For the month of October I plan to run my annual horror games. This year I plan to run a zombie game, an X-files inspired game and a Cthulhu themed game.
While planning these one shot games I have been reviewing the various game system that I own trying to determine which ones or one would be best suited for this year's games. Since I have two member in my gaming group who are new to RPGs(both teenagers who have been completely enthusiastic about the whole experience, which gives me hope for the survival of the hobby) and who also only have experience with the d20 system(D&D/Pathfinder) I have pretty much determined that I will keep with that system for their benefit. At least until they are a little more experienced and comfortable enough with gaming to allow me to expand beyond d20.
Since I've been going back and reading most of my game books over the past few weeks I thought I'd share my personal picks for running Horror themed games for Halloween.
In my list of games you will find links to each game's website(when applicable), as well as places you can buy the game online. Of course I recommend you check with your local game shop to find a copy of the game, but if you don't have a shop near you, or are strapped for cash the online options are a good alternative.
Call of Cthulhu
CoC is a given when it comes to running horror themed games. It is probably the first game that comes to mind for most gamers.
Call of Cthulhu d20
The system is familiar to anyone that has played 3e D&D and though it may not be considered the best iteration of the Cthulhu game system, I like it.
RPGNow(supplements and adventures)
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
What's cooler than zombies? Pretty good game and most people consider this to be THE zombie game.
I am a fan of Palladium books and while I admit the system needs an upgrade, this is by far my favorite zombie setting.
RPGNow(Rifter 40 preview of the game)
Beyond the Supernatural
This Palladium game/setting is one part X-files, and one part Cthulhu with some Buffy wrapped up in the Palladium system. There are some classes that use Psychic energy, but for me the game is better run using non-powered PCs.
RPGNow(1st edition of the rules plus there are copies of Rifter that have material for the game all in pdf.)
I have never actually played this game, but it seems to be fairly popular with Palladium fans. To me it seems like Palladium's version of the World of Darkness setting.
I like this game, but it wouldn't be my first choice for a horror game. However, it does have a setting for horror themed games.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Ok I admit that I'm a Buffy fan and thus a little biased, but I do like this game. I will say that I think it is better for a more horror-lite game.
RPGNow($10 in pdf)
I haven't bought my copy of this game yet, but I like the show and MWP always puts out quality products.
Heroes of Horror
This 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons supplement is a good guide for helping DMs come up with ideas for running horror themed fantasy games.
Book of Vile Darkness
This 3rd edition D&D supplement is a great book if you want to run a game with evil PCs or if you just want to add some real wickedness to your game.
This 4e supplement is a good choice if you want to include undead in your 4e campaign.
If you like 3rd edition it is pretty easy to run a horror game with this system using creatures in your D&D monster manuals or the Dark Matter setting.
Amazon (Core rulebook)
Amazon (Dark Matter setting)
Monte Cook's World of Darkness
When I think about running a d20 horror themed game, this is the book I reach for first. I recommend this book to everyone, even if you don't run a d20 game, simply because the setting is soo cool.
White Wolf system(World of Darkness, Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Changeling, Hunter, Promethean, Geist)
Every gamer is likely familiar with the various settings available from White Wolf and have probably played them at one time or another. While I personally am not a fan of the system, of course it has been many, many years since I've played the system, I do remember the books as being excellent reading material and a great source for game ideas. Though I have to admit that the new game Geist has piqued my interest and I may pick up a copy.
Since my good friend, and occasional contributor, Jason James suggested it I am adding Ravenloft to my list. As you can see in the comments below, I own both the 2nd and 3rd editions of this setting, but have never even read the books. Much like the lady who swallowed the fly I don't know why...
If you've played D&D you know what Ravenloft is and you probably know more about it than I do.
Ravenloft 3e Freebies on the White Wolf website
Ok there you have it, my picks for running horror themed games during this Halloween season. While I will probably run Call of Cthulhu and Monte Cook's World of Darkness using the d20 system, I may squeeze in one of these other games if my group is up to it.