This year Halloween falls on a Friday. For gamers like us that gives a great opportunity to run one shots that match the Holiday's theme and flavor, and while that can just mean the supernatural a lot of folks think it equates with Horror and that is not a bad thing.
That said, today being the Wednesday before Halloween I figured it'd be a good idea to go over some tips and tricks that can help.
Classic Horror Holds The Key
Believe it or not when looking for tips for your game you want to look to the old horror films instead of the new ones. New horror, while it can be very good, also uses a lot of visual and audio tricks learned through years of film study to enhance the effect. In short, they use the medium they have to masterful effect and that medium isn't one you have access too.
Old horror on the other hand had to draw on actual fear and tricks to get the audience going. Those tricks are what you need as well.
Tension Is Key
Sometimes the scariest things you can experience is nothing at all. A little hint of the unknown, enough to make things spooky, and nothing else does wonders. Why? Because the unknown is scary, and everytime the audience thinks that they're going to get answers, or something is going to be around the corner and it's not, the tension increases.
Now, this can be overdone. You have to manage it. You have to provide tension breaks as well. Carefully measured you can keep the strings taut, giving a little slack when needed only to pull tight when needed.
Monsters Don't Have To Be Seen
The second you reveal the monster it loses a lot of mystery. With the lost mystery goes a lot of the fear. Look at how less scary Alien is once we see the Alien fully and it stays on screen. Look at almost any horror movie with a killer. Off screen they're mythical and magical. They can be anywhere, get through anything, and are completely unstoppable. On screen...they can be dodged, avoided, and trip over couches.
Keep the monster out of sight. Use it sparingly. These two things will make it scary. The longer you can keep it scary, the better it will be.
Let The Player's Mind Work For You
The point of these three tips is designed to make the players' brain work for you. The more the brain works, the more invested it is. Also, to tell the truth, no one knows a person's innermost terror and fears more than their own brain. Make it work for you. Make it work on them. Let them scare themselves, and it will work out for the best.