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10 Sites to Make Your Halloween Games Better

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. As a child you get to wander about the neighborhood dressed in highly flammable costumes begging for candy and waging cruel prank wars on those terrible people who gave you apples and pretended like toothbrushes were far better than Snickers and M&Ms. Then as you get older you start going to parties where scary movies play in darkened rooms and malicious Dungeon Masters have you fumbling through heavy fog while werewolves stalk you in the night and your significant other keeps asking why you insist on dressing up as a vampire when you’re not playing a World of Darkness game.

Charles Akins of Dyvers Campaign has written one of his wonderful guest articles; this time, he tells you of ten blogs or sites which will make your Halloween-style RPGs even better this year.

When a Halloween game goes right it leaves you on the edge of your seat, exhausted from the perfect ebb and flow of a horror story; but when they go wrong nothing is more disappointing or more likely to keep your group from revisiting the genre. To help inspire your games to greater heights and to enable you to run a better horror themed game I’ve scoured the web searching for the best blogs and websites that will take your games to the next level and keep you from falling into those terrible pitfalls that will ruin your games.

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10. Zombiecowboy’s Game Blog by Zombiecowboy: Since this fantastic blog first appeared in April of 2011 Zombiecowboy has made it his mission to make the games he plays have a more visceral feel by making the bad guys really bad. Zombiecowboy accomplishes this by making sure that the evil he presents isn’t a pale imitation of some idealized evil, but actually the sort of thing that makes you want to burn it to the ground and salt the earth afterwards. His current work on Hommlet and the Temple of Elemental Evil not only gets me excited to read where he’s going but has me thinking about how important it is to make my bad guys more than just evil-in-name-only and for any Halloween game that needs to be more pronounced than ever before.

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9. Two Sentence Horror Stories from Reddit ADULT CONTENT WARNING: Sometimes the hardest part of beginning a horror based one-shot or campaign is coming up with a reason why your players might be involved. Two Sentence Horror Stories is the perfect place to explore when you’re trying to find a fantastic horror hook to bring your players into the game and keep them guessing as to what’s happening next as there’s only enough to get started with, and not enough to bind you to any of the established narratives your players already know. Two Sentence Horror Stories consists of more than 15,000 posts so you’ll find everything from the timid first steps into the genre to skin-crawling nightmares pushed out into the world that will haunt your imagination for years to come.

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8. Age of Ravens by Lowell Francis: Trying to find the perfect horror game for your Halloween one-shot can be a real bear as this hobby continues to expand with seemingly no end in sight. Thankfully Lowell Francis is here. Since beginning his blog in 2009 Lowell has managed to craft one of the best resources for exploring the wide variety and history of this hobby; and his exploration of the horror role-playing game is among his best. This eight part series explores the horror genre beginning with the 1981 classic, Call of Cthulhu, and ending with the 2011 GURPS Horror (Fourth Edition). Along the way Lowell briefly describes each of the 25 role-playing games he’s included in the list and provides links to more detailed reviews. He has collected all of his work for Halloween horror role-playing games - from his History of Horror RPGS, to his Horror Reviews, to his Horror Gaming Ideas - in one spot: Halloween Horror RPG Round Up. If you’ve never explored horror gaming than you would be hard pressed to find a better place to start looking than here.

In addition to Lowell’s work on Horror RPGs it might be of interest to explore his work on the History of Post-Apocalyptic RPGs. The two genres are often mixed in film, literature, and gaming so combining his discussions on these games might help you run your horror games on the edge of space or in some far off post-nuclear future where there is no help and the fear is real. Both series are well worth reading to help find new games to play and to make the ones you’re already playing better.

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7. Beyond the Mountains of Madness by Hal and the Long Tall Texans: There are times when you won’t be able to actually participate in a horror game for the holidays and if you’re in that situation this year than Hal and the fine folks at RPGMP3.com have you covered. This Call of Cthulhu adventure follows the normal ebb and flow of a horror movie with Hal expertly building the tension along the way as his players allow themselves to become fully immersed in the experience. The adventure begins with a light-hearted set up and ends with all the hallmarks of Lovecraft’s tales complete with some fantastic creepiness that lingers long after the game has ended.


Alongside the 14 session Cthulhu adventure RPGMP3.com has made it their mission to explore a wide array of settings and scenarios with the site administrator, Hal, leading the way. Yet what makes this site so enjoyable is the vibrant community within the forums and the varied podcasts that come out of the forums where community members explore more game systems and scenarios than Hal could ever do alone. Just a cursory glance will find podcasts playing Rolemaster, Call of Cthulhu, Dungeons and Dragons (3.5 – 5), and more! They’ve also completed two major campaigns: The Warlords of the Accordlands by the Bradford Adventuring Guild People (which ran a staggering 105 episodes) and The World’s Largest Dungeon by the RPGMP3 Crew (which ran 40 episodes).

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6. 365 Days of Horror ADULT CONTENT WARNING: What makes this blog so fantastic for horror gaming is its focus on images. Unlike most blogs that pour countless words on the screen in an attempt to create just the right feel, this visually intensive blog manages to pull images from across a wide spectrum of entertainment to provide the reader with enough nightmare inducing pictures to make sure that you’ll never sleep again. Which makes it a perfect resource for those moments when words fail you and an imagine will set the right tone in your Halloween games. The archives of this fantastic blog are filled everything you can imagine from movie gifs to contemporary art and it’s well worth exploring when you’re searching for just the right look for your main monster.

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5. The Other Side Blog by Timothy Brannan: Over the last seven years Timothy Brannan has made it his mission to take the witch from a forgettable, throwaway villain into a vibrant part of his campaigns and to make keeping them out of your own a foolish move. As a result he’s written countless blog posts about the subject and two books, Spellcraft & Swordplay: Eldritch Witchery and The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games, that will help bring the witch into your home games in a big way. Now it would easy to focus exclusively on his herculean efforts with the witch, but in doing so you would be making a mistake to ignore his exploration of the horror genre through movies, books, and games where he has delved into what makes the horror genre work and what makes it fail.

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4. Cthulhu Reborn by Deadadelaide: Over the last thirty years Call of Cthulhu has steadily built up a massive following of incredibly creative and energetic gamers who have produced a ridiculous amount of content for the game. A lot of what has been released online by its enthusiasts, while very good, is in boring, flat text files with little in the way of visually appealing handouts to give the players. That’s where this excellent blog comes into play. The author has created a home where these old documents can be redone in a professional manner – and has released them all using the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license! Inside the archive of this blog you’ll find a steadily expanding array of scenarios, handouts, character sheets and more! Well worth exploring for any Call of Cthulhu fan and for anyone looking for inspiration for their next horror game.

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3. The Fraternity of Shadows by Various Authors: Since Wizards of the Coast’s Chris Perkins announced that more Ravenloft stuff was on the way back in April I’ve been exploring the Fraternity of Shadows. This longtime home of Ravenloft on the internet has steadily been helping to define the setting that many Dungeons and Dragons fans associate most with the horror genre. Its Library is filled with a fantastic array content that so many of us have wished Wizards of the Coast had been producing over the majority of the last decade; ranging from a 4th Edition Rules Update to adventures and so much more. And the Vault is a Dungeon Master’s gold mine where everything from Campaign Ideas to explorations of the Domains of Raveloft can be found to help your games take on that Ravenloft feel and really make your games something to remember.

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2. Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque by Jack Shear: There are few blogs out there who are more capable of reengineering and creating new content for the Ravenloft setting as Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque. Jack has steadily crafted a version of Ravenloft in his own image that goes beyond the pale imitation of Universal Monster movies from the 1930s that the original game so often became. Instead of simply aping the original books he has pushed the setting in ways that have reinvigorated it and made it something that everyone should experience - not just on Halloween but in a sustained campaign where your players can grow to love the setting as more than just a once a year themed game – without belaboring his descriptions of the various Realms of Dread in ways that limits your ability to be as creative as you need to be as a Dungeon Master.

Unfortunately Jack doesn’t have an easy to explore index. So I’ve gone ahead and made one for you focusing on the best from this long running series. Of special interest for many longtime Ravenloft fans will be his reinterpretations of the Realms of Dread as he uses real world societies and environments to help ground his Ravenloft and give them a sense of versimiltude without sacrificing the gothic feel.

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Realms of Dread



Religion in Ravenloft



Remixing Ravenloft



Reviews



Tales for Inspiration



If you enjoy any of the Ravenloft Remixed series I highly encourage to check out his Lulu storefront and to pick up his free pdfs: Adventures on Gothic Earth; Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque Part 1, A Gothic Fantasy Compendium for Old-School Fantasy Role-playing Games; Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque Part 2, Expert Grotesques and Dungeonesques; Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque Part 3, The Final Chapter. While they focus on older, Dungeons and Dragons styled games the ideas he puts forth can be brought into most any edition (especially Fifth Edition) and can bring about a really exciting change to your regular games.

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1. Yog-Sothoth by Various Authors: Like RPGMP3.com before it Yog-Sothoth is home to a long running series of podcasts that feature fantastic horror scenarios (with an expansive archive available exclusively to patrons) to help get you through this Halloween and to help keep the spirt alive throughout the year; however, Yog-Sothoth offers so much more for the horror enthusiast than its more varied counterpart. This fantastic website features over a hundred scenarios for play, even more guides and utilities to help make your adventures better by helping you achieve a sense of verisimilitude, images, and so much more. There is so much content available for the casual reader (and exponentially more for patrons) that it’s hard to imagine any fan of horror gaming not finding this site as a must have resource that will take your games to the next level.
 
Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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