13 off-beat horror roleplaying games

These are 13 of several games recommended to us by Google Plus users this year and last, when we asked for oneshot recommendations for Halloween horror roleplaying. Not listed in any particular order. Enjoy!

(Miss your favorite? Let us know what, why and where in comments!)

  1. Dead of Night
    A rules light and fun horror movie genre emulation RPG. Easy to get started, the prep is just a couple of minutes and then you are up and running.

    Publisher says: Dead of Night is the roleplaying game of campfire tales, slasher movies and b-movie horror. It is a game of screaming victims, unstoppable killers and slavering monsters, where the horror movie clichés flow thicker than blood and the only victory is survival.

  2. Okult

    Okult. Photo from game interior by Wilhelm Person.

    When the characters return to Hometown they realize that they have repressed the memories of something. And that something has again cast its dark shadow over the town.

    Publisher says: Okult is a rules light GM-less horror storygame, best suited for three to four players. The players take the roles of people who are a little bit like themselves, returning to a town a little like the place where they themselves grew up.

  3. Ten Candles
    Publisher says: A storytelling game of tragic horror designed for one-shot sessions. It is played by the light of ten tea light candles which provide atmosphere, act as a countdown timer for the game, and allow you to literally burn your character sheet away as you play. Ten Candles is described as a «tragic horror» game rather than survival horror for one main reason: in Ten Candles there are no survivors.

  4. Cthulhu Dark


    Ten Candles, photo from webpage.

    Highly narrative, simple rules, elegant execution. Allows you to tell stories where your descending sanity is the focus. You always succeed, but there are degrees of success. Simple combat system: If you fight something, you die.

    Publisher says: Cthulhu Dark is a rules-light system for Lovecraft roleplaying. The rules are fun and incredibly minimal: they fit on one sheet of paper. You don’t need a character sheet to play, so you can start playing after two minutes of prep.

  5. Fright Night 

    Publisher says: Fright Night is a lightweight, easy to learn and quick to play tabletop role-playing game intended to evoke the feel of b-movies, slasher flicks, horror films, and even dark comedies. The players take on the role of typical, everyday people that somehow cross paths with a variety of malevolent entities that they must either defeat, escape from, or contain.

    Or, die trying.

  6. Train, Hell, M1944


    Train, Hell M1944. Screenshot from game.

    Publisher says: This is a macabre scenario. It deals with themes of powerlessness, abuse and body horror. There is nothing fantastic in it. Its content is not pleasant and the outcome will, most likely, be unpleasant as well. Either that is your thing or it really isn’t.


    The men who fought and nearly died for their country in what’s come to be known as the Second World War are bound for William C. Borden General Hospital in Chickasha, Oklahoma, a grim warehouse for soldiers who don’t fit the heroic narrative. (Log in to download)

  7. Dread
    dread-rpg-coverDread is an excellent system for horror oneshots. Conflict resolution is handled by pulling bricks from a Jenga tower, making every skill check hair-raising.

    Publisher says: Dread is a game of horror and hope. Those who play will participate in a mutual telling of an original macabre tale. The goal of Dread is to sustain the delicate atmosphere that invokes the hand quivering emotion that lends its name to the game. The thrill of a Dread game lies within the tension between desire and loss. You will take on the role of someone trapped in a story that is only as compelling as it is hostile—someone who will find themselves making decisions we hope never to face in real life.

  8. ViewScream
    viewscreamPublisher says: ViewScream is a live-action game designed for play with video-chat software like Skype or Google Hangouts.

    Three to five players assume the roles of desperate people trapped in a world of high-tech horror. (…) . The characters are separated (…) — and they need to work as a team in order to survive.

    Players never refer to their characters in the third person; they remain in character the whole time. A typical game session lasts 60-90 minutes.

  9. The Black Pram
    Freeform, free download. Publisher says: Lars and Helene are fighting for their baby’s life. Every night a dark figure with a black pram waits outside their house. It waits for them to finally come out and give him what he wants. It waits for them to give up.

    If you like movies such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Sixth Sense, this is the game for you. Keywords are mood-driven, intense, creepy and player-centered.

  10. Old Friends
    ofPublisher says: Old Friends is a freeform live-action ghost story designed for 4-6 players, with no GM. Playtime 3-4 hours.

    Back in the ‘90’s you hunted ghosts together. You used an ancient technique that reliably bridged two worlds, and you put a lot of souls to rest. Like any team you were a mess of individual flaws, contradictions and rivalry, but it worked.

    It worked until Sara died.

  11. Geiger Counter
    Publisher says: Geiger Counter is a single-session GMless survival horror RPG in which most of the core characters end up dead at the hands of a deadly menace. (free downloads of beta and alternate versions at publisher homepage).
  12. Tricks and Treats
    Publisher says: Tricks and Treats is a simple role-playing story game, designed to be played by kids and adults. It’s about a group of trick-or-treaters that face monsters which are themselves based on the kids’ fears and personalities. And the primary resolution mechanic uses candy.

  13. Zombie Cinema
    Publisher says: Zombie Cinema is a boardgame for 3-6 players, age 12+. One game takes 2-3 hours, all told. Learning the game takes ten minutes. The game is a cooperative storytelling exercise wherein the players create a story very much like a zombie movie. As my personal experience has it, about half of the time you’ll get something that is significantly better than any zombie movie I’ve actually seen.

Thanks: Wilhelm Persson, Mikael Tysvær, Anonymous, As If, the Indie+ discussion community, Rollespill.info (Elias Helfer, Peter Brichs).

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