Knowledge and Fear

Last week, I talked about the discovery plot. Today, I want to go through the power of knowledge. Knowledge in horror is one of the trickier parts of the genre. Too much information and the monster isn't scary, too little and the players won't know they are supposed to be scared. The trick is to give them as little as can be given to make their imagination to start rolling with it. No matter what you'll describe, the horror that is created by the audience will be much more terrifying.
The first method for giving little info to the players, but making them imagine what happened, is by the crime scene. The characters get there, find the ripped body, or the body that missing something, or even just a hand and a few footsteps, and they'll start to ask themselves what did it? Will it come back? How did it happen? Etc...
Another method is the difference between character and player knowledge. To make it clear, I'll use an example from a session I had on Thursday. When Bob returned the last time, the player of Jessica knew that Tom is on the third floor, and that the others were on the fourth floor. She heard it happening, as a player, and she knew that Bob is still with Tom and still with the others. So, how is he there, with his files? What is he keeping hidden? This method, utilizing the fact that the players are also the audience, and just like with a horror movie, knowing that the character is in danger, without being able to react to it, makes it far more terrifying.
Another way is to show just glimpses of the horror. In that Thursday session, when the pizza man opened the door, something went into his stomach, they didn't know what it was, and they only saw a shape going there. 
The last way that I want to talk about, is using the normal things to make things seem scary. The phone that rings at the most appropriate moments is a cliché of course, but also the pizza man in the deserted city, the hotel where once there was a university. These things, that are normal by themselves, seem alien when they are in another place. Another way to do this, is to make the things themselves, and not where they are alieמ. Lovecraft did it with "The Colour Out of Space", where "The trees grew too thickly, and their trunks were too big for any healthy New England Wood." What makes that happen?

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