If you’re like me, or anyone in my group, autumn is the best season for you. The weather is nice, there’s always a strange sense of nostalgia floating in the air when everything is changing, warm sweaters and fancy pea coats come out of the closet, and most importantly; Halloween. The holiday is a breeding ground for your imagination to run wild in every direction. Whether it’s psyching yourself out when you’re home alone at night, creating a cool costume for yourself or your child or doing something as simple as shopping and seeing all of the neat decorations that are out there, Halloween just oozes creativity. What better outlet for that creativity than an adventure for a Tabletop RPG?
1) CREATION OF A TRADITION
Every year my RPG group runs a Halloween themed adventure for the month of October. The last week in September we sit down, talk about themes we’d like to see, and that’s when I get to work as the GM. To be honest, it creates an extra layer of excitement to the Halloween atmosphere. It also gives my girlfriend the desire to put herself through sewing hell to make a cosplay for the character she’s playing.
A couple months before, my game group is buzzing, thinking about what possible spooky shenanigans we can get into this year. Traditions like this add a change to the regular gaming schedule which not only make people excited, but help keep things fresh. Maybe someone who doesn’t normally GM wants to run the yearly Halloween game this year? It gives you a break from the main campaign you play to help with burn out and also gives you an opportunity to be on the other side of the screen.
A win-win, don’t you think?
If you’re too old to go trick-or-treating but don’t have any children of your own, this is the perfect way to get your costume on and eat sickening amounts of candy with some friends and also tell a good story. It also helps you avoid those awkward and slightly annoying Halloween parties where everybody gets plastered.
Tradition is a basic part of human nature and the opportunity to create your own is a marvelous thing, especially if it’s with a group of people you sincerely care about. It’s a minor enough holiday that it (usually) doesn’t interfere with any family gatherings. Then again, it’s major enough of a holiday for it to feel special as opposed to the usual game that you do every other week of the year. So let’s sum up: Camaraderie? Check. Excitement? Check. Freshness? Check. Lack of blithering drunken idiots? Well… maybe check, but at least these drunken idiots are YOUR drunken idiots.
2). EASILY CAPTURED ATMOSPHERE
Halloween has this ambiance that comes with it and it is super easy to translate that into a game, especially if you’re using a horror driven system like Night’s Black Agents from Pelgrane Press or Dread from The Impossible Dream. Though, it’s obviously not essential, using a game system that lends itself to horror can be super fun, more so if it’s not the normal system you play. Fantasy settings tend to be really easy to turn into horror, whether whimsical or serious. Turn down the lights, add a candle, put on some creepy music and you’ve got yourself a Halloween game!
Sound supplements such as Syrinscape and Battle Bards can be incredibly useful when trying to emulate, well, anything really. One could argue that paying for these supplements is not the wise decision if you only intend to use it once a year, and that’s valid. That’s why we have fantastic free stuff like YouTube and Sound Cloud to give us content to use with an interface that allows you create a playlist and the like. So sit down, turn on some sound, and tell your players, “Guys… it’s about to get spooky.”
Running a one-off game usually gives you the ability to explore themes and ideas that you might not have a lot of experience with. If you have an idea for your main campaign and don’t want to introduce it due to fear of failure or mediocrity, this is a good way to crank out a version of it. Of course, some themes and ideas won’t be able to be twisted into a spooky Halloween adventure, but it’s always worth a shot. Chances are you’re a good game master for your normal group and even in defeat, your players enjoy what you do. Taking a swing at a romance plot line could turn into a horror scenario quite easily. Everything seems normal before there’s a creepy twist! With the majority of the game being a romance plot before things go awry helps you practice running that element without the horrific twist. One off games can be a powerful tool in the GM’s arsenal and what better opportunity to take a whack than a traditional, once a year game?
The holiday is ripe for the taking! Create an adventure in a haunted castle, a cursed graveyard or a town where something… just something isn’t quite right.
… If you dare.
Stay Metal \m/
Sean is a BMW technician by day, the Heavy Metal GM by night, and loves everything about 13th Age. If the game interests you and you want to learn more, check out his 13th Age blog here.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.