Gaming horror

We got together on Friday night for our Call of Cthulhu game. Well, by “got together” I mean we all logged into Roll20 from the comfort of our respective homes. Two of the four of us live 50 miles away, after all. Through the evening our GM did a fantastic job of describing the unspeakable horrors we were facing (he and I are players together in a D&D game too, which he also does very well). Overall it was a gloomy and creepy experience, which is greatness for a CoC game.
And yet somehow we managed to laugh and crack wise for the entire session. Which strikes me as odd (obviously, or I wouldn’t be talking about it here), and I realized it right after we logged off for the night. I’m not quite sure how the dynamic is working here. Do we just click as a group really well? I mean I know I’m an incorrigible smartass and it seems that the others mostly are as well. Or is it the awkwardness of the horror genre that makes the laughter easier to reach?
The former is entirely possible, though it’s too early to tell at this point. Like I said, GM and I have gamed together for several years now, and we are very similar in style (in a good way). The other two are old college friends of GM’s, but I had never met them before we started this game (this was our fourth or fifth session, and I still have not met them in person). I’m not ruling it out, though, especially since I nearly made one of them blow iced tea* out of his nose (my timing is legendary in the D&D group for this, though I usually prefer Mountain Dew for the trick**).
If it’s the latter, I’d say that’s a testament to how good our GM is. If he wasn’t really creeping us out, the setting wouldn’t feel so awkward. I think he exacerbates it (both ways, really) by letting us get separated and dealing with creepy stuff on our own with the others watching helplessly. That feeling of helplessness just adds to the awkwardness that makes us lash out with humor. At times it’s been so bad that I’ve apologized to the GM for it. But this week I didn’t feel the need – we were all doing it, and we were having such a good time that I didn’t feel bad about being disruptive.
I guess I just didn’t realize how much laughing we would be doing in a horror game. I knew it would be fun, just not that kind of fun. I suppose that basically people are weird. The people I know are, anyway.***
*It may not have been iced tea. It was in a tall glass and it was an amber liquid. I didn’t ask, and he didn’t seem drunk enough for some of the alternatives 🙂
**Mostly for the burn, but also we just consume a lot more Dew in that group. Especially the usual victim.
***Sorry for the late post this week. Roving bands of relatives stormed through my house over the weekend. I’m pretty sure that no one cares but me, but I’m aiming for consistency.

One response to “Gaming horror

  1. I’ve had similar experiences. I think that roleplaying games are unique in that it’s possible to have two different, even contradictory tones going at the same time. It can be right in the middle of a creepy or tense scene, and people can joke without taking the tension away. I don’t know why that is, but I love it. And of course it only works when it works, which isn’t nearly all the time.

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