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Horror Campaign Ideas: Pitch them Here!

MGibster

Legend
I'm toying with the idea of running a Call of Cthulhu campaign and I'm kicking around a premise. The investigators are cultist (though they likely won't see themselves as cultist), and they are tasked by their, well, let's just say benefactor, with thwarting the machinations of other mythos forces. Now that I think about it, this sounds more like Charlie's Angels + Call of Cthulhu. Their benefactor is the Great Race of Yith, who are manipulating the investigators into performing tasks for the benefit of their glorious race.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the Great Race, they're a bunch of weirdos who abandoned their bodies millions of years ago to inhabit the bodies of creatures on Earth in the distant past, ended up getting into a war with the flying polyps, and then projected their minds millions of years into the future after the extinction of humanity where they inhabit the bodies of giant beetles. The Great Race is manipulating the investigators to ensure events come to pass that will allow them to enjoy their Beetlemania millions of years in the future.

But here's the gimmick, if/when the PCs fail one of their missions, the Great Race can give them another crack at it. The Great Race presses the reset button, the minds of the investigators are transferred to their own bodies from right before the mission starts,and they being again but this time they have all the knowledge they gained from their failed attempt. This might lead to some sanity blasting fun where the investigator distinctly remembers some eldritch horror belching spittle all over him which dissolved him into a goo but now he's alive and well and about to face it again.
 

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Lackofname

Explorer
Oh wow I love this. It's like... Groundhog Day, Cthulu Edition. (There's also a horror movie called To Your Last Death which is not dissimilar; cosmic deities placing bets on the outcome of a Saw-like event, and the game master resetting the situation when the outcome starts turning predictable and boring.)

Anyhow, when you say "pitch ideas", what are you looking for? Investigations for your group, or just folks sharing other Horror Game ideas?
 



MGibster

Legend
Oh wow I love this. It's like... Groundhog Day, Cthulu Edition. (There's also a horror movie called To Your Last Death which is not dissimilar; cosmic deities placing bets on the outcome of a Saw-like event, and the game master resetting the situation when the outcome starts turning predictable and boring.)

Anyhow, when you say "pitch ideas", what are you looking for? Investigations for your group, or just folks sharing other Horror Game ideas?

Well thank you! And when I say pitch ideas I mean pitch any horror idea you have. Not necessarily for me but for everyone to enjoy.
 

Nytmare

David Jose
I ran Groundhog Day/Murder Mystery one shot a million years ago, and part of the gimmick was that my rolls operated off of a set, scripted, round by round table, and they had a pool of rolls that they could pick and choose from.
 

Lackofname

Explorer
I actually just started running a D&D horror game. The premise is modeled somewhat off the video game Half Life, where a research complex messes with Weird Science things and winds up causing a rift with an alien dimension. In this campaign, a magical research facility has been sucked into the Far Realms. The PCs wake up in the bowels of this complex, no memories but obvious signs they were being experimented on, and have to get home as well as solve the mystery of who they are or what was being done to them.

The general tone swings between two types of horror--body horror, with lots of freaky aberrations that do disturbing things, and metaphysical psychological horror, of living nightmares projected into the mind, psyches torn out and given quasi-life as though they were psychic ghosts, etc. Add in the occasional spatial weirdness (M. C. Escher, a time loop like turning a corner again and again and again...) and other misc things.

I'm taking a lot of inspiration from Dead Space and Silent Hill, a healthy seasoning of Lovecraft, and garnished with a little Hellraiser.
 
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MGibster

Legend
I'm taking a lot of inspiration from Dead Space and Silent Hill, a healthy seasoning of Lovecraft, and garnished with a little Hellraiser.
You really can't go wrong with taking inspiration from Dead Space. Creepy aliens? Check. Creepy cult? Check. The first two games are among the best examples of survival horror games I've ever seen. It's a damned shame about the third game. I skipped it because of the multi-player and microtransactions and I doubt we'll ever get a new one.
 

I am doing a series of one shots based on Yuan Mei's supernatural accounts. First one is basically a haunted Teahouse adventure involving a massive head ghost. The second one involves the party solving a rash of recent suicides in a city caused by a supernatural force
 

!DWolf

Explorer
A couple of years ago I ran a very successful one shot in Eclipse Phase in which a Jovian marine team was to investigate a distress signal from one of their old bases. You know, standard Eclipse Phase horror. I livened it up though by giving each player an envelope with a letter on it that had a secret objective and partial information about 2 or more other letters (and I designed things so that at least two envelopes had information pointing to each letter). And at a certain times I had additional envelopes to hand out to different letters. The thing was all but two letters “won” by killing/subverting everyone else. So the horror came not from the monster (standard psychic alien horror trapped in ice) or the inhabitants (driven mad by the alien) but the players motivations and interactions. It worked fantastically.

This year I was going to do a horror one-shot for Halloween but since it falls on our normal game day, I asked my players if they wanted to do that or run the regular game (pathfinder)... and I was told that they could think of no game more horrifying than my normal game. So we are doing that.
The one-shot I had partially planned though, was for pathfinder 2e and had the characters (pregens with randomly assigned dark secrets that linked to other characters) traveling through the wilderness one winter. They would see ominous signs and then a blizzard rolling in but luckily there was this old hunting lodge they could shelter in. They would have a couple hours to explore the lodge and settle in then the storm would hit and there would be a monster trying to get in. But the lodge would also be haunted with ghosts each having their own agendas and a tendency to possess people (I would have handed out numbered possession cards that gave different goals and relationships with the other characters and ghosts/numbered cards). The possessions layer with the dark secrets to make very complex motivations and play. And of course the characters would had to survive the monster and the storm as well.
 

MarkB

Legend
This is one I posted recently in another thread, but it seems appropriate here.

Mordenkainen's Vampiric Mansion
Through an odd set of circumstances, an unfortunate wizard-turned-prospective-vampire-spawn was once buried within an interior garden feature inside his own Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion. The mystical connection between a vampire and their place of burial played havoc with the normal spell-duration restrictions of the Mansion, and when the spell ended the Mansion and its newly-vampiric occupant were cast adrift in the Astral Sea, bound together and doomed to slow decay.

The vampire, himself a formidable wizard in life, began to devise specialised ways for his abode to leech power from other extradimensional spaces, and for himself to feed. It started small - sometimes when a person reached into their Bag of Holding they would find their arm grasped in powerful hands as fangs fastened to their wrist. When their drained corpse was found, its hand would still be thrust into what was now a perfectly ordinary and otherwise-empty sack.

Now, after hundreds of years, he's perfected his craft, and when a group of weary adventurers retreat to the safety of their lavishly-appointed mansion, they may find that it has more and different rooms than they remember, as the Vampiric Mansion has locked onto it parasitically.

I imagine this as the ultimate high-level haunted house adventure. A party already weakened from a day's activities finds themselves locked inside their own mansion, its dimensions warping in unexpected ways under external control as a smart and deadly killer stalks its halls. To win free they'll have to fight their way from their own mansion into the heart of the vampiric mansion that's become bound to it, all the while fighting the architecture itself, as the vampire has become inextricably bound up to the house itself, becoming almost more a living location than an individual creature. A major aspect of the adventure would be a battle of wills between the party's spellcaster and the vampire, as each of them attempt to exert control over the shape of the mansion.
 

Bohandas

Adventurer
*Call of Cthulhu game where it turns out that the murder cult wasn't trying to wake the monster up, they were the only thing keeping it asleep (a la Cabin In The Woods and Rings of Akhaten

*The PCs are a GWAR-esque group of demons fighting in the Blood War

*The zombie virus is is a seasonal disease like the flu, and the PCs are among the mercs hired to help deal with it

*An evil wizard or a mad scientist is using moon rocks to control an army of werewolves

*Modern Call of Cthulhu game wherein it turns out that Mark Zuckerberg owes his success to rituals from the Necronomicon, and that it is in honor of the Necronomicon that he named his website Facebook

*game set in modern times involving American vampires and Egyptian mummies. The vampires are unaffected by sunlight, but it is not until the encounter with the mummies that the PCs find out the reason why, which is that America's daytime is in the "12 Hours of Night" during which the sun god Ra is in the underworld and thus unable to exercise power
 
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MGibster

Legend
*Call of Cthulhu game where it turns out that the murder cult wasn't trying to wake the monster up, they were the only thing keeping it asleep (a la Cabin In The Woods and Rings of Akhaten

That's a fun little twist I don't see very often.

*The zombie virus is is a seasonal disease like the flu, and the PCs are among the mercs hired to help deal with it

The Newsflesh series of books by Mia Grant deals with the zombie apocalypse after it happens. Zombies are just another every day part of life people have to deal with now. I like the little touches she adds to show how things change. Like nurse's stations in hospitals all being fortified and having shotguns behind glass just in case of an outbreak.

*Modern Call of Cthulhu game wherein it turns out that Mark Zuckerberg owes his success to rituals from the Necronomicon, and that it is in honor of the Necronomicon that he named his website Facebook

Zoink! I'm stealing this idea but I'm going to adapt it and make enough changes to pretend like I came up with it on my own. I'm thinking of the mi-go co-opting social media for their own nefarious experiments.
 

Bohandas

Adventurer
*A typical day in the Abyss

*A teleportation experiment opens a portal to hell

*Eye In The Pyramid: The PCs must deal with a vast conspiracy masterminded by a beholder mummy. The final dungeon is a pyramid that is bigger on the inside than on the outside (or which, more technically, extends into the ethereal plane in addition to its normal rooms)

*The World Series of Murder: A certain town or city recieves notice that they have been unwillingly chosen to "host" a demonic competition. Demons from the Abyss are going to come there to see which one of them can kill the most people. The demons gave the town advance notice because the town having defenses in place makes things "more interesting". They can't evacuate because reasons. The PCs are either among several groups of mercenaries hired to shore up the town's defenses or (if the DM decides that the "reasons" above involve the city being completely cut off from the outside world) they are townsfolk. The demons use a variety of tactics from open rampaging to skulking murder from the shadows to possession to poisoning. There are rules, enumerated in the notice/threat, that the demons are theoretically supposed to follow but none of them do except when the nalfeshnee judge/referee (who also murders people, but not necessarily as part of the contest) may be watching, and even then only half the time as the judge is both apathetic to the rules and openly corrupt. The contest ends when the referee gets bored (a couple weeks in) or all the demons are killed or driven off or everyone in the town is dead.
 

I used this plot for a Call of Cthulhu campaign once:

The players are a group of paranormal investigators, tasked with either finding a missing seismologist (who was investigating unexplained earthquakes at Evans City), or investigating the strange events at a school in Evans City: Kids have been experiencing head aches and nose bleeds, along with halucinations. Toxic gas and other normal explanations have already been ruled out, so the players are brought in to find the cause. I adapted the hook of the adventure to the characters that the players chose to play.

On the way to the city, their car hits the top of a hidden concrete tunnel as they drive through a deep puddle, and it breaks down. As the players continue their investigation, it becomes clear that far more serious things are afoot than what they were brought in to investigate. The city is displaced in time, and with each day the city is further ahead in time than the world around it. This is resulting in earth quakes that are becoming more severe with each day. Players can receive phonecalls from the future, and witness visions of future events (which initially seem like hauntings). An evil cult has been using a strange machine of alien origin, to grant them wishes, but the object is slowly pulling another reality into ours. As doomsday draws near, creatures from beyond time and space become aware of nearby lifeforms and start attacking. Eventually they find the missing seismologist murdered by the cult, and they find a large underground chamber underneath the school (part of the network of underground tunnels that they hit on the way into town), where the cult practices their dark rituals.

To avert a world ending disaster, the players must shut down the alien machine and stop the cult.
 
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Bohandas

Adventurer
*The villain frames the PCs for murder. In my experience this is usually the most frightening part of the horror movie (ie. Final Destination, Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, etc. (edit: ...Nightmare on Elm Street, The Blob, Little Nicky...)(edit: ...Yoga Hosers, Attack of the Killer Donuts...)

*Whatever monster the PCs are hired to fight is already in the village and picks off more and more minor named NPCs every day that they don't find it.[/i]
 
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Bohandas

Adventurer
The players visit R'lyeh, which is modeled on a hyperbolic grid

You may need to learn crochet to obtain an acceptable surface on which to draw the map


Hyperbolic crochet

EDIT:
The horizon is far too close, the city is much larger on the inside than on the outside, everything appears distorted like in a fisheye lens, and the buildings are shaped like inverted pyramids, wider on the top than on the bottom

 
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Lackofname

Explorer
This can be as horror as you like it, but I think it would at least have an interesting vibe:

The Chosen One has died. Just as the Evil Thing Army is on the outskirts of the kingdom and getting closer, the Chosen One was murdered by an Evil Thing assassin. The killer used a magical poison that prevents the body from being raised, and made sure the Chosen One's soul moved on its journey to the afterlife. Without the CO, the kingdom is doomed.

That's where the PCs come in. They are the trusted inner circle to the Chosen One and generals in the army. They must mount up a great quest, to go into the lands of the dead to retrieve the soul. If they can bring it back, the it can be reunited with the body and properly resurrected.
 

Bohandas

Adventurer
*Nightmare dungeon where the layout continually shifts. Backtracking more than a certain distance does not take you back to the room that was there before. Therefore there is no safe place to rest and no exit (unless the entrence/exit should happen to pop up again randomly). As a nightmare, the dungeon is filled with incongrous things according to dream logic. The PCs may characters may also occasionally inexplicably lose or forget things.

*The Evil Double: High level game. A supernumerary corpse of one of the PCs left behind by a True Resurrection spell has animated as a templated undead.

*The PCs are thralls of the mindflayers who get a shot at freedom when a planar rip floods the mindflayer city with demons (and/or possibly the undead)

*Call of Cthulhu campaign- All hell breaks loose when Miskatonic University puts free PDFs of its entire rare book collection on the internet. (see also: Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick, The Ring 3: Rings, and Scary Movie 3.5)
 

Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
I used this plot for a Call of Cthulhu campaign once:

The players are a group of paranormal investigators, tasked with either finding a missing seismologist (who was investigating unexplained earthquakes at Evans City), or investigating the strange events at a school in Evans City: Kids have been experiencing head aches and nose bleeds, along with hallucinations. Toxic gas and other normal explanations have already been ruled out, so the players are brought in to find the cause. I adapted the hook of the adventure to the characters that the players chose to play.

On the way to the city, their car hits the top of a hidden concrete tunnel as they drive through a deep puddle, and it breaks down. As the players continue their investigation, it becomes clear that far more serious things are afoot than what they were brought in to investigate. The city is displaced in time, and with each day the city is further ahead in time than the world around it. This is resulting in earth quakes that are becoming more severe with each day. Players can receive phonecalls from the future, and witness visions of future events (which initially seem like hauntings). An evil cult has been using a strange machine of alien origin, to grant them wishes, but the object is slowly pulling another reality into ours. As doomsday draws near, creatures from beyond time and space become aware of nearby lifeforms and start attacking. Eventually they find the missing seismologist murdered by the cult, and they find a large underground chamber underneath the school (part of the network of underground tunnels that they hit on the way into town), where the cult practices their dark rituals.

To avert a world ending disaster, the players must shut down the alien machine and stop the cult.

How do you suggest setting up future events as clues?
 

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