It’s the week of Halloween here in the States, which means it’s an opportunity for kids of all ages to put on costumes and do a bit of LARPing! Okay, not quite, but it’s pretty close. Actually, what Halloween means to me as a GM and gamer is that it’s the perfect time of year to run or play in a horror-themed game!
With all the werewolves and goblins walking the streets, scary movies on TV, spookily-decorated houses on every block, and ghost stories on everyone’s minds, your friends are primed to play in a Halloween-themed game.
Fear and horror are difficult to elicit in roleplaying games, but this is the perfect time of year to play a one-shot featuring monsters or other scary fare. Break out the candles (or battery-powered tea lights), some subtle, spooky music, dim the lights, and have your friends over for a game featuring the supernatural. Consider it a self-contained story for your heroes that may or may not take place within the continuity of their normal series. Perhaps they take on some of the Cryptids in the forests around Emerald City, or come face-to-face with Frankenstein’s Monster as he searches for the ancestors of his hated creator on the streets of Freedom City. Maybe the walls between worlds grow thin this time of year and real monsters haunt the city for the day—some of them more dangerous than others—so the player characters get to play "ghostbusters" for a while. Anything is fair game this time of year.
When I was in college, I ran a Halloween game that became a yearly tradition. Everyone played the heroes they usually played, but the villains were both a little scarier and sillier than usual. One of those games featured what’s now a classic line among my gaming friends, "You cannot possibly defeat me, for I am made of straw," spoken by the villainous Scarecrow. Another year’s most memorable moment was when a little girl dropped a trick-or-treat bag next to one of the heroes and before he could do anything, a teddy bear tumbled out of the bag, grew to be a full-sized demonic bear that could fly and mauled the poor hero.
This year, I get to play in a one-shot in which a bunch of us, including Green Ronin president Chris Pramas and freelancers Jason Mical and Seth Johnson, will be facing off against vampires, werewolves, and zombies in a haunted castle. It should make for a tense and fun game of supernatural horror, and I’m looking forward to blasting some monsters to smithereens!
Gaming has always been about being social and having fun with your friends. When you can combine that with a bit of suspense, the laughs are even bigger than usual. It’s the start of the week, so you still have time to set up a game for the weekend. It doesn’t have to be Halloween- or horror-themed, but that certainly seems like a natural fit! Check out the Supernatural Handbook for Mutants & Masterminds: both the PDF and the printed book are on sale for 25% off until Halloween. It’s the perfect book if you’re looking for inspiration for a game, or looking for an excellent book on horror games.
Whatever you do this weekend, stay safe and have fun!
M&M Line Developer
Jon Leitheusser spent several years as the developer for the Mutants & Masterminds game. He started gaming at the age of 12, has worked in the industry at a game and comic store, two distribution companies, as a publisher (where he originally published the Dork Tower comic book), as a game designer for HeroClix, as a freelancer, and then for Green Ronin. He’s originally from Burlington, Wisconsin and now lives in Washington State.