English Eerie is an evocative storytelling game created by Scott Malthouse. It is also very much a roleplaying game. You are Watson sitting at his desk hastily making notes about the adventure of the Baskerville hound. The journal, the pen scratching its way across the page, a candle burning low as the wind howls on the moor…. That is the heart of English Eerie: the lonely moments of reflection as the mind tries to sort out the unsettling events of the day.
At its best, it’s a solo storytelling game. There is only the page to help you piece together the clues, understand the motivations of the people around you, vent frustration or fear or despair. The scenarios of English Eerie are rural, isolated, slightly claustrophobic – all by design. Solitude is the sizzle.
Playing the game is a bit like writing a short story based on a handful of predetermined elements – the missing son, a thunderstorm, the deep growl heard in the basement, a drunken brawl…. and the game allows for added plot twists. Maybe as you’re playing the game, you develop a soft spot for the orphan kid (who may be possessed by demons) and so you take the story in a different direction. Instead of a tale about escaping the snowbound cabin and leaving the horror behind, your story becomes a psychological thriller exploring how one person can turn a group of people against an innocent child.
The game mechanics are clever. You are presented with a simple scenario, a list of characters, clues, locations, and more. Using playing cards, a 10-side die, and the scenario’s tables, you tell the story. Whether you live or die is anyone’s guess. The flip of a card or a poor roll of the die could mean the difference between surviving to write your cautionary tale or running screaming through the never-ending halls of the manor house.
The book English Eerie lays out the full rule set, with variants to allow up to 4 people to participate in the storytelling. It also contains 10 scenarios to play, which allows for plenty of excitement for a small price tag.
And because this is a game for writers at heart, the book includes good pointers for creating your own “English Eerie” scenario. As the summer draws to an end, consider curling up with a great game to take you into the long winter night.