The Horror Game is a great “rules light” horror game focused on quickly creating characters, monsters, and scenarios with enough flexibility to build a wide variety of situations. With the system you can probably replicate just about any of your favorite horror movies in under an hour. It’s a fast read at just a little over 100 pages and is written well and concisely. The only real complaint I have is the lack of artwork. That doesn't take away from the system though.
The game strikes a nice balance between “crunch” for the more numbers focused players including creating characters with your standard attributes, skill points, disadvantages, etc. The skills are not predetermined, but narrative in nature that the players work out with the GM. If you want to be a yo-yo master who can kill at man at 10 paces . . . GO AHEAD! The limits are really your imagination and your GMs tolerance. The book does include tables of representative power levels for various skills, so you can get a sense of the order of magnitude that you can expect your character to perform. That’s about it for characters, which is great if you are building pregens or want to run a game where you players don’t have to stress about min/maxing every little detail.
On to monsters . . . they scale depending on the number of players and the difficulty of the game. They have most of the same attributes as the players and some special abilities like Warp Walk, which is how characters like Jason from Friday the 13th are chasing someone into a house and sudden end up right behind them after they slam the door shut. It is just as easy and fast to create your monster on the fly as it is for players to make their characters. The book also has tons of examples of types of monsters. The variety is great for a GM who wants to run an impromptu game. They even have suggestions for PvP games set in dangerous locations. This just goes to show you the flexibility of the system. The book then offers us several resources for planning a game including websites for floor plans and other game-related resources.
The mechanics are simple, yet robust. With some “rules light” games, D&D veterans and other players who like “crunchy” games are disappointed by the lack of firm boundaries of play. I think in this case The Horror Game strikes a nice balance between encouraging a narrative and utilizing a mechanic to allow for a fair resolution of actions. That doesn’t mean it’s forgiving though. Don’t get too attached to your characters.
Overall, I think the book is a solid purchase for GMs who want to change things up from his/her normal game or for groups without as much RPG experience. I am confident I can teach my players the game in 15 minutes and probably need less than an hour to stat out the monster/pregens for the game. I haven’t gotten a chance to run it. However, they plan on releasing free scenarios on www.thehorrorgame.com, which I will promptly use to run a game for the NerdBound crew or our listeners. The price is right and it should offer up some fun times for your group. Now get slashin’!
[4 of 5 Stars!]