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Faces poking out of the wall they climb down, contorted in expressions of agony or terror. Some might open their eyes or move their mouths if touched. Faces screaming or begging for help are optional -- sometimes it's more horrifying if they move like they're screaming or talking, but no sound comes out.

 

If the PCs hammer pitons into the wall to attach ropes to, the wall bleeds.

 

Clouds of flies constantly swarm around them. If looked at up close, they have human heads.

 

Toward the end of their descent, one of their ropes turns into a live snake (non-venomous, unless you want that complication).

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    A sneaky trick I lucked into happened when I brought some mood music (Tubular Bells kind of stuff) to play for a horror episode on my boom box for a session. I turned it on very low before the game started while people were coming in and still talking and getting set up. I forgot to turn it back up when we started and was at an almost subliminal level.  
    After the session everyone said the mood was much creepier than usual, I think if it was at a volume where the songs could be easily identified it wouldn’t have had the same impact.

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For future reference, IIRC there's a "Creepy Pix" thread in the Non-Gaming Discussion" forum.

 

You can also develop your imagination by keeping an eye out for vivid images, whether in movies and TV, books, or other art media. I've gotten a fair bit of weirdness from Surrealist painters such as Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and Rene Magritte. And of course DeviantArt.com is a treasury of eye candy. At least make mental notes of the images that resonate with you, as inspiration for the images you describe to your players. If you feel it, they'll feel it.

 

Dean Shomshak

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sound effects, for example, a specific tap pattern on the underside of your desk/table to indicate that head crabs are coming, then pause. Give it a random number of turns, then a perception check as one is literally flying through the air. For their face. 

 

Remember: Fear is purely the unknown. The less they know, the more unfamiliar a situation with the right queues, the more they’ll start to freak out. Horror, however, is what happens when you wish you could back to not knowing. You have plenty of great contributions here already, I wanted to point out what else is possible just through sound and information control. 

 

Baby has been up all night, I am super tired now.

 

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