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Horror Campaigns / Running Horror Games

Personal And Impersonal

Source Starfinder #10: The Diaspora Strain pg. 50
When creating a menace to terrorize the PCs, the personal is scarier than the impersonal. Focus on something hooked into the story of the PCs or their players, whichever you’ve agreed to scare. Set your sights on fears brought up in the discussion with your players. Invest some time in pondering those fears, finding your menace in the metaphor. The following examples can guide you in exploring other fears.

Animals: Many folks are willing to explore a fear of animals, such as wild dogs, spiders, or sharks. But what is it about these animals that might cause fear? You can offer monstrous or alien versions of animals, but dig into why such a fear might exist. Are wild dogs scary because they’re feral versions of beloved pets? What do the PCs cherish that you can twist into a feral version? Are spiders fearsome because of the way they move or because they could be lurking anywhere? Are sharks terrifying because they move about unseen and strike from the depths? How can you tap these fears?

Infection: Hordes of undead, a lycanthrope’s bite, a worldspanning pandemic—so much horror has been drawn from the festering well of infection. The affliction rules in Starfinder and the corruption rules in this book cover what happens once you’re infected. However, it’s up to you to uncover the nature of the fear. Does it originate in vulnerability to the unseen? Is it a fear of losing agency over body or health? Could it be an apocalyptic fear about the fate of civilization? Or is it born of a deeper fear of losing your sense of self once you’ve been infected?

Invasion: Horror and science fiction genres overlap with tales of alien invasions. These incursions can take numerous forms, including military and technological might that hammers society to the ground, insidious infiltration through shapeshifting or mental domination, harvesters and butchers disguised as ambassadors, or beings from between galaxies that treat other species as trivial. Dig into the fears that can manifest in these tales. Is loss of cultural identity terrifying? Could it be a primal fear of becoming prey? Is it the terror that familiar people could turn against you?