While Halloween party games are certainly a draw come falling leaves and cooler nights, many of us want an excuse to have something a little spooky and special any time of year. A Dungeons & Dragons one shot, a heavily themed and easy-to-pickup board game, or a pre-organized costume party can be a blast no matter the month.
Below, I offer five great options for turning your standard game night into a horror-themed party to remember. Let the hauntings begin!
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
Board Game: The Night Cage
In the eerie realm of “The Night Cage,” a cooperative board game with a horror theme, 1 to 5 lost souls find themselves ensnared within a sinister labyrinth of unending darkness.
Armed with nothing more than the feeble glow of dimly flickering candles, the players’ fate hinges on their unity as they embark on a perilous journey to explore this otherworldly maze and ultimately secure their escape. In the game’s standard mode, play can be completed in under an hour. Advanced mode includes some terrifying monsters that we haven’t gone up against just yet, but will be coming out in our next playthrough.
This is a game that keeps coming out onto our table. It’s quick to learn, easy to teach, and great fun to play. The cooperative elements are intense and satisfying. In addition, though the player count is technically 1 to 5, it would be simple to have more people around to comment on potential moves and decisions.
If you’re looking for a cooperative puzzle experience with a horror theme, this is a great option.
D&D One Shot
If you’re any kind of regular here, you’ll know I’m a big fan of themed one shots for Dungeons and Dragons. If you’re already in a D20 sort of groove, there’s no need to add extra party games to the mix. After all, tabletop roleplaying games are the ultimate form of creative expression in gaming.
Check out a few of our articles listed below for help on setting up a spooky one shot:
Costume Party: Night of Mystery
What better way to capture the attention of your party guests than with a murder mystery costume party? I have hosted several of these, and they are always a blast. Check out our resources on throwing a memorable event using the links below.
And if you prefer to come up with your own mystery, why not have ChatGPT help you out? Here’s my guide on what to expect with an AI murder mystery plot.
Tabletop Game: Ten Candles
These things are true: the world is dark, and you are alive. – Ten Candles
Ten Candles is a tabletop storytelling game designed for a single 2-4 hour session of tragic horror. It is intended to be played with one GM and 3-5 players, by only the light of ten small candles. This not only provides atmosphere, but also acts as a countdown timer for the game.
The candles also allow players to actually burn pieces of their character sheets away as the game progresses.
Ten Candles is not a game about “winning” or beating the monsters. Instead, it is a game about what happens in the dark, and about those who try to survive within it. It is a game about being pushed to the brink of madness and despair, searching for hope in a hopeless world, and trying to do something meaningful with your final few hours left.-From the Ten Candles game description
In Ten Candles there are no survivors.
If you’re interested, I like the real, actual flame candles I linked below because they come in a glass container, which protects my gaming table and is a little safer than a candle just sitting out. They also look uniform and I like to appear organized for my games.
While you could technically do flameless candles for this game by simply switching off the power as the story progresses, the dramatic effect of burning pieces of your character sheet is part of the game’s drama. I linked some flameless options for you below anyway, in case you prefer it.
Tabletop Game: DREAD
What an awesome concept for a Halloween party game. Instead of rolling dice, players pull from a Jenga tower to indicate success or failure during moments of decision making or conflict. It is tense, fun, and exciting for any type of one shot, but is particularly well suited to a horror-themed session.
If the tower falls, the player dies or is otherwise removed from play. All players will eventually be removed from the story, and Dread is intended to be a one shot experience.
I ran Dread for a group of D&D newbies and they had such a blast with the simple mechanics and focus on storytelling. The game itself comes with a sample sci-fi adventure and it’s a lot of fun. Check the game out below, and don’t forget to grab a Jenga tower!
Halloween party games may land on tables more often in the fall, but a horror-themed game night might be exactly what your group needs to spice up your routine.
Do you have a favorite spooky game or horror-themed gaming tradition? I’d love to read about it in the comments below.
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