I’m not playing a lot of TTRPGs games, it has been a while since I’ve run a proper game. Did some solo dungeon crawls lately, felt good, but mostly I know and even more important I want to play more RPGs. I don’t know why I started the post with this vent, probably because I’m not using the topic of this post very often lately, but hear me out, this can make sense.
When I was playing more, mostly with my brother and close friends we had a pact, a zero section “contract”, that was named in portuguese by Prosaiko as: “zoeira terrivel”, I did spent some time trying to think about a good translation but came with the not best one which is: terrible fun.
The world was terrible for the miserable, unfortunate PCs. We mostly played OSR fantasy and horror games/settings and I guess these are meant to not be welcoming places or settings. Mostly it was not a fun place to be, jokes, playing around would not make real sense facing imminent death, of course there could be some exceptions for some PCs traits. Although, in general, the PCs were very afraid and fearing for their lives. This was not mandatory, but in order to have some verisimilitude and some immersion, we agreed that in session zero. So, no playing around and “in game jokes”, mostly.
On the other hand, jokes and playing around are very welcome. We are among people we love, close friends; this is very natural. We laughed a lot and mostly had a really great time. But when we were in game situations we were back to the miserable and fearing feelings that our PCs had emerged.
I can speak for that, for short, what made and still makes sense for me was: The game demands serious immersion and posture, but as we are among friends we shouldn’t or couldn’t be tense and uncomfortable in “real life”.
The implications that I got from this were the best game sessions ever. The in-game ambient had an immersion and a importance that I really felt in the world/setting oppression in my PC guts. Otherwise I was very comfortable, in the out-of-the-game environment, the immersion decompression result was laughs and comments about the in-game situations scenes which was very paradoxical in relation to what was experienced within the game.
After writing all of this, I guess this is all kind of neurotic and maybe paradoxal. But, hopefully it could make sense for someone. Further elaboration could organize my ideas and make it all more clear.
For once again, short: this approach answered the puzzle on how to have fun and a soft atmosphere in a horror, meat-grinder game session. In order that, we faced the most horrible terror and danger, but it steel felt light on the “outside”.