5 Horror Themed Table Top Roleplaying Games
The intention is not to provide a statement of what we think are the five best games, unknown games, or superior games from the horror genre – but simply a list of games that we have come in contact with that offer something special in a particular way. This may include rather ‘obvious’ choices too (as in number 1), but in all honesty there is no way on earth that I was going to omit the most obvious gaming loves of my life. For the sake of avoiding repetition, I’m also not including games mentioned in previous articles, including the excellent SHIVER.
I know that 5 isn’t a large number and that there’s a huge number of Horror TTRPG choices that could make any list, so the fact that many of your personal favourites may not be included isn’t meant as a slight on your favourite game. In fact I’m more than happy for you to mention in the comments below any suggestions for a future list, as well as suggestions for our next feature, ‘5 Sci-fi TTRPG alternatives‘.
And yes, there may also be a couple of entries here that could be disputed as to whether they fall into genuine horror – Is Alien Sci-fi, horror or sci-fi/horror? Is Delta Green horror, terror, thriller……sci-fi? Well for the sake of this list they are what I want them to be! 😂
Call of Cthulhu
Call of Cthulhu is Chaosium’s classic roleplaying game of mystery and horror in which ordinary people are confronted by the terrifying and alien forces of the Cthulhu Mythos.
Call of Cthulhu is a game about secrets, mysteries, and horror. Playing the role of steadfast investigators, teams of characters travel to strange and dangerous places, uncover foul plots, and stand against the terrors of the night. On the way, they will encounter sanity-blasting entities from beyond space and time, hideous monsters, and insane cultists; while within strange and forgotten tomes of lore they will discover secrets that man was not meant to know. These ordinary people will face many challenges, but their heroic stand may very well decide the fate of the world.
Created by Sandy Petersen, and first published in 1981, Call of Cthulhu has for over 35 years defined the genre and is consistently regarded as being one of the best games available to play. For those brave enough to uncover its secrets, the rewards are beyond comprehension!
In the game, each player takes on the role of a character, while one player is the referee—the Keeper of Arcane Lore (“Keeper”) who moderates the game and presents the plot and setting to the other players. Using dice and the rules of the game, you determine the success and failure of the characters’ actions, while they are propelled into dramatic and dangerous situations.
Chaosium was founded by visionary game designer Greg Stafford in 1975. For more than forty years, Chaosium has captivated gamers, readers and mythic adventurers worldwide. Its award-winning roleplaying games, board games and fiction have been acclaimed as some of the most engaging and innovative of all time.
Call of Cthulhu content can also be purchased as a PDF here at DriveThru RPG
For more information check out the Chaosium inc. website RIGHT HERE
(From Free League Publishing)
Space is vast, dark, and not your friend. Gamma rays and neutrino bursts erupt from dying stars to cook you alive, black holes tear you apart, and the void itself boils your blood and seizes your brain. Try to scream and no one can hear you—hold your breath and you rupture your lungs.
Space isn’t as empty as you’d think, either—its frontiers are ever expanding. Rival governments wage a cold war of aggression while greedy corporations vie for valuable resources. Colonists reach for the stars and gamble with their lives— each new world tamed is either feast or famine.
And there are things lurking in the shadows of every asteroid—things strange and different and deadly.
This is the ALIEN roleplaying game—a uni- verse of body horror and corporate brinkmanship, where synthetic people play god while space truckers and marines serve as hosts to newborn ghoulish creatures.
It’s a harsh and unforgiving universe and you are nothing if not expendable.
Stay alive if you can.
The titular alien—in all its iterations—is the stuff of nightmares. From Neomorph to Xenomorph, the mystique surrounding these creatures is mesmer- izing. The alien represents everything we don’t understand about the natural world. It evokes a fear of our bodies being violated and used. It is
a parasitic invader whose only intent is to use humanity to breed and incubate its progeny. The alien lifecycle is one of death and renewal, but the only part people play in that circle is death.
But the ALIEN saga itself is about more than otherworldly beasts. It is about humbling man for his own hubris. It’s about motherhood and family—about loss and sacrifice. It wrestles with the questions of artificial intelligence and faith. —REVELATION 12:3-4
The story of ALIEN is about creators and their creations struggling for dominance over each other.
It’s about corporate greed and avarice, and it’s about how superior firepower and fancy technology aren’t enough to protect you from the horrors of the unknown. It’s about pushing the envelope and sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong, consequences be damned before they damn you.
The ALIEN roleplaying game takes you to
the rough and tumble colony worlds on the Frontier of known space. It’s on the cusp of this unforgiving place that your character must face their demons—both of the inner and other kind.
Alien Content in PDF form can be downloaded here at DriveThru RPG
The Free League website can be visited RIGHT HERE
Vampire: The Masquerade
(From Renegade Game Studios)
Vampire: The Masquerade is the original and ultimate roleplaying game of personal and political horror. You are a vampire, struggling for survival, supremacy, and your own fading humanity — afraid of what you are capable of, and fearful of the inhuman conspiracies that surround you.
The classic that changed roleplaying games forever returns! This fifth edition features a streamlined and modern rules design, beautiful new full-color art, and a rich story experience for players. Powered by the innovative Hunger cycle, the game also includes rules for creating system supported character coteries, Loresheets to directly involve players with their favourite parts of the setting and The Memoriam, a new way to bring the character’s detailed backgrounds and expand on them in-session.
V5 is a return to Vampire‘s original vision, moving boldly into the 21st century. While the rules have been redesigned, this new edition honors the deep story of the original, advancing the metaplot from where it left off and detailing exactly what has happened in the world of the Kindred up until tonight. The terror of the Second Inquisition, the conspiracies behind the Gehenna War, and the rekindling of the War of Ages: these are the building blocks of the modern V5 chronicle.
Mature Warning: contains graphic and written content of a mature nature, including violence, sexual themes, and strong language. Reader discretion is advised.
Core Book Features:
As a vampire, struggle for survival, supremacy, and your own fading humanity
Suffer the pangs of Hunger, while navigating undead politics and avoiding deadly hunters.
Honors the history of Vampire: The Masquerade while advancing the story with streamlined 5th Edition rules.
This 428 page full-color hardcover book now includes a satin ribbon bookmark.
Contains all previous Core Rulebook errata, as well as the errata from the V5 Companion.
PDF version of the V5 core book contains everything the physical book does, plus the implemented errata and a few bonus sections. These sections comprise 26 pages of added bonus material, and they include the following:
More Loresheets: Descendant of Tyler, Descendant of Zelios, Descendant of Vasantasena, High Clan, Low Clan, Ambrus Maropis, Carmelita Neillson, Fiorenza Savona, Descendant of Karl Schrekt, Descendant of Xaviar.
An Appendix on Standard Feats: A list of examples for various typical feats your character may do over their unlife, divided among Mental, Physical, and Social.
An Appendix on Projects: Advanced rules with which your character can attempt long-term projects in order to accomplish goals that go beyond their night-to-night unlife.
An Appendix on Considerate Play: Excellent advice on how to present complex topics in your game and to ensure everyone at the gaming table is having a good time.
Vampire: The Masquerade can be downloaded as a PDF here at DriveThru RPG
The Renegade Games Studios website can be visited RIGHT HERE
(From Arc Dream Publishing)
Delta Green has protected the human world from otherworldly terrors for eighty years. Terrors so dangerous and corrosive that knowing of them is to be harmed by them. Terrors that threaten to rip away the veneer of civilization until all that humanity has left is knowledge of itself in the eye of destruction: desperate, starving, murderous………Delta Green is a secret task force of federal agents, intelligence officers, analysts, scientists, doctors, and soldiers operating under the cover of national security and the war on terror.
Delta Green is a criminal conspiracy that violates every law and moral code for what it desperately says is the greater good.
When Delta Green goes down, it will go down fighting……..Delta Green is a tabletop role-playing game of cosmic horror and personal apocalypse. Players take the roles of Agents who investigate and confront forces that are death and madness come to life. They must stop those threats and cover them up so they cannot be brought out again. They must take their crimes and traumas home and keep them secret from everyone they love.
A gamemaster or Handler leads the players and their Agents into scenarios that all to often mean an impossible choice. Your life? Your sanity? Your family? Or humanity itself?
Delta Green delivers unmatched thrills and frights, suspense and dread that sink into gamers like hooks. It keeps them playing and keeps them coming back for every new book and every terrifying revelation……..Now you’re in on the secret. Delta Green needs you, Agent. Welcome to the apocalypse. Let’s keep this world spinning for one more day.
Born of the U.S. government’s 1928 raid on the degenerate coastal town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, the covert agency known as Delta Green opposes the forces of darkness with honor but without glory. Delta Green agents fight to save humanity from unnatural horrors—often at a shattering personal cost.
In Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game, the players are those agents. They fight to save human lives and sanity from threats beyond space and time. Delta Green’s percentile-based rules are compatible with 20 years’ worth of Delta Green scenarios and sourcebooks.
Delta Green includes two full-color rulebooks:
The Ennie Award-winning AGENT’S HANDBOOK features rules for creating agents and playing the game. It includes:
Rules for creating agents, with dozens of professions from throughout the U.S. government and the civilian world.
Rules for tense, fluid investigations; players who use their agents’ skills in clever ways have the best chance to succeed—and survive.
Nerve-wracking rules for combat, where random disasters can undo the most careful planning and the human psyche is as vulnerable as the body.
Mind-melting Sanity rules, which see agents gradually and inevitably deteriorate from too much exposure to trauma—and sometimes snap in an instant from overwhelming terror.
Rules for “home” scenes where players can see what their agents are fighting for.
Intuitive rules for equipment and assets, which let you determine on the fly whether something is available without having to plan it out ahead of time.
Dossiers of the federal agencies most likely to be featured in Delta Green games, focusing on the details players want to know when they play their agents.
The HANDLER’S GUIDE is written for the game moderator who presents the mysteries and horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos. It includes:
A history of the world of Delta Green from prehuman history to the present day, with campaign tips and scenario seeds on every page.
Horrifying rituals, unnatural entities, and reality-shattering Great Old Ones.
Rules for creating new threats to shock and terrify your agents.
The secretive Delta Green organization in deep and disturbing detail—and the other ruthless conspiracy that claims it is the real Delta Green.
Guidelines for creating original scenarios and campaigns using the resources in this book.
“Operation FULMINATE: The Sentinels of Twilight,” a sample scenario, ready to play.
Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game is supported by 20 years of scenarios and sourcebooks, with more to come.
A universe of cosmic terror lurks, just out of sight. Can your agents stand against it?
Delta Green can be downloaded in PDF form here at DriveThru RPG
You can visit the Arc Dream Publishing website RIGHT HERE
Monster of the Week
(From Evil Hat Productions)
A monster lurks in the shadows…
Most people don’t believe in monsters, but you know the truth. They’re real, and it’s your task to bring them down. This revised edition of Monster of the Week brings that adventure to life.
Monster of the Week is a standalone action-horror RPG for 3-5 people. Hunt high school beasties a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer, travel the country to bring down unnatural creatures like the Winchester brothers of Supernatural, or head up the government investigation like Mulder and Scully. This book contains everything you need to tackle Bigfoot, collar a chupacabra, and drive away demons.
In this revised edition, you’ll find:
Character creation rules to bring your hunter to life and create a cohesive hunting team.
Eight simple moves to investigate and deal with monsters.
An easy-to-use system based on the popular Apocalypse World RPG.
Thorough mystery-creation tools and two ready-to-play mysteries.
New material including an introductory mystery; example monsters like Balkan vampires, ghouls, and spore trolls; and hunter types like the Crooked and the Spell-Slinger.
Grab the fireplace poker and open your spell book. That monster’s going down!
Monster of the week can be downloaded in PDF form here at DriveThru RPG
You can visit the Evil Hat Productions website RIGHT HERE
5 thoughts on “5 Horror Themed Table Top Roleplaying Games”
No Mothership? It’s an amazing set of rules with literally tons of supplements.
That’s a good call – and now on the next list!
Main one you missed is the Swedish game, Kult: Divinity Lost. It has a really hard Gnostic edge to it, is philosophically deep, and the current (4th) edition runs with PbtA style mechanics.
Rory – yup, I’m hearing a lot of good things about Kult: Divinity Lost. As yet not played it but as soon I do some reading of it it will be included in future lists. Thanks.
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