5 Horror Roleplaying Games To Make You Celebrate The Season
What better way is there to celebrate the Halloween season than a roleplaying game?  As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, it becomes the perfect time to gather around a table (or, in this time of pandemic, a computer screen and a Roll20 page) and tell a collaborative story- the modern equivalent to gathering around a fire and listening to a bard recount an ancient myth.  Play with the darkness in a safe environment among friends, and see if you can chase the demons away...or invite them in!

Bluebeard’s Bride is a lush work of gothic art, plunging you into a nightmare fairy tale with gorgeous illustrations and intensely psychological gameplay.  Each player portrays one aspect of the heroine’s personality, as she explores her husband’s haunted house.  In each room, she must collect evidence of her husband’s guilt or innocence in the deaths of his previous wives, and ultimately decide whether or not to open one final door in the house- the one she was expressly forbidden from opening.

Among dedicated roleplayers, perhaps no game has a more deadly reputation than Call of Cthulhu!  This in-depth, highly detailed work sets up adventures among H. P. Lovecraft’s infamous Cthulhu Mythos, as players delve into the mysteries of the occult in the 1920s (or whenever a particular Game Master decides to set the campaign.)  This game is notorious for its player characters coming to bad ends, succumbing to death or corruption or insanity in the face of monsters and dreadful secrets.  Will you play with fatalistic glee to see what horrible fate befalls your character, or will you attempt to challenge the stars themselves and work your hardest to survive?

Dread is a clever indie game with a truly unique mechanic- a shared sanity system represented by wooden blocks!  Under the philosophy that any one character cracking will have an effect on everyone in the group, a block is pulled away every time a dangerous action is taken, until it finally crashes down and ends a character’s life.  Dread is a highly customizable game and can be used for any plot or subgenre of horror.  If you’re lucky enough to be quarantined with friends or family, the rising tension of each block being removed will cause both gasps and giggles- and woe to whoever accidentally knocks over the tower while reaching for snacks!

If your taste in horror runs more towards paranormal romance than blood-soaked tragedy, give Monsterhearts a try.  The characters are highschoolers navigating relationships and coming of age, but each one also has a dark secret- a supernatural one, at that!  And they each have needs particular to themselves; a fairy seeks to fulfill bargains, a vampire needs to feed, a sorcerer must appease their demonic patron, and a mortal wants nothing more than to find true love.  The triumphs and tragedies of highschool are played out among monstrous metaphors, and every relationship you develop can save your life- or doom you.

And if action-horror is what you want (or you’re a fan of old school Hammer Horror movies!) the game for you just might be Rippers!  Enter a Victorian world of villains and heroes, playing members of a secret society determined to protect the mortal world from creatures of the night.  You might encounter famous literary characters or unravel mysteries that plague historians to this day.  Rippers uses the Savage Worlds rule system, meaning it’s compatible with any other Savage World game (including the popular weird west setting Deadlands) so you can shape your gameplay experience any way you like.

This autumn, stay safe, stay spooky, and light a candle in the darkness.  Gaming with friends may not drive away all your demons, but perhaps it will give you a chance to face them head-on...and armed with a wooden stake and silver bullets.

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