I have been on a bit of a horror kick lately when it comes to tabletop gaming. My roommate is running a D&D campaign and I really don’t want to run anything fantasy while that is going on, so I have been taking a wider look at my collection. There’s a lot to choose from, but horror has caught my attention in a big way and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because the world at large seems to be venturing boldly toward a hellish demise?
Speaking of impending doom, you know what rocks my socks? Doom clocks. You can say that I am not well read in horror scenarios and you would be absolutely correct. The common suggestion is that I collect RPGs and don’t read them and, uh, yeah that’s not entirely wrong. Doom clocks are nothing new and they aren’t limited to the horror side of the hobby. It is just where I encounter them the most.
Let Us In is a one shot horror scenario that sets out to create a 70’s style horror movie experience with a hard lean into the gonzo and it fucking pulls that off without any real effort. It starts weird and stays weird and I love it. It is the first scenario that I have ran that lays out an explicit doom clock and placing. Let Us In is three hours long and one way or another, things are going to end when the time runs out. It is an exciting concept and I was eager to get it to the table.
So I got it to the table.
I ran the scenario this weekend and though my GM’ing leaves much to be desired, I can say without a doubt that the doom clocks were beautiful. I was right to be excited because this three hour window and the suggested pacing added so much to the game. I have zero doubt that things would have been bogged down had I tried to run Let Us In without a time. My players would have gotten wrapped up in the minutiae, distracted, and probably late to form any sort of plan while I sat there unsure of if I should push them forward and how to go about that. Instead there was an underlying tension to the game. It wasn’t just my players being pushed to be decisive for fear of the clock running out either. As a GM, I felt compelled to add pressure and complications to occasionally ramp up that tension.
Was it the perfect experience? Not at all. It was, however, the first time in a long time that I have wrapped up a session as the GM and walked away feeling like I had enjoyed myself. Doom clocks, folks. Use them. Love them.