She Can Fly: Quick Halloween Costumes

CRAP! Halloween is tomorrow? If you need a costume, and need one fast, here are five fun (nerdy) costume ideas that you can create in 30 minutes or less:

Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson:

Sure, you’ve seen Lois and Clark, but have you seen Peter and MJ? Instead of buying a full Spidey bodysuit, try getting a Spider-Man t-shirt and wearing it under a dress shirt with slacks and a jacket. Don’t forget your camera and Daily Bugle press pass! MJ is even simpler; a black tank top, olive green slacks, a red wig and you’ve got her most iconic appearance. Take it a step further by making yourself a speech bubble out of cardboard and write “Face it, Tiger, you hit the jackpot!” on it. Attach it to your back with a wire hanger.

Power Puffgirls:

Got two friends willing to do a last minute group costume? Go to a local store and buy three dresses or t-shirts in pink, blue, and green. Add a black sash (use a scarf, belt, or cut up a spare t-shirt) and you’re set! Just remember, Bubbles has pigtails, Blossom has a ponytail, and Buttercup wears her hair short and down.

Hipster Superhero/Princess/Prince:

Instead of buying a costume from the store and adding some thick glasses, go into your closet and pull out stuff that looks character appropriate. I did hipster Power Girl for Boston Comic Con with a white keyhole dress, red jean jacket, and blue shoes I already owned. It’s just as easy. Get inspiration from tumblr and pair with a pithy sign.

Plain Clothes Character:

Own a Smashing Pumkins shirt? You could be Scott Pilgrim! Got a green jacket, orange shirt, and combat boots? Go for Daria! There’s a huge variety of awesome geeky characters that wear clothing you probably already own. You can pull from TV (30 Rock, Parks and Rec, the Mindy Project, Brooklyn 9-9), cartoons (Bob’s Burgers, King of the Hill, Bevis and Butthead, Arthur), comics (Danger Girl, Superhero Girl, Sex Criminals, the Wicked and the Divine), and more!

Cartoon Animal:

Get a shirt and pants of the same color and a little face paint or makeup, and you’re set to be Luna from Sailor Moon, Bugs Bunny, Pikachu, Tom and Jerry, or Felix the Cat! The key to this is trying to match the character’s fur color with your clothes. Animal ears definitely help, and you can make those easily by taping construction paper to a headband.

BONUS! Stan Lee:

Who doesn’t want to be the most iconic face in comics? I had a friend who did this one year for Halloween, and it gets marks for being the weirdest, geekiest costume I’ve ever seen. Get some white hair spray and a big white mustache. Pair with big tinted glasses and a tan ensemble including a windbreaker, and you’re set!

Game the Game: Horror Gaming

The set-up: Characters are in a house, there is a axe-wielding psychopath on the looking to chop them all up. The characters hear a noise on the other side of the door.

Traditional RPG style of play:

Players draw their weapons, assume a defensive stance, cast buff spells, check their HP, etc.

Is this fun? Sure, it can be.

Is it scary?

I would argue no.

Sending an unbeatable foe against the PCs in a game where success or failure is very granular is easy to do. The party is 5th level, put them up against a 10th level threat. A 12the level threat.

Sure, that can be done.

But is it scary? Is it balanced? Is it fun?

As a GM if I want to stack the deck in my favor and “win” that is always easy to do.

But, horror gaming, gaming that can legitimately scare your players and their characters demands a different style of play.

As a GM, I can admit my shortcomings. Bringing a sense of doom to the table might not be one of them. This is not to say that I have not had success, but it can be difficult. There has to be buy-in from the players and GM, everyone has to commit to the conceits of horror gaming.

On those special occasions when I want to run a very special horror game, I tend to cheat.

I fall back on rules systems that force the players to be scared.

New-fangled RPG style of play:

Dread is an RPG that strips away pretty much everything that other RPGs have: stats, skills, etc, they do not matter. What matters in Dread is building tension, and that sense of impending death with any action.

How does it do it?

Jenga.

Build a Jenga block, any time a character is doing something potentially dangerous, the player must draw a Jenga block.

I ran a session of this, and added an on-the-fly house rule. When moments were building to a head, when time was of the essence, I instituted speed Jenga.

“Ok, you want to make it down to the docks in time to catch up to the ferry? I need 4 successful draws in one minute. Go!”

Jenga demands quiet.

It demands concentration.

And it brings with it a sense of… wait for it…. Dread.

Perfect.

Players might want to try and find an old AK-47 in Old Man Johnston’s house. Fine, let them. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t increase their odds of survival.

Jared Sorenson’s Squeam does things a bit differently, the setup of Squeam is designed to emulate a horror film.

The coolest part of it is that, when the characters hear that noise on the other side of the door, one of them may very well open it.

Why?

Because that character failed their Curious roll.

And if that isn’t just like a horror movie, I don’t know what is.

Yes, it takes autonomy and free-will away from the players, but the end result is that it forces the players and their characters to do the things that make horror films fun!

I have run this several times for very-special episodes of my long-running campaign, and it is a blast. Darken the room, light a candle or two, appreciate the silence and darkness, and have a ton of jump-scare fun.

I tend to use a variant of the Scooby Doo rules set, and I could see the Cthulhu variant also being fun.

There are of course plenty of other games designed to scare, Spectrum Games (for whom I work) has Slasher Flick and Macabre Tales, the latter designed for 1-1 Lovecraftian play, the former designed for troupe style Slasher Flick play, and of course there is the grand-daddy of them all, Call of Cthulhu.

There are GMs out there who can make any system scary. My hat is off to them.

Me? I cheat.

I pick a game that has been designed to make the experience scary.