It is becoming something of a tradition for me to post about titles that excite me around October, the scariest month of the year! There is just something about Halloween season that excites me, possibly more than any other time of year!
Feel free to read my previous posts (both the first and the second) for some spooky game ideas, but this year I've got some incredible solo games, games to play with your friends, and even some supplements and hacks I've been exceptionally excited for that you won't want to miss! I thought that I'd place a lot more focus on very recent releases or upcoming projects this time around, in order to build a bit more hype around them!
This genre of game always appeals to me because I can just sit and play without any real planning or thought, and I absolutely love the journalling aspect that accompanies a lot of the solo genre! Plus, what better way to scare yourself silly?
Carved By The Garden (Cassi Mothwin)
You love the woods. You fear the woods. You can't stay away from the woods.
Carved by the Garden is a solo journaling game inspired by folk horror stories like The Witch, The Ritual, Midsommar, and those found in Damnable Tales: A Folk Horror Anthology. Featuring a sprawling forest as a backdrop, Carved by the Garden blends self-reflecting questions with unsettling and often bloody discoveries.
The thing that always strikes me about Cassi's work, and the reason that I always come back for more, is the sheer level of effort and attention to detail that goes into it. It doesn't matter what genre or theme the game lives in - if it was made by Cassi then I know it will be excellent. But having read and run games using her supplement What Crooked Roots, I backed Carved By The Garden immediately because I know that folk horror is where Cassi thrives. There's a free preview for you to feast your eyes upon before downloading the full version, and physical copies are on their way. This solo journalling experience promises to be thoughtful, hauntingly provocative, and one that will stick with you a while.
Ritual (Hive Mind Games)
KING comes for your immortal soul; halt HIS foul encroachment by weaving a counter ritual of your own. Immerse yourself in a true horror atmosphere as you conduct physical ritual and spell movements whilst playing. Light candles and incense, recite the incantations, invoke your mantra and sigil and perform the magical movements: save your soul from an eternity in KINGS clutches.
Written as a homage to and emulation of magick and occultism by a bonafide practitioner, as well as drawing from horror media like Hereditary, The Silt Verses, Changeling (TV series) and more. Ritual blends real magickal experience with intense occult horror to bring the atmosphere and experience of real occultism to the tabletop.
I see this game pop up on my feed a lot, and given that the cover is so beautifully designed, I found myself immediately intrigued. The part of this game that appeals to me most is the physicality of the ritual that you perform while playing. You are not just drawing cards and reading prompts, you are lighting candles, and burning incense, which can only add to the immersion of the whole playing experience. Ritual is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter and even has a gorgeous, very reasonably priced tier that includes a tarot deck, candles, incense, and a beautiful mineral knife to give you the tools to play properly. I anticipate that any playthrough of this will no doubt be an intensely atmospheric and captivating escapade.
Price: Starting at £5
Don't Play This Game (Parable Games)
Oh, come on! It says it in the title! Well, if you’re reading this it’s too late - YOU’RE CURSED. Anyone who reads this must play this game or bad things will happen. Trust me because, I didn’t finish playing, and IF YOU’RE READING THIS I’M DEAD!
I’ve left as many clues as possible in this book to help you survive the game. Consider it my last act of defiance. This book has everything you’ll need to play with the Entity as well as tips to keep you alive and sane. Like Found Footage/Inherited Horror movies (The Blair Witch Project, The Ring, V/H/S series)? Well congratulations, now you’re the star.
I am an absolute sucker for lots of different types of horror, but for some reason the found footage or inherited horror kinds are amongst my favourites. Maybe its because when you're watching, the victims shown in the recordings aren't 'heroes' - they are often very normal, in way over their heads, and terrifyingly oblivious to the terrible thing they've just stumbled upon until its far too late. Their actions feel relatable in many ways because you could see yourself responding to the horrors in a similar fashion, and it brings out both the best and the worst in them which is fascinating. I can already see how Don't Play This Game will make for a very re-playable and story-driven experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And even better - it works so well as a legacy game that can be passed onto friends and played by them too! It's currently funding on Kickstarter, and you can download a free demo version to play and try it out!
Price: Starting at £15
Perhaps playing a game alone and in the darkness for he spookiest time of the year doesn't appeal to you quite so much? Well don't worry, there are plenty of fascinating and terrifying games coming or newly released that can be played with friends!
The Silt Verses (Gauntlet RPG)
The Silt Verses RPG is a tabletop roleplaying game of folk horror and monstrous divinity, where strange gods haunt the landscape and civilization is fueled by ritual sacrifice. In this game, a group of conscripted agents called Custodians are sent into isolated territories to deal with these monstrous gods, terrifying angels, and other divine manifestations in order to appease them, neutralize them, or otherwise engage with the locals to find a solution to the threats they present.
The Silt Verses RPG is based on the audio drama series by Jon Ware and Muna Hussen, and further expands on the world presented in the show. It also takes inspiration from folk horror, weird fiction, and dystopian or post-apocalyptic media such as Station Eleven, Disco Elysium, and Old Gods Of Appalachia.
I don't know huge amounts about the audio drama series that inspired this game (though I shall certainly be checking it out now) but based on the aesthetic and the synopsis alone, it is absolutely the right blend of weird, apocalypse, and folk horror that excites me. The preview for The Silt Verses that is available on Gauntlet's Patreon is unsettlingly beautiful in both its design and writing, and sets the tone perfectly, all while explaining clearly how to play. If you want a game dripping with atmosphere, and gorgeous, eerie world-building, then you needn't look any further. This will have it in spades!
Price: Subscribe at $7 tier for preview
Spliced: An Occult TTRPG (Alec Azzam)
In Spliced, secrets abound, waiting to be discovered by the unsuspecting. The strange, sagacious, otherworldly, and incredible are at your fingertips. Spliced can become a reflection of our world, a strange realm of fantasy or science fiction, or it can be anything in-between. Ultimately, Spliced exists in your mind, and in the minds of your friends.
Spliced is meant to tell stories of characters fighting against that which is far more powerful than they are, things so intensely beyond the scope of the natural that one must become unnatural to even face them. Inspired by media including but not limited to Bioshock, Cyberpunk, and Call Of Cthulhu.
I would be remiss if I didn't include the amazing project that my good friend Alec has been working on for so long! I've been lucky enough to be able to play-test this system a couple of different times - once playing in a Bioshock themed one shot, and now in an ongoing campaign set in the Victorian era and directly inspired by Call Of Cthulhu's 'Masks Of Nyarlathotep' module. This in itself is a testament to the broad range of settings, eras, and genres that Spliced has the ability to tackle. Beyond that, this system offers an incredibly easy to pick up ruleset, plenty of examples of play, and with the inclusion of Tarot card themed magical abilities, it is fun.
Price: N/A, releasing Fri 27th October
A halloween double feature of two historical tabletop RPGs all about monstrosity, community, and the Gothic.
Grand Guignol is a Victorian romance-horror RPG, built on the queer monstrosity of Frankenstein, Carmilla, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. It gives us crooked alleys and foggy squares, charged touches and words left unsaid, lavish parties and faceless crowds, bloody hands and dangerous smiles, and always the darkness without and within asking "What lurks in the secret corners of your heart?".
Harvest is a folk horror RPG about a rural island off the coast of England, whose bucolic inhabitants must perform a horrific ritual every year to preserve the comfort of their home. It gives us laden orchards and barren fields; desperate fervour and doubts grown thick as weeds; calves born and pigs slaughtered; proud traditions, failing wealth, and hostile stares; juice-smeared lips and dirt under nails; and always the questions echoing down through the generations: “Whose blood must be spilled to feed the land?” and “Whose hand will hold the knife?”.
Some of my favourite games and concepts come from those that create content using the Belonging Outside Belonging system. Reader, let me tell you I squealed when I saw this double feature announced! Queer, angsty, Victorian romance-horror? Yes please! Then the added bonus of yet more of my beloved folk horror? The concepts for each game have truly sold them to me already, and you can sign-up on Backerkit if Grand Guignol and Harvest are of any interest to you too, in order to receive updates. I anticipate more news on them soon as the project is launching on Halloween!
Price: N/A, funding Tue 31st October
SUBSURFACE (Stoneshore Games)
THE PIT is a clandestine research facility buried five kilometres underground. Within its cold, dark depths, an unscrupulous transnational corporation called CERBERUS INDUSTRIES studies eerie paranormal phenomena, and tests unregulated military hardware.
SUBSURFACE is an action horror tabletop RPG inspired by F.E.A.R, Half-Life, Dusk, Doom, the SCP Foundation, and FIST by CLAYMORE. In this game, operatives trapped in the lowest levels of the Pit try to fight their way up countless floors of horror to get to the surface, in the wake of a terrible and myterious subterranean disaster.
If you've been following any of my streamed content, then you know that Bar The Windows, Bolt The Doors is one of my all-time favourite games to play, especially around this time of the year! Nathaniel delivers an experience that leans into some super fun horror tropes, provides simple and punchy set-up, and allows for narrative breathing space while also inserting a sense of urgency into its core mechanics. I'm exceptionally grateful that he let me peek over SUBSURFACE (which is built with the LUMEN system) before releasing it, and was even more excited to see those very same things present in this game. Its currently available to buy in a Halloween themed bundle, so I'd grab it there while the deal is still available!
This is honestly barely scratching the surface of some of the amazing indie TTRPG content out there themed around horror, but these are just some of the very recently released or announced projects that caught my eye that I HAD to share! Do you have any games that you're excited to play this Halloween? Any new releases that you can't wait to get your hands on? I'd love to hear about them!