Class Notes: Feel the Fear

-February 13th, 2013

This week’s Class Notes column is courtesy of Kerry, who asked “Will Degrees of Horror be using Fear Effects?”

Yes. [Wow, this has got to be the easiest Class Notes I’ve written thus far.]

Oh, you’d like me to elaborate?

First, for the sake of our newer viewers at home, let me explain Fear Effects. Seven or eight years ago, 12 to Midnight published a fear system to supersede the standard Savage Worlds version. In the interest of Fast! Furious! Fun! we eschewed a new sanity number in favor of an expanded fear table. And by expanded, I mean 100 different outcomes!

Here’s how it works: When the GM calls for a fear roll, she first decides the severity of the fright. We categorized these “fear levels” as Minor Spook, Medium Shock, or Great Fright, and the latter two invoke additional penalties to your Guts roll. Players who fail their Guts roll  make a second roll to determine the outcome. Minor Spook had 20 possible outcomes, Medium Shock had a greater range that was also more severe, and so on. If you critically failed your Guts roll then you moved up to the next level. Critically failing a Great Fright put you in Horrific Terror territory, with some really, really nasty outcomes.

A few years later we released a refined version of Fear Effects as a GM screen. The basic concept was the same, only the dice you used to roll outcomes changed. In most ways, the Fear Effects from the GM screen works the same way in Degrees of Horror. We kept the 100 possible outcomes, but simplified the outcome ranges and the dice you roll to achieve them. It’ll make layout somewhat easier, although I can tell you from experience with the GM screen that there’s no “easy” way to lay out a table with 100 outcomes.

As a player, if you’re worried about those Guts rolls (and you should be) then you can take an Edge that gives you +1 to Guts rolls, or another lets you take the better of two rolls on the Fear table.

I really think that Fear Effects is a Fast! Furious! Fun! way to capture the fear inherent in a horror game without the need to add a new sanity stat to your character sheet. (In full disclosure, we’re already doing that with your Studying score.) As a GM, you’ll delight in new ways to torment your players. It’s a win for everyone!


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