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13 Best One-Shot Horror Tabletop RPGs for Halloween!

Horror role-playing games are so effective at getting us scared! Whether you’re looking for a horror RPG for Halloween or just want to play something different, there’s a one-shot horror RPG in here that will scare you and your group!

I’ve included a mixture of scary games in this round up. Classic horror to sci-fi, short to long, free to paid, GMless to GM required, premade adventures to system only, tabletop to online etc. There’s something in here for everyone! Choose the one-shot horror RPG that works best for your group!

  1. Ten Candles
  2. Dread
  3. Fiasco
  4. The Skeletons
  5. Little Fears: Nightmare Edition
  6. Lost Souls
  7. Bluebeard’s Bride
  8. Slasher Flick
  9. Sloth
  10. ViewScream
  11. Call of Cthulu Quick Start: The Haunting
  12. Old Friends
  13. Don’t Walk in Winter Wood

1. Ten Candles

Ten Candles RPG cover.
Ten Candles cover. Image credit: Cavalry Games.

Publisher: Cavalry Games
Time to play: 2-4 hours
Ideal number of players: 3-5
GM required: Yes

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Ten Candles is an unforgettable one-shot horror tabletop RPG. Played by the light of only ten tea lights, players roleplay characters during the last night of their lives after ‘They‘ have arrived.

The world you play in has mysteriously gone dark, no sun, no stars, just darkness. It’s been like that for 10 days. The world has gone into panic and They have arrived. The only weakness of Them is the light, and there’s not much of that going around. People have been disappearing. It must be Them.

Along with how to play, the rules give you 25 modules to play. Each module includes the setting, some key locations and a goal, but otherwise, it’s up to you to tell the story.

Each module is very different. They range from escaping an overrun island resort to using the last remaining shuttle to leave your failing moon base before They get you.

Character creation is fun and quick and involves passing pieces of paper around your group. Your fellow players will choose some traits for you and you choose some traits for them. Each trait is written on a different piece of paper and you burn them as you play the game for bonuses! It feels as though your character loses a part of themselves as you do.

Ritualistic style chants between scenes, growing intensity as the room gets darker, and knowing that when that final candle goes out it’s all over for everyone, all make Ten Candles an incredible RPG! Go check out my Ten Candles review for more about this amazing tabletop game!

Where to get Ten Candles?

Digital and book versions: Ten Candles

2. Dread

Dread cover RPG.
Dread cover. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: The Impossible Dream
Time to play: 3-5 hours
Ideal number of players: 3-6
GM required: Yes

Dread uses an innovative system which uses a Jenga tower to add tension and uncertainty to the game! Instead of rolling dice and calculating outcomes, anytime a character attempts a task that’s a stretch for them, they can choose to pull a block from the tower or decide not to pull and fail by default.

As the game progresses, more blocks are pulled, the more unstable the tower comes and the more likely it is to fall!

When a character causes the tower to fall, they are out! They could have gone crazy, got trapped somewhere, been taken by some horrifying monster or any other terrible end!

A character can also decide to knock the tower over deliberately and create a heroic ending for themselves!

The game ends when all the characters are out or the story reaches a natural end.

Characters are created by answers to a questionnaire set by the GM who makes sure that the questions make sense for the story setting. The questions take a deep look at what drives each character and what they are most afraid of!

There are 4 free scenarios available for Dread from the publisher’s website. Given the simplicity of using pulling blocks as the decision-maker, a GM can easily adapt a scenario from another game work with Dread.

Windmill Game Co. have also released a couple of Dread scenario books, each containing 3 scenarios each: Wastelands set in a post-apocalyptic world and Precious Illusions twists childhood stories into dark tales.

You can get a Quick Start version of the Dread rules for free, but the full rule book is worth buying. It contains expanded suggestions of how to handle situations like players being too afraid to pull blocks, character vs character conflicts and how to use Dread in different story settings!

Where to get Dread?

Free quick start: Dread Quick Start pdf
Free scenarios: Dread Scenarios pdf
Full digital copy from DriveThruRPG: Dread digital pdf
Full hardcopy from Amazon: Dread book

Remember to get your Jenga tower! (Amazon link).

3. Fiasco

Fiasco cover RPG.
Fiasco cover. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: Bully Pulpit Games
Time to play: 1-3 hours
Ideal number of players: 3-5
GM required: No

Fiasco is a dark comedy, storytelling roleplaying game based on films like the those made by the Coen Brothers. You know the type, the ones where you follow the storyline of several characters and they all come together in one giant mess in the final scenes!

Because Fiasco is all about telling a story, the way you build characters sets it up perfectly. You roll for aspects like relationships to other characters and your need, object or location.

Due to the smart way the set up works, by the end of it every, player has a relationship to each other, and they also share a need, location or object.

All those relationship ties and motivations stew into a lovely mix where you may end up turning on those closest to you to get what you want! Greed, jealousy, lust, revenge are all likely to feature in a game of Fiasco!

The game plays out over three acts. On their turn, each player chooses whether they want to Establish their scene or Resolve it. If they Establish it, they describe what’s happening in the scene, the people, place and conflict and the other players get to choose whether to give the player a good or a bad dice to Resolve the scene. The player has to act out whatever outcome the dice decrees!

If the player chooses to Resolve the scene instead, then the other players describe everything about the scene, but the player can choose to Resolve it however they want.

Fiasco is all about storytelling, improv and acting, so all that’s needed to play are the rules, a couple of D6 for each player in different colours (so you know which is the good and bad dice), and a playset.

There are 60+ Horror themed playsets on the Fiasco playsets website to find something that fits the Halloween mood!

There’s also an RPG board game hybrid version of Fiasco for beginner roleplayers which includes cards for three playsets, but none are ideally suited to Halloween. So I suggest just getting the rulebook and a playset from the Fiasco playsets website and tell a spooky and ridiculous story!

Where to get Fiasco?

Full digital version on DriveThruRPG: Fiasco Classic Digital pdf
Full book version on Amazon: Fiasco Classic Book

4. The Skeletons

The Skeltons RPG cover.
The Skeletons. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: Bully Pulpit Games
Time to play: 1-3 hours
Ideal number of players: 1-6
GM required: Yes

You’ve been waiting in the dark for you don’t know how long. It could be 100 years, it could be a millennium, perhaps longer.

You can’t remember who you are. But you know you must guard the tomb.

In The Skeletons, you play as a skeleton who must defend a tomb for all eternity. At the start of the game, you can’t remember anything about your life. But as you play the game, you start to remember fragments of your life, piece together your past and rediscover who you were.

During the game, you’ll see off intruders to the tomb and between each encounter you wait. Literally. You turn off the lights, and you wait in the dark in silence for a set amount of time until the next adventurers invade your tomb. That might be 1 day (5 seconds), a year (40 seconds) or anything up to an epoch (6 minutes).

As this time passes, you listen to the sounds of the tomb around you. An atmospheric selection of sounds has been made for you to play at The Skeleton Tomb.

While you wait in the dark, your memories return. So between each encounter, you can answer more questions on your character sheet and flesh them out.

Sitting in the dark reflecting on life, mortality and eternity brings a different kind of spooky to this Halloween one shot.

Where to get The Skeletons?

Full digital and book versions from DriveThruRPG: The Skeletons pdf

5. Little Fears: Nightmare Edition

Little fears rpg cover.
Little Fears cover. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: FunSizedGames
Time to play: 2-4 hours
Ideal number of players: 3-4
GM required: Yes

In Little Fears you play as children facing monsters that are very real, but the grown ups can’t see anymore. You’re on your own.

Will you find your inner strength to defeat the monsters of your nightmares?

The monsters in Little Fears: Nightmare Edition are made up. They can be anything you want them to be, from yetis to bogeymen or even slender man. Whatever your terrible imagination makes up, you can bring to life! For better or worse!

You and your fellow kids will tell the tale of how you used your special magic Belief to defeat the monsters (or not) and what happened along the way!

Little Fears isn’t technically a one-shot RPG, but I’ve included it because it has a scary collection of one-shot modules called Campfire Tales. Of these, three are set on or around Halloween.

Grab one of these one-shots where the story is laid out for your group and take yourself back in time to when the monsters under your bed were real and scary things really were lurking in the dark.

Where to get Little Fears: Nightmare Edition?

Full digital version at DriveThruRPG: Little Fears: Nightmare Edition pdf

6. Lost Souls

Lost Souls rpg cover
Lost Souls cover. Image credit:

Publisher: Joe Williams & Kathleen Williams
Time to play: 2-4 hours
Ideal number of players: 3-5
GM required: Yes

Lost Souls is a free horror adventure RPG where you play as ghosts!

Your character’s life was taken away too soon. Perhaps because of a plane engine failure, a science experiment gone wrong, or something else sudden and unexpected. With unfinished business, your will to live is so strong that you can’t be reborn.

You continue to haunt the lands of the living, completing Ghostly Vows to collect Karma because only with enough Karma can you ascend to the next plain.

One thing I love about Lost Souls is the character creation. You choose one of 25 professions like artist, pilot and one of 24 lost soul types like wraith, spectre or grim. You can do this by choosing them yourself or by rolling a d100. Each profession and soul type has its own stats and specialities to help you create your character.

There are some brilliant fully fleshed-out adventures on the Haunted Attic website that are brilliant for one-shots.

For example, The Theatre of Blood, where one player takes on the role of the glamorous magic assistant who acted in the lady-sawn-in-half trick that turned real! The module gives you the background, map, NPCs, encounters and even a final boss to end the one-shot adventure.

It’s definitely worth checking out Lost Souls to experience what it’s like playing ghosts!

Where to get Lost Souls?

Full digital version for free: Lost Souls pdf
Full hardcopy book version from LuLu: Lost Souls Book

7. Bluebeard’s Bride

Bluebeard's Bride RPG
Bluebeard’s Bride cover. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: Magpie Games
Time to play: 3-4 hours
Ideal number of players: 3-5
GM required: Yes

You may be familiar with the dark fairytale of Bluebeard’s Bride. Bluebeard the nobleman has a history of being married to beautiful women who all mysteriously disappear.

His latest wife is left alone with the keys to all the rooms in the chateau while he goes away. She is allowed to go in every room but is forbidden from going into the underground chamber otherwise she’ll face his wrath on his return.

Unable to resist, she disobeys her husband, ventures into the forbidden chamber and discovers its unnerving purpose and what has happened to Bluebeard’s previous wives!

In the Bluebeard’s Bride RPG, players take on the role of different aspects of the Bride’s psyche and together decide what the Bride does. They argue and disagree on what she should do, recreating the fear, courage and indecision we can all feel.

The GM takes on the role of the Groundskeeper who plays the role of the servants and horrors the Bride meets as she explores the house.

Multiple players being inside the head of one character while at the same time standing back and watching her take actions outside of your control make for a unique experience!

Where to get Bluebeard’s Bride?

Full digital version at DriveThruRPG: Bluebeard’s Bride Digital pdf
Digital supplement bundle at DriveThruRPG: Bluebeard’s Bride Digital Bundle pdf
Hard copy books of supplements at Amazon: Bluebeard’s Bride: Book of Rooms

8. Slasher Flick

Slasher Flick RPG cover.
Slasher Flick cover. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: Spectrum Games
Time to play: 2-3 hours
Ideal number of players: 2-5
GM required: Yes

A cabin in the woods at night. Power goes out. Phone line is cut. A friend goes to check on a noise never to be seen again. All classic slasher movie tropes.

In Slasher Flick, one person plays as the Director and controls the Slasher, while the other players are potential targets!

Because the life of a character in a slasher movie can be rather short-lived, players can control multiple characters per game. It isn’t about getting attached to them and levelling them up, it’s more about telling the story of how they went down.

The more tropes, the better. Points are even awarded for characters playing out tropes!

Slasher Flick mixes horror, parody and fun to recreate that slasher movie feel for your Halloween games night.

Where to get Slasher Flick?

Full digital version on DriveThruRPG: Slasher Flick: The Directors Cut pdf

9. Soth

Soth Rpg cover.
Soth cover. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: Steve Hickey
Time to play: 2-4 hours
Ideal number of players: 3-7
GM required: Yes

Soth is a mix between Breaking Bad and the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.

Steve Hickey, Soth designer.

In Soth, players are cultists that are three rituals away from summoning the old god Soth and obtaining power for themselves!

But it’s not easy. The rituals call for big sacrifices and the cultists live in small-town America where private business quickly becomes everyone’s business. Can the cultists maintain their appearance of normality and cover up their dark deeds?

As players plot, scheme and cover up their terrible actions, the GM is watching. They take on the role of the Keeper who tracks how easily players can pass as regular folk and how suspicious their behaviour looks. Too suspicious? The Keeper will make life difficult for the cultists.

Playing as cultists means that players must be prepared to describe what their characters are up to as they do whatever it takes to summon Soth. The game has safety mechanisms built-in to protect player safety as the game can venture into very dark places.

Soth is a really interesting mix between the dark and small-town life. It makes a nice change to play the villains instead of the investigators trying to stop the cultists!

Where to get Soth?

Full digital version from DriveThruRPG: Soth pdf

10. ViewScream

ViewScream rpg cover
ViewScream cover. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: Neoplastic Press
Time to play: 1-1.5 hours
Ideal number of players: 4
GM required: Yes

ViewScream is an unconventional live-action RPG that’s played online using Google Meet, Skype or Zoom.

Players are expected to be in character the entire time so sessions are intense 1 hour to 1 hour 30 experiences! If you need to say anything out of character, you need to use the chat box.

The games take place in settings like a starship, planetary explorer craft, or a cyber web where data hackers work. In all settings, players are isolated and panic and paranoia are taking hold.

There’s a very real chance that characters won’t survive. The scenarios are designed this way. Each character has to deal with two emergencies each and must get solutions from other players to solve them.

But there’s a catch.

You can’t physically meet any of the other characters in each game, and there aren’t enough solutions to go around!

The GM takes on the role of the Bridge, facilitating the game and making sure it doesn’t descend into everyone shouting over each other! The GM plays one character throughout the game. And that means just like the other characters, they can meet an untimely end!

The base game modules are mostly sci-fi horror, but the Distance expansion features some more classic horror-themed scenarios. One is a gathering of The Vampire Council to deal with zombies infesting the world and another is an audio-only adventure where ghost hunters are trapped in a house with an evil spirit!

If you want to get together with your friends for an RPG but it’s just not possible, ViewScream is a fantastic RPG to play online! It’s made for it!

Where to get ViewScream?

Full version on DriveThruRPG: ViewScream 2nd Edition pdf
ViewScream Distance modules: ViewScream: Distance pdf

11. Call of Cthulhu Quick Start: The Haunting

Call of Cthulhu Quick Start horror RPG cover
Call of Cthulhu Quick Start cover. Image credit: Chaosium.

Publisher: Chaosium
Time to play: 3-4 hours
Ideal number of players: 3-5
GM required: Yes

Based on the writings of HP Lovecraft, the Call of Cthulhu is set in the Cthulhu Mythos. It’s a place where arcane lore is being discovered and ancient gods are lurking in the shadows.

The GM takes on the role of the Keeper of Arcane Lore. The other players are Investigators of the Unknown seeking to understand the mysteries and horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Confronting monsters and ancient mythical beings can take its toll on an investigator’s mental health! Investigators need to look after their mental state as well as their physical health as they learn more about the unknown.

The Call of Cthulhu Quick Start book contains a light set of rules you can use to play through the one-shot scenario, The Haunting. In this scenario, players are investigators in the 1920s in Boston, Massachusetts. They are sent to investigate an old house that’s rumoured to be haunted. The scenario comes with locations, handouts, NPCs and key adventure points for the Keeper to use.

The Call of Cthulhu is a, if not the, classic horror RPG. If you haven’t lost your mind by the end of it, definitely check out the full game rules and its beautiful illustrations!

Where to get Call of Cthulhu Quick Start: The Haunting?

Quick Start pdf on Chaosium: Call of Cthulhu Quick Start pdf
Full rule book on Amazon: Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Book

12. Old Friends

Old Friends horror RPG
Old Friends cover. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: Bully Pulpit Games
Time to play: 3-4 hours
Ideal number of players: 4-5
GM required: No

In Old Friends, you play as, well, old friends who are meeting up for their first ghost hunt in 20 years. All those years ago, you regularly used an ancient ritual to lay ghosts to rest. You were good at it too. But it all stopped when your friend Sara passed away.

Now, you’re back at the school where Sara was taken, for one last job.

Using rituals, a mask and possession cards, you’ll tell the story of what happens at your last job and the spirits you meet there.

Old Friends is a GMless RPG, but someone will need to print out and cut up the possession cards and introduce the scenario. After that, they can play with everyone else!

Character creation is really quick. Everyone simply chooses randomly from piles of cards. What’s on some of the cards everyone in your group will know – your role on the old team, what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years, your relationship to the other characters and your relationship to Sara.

You’ll also have secret cards which say how you’ll communicate with the ghosts in the game to act as story guidance and surprises for other players.

Old Friends is definitely worth checking out as a minimal prep, horror RPG where you can channel the spirits of the past!

Where to get Old Friends?

Full version on DriveThruRPG: Old Friends pdf

13. Don’t Walk in Winter Wood

Don't Walk in Winter Wood horror RPG
Don’t Walk in Winter Wood cover. Image credit: DriveThruRPG.

Publisher: Red Moon Medicine Show
Time to play: 2-3 hours
Ideal number of players: 2-6
GM required: Yes

Don’t Walk in Winter Wood is based around those places that are a bit creepy. The spooky woods on the edge of town. The dilapidated old house on the hill. The overgrown abandoned church. You might venture into them for a dare or sit and tell creepy stories about them around a campfire.

Stories like the kids who disappear, folkloric legends of the spirits that protect the woods, and rumours of the large beast with glowing eyes that prowls the town at night.

In Don’t Go Into Winter Wood, players take on the role of villagers who are exploring these mysteries. Sometimes out of desperation to save a life, protect themselves and their families or out of curiosity to understand the celestial.

Whatever their reason, you can guarantee that adrenaline filled adventures await!

One player takes on the role of the Watcher (GM). There are four scenarios in the rulebook for a prepared adventure. All of them are spooky and perfect for a horror RPG game!

Where to get Don’t Walk in Winter Wood?

Full digital version from DriveThruRPG: Don’t Walk in Winter Wood pdf

Conclusion – Best One-shot Horror Tabletop RPGs

I hope this one-shot horror role-playing games list has given you some ideas for your next spooky adventure! There are so many scary games to try out, you’ll have plenty to keep you playing through all the dark nights!

For horror RPGs with more depth than a one-shot, you might want to check out my article, 15 Horror RPGs – Systems, Campaign Settings + Ideas!

One key accessory I use to set a creepy mood for Halloween and horror RPGs is my colour changing LED light bulb from Amazon. I love changing the brightness and colour to match the mood of what we’re playing.

If you like board games and horror, you might also like my article, 13 Best Horror Board Games for a Spooky Halloween.

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Hi, I’m Emily, the tabletop gamer behind My Kind of Meeple. If this article helped you, I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

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