Content Warning: This post contains discussions of death, supernatural beings, violent creatures, and acts of horror. If you prefer to not read about stories that contain horror elements we recommend you stop reading past this point. Have a happy and safe Halloween and check out our more family-friendly options if you are still looking for something fun to do! 🎃
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It’s officially Halloween 2021 and we can’t wait to celebrate with tricks and treats, but tonight will be the true horror… Some of the Variants will be diving back into Barovia as we begin another journey into the Curse of Strahd! Dun dun DUN!!! Though we will be celebrating Halloween in many ways today, the time for spooks and tricks isn’t exclusive to the month of October when it comes to TTRPG’s.
Since many homebrewed games have seasons that vary on location and events happening in-game, this gives DM’s and GM’s the perfect opportunity to brew up some spooktacular content to immerse the players in any time of the year. If you are looking for some bardic inspiration, look no further than this post. Here are some great ways to celebrate “Halloween” in your ttrpg!
Related: 13 Games for Halloween
1.) Haunted House / Abandoned Castle
This may seem like an obvious choice, but you would be surprised how many times you can trick your party by treating them to a “haunted mansion” session. Some of my favorite ways to convince players to come into the abode of choice is via invitation from a prominent figure whom they are looking to gain favor from, as a service for saving a villager’s life, and a personal favorite, the suddenly appears and won’t go away if you ignore it tower or stronghold. Many players LOVE these kinds of surprises, especially if they don’t catch on to what’s happening until it’s too late.
2.) Werewolf Den
Werewolves are a common monster of choice, so why not use this to your advantage as a DM. Players who are traveling at night can attest, once the sun sets and they pray for a chance to have a long rest, that is the time when creatures of the night begin to howl in the distance or snap a twig just outside the view of the campfire. This can be a make or break time for your players as they learn to fight without using their spells or proficiencies, giving a GM the chance to exercise their skills when the players are the least prepared. Having a player or NPC taken by a group of Werewolves? What an intro to a session! Their blood begins to pump as they chance them through the woods only to lose track until the ranger gets their scent and now the hunt is afoot…
3.) Creepy Circus
Have fans of horror and scary clowns in your party? They will not want to miss out on a creepy circus that mysteriously popped up on the border of town or the side of the crossroad! This cast of eccentric characters will dazzle and delight and some members of the audience just may die of fright… Tight rope walkers who wear blades on the bottom of their shoes, a ringleader who seems to shift in the smoke and shadows, and even more acts that defy the norm and border on the supernatural. Now THAT would be quite the show! Be sure to get your tickets before they’re gone.
4.) Zombie/Undead Apocalypse
Who doesn’t like a good zombie story! Rolling fog, low weapon access, huge hungry hoards, and thrills that make your skin crawl, these stories are great for a party that’s not looking to survive the night or may surprisingly be victorious as they live to see another day. Be sure to utilize your terrain in these games, it makes for some interesting outcomes. Bonus points to the player who can successfully hide their bite mark from the rest of the party… while they can!
5.) Demon Run
It’s good to be bad once in a while, and giving your party the chance to be a truly evil character for a short amount of time can be interesting, especially for your players who tend to stick to the Lawful Good alignment in most games. Have your players pick a fiendish monster and run them across the hells for a devilishly good time. (I know I know, Demons and Devils are quite different, especially in TTRPG’s, but I couldn’t pass on this opportunity to make a funny joke.)
6.) Medusa / Snake Pit
This could honestly work at any point for your party, but at Halloween time you can add some ritualistic aspects to this encounter and really see a transformation take place. Looking for an organic introduction to a serpent-filled story? Have your party travel into a town filled with statues that all share the same frightened expression and fresh shedding scraps mixed in with the falling leaves. Did something just bump past their boots in the brush?
7.) Mummy Tomb
Traveling in the desert? Still plenty of sacred and creepy creatures shifting through the sand. Knowing that there is bound to be some priceless treasure at the end of this journey? Even better! The gods may even get involved with this desecration of a grave of this stature as your party dives deep into a forgotten or recently discovered pyramid or tomb. Forget all about the mummified Pharoah turning its head, it’s probably a trick to scare grave robbers. *click*
8.) Haunted Bog / Swamp
Don’t be a stick in the mud about traveling off the beaten path! Adventuring in the swamps or wetlands can be full of adventure and adds a host of creatures and encounters you can’t find just outside your local tavern or city streets. The locals could share a word of warning about the thing living in the swamp or bog and how it drags you below the surface to a world unknown, never to return.
9.) Classic Monster Mash
This is great if your players like a “monster of the week” model to your game. Pick several of the go-to classic monsters such as a Frankenstein’s Monster (flesh golem), Vampire, Werewolf, Mummy, Ghost, or Mad Scientist for your next “Monster Mash.”
10.) Curse of Strahd
Okay, you MIGHT have seen this one coming, but this is a great way to feature some of the true horrors of the TTRPG world, specifically for Dungeons & Dragons players. The world of Barovia can become its own campaign, a long side quest if trimmed down properly, or give you a chance to break away from your main campaign if a player or players will not be available for a set amount of time. If another DM or GM wants to give it a go, this could also give the forever DM/GM a chance to jump in to the fray as a character (temporarily of course).
What are some of the ways you like to feature spooky stories and creepy tales in your campaign? Have you ever done a special one-shot or session for a holiday? We would love to hear your stories in the comments.
Have a Happy and Safe Halloween everyone!
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