to bring order into the chaos of these cosmic powers, and on the other hand, every author, game master and player is called upon to make their own way into the world of Yog-Sothothery. The myth lives through change, through addition and through use. The workings of cosmic forces are inexplicable and elude human attempts at categorization. Myth, therefore, should not be pigeonholed by individual institutions or authorities who wish to discern a pattern in it.
For the realm of TTRPG, refraining from such categorization may at first seem impractical. However, in the philosophy of FHTAGN, values are not specified anyway for beings as powerful as the Great Old Ones. The rule-related abilities and powers of the other creatures and beings result from their respective descriptions, which each game master should and may judge, use and further develop for himself.
Since Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium opened the round of Cthuloid role-playing publications in 1981, countless other systems, supplementary volumes and scenarios have appeared. The range of different settings, equipment, rituals or creatures is almost endless. This is a very comfortable situation for all game masters, who can pick the most suitable elements for them and their group out of this abundance. FHTAGN offers a solid core of rules and a lot of options to support your own idea of Yog-Sothothery in the best possible way. The percentage system allows for the greatest possible compatibility with other rule systems, while being equally easy to explain and quick to expand with one's own ideas.
The values of creatures or equipment listed in FHTAGN have been created with great care. However, this does not necessarily mean that these properties are to be accepted dogmatically. An author or game master, in order to create atmosphere and tell her own story, can (and should) always choose the best way for herself. And if this means that something familiar suddenly becomes new and surprising, perhaps even incredibly powerful and dangerous, then this is exactly in the spirit of the myth, which has been shaped by various authors for over 100 years. In this sense: Create your own Yog-Sothothery!
The legal situation in point Cthulhu myth is partly as strange as Lovecrafts stories. FHTAGN has therefore set itself the goal, among other things, to use only those elements for which it is clear beyond doubt that they come from sources that are now in the public domain. According to the current legal situation in Germany, public domain comes into effect 70 years after the death of the author. This applies to the following authors.
- Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842 - 1914)
- Robert William Chambers (1865 - 1933)
- Robert Ervin Howard (1906 - 1936)
- Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
- Arthur Machen (1863 - 1947)
In the case of Robert E. Howard, however, an extended copyright exists in many cases, which makes careful examination of his works advisable before use.
In the USA, public domain occurs after 50 years, but it is unclear what this means for a publication in Germany. Therefore, the following authors were explicitly not considered for FHTAGN.
- Algernon Blackwood (1869 - 1951)
- Lord Dunsany (1878 - 1957)
- Clark Ashton Smith (1893 - 1961)
- Hazel Heald (1896 - 1961)
- Zealia Bishop (1897 - 1968)
Stealing Cthulhu by Graham Walmsley is a book published in 2011 that offers practical tips for modifying and repurposing well-worn storylines and traditional views of the Cthulhu mythos. It calls on readers to
- take an idea from Lovecraft, modify it, and then use it,
- to give an element from it a special focus,
- combine different elements from different ideas, or
- take a theme from Lovecraft and expand it with something completely new.
THE ESSENCE OF FHTAGN
In summary, FHTAGN's view of cosmic horror can be described as follows. This does not mean that all other facets of horror, or TTRPG in general, are completely mutually exclusive - quite the opposite. It just means that these are the essential elements that can bring out the fear of the unnatural in a typical FHTAGN scenario.
- Unnatural: At least one element in a scenario is of unnatural origin.
- Subtlety: Less explicit descriptions, more vague hints.
- Change: Reshape known points of view to create something new yourself.
- Expectations: Subvert the players' expectations.
- Freedom of action: player characters must be able to make decisions mostly on their own.
- Consequences: The player characters' actions must have consequences.
- Lack: Circumstances are never perfect.
- Loss of control: Perceived control diminishes.
- Dilemma: The decisions and actions of the player characters create a dilemma.
- Emotion: Emotion takes precedence over action or explanation.
- Bringing horror to the player characters: Breaking into everyday life can be very disturbing.
- Peering behind the veil: Slowly revealing the horrible truth.
- Cosmic Indifference: The Great Old Ones are indifferent to humanity.
- Yog-Sothothery: Create your own myth!