This weekend was the first SlenderLRP event I’ve played in a year, and it was brilliant.
I really enjoy horror LRP. I used to be of the opinion that I wouldn’t handle it well because I’m scared of everything, and it would make those things worse. However, I’ve found my own fear is a bit tempered by the knowledge that it’s a game, and that I can use the fear I naturally have to build on the game and improve it as well. It balances nicely and I am disappointingly less fearful as a result of playing the game.
The Slender team are fantastic. They have created a world that slots nicely with the real world, they push boundaries and aren’t confined by traditional LRP games, and they play well visually and immersively. We started the game alone in the dark (in a gorse bush) having been blindfolded and driven off to random locations, then led through the dark and left on our own. Not having played on the site before I had a vague idea where I might be, but little more than that.
For this particular game they used the 8pm Friday to 2am Sunday format that we at Mandala often used for Alone games, and that I’m really fond of for horror. It allows you to start in darkness and end in darkness which is naturally more atmospheric and easier to light than midday Sunday. We’ve also started looking at running 12 hour games, or an anthology of three games over the course of a weekend. Two in darkness and one during the day on Saturday. Horror doesn’t draw out well. There’s only so long someone can be scared for before they become exhausted and miserable, or numb to the fear. Most horror games are periods of horror with more mundane stuff between. You can’t maintain suspense for 36 hours. Would 8 be more reasonable?
LRPers rapidly get good at hiding in the dark. We tend to migrate away from wearing black, and we learn to walk quietly and hide our shapes. If you let players scatter into the blackness you need a way to draw them back (other than needing a wee – although that does work). Usually they will find a safe place with other people, being alone doesn’t suit people well, and there’s a limit to how long someone will just hide in a bush for (I’ll go for about two hours and that seems to be a bit longer than average).
It’s a lot easier to hide in the woods in the dark than it is to find someone who is hiding in the woods in the dark. This does lead to issues for your terrifying monster with nearly no vision who is hunting said players while trying not to look ridiculous. Sometimes you want to find a way to glue a glowstick to the back of each players so you can see them easily. Unfortunately I suspect they’d notice…
I like playing this sort of real world horror game, where the characters aren’t special and the game feels a bit more real because of it. It presents difficulties, the same as any game, but the way that slender handles it works really well for me.