October is here! That means pumpkin carving, candy corn, trick-or-treating, and spooky delights! If you’re an avid role-player, you might be looking for a spookier setting than just your typical game of D&D. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Let’s talk about five roleplaying games that you may not know about to add some horror to your RPG night!
Alien: The Roleplaying Game
In the year 1979, Ridley amazed audiences and showed us all the potential of sci-fi horror. Now I wasn’t alive yet, but I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy the Alien franchise for what it is. It’s a series of entertaining sci-fi flicks with an element of body horror.
Fast forward 40 years and six films later, Free League Publishing released a roleplaying game adaptation that brings just as much drama and tension as the films we love.
Sit down and create your character with the choice of nine different careers, from a Colonial Marine to a Scientist. From there, you and your friends can play one of two different game modes supported by the core rulebook. Cinematic Play is a single session, pre-made scenario, similar to a traditional one-shot. It is designed to have high stakes and fast paced play where not all characters are expected to survive. Campaign Play is a more long-form style of play supported by the core rulebook, with tools to quickly create your own star systems, colonies, and missions. The Core Book also includes a pre-written mission in the book.
If you are a fan of the Alien franchise, this RPG promises to deliver a similar and new experience for you!
Call of Cthulhu
Listen, no one reading this article is a stranger to Lovecraftian horror. The story has a cult following worldwide. What you might not know, is that there is a pretty good roleplaying game based around the original H.P. Lovecraft story.
This is one of the original horror RPGs, released in 1981. This game had influence on the future of horror RPGs. We’re now working with the 7th edition of the game.
This game plops you right in the middle of the 1920’s in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. Play the role of an investigator, whether you’re a veteran detective or a budding journalist, searching for clues of the occult. But beware, as an ordinary person, you might not like what you find in this terrifying world.
The game runs with the Investigator Handbook and the Keeper Rulebook. Fans of Lovecraftian horror are in for a treat creating their own stories in this amazing world of elder gods.
Dread is an interesting addition to this list. I haven’t had the opportunity to dive into this one, but in my research I found that it can be as twisted as the game runner can make it. It is a self-described “game of horror and hope”.
Interestingly, this is our first and maybe only entry on this list that isn’t based on or reminiscent of another, previously established franchise. Dread was first published in 2005 and went on to win the 2006 Ennie Award for innovation.
Most games of Dread are played as one-shots. It can take place in any classic horror setting. The slasher film, survival horror, and sci-fi are just a few examples. What sets it apart from other RPG systems is the way you decide outcomes of challenging obstacles.
The system uses a block tower, such as Jenga. Challenging actions require you to pull any number of blocks, decided by the GM. If you successfully pull the blocks, your action succeeds. Know the tower over, and your character is out of the game, usually by death. This creates a growing sense of tension where the longer time goes on, the more likely your character is to be out of the game.
This game promises to bring excitement and terror to your next RPG night around the kitchen table!
Monster of the Week
Most people don’t believe in monsters, but you know the truth. That is the first sentence you’ll read on the back of this book. This RPG is all about creating amazing sci-fi-esque characters to bring down monsters under the cover of darkness.
Maybe your favorite TV show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or maybe it’s Supernatural. In more recent years, I’ve become a big fan of Stranger Things. This action-horror RPG rolls all of these shows into a neat little package.
In Monster of the Week, you are creating a monster hunter! Travel the country tracking down big bad beasts in this simple system that almost anyone can pick up and enjoy. The terror in this game is limited only by the GMs imagination. The rulebook includes two ready-to-play mysteries and tools to create your very own mysteries in the world of monsters!
Evil Hat Productions makes a lot of great material, and this game does not fail to deliver. Get this today, and tomorrow you might be tracking down vampires and demons!
Dungeons & Dragons?
I know what you’re thinking. I said at the start that we’re looking for something a little more spooky than D&D, but hear me out here. Don’t sell Dungeons & Dragons short on its flexibility. You can make it scary. Plus, you might be looking for something more familiar that you can jump into without having to learn a new system.
Let’s start with some existing content. Curse of Strahd is D&Ds marquees horror campaign. It’s packed to the brim with vampires, zombies, werewolves, and more. I realize we might be looking for one-shots, but fear not! A cool guy named Mike Shea actually wrote up some ways that you can convert this iconic story into a frightening one-shot!
With a little work, a DM can take this adaptation and make it terrifyingly suspenseful for their weary band of adventurers.
Another good horror campaign comes from one of D&D‘s first adventures written by Gary Gygax himself. Tomb of Horrors may take you a little more than one session, but it will have you shaking for sure. This adventure was designed with torture in mind.
You can find the 5e version of Tomb of Horrors living in Tales From the Yawning Portal, a supplemental book to take your party off the beaten path. Test the psyche of your characters as they suffer through the Chamber of Hopelessness, face off against four-armed gargoyles, and potentially get crushed in their sleep.
These can also be supplemented with D&D‘s newest supplemental module, Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft!
No matter if you’re looking for brutal horror or something a little more vanilla, roleplaying games are a fantastic way to tell spooky stories and write new ones! If you want something different, or you’re looking to spice up your RPG night for a couple sessions, give some of these games a try! Be careful though, you might not have the heart for it.
All of these games can be found now at Central Gaming Corps! Come see us in-store or check us out online at shop.centralgamingcorps.com!