Horror is a remarkably difficult emotion to bring about organically. Games and improvised narratives especially tend towards the easier to promote terror when attempting to develop fright.
What follows is a tool you can use to create horrific images on the fly.
- Take some form of oracle system that randomly produces images and ideas. You may have a set of such dice lying around, you might use Tarot cards…
- Choose one aspect of that image / idea. For example, a lightbulb could offer its luminescence, its filament, its transparency.
- Select a part of something else to be used in the narrative. For example, glance at the nearest person; settle on the first limb / feature you spot.
- Grant the feature from the random oracle to the aspect of the desired element. For example, the nails on someone’s hand might be glassy and transparent; their breath gives off a faint glow in the shadow of the glade.
If you’d rather this as a motto:
Assign, refine, combine.
Some examples, applied to a newly discovered corpse:
- Rather than a circle, one pupil looks like a keyhole.
- It takes a great deal of effort to stop looking at the corpse’s face, almost as if it were magnetic to sight.
- From its palm grows a single reed, though this vanishes when the arm is moved. It was as if the palm itself was a crossing to the pond where it was found.