Ruairidh’s gory cubes: a tool for finding horror

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.


  1. 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…
  2. Choose one aspect of that image / idea.  For example, a lightbulb could offer its luminescence, its filament, its transparency.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Ruairidh’s gory cubes: a tool for finding horror

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