Horror is a fascinating genre. From books to movies, people have always delved into that which has scared or unnerved them. It should come as no surprise, then, that so many people have sought out role playing games that do the same thing.
The horror genre has been a huge part of the role playing community since near the beginning, with several different games providing players with their weekly doses of terror. Below are a handful of the most important games in the genre, each of which has provided players with a new way to experience terror through the safety of a game.
No rule books or player manuals were harmed in the creation of this blog post. We swear, Angie, it wasn’t us! Seriously, if you’re into fun and pop-culture infused horror or the more sinister variety, we’re sure to have a game you can call your own. Sit back and take a stroll down the virtual video game aisle.
- All Flesh Must Be Eaten
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer Roleplaying Game
- Call of Cthulhu (role-playing game)
- Witch Hunter: The Invisible World
- Monsters and Other Childish Things
- GURPS Horror
- More Horror Tabletop RPG?
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
This game is, in many ways, the father all of zombie roleplaying games. It might not have been the first to introduce the ideas of zombies to horror gaming, but it was the first to put them front and center. All Flesh Must Be Eaten threw players into a world where the living dead were the main adversary, but where humans could be just as deadly. The game’s campaigns were often a matter of survival, eschewing the grand goals of most tabletop games for something a bit more mundane. It was one of the earliest, best ways to really get into the zombie apocalypse.
All Flesh Must Be Eaten is also notable for providing a huge number of supplements to help players take zombies in new directions. The core of the game concerned Deadworlds, which all had their unique takes on zombies and on how player characters would deal with them. With the help of supplements, players could create cyberpunk zombies, space zombies, Old West zombies, and many more. The game provided just enough to guide players while letting most of the work be done by player imagination. It was a fantastic system for those who really wanted to get into the walking dead.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Roleplaying Game
In retrospect, it seems natural that one of the landmark horror series of the past twenty years should have its own roleplaying game. Published in 2002 by Eden Games, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Roleplaying Game allowed players to live out their own experiences in the Buffy universe.
The game was relatively short-lived, encompassing only six books and ending with the loss of the license in 2005. Even with this said, the game provided very detailed mechanics for dealing with the horrors available in the Buffy universe.
It’s one of the few horror-based RPGs that puts a great deal of power in the hands of players, even if they aren’t supernaturally gifted.
Call of Cthulhu (role-playing game)
When it comes to true cosmic horror, you can’t go wrong with the original. Call of Cthulhu is probably the best-known horror roleplaying game, and with good reason. After decades of publication and several revisions, it remains the byword in the genre. The game itself features a percentile-based dice system and a unique setting, one in which players are cast in the role of entirely mundane people who must deal with the horrors of a Lovecraftian universe. It’s an incredibly entertaining setting, albeit one that is almost punishingly dark.
One of the best known parts of Call of Cthulhu is the Sanity stat. Given the nature of Lovecraft’s universe, it’s almost impossible for a regular person to deal with the ramifications of what goes on in a game play setting while keeping their sanity. As such, player characters must keep track of just how mad they are going while dealing with a given play session. It’s entirely possible for a character to go completely mad and end their first session in an asylum – and this is often considered to be the good outcome for a game. This is a game where it’s not just assumed that most characters won’t survive, but where the lucky characters are those who make it away with a sliver of their sanity intact.
Witch Hunter: The Invisible World
Most of the horror games that have made a huge mark on the genre take place in a version of the modern world. Witch Hunter: The Invisible World takes things back to the past, when the horrors we now consider to be nothing more than fables seemed a little more real.
It casts players in the role of Witch Hunters, men and women who decided to leave behind their regular lives and take up the sword against the forces of evil. The game took place in an alternate seventeenth century, one where all the horrors of the past were terribly tangible.
One of the best parts of the game was the setting. If you’re a student of history, you can probably recognize that a great deal of the points of divergent have nothing to do with horror. The Aztec Empire still stands, and the Dutch still own New Amsterdam. Women are in key positions of power not because of anything magical, but because of a much more deadly Black Plague.
Heroes get to play around in a vastly different historical sandbox while still facing off against horrifying evils. This is one of the few games in the genre in which the enemy is explicitly Satanic in nature.
Monsters and Other Childish Things
Most horror games put players in the role of someone with at least some kind of power. Even if they aren’t able to go toe-to-toe with the cosmic horrors of the setting, players can at least rest easily knowing that their characters can deal with mundane life. This isn’t hte case in Monsters and Other Childish Things, though – players are taken down to the basics. Instead of playing competent adults, players are cast in the role of children. Their challenges are the challenges of childhood, problems and quests that are made far more problematic by the presence of the monsters in the setting.
The other major change from the standard horror setting is the monsters. Usually, monsters are foes to be overcome – usually in a fairly bloody manner. In this game, though, monsters are capricious allies. Monsters are bonded to children and they love them dearly. Unfortunately, though, the monsters don’t always listen to their companions. This means that a great deal of the conflict in the game can be self-inflicted, especially when you combine the directives of a child with the mind of a monster. It’s a really great experience for those who want to role play something that is truly different.
Ravenloft was the first experience for many players when it came to horror role playing. It is one of the most venerable settings in Dungeons and Dragons, one that has faded in and out of prominence during the game’s publishing history. Ravenloft eschews most of the usual D&D tropes for something rooted a bit more in gothic horror, placing players in the realms of various evil lords and having them deal with worlds that can often seem straight out of a Universal horror film. It’s one of the most unique takes on D&D and a testament to how the system can be adapted to fit almost any genre.
In Ravenloft, players adventure through the various domains that compromise the Demiplane of Dread. In this plane, each domain is ruled over by a nearly all-powerful Darklord who shapes the domain to his whim. This is perhaps the first D&D setting where a player’s morality was more than just flavor. If a player committed dark or evil actions, he or she risked falling under the sway of the Dark Powers who ruled over the setting. In time, even the most noble of players could find himself or herself transformed into a figure of villainy. It was one of the most striking adaptations of the Dungeons and Dragons universe ever published.
There’s probably a rule in the role playing universe that states that if an idea exists, it’s been adapted to GURPS. Given the fact that there are so many other horror role playing games out there, it should come as no surprise that there is also a GURPS Horror setting.
GURPS Horror is less a setting and more a collection of rules for putting together horror games. It includes rules for how to frighten characters, how to create monsters, and how to make characters that make sense in a horror setting.
The second edition of the game helped to flesh out the potential worlds a bit and provided information for those who wanted to play in different historical periods.
More Horror Tabletop RPG?
There are horror games out there for anyone who really wants to experience a bit of terror at the tabletop. Whether you are looking to take out the legions of undead or to put your wits to the test against cosmic horrors, these games will provide you with what you need.
Tabletop games are particularly well-suited to horror because they take place in the imagination. If these games prove anything, it’s the fact that your mind is better at coming up with horrors than anything that could ever be put on the screen. Level up by checking out ourgaming forum for more gamer goodness.
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Clear Sky, Shadow of Chernobyl, or Call of Pripyat, no matter which game you play among these three, you'll surely have a unique experience. The Stalker games have successfully interwoven survival, RPG, FPS, and horror elements into one game (albeit a buggy one).
Dread uses a very simple system. When you try to take a challenging action pull one or more blocks from the tower (a stack of blocks, such as Jenga or the like), as dictated by the GM. If you pull and succeed you succeed in your action.What makes a good RPG horror game? ›
The best horror RPGs are the ones that set out to imbue their players with the feeling of terror - whether that's terror over what's happening to their character or what their character is doing to other people.What is a one page RPG? ›
Not so with one-page RPGs. Here, rules and worlds fit a single piece of paper, and stories can begin and end in an evening. Free of the large teams and fat wallets needed to publish most rulebooks, one-page RPGs can be truly indie, exploring ideas and mechanics untried elsewhere.Is Mad father free? ›
Mad Father is a freeware horror adventure game by Sen (Miscreant's Room) made in WOLF RPG Editor.Is dread a Ttrpg? ›
An indie roleplaying game released way back in 2005, Dread was designed by Epidiah Ravachol and was something a little out of the ordinary when it came to TRPGs. Whereas RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons 5E have specific worlds for players to explore, Dread doesn't have an official setting.What is the dread game? ›
Dread is a 4 player online co-op survival horror game. Explore haunted environments ranging from abandoned manors, the underground catacombs below Paris, abandoned schools and more in realistic detail. Trust No One: Sometimes death isn't the end. Play together in VR or standard game-play.How do you crawl your dreads on Roblox? ›
Use WASD to move, and move to the green area. Press Space to jump over the obstacle in your way. Hold Shift to run and jump while running to get over the gap. Hold Control to crouch under the vent, and press Z to prone under the vent bars and drop down.What is mermaid swamp about? ›
Mermaid Swamp is a freeware horror adventure game by Uri made in WOLF RPG Editor. Rin Yamazaki and her college friends have their car break down in the mountains on a trip. Fortunately, a kindly old man offers to let them stay at his house.Is blank dream free? ›
Blank Dream is a freeware horror-exploration game by Kanawo (Teriyaki Tomato) made in RPG Maker VX Ace.
Pocket Mirror, originally released in 2016, is a mystery horror RPG that follows the main character in search of her true identity in a bizarre and wondrous world.Which tabletop RPG should I play? ›
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- Alien: The Roleplaying Game. ...
- Masks: A New Generation. ...
- Feng Shui 2. ...
- Bubblegumshoe. ...
- Star Trek Adventures.
Cthulhu Dark is a tabletop roleplaying game of cosmic horror, in the style of H.P. Lovecraft. It's about the things we fear, amplified until they are unbearable. It's about stories that genuinely creep you out, not well-worn tropes and creatures you've seen hundreds of times before.How do you play Honey heist? ›
Learn How to Play Honey Heist in 7 mins | Gamemaster Guide Roll20Is OMORI inspired by Yume Nikki? ›
OMORI is heavily inspired by the Mother series, specifically EarthBound and Mother 3, as well as Yume Nikki, another independent horror RPGMaker game.What games are like Sally face? ›
Sally FaceHow long does it take to beat OMORI? ›
How Long to Beat Omori. A player that put their primary focus on reaching the end of Omori can expect to complete their first playthrough in around 20 hours. That said, this length can be extended considerably by engaging with the aforementioned optional content, which primarily takes the form of side quests.Is Fran bow a horror game? ›
Fran Bow is a point-and-click puzzle/horror/adventure game created and developed by Killmonday Games.Did Aya become like her father? ›
In another room, Maria muses that Aya has become just like her father and that the tendencies run in the family, heavily implying that Aya has followed in her father's footsteps. In an extra scene at the end of the game, you can play through an ending called "if" where the player can play as Robin.Is Yume Nikki free? ›
Yume Nikki (ゆめにっき, pronounced /ju me nikki/) is a 32-Bit freeware game created by KIKIYAMA, a mysterious Japanese game designer.
Cthulhu Dark is a tabletop roleplaying game of cosmic horror, in the style of H.P. Lovecraft. It's about the things we fear, amplified until they are unbearable. It's about stories that genuinely creep you out, not well-worn tropes and creatures you've seen hundreds of times before.Is blank dream free? ›
Blank Dream is a freeware horror-exploration game by Kanawo (Teriyaki Tomato) made in RPG Maker VX Ace.Is Yume Nikki free? ›
Yume Nikki (ゆめにっき, pronounced /ju me nikki/) is a 32-Bit freeware game created by KIKIYAMA, a mysterious Japanese game designer.What is mermaid swamp about? ›
Mermaid Swamp is a freeware horror adventure game by Uri made in WOLF RPG Editor. Rin Yamazaki and her college friends have their car break down in the mountains on a trip. Fortunately, a kindly old man offers to let them stay at his house.Does blank dream have Jumpscares? ›
It's easy to imagine how a game creator could screw this up badly, because Blank Dream also contains the kinds of jumpscares and chase sequences involving spirits and monsters that could cheapen the experience (a problem that the otherwise good RPG Maker horror game Misao suffers from.)Is blank dream scary? ›
Blank Dreams is at times a deeply creepy game, and while it's got its fair share of well executed jump scares, the uneasiness more comes from its dark and unsettling atmosphere.How long is blank dream? ›
|Main Story||2||2h 17m|
|All PlayStyles||4||2h 39m|
OMORI is heavily inspired by the Mother series, specifically EarthBound and Mother 3, as well as Yume Nikki, another independent horror RPGMaker game.Are there Jumpscares in Yume Nikki? ›
Yume Nikki (Kikiyama)
There aren't any jump scares, and the whole thing's been rendered in RPG Maker, so while there's certainly some gore, there's not loads of gore. Instead, all there is are your character's rather mundane life in a single-room apartment, and her wild, unnerving dreams.
Fran Bow is a point-and-click puzzle/horror/adventure game created and developed by Killmonday Games.
Multiple Endings: Three bad endings and a good one. Yaobikuni: Yuka, Yuuta, and Seitaro die.How long is mermaid swamp? ›
|Main Story||5||3h 30m|
|Main + Extras||3||3h 54m|
|All PlayStyles||11||3h 44m|
Pocket Mirror, originally released in 2016, is a mystery horror RPG that follows the main character in search of her true identity in a bizarre and wondrous world.