If you are like me, Halloween is one of your favorite holidays. It is all about having fun. One thing we have been making a tradition is our annual Halloween game. A spooky fun one shot adventure just for the night. So, we pick a system and go with an adventure. I used to just run a Halloween themed adventure for the night in our regular campaign. But I find it a great opportunity to try out all those great horror games out there now. There are so many good games that you never seem to find the time to start an ongoing campaign of one because of your regular game, or just lack of time. Well, Halloween is a great time to take one of those many games you have always looked at running but never get the chance to run.
This year we will be playing Vaesen. I have been rolling up pre-generated characters for the players to choose from to cut down on the time it takes to make a character so we can jump into the game. Last year I ran Dark Places and Demogorgons. When we were still meeting to play in person as a group before the COVID pandemic this was more of an all-around Halloween party with potluck style food, dinner, and lots of tasty treats. You could take it a step forward and have a costume party potluck for this game.
Most of you are already familiar with Call of Cthulhu. It is sort of the classic horror Role Playing Game. It has been one of the big RPGs of the last 40 years. Put out by Chaosium, I do not think there has not been an edition they put out that hasn’t been solid. The editions may have changed over the years, but never as drastic of a change as many games over the years. If you have not played it in a while or ever, this is the perfect time of year to bust it out. The game has traditionally had a high fatality rate, it’s been a great one for one shot scary adventures. The horror is pure Lovecraftian. Maybe you just want to try out the system for the night and see what it is like, well bust it out for your Halloween game. Call of Cthulhu may be the classic horror RPG, but there are countless Lovecraftian horror RPGs out there for you to try as well. Have a favorite? I’d love to see what they are in the comments.
Fate has a line of Cthulhu books and adventures you could bust out for this time of the season. Then there is Eldritch Tales: Lovecraftian White Box Role Playing, the Cthulhu Lovecraftian Horror game based on the OD&D rules and Swords & Wizardry.
A new genre seems to have come about wrapped up in nostalgia for old movies and TV shows that are full of 80s nostalgia. Set in the sleepy creepy Jeffersontown in the 80’s, Dark Places & Demogorgons takes Movies like IT or TV shows like Stranger Things as a model. Your characters are teens in the 80s encountering an assortment of horrors from monsters and bigfoot to aliens and werewolves. It could easily become the Eerie Indiana Role Playing Game. The game is based off of the Swords & Wizardry rule set, an OD&D clone so if you are familiar with OD&D this is a quick and easy one to pick up and run with little new to learn. There is a new version of the game coming out in a 5th edition rule set.
Tales from the Loop kind of took a similar approach to this genre however with more of a unique twist, a little less horror and a little more fantastic.
Our choice for this year’s game is Vaesen, so I will say that I am excited to run this. It is put out by Free League Press who I have been really impressed with.They put out Tales from The Loop which I mentioned above, as well as other great games. Vaesen is a Nordic Horror role playing game which is a cool fresh unique approach to horror games. The game is described as Nordic horror, so it’s horror of a different sort set in the 1800s. I will be posting a review of it here on the site soon after we finish the game. The Genre is one I am just starting to dip my toes into.
For a less traditionally Halloween horror idea, Free League also publishes the Alien role playing game. I am a big fan of the Alien movies. I have yet to pick up Alien, but you better believe it is on the list. Because in space no one can hear you scream.
I have had my frustrations with Palladium over the years as many other have. But this is only because I am a fan of Palladium RPGs. One of the classic horror games on my list is Beyond the Supernatural. It is a generic horror game with lots of interesting classes, only like all Palladium games, the character creation takes way too long. This game I do not suggest for a one shot because of this unless rolling up characters is your thing. Some people love to sit there and roll them up and come up with stuff. I tend to have little time for that these days and find games like Vaesen great because it takes minutes to crank out a pretty fleshed out character and not a long time just rolling and adding up more stats and skills. Along with Beyond the Supernatural Palladium has Nightbane, a unique horror game where you play creatures called Nightbane battling demons and supernatural elements. The Nightbane are fun because they have tons of random tables to roll up various horrors. The Nightbane themselves always reminded me a little bit of the Hellraiser cenobites. I am a sucker for creating characters with lots of wacky oddities from random tables. Maybe that is just the Palladium fan in me. With Nightbane you play the scary monsters.
One last quick obvious choice for Halloween is of course Vampire the Masquerade. For some game groups this might just be the perfect fit. My horror games tend to be planned around fun, spooky fun with lots of fun cliché’s and they really do not take themselves too seriously. The tone and approach of Vampire really makes this one that I have not done a lot of, but my tastes and preference are not everyone’s and a lot of groups out there will really love it.
What game will you break out this Halloween?