Hello internet, it’s Slick Dungeon here. I hate when people go on with long intros in their top 5 lists so I will get right to the point. These games are fun to play if you like horror. Check ’em out!
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5. Vampire the Masquerade
Most people think the world is how it seems. Nothing supernatural or strange happens to most of us. Until you are turned into a vampire and enter a complex, violent world full of political intrigue, horror, and most of all a never ending hunger that cannot be ignored. The fifth edition of Vampire the Masquerade is the most current but this game has been around for decades. The idea of it was that players could get to be the monsters. This one is definitely not for children and comes with a warning that it’s for the mature. If you play this game with your gaming group, make certain everyone understands what lines they would not want crossed while playing. It can be a ton of fun to play a bloodsucker in the night who not only has to control their hunger but also needs to keep from ticking off the much older, much badder vampire who doesn’t want them around. It’s a surprisingly complex game but the rules are pretty quick to learn and it has endless opportunity to touch on themes of horror, death, and what it truly means to live. You can get the core rulebook as a PDF from the Storytellers Vault for just $25.
4. Alien: The Role playing Game
In space and on your tabletop no one can hear you scream. Watching Alien was one of the first times in my life when a film experience truly terrified me. The tabletop RPG is great at evoking the same feeling. I recommend dipping your toes in with the starter set which comes with the rulebook, a scenario to play and 5 pre-generated characters plus a bunch of supporting materials like maps, markers and cards. You can get it on drivethrurpg for just $20. The rules take a minute to get used to but if you are an experienced role player, you’ll catch on fairly quickly. This one is also not recommended for kids but if your kid loves watching scary movies like I did, you can always adapt it a bit and make it more action-oriented and a little less graphic. It is pretty heavy on the body horror so if that is not for you, well, you’re probably not an Alien fan in the first place. One thing to note is that the starter set does not involve the Xenomorph, the most well known of the creatures from Alien. Some people complain about this but when they do I remind them that Ripley doesn’t really go toe to toe with the queen until the end of the movie, so it makes sense not to just pull that out right off the bat.
3. Dungeons & Dragons: The Curse of Strahd
I know, D&D is it’s own RPG but when it comes to 5th edition there is no horror campaign that surpasses Curse of Strahd. What’s great about this book is how flexible it is. While it touches on dark themes and can be as scary as Vampire the Masquerade if you want it to be, you can also make it a bit goofy and silly making it a good one for kids. Just read ahead before you play with kids so you aren’t caught off guard by the hags who cook children or anything along those lines. While it’s definitely on the pricier side, I really like Curse of Strahd: Revamped. This gives you the book, maps, a super cool stat block for the big bad guy, a tarokka deck to use in the adventure and some gothic postcards that perfectly capture the feeling of Barovia in the domains of dread. This particular campaign is super fun to both DM and to play in.
2. Kids on Bikes
The Goonies, E.T., Stranger Things, what do they all have in common? There are kids. They are on bikes. As simple as it sounds this is the perfect set up for a horror themed RPG. It’s set in the days before your mom could text you to make sure you were safe or you could google who died in the creepy old mansion before you enter it on a dare. The rules are very quick to learn and the game play starts right up. You can sort of ratchet the horror level to what you like as far as fear goes so this is good with a group of kids or adults. You can get the core PDF for just $10 on drivethrurpg. Another really interesting aspect of this one is that you co-create the town as you play and it has powered characters who can be influenced by both the GM and the players. This makes things go from predictable to unpredictable very quickly.
1. Call of Cthulhu
There is a reason this RPG shows up at the top of everyone’s horror list. There is no better game at setting the mood for terror and delivering abject horror to your players. While it’s most often set in the 1920’s America, you can actually place this game in virtually any time period. The game is based on Lovecraftian stories and creatures but it does incorporate more than that if you want it to. This is another one where I recommend first getting a little taste with the starter set. You can get the starter set on drivethrurpg for just $6 at the time of this posting. In there you get an intro book, a rule book, three starter adventures, five pre-generated investigator sheets, some blank investigator sheets, and player handouts. In total you get four different adventures in one box which is more than I can say for any other starter set I know of. The theme of the game is cosmic horror but it touches on all kinds of terrors. Your characters aren’t wizards and barbarians who don’t ever truly feel threatened because they can just heal after combat. Instead you are human investigators, susceptible to all the pain and damage a human can take and your job is to take on strange, alien creatures from deep in the cosmos, all while hoping to retain whatever sanity you have. This is a game where some kids can handle it and some can’t. If you play with kids who grow super attached to their characters, this game is not recommended because they are extremely likely to die. Also, one thing I do like about this game is that they make several solo adventures (one of which is included in the set) so even if you can’t get your gaming group together, you can still play.
Well, Happy October everyone! I hope you liked my list. Did I miss your favorite horror game? If so, let me know in the comments! Also, if you have played one of these, how did you like it?