Tabletop roleplaying games, or TTRPGs, include a million and one different worlds to explore with all kinds of settings and tones. Compelling and driven stories are the norm, but playing the same old same old can get a bit tiring. Sometimes you want something a little spooky to shake things up. Luckily for you, we’ve come up with a list of ten of the best horror TTRPGs for your table to try out!
What qualifies as a Horror RPG?
Most roleplaying games involve playing characters who fight against monsters. What sets horror games apart is largely the tone and world building created by the rules and canon materials.
Suspense: The best horror tabletop RPGs have an edge to them and a sense of urgency. Players will constantly be faced with enemies, whether seen or unseen. Ghouls and goblins are always lurking in the shadows just out of sight.
Horror games will usually include monsters of all sorts, all waiting for foolish characters to slip up at the wrong moment, hoping to snap them up and feast on their bones. As horror games progress, tension will naturally mount and characters will face scarier and more dire events.
The exact horrors that await will vary from game to game, and even session to session. Whatever the details are, though, horror TTRPGs won’t let players be passive and just let things happen.
Consequences: Any horror game worth its salt is going to evoke a lot of emotion in its players. That’s largely because there are consequences in the game. Your character could very well die at any moment in many of the games on our list. Acts of cruelty are commonplace, and evil is very, very real.
Monsters will be coming for you. If you don’t face them or find a safe spot to hide, they will latch on and never let you go. Real horror TTRPGs don’t let anyone sit idly by. They embody the phrase “eat or be eaten” in a very literal sense.
10 Best Horror TTRPGs, Ranked in No Particular Order
Let it be known that this is not a ranked list. Each of these RPGs is going to appeal to players in different ways, and none are inherently better than any of the others. They each have their own strengths and unique points that make them worth playing. Each game also allows for wildly different tones, so it’s up to your group and your GM to decide what is best for you.
Also, be warned that some games may inherently include some uncomfortable topics that players will want to avoid. There’s usually a way to tweak and adjust anything to best fit your group, but the point is that it will be easier to do with some games than others.
In general, we suggest setting aside at least 2–4 hours per game session for each of these horror RPGs, as well as a group size of about 3–5 players. That tends to work the best when playing tabletop games, but you can always do what works well for you.
Now that we’ve covered all of that, let’s get into the list of the 10 best horror TTRPGs!
Call of Cthulhu (Best Overall)
- Publisher: Chaosium
- System: Basic Role-Playing
- Buy It: Amazon
Kind of an obvious choice here. You can’t talk about horror tabletop games without at least mentioning Call of Cthulhu. Even outside of the horror genre, it’s one of the most popular TTRPGs out there.
Depending on the way the Game Master decides to play it, Call of Cthulhu is kind of like a 1920s ghost story came to life. The game takes heavy influence from the works and nightmares of H.P. Lovecraft.
The usual setting is around World War I, though the era can be changed depending on the needs of the campaign the players. Which means the technology available to characters can be wildly different.
What really sets Call of Cthulhu apart from other TTRPGs is that there’s no winning. Not really. Instead, players can only watch as their characters slowly descend into madness while they delve deeper into the Eldritch mysteries crafted for them. Every new piece of information is vital to progressing the campaign, but also acts as another nail in your sanity’s coffin.
Vampire: The Masquerade (Most Story-Driven Game)
- Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
- System: Storyteller System
- Buy It: Amazon
Vampire: The Masquerade is certainly the most gothic game on our list. The themes in it encourage players to embrace this while questioning the blurred lines of morality presented by living as a vampire.
The “Kindred,” as they’re called, are tortured beings who have to grapple with an unquenchable thirst for blood. A huge part of the game is tracking your character’s blood pool and humanity score. The first is concerned with the amount of human blood at your disposal to fuel your Kindred’s powers. The second is concerned with your character’s morality, lest you lose yourself to the Beast.
Balancing cruel acts against humanity with your own personal humanity makes for an incredibly compelling game. Players are encouraged to fully develop and understand their characters in order to get the full gameplay experience.
There’s no way to come up with a half-baked character, if only because they’ll naturally flesh things out as the campaign progresses. Which of course makes the stakes even higher whenever something begins to go wrong.
Anyone with a flair for the dramatic is going to love Vampire: The Masquerade. It’s a great opportunity to act out your own personal dramas with friends and collectively create a masterful new story.
Dread (Best for Players Wanting Something New)
- Publisher: The Impossible Dream
- System: Dread
- Buy It: DriveThruRPG
While most of the horror TTRPGs on our list can be played with just some paper and pencil, you will need a few more supplies for this one. Namely a set of Jenga bricks. Sorry, dice goblins, this horror RPG may not be for you.
The unique thing about Dread is that every move you make becomes more and more difficult. Each decision to further the game’s plot hinges on…well, not the roll of the dice, but instead the pull of a block. Players use a Jenga tower to decide which of their moves succeed and which fail. Pull out a block and you’ve succeeded. If you can’t (or simply won’t) you’ll have to face the consequences.
Basing your moves on a game of Jenga also helps build a sense of dread, since you’ll need to be thinking at least a few steps ahead every time you try to pull a block out. You won’t just be deciding your current action, you’ll also be at least partly deciding the next ten as well.
The story itself can be whatever your GM makes it, but the real beauty of the game lies in the ever-increasing tension among the players. You never know which action could push things over the edge, which is perfect for mounting suspense in a horror game.
Ten Candles (Best for Short Stories)
- Publisher: Cavalry Games
- System: Ten Candles
- Buy It: Cavalry Games
The world painted by Ten Candles is bleak to say the least. Set in a world taking its final, rasping breath, players will explore the last few hours of a dying existence. The apocalypse has run its course. The sun has vanished. All that is left is the end.
If you’re interested in anything and everything that goes bump in the night this is definitely the game for you.
The game is controlled by the Game Master as always, but the players’ perception of the world is limited to what can be kept lit in their small vicinity. There are no vast landscapes to describe, only a dark void surrounding you at all times. In that void lay countless unseen creatures just waiting for the perfect moment to strike. The end is just another inevitability.
Ten Candles is essentially a ghost story turned RPG. Rather than trying to grapple with morality or combating monsters, this game instead makes players grasp onto the last dregs of hope in the darkness of a dying world. There can be no winning. The only thing players can do is try to find their own light and make peace with themselves before it is snuffed out.
There are loads of pre-made modules with a wide range of tragic characters to play as and vicious foes to combat. Of course, GMs are always able to make their own settings if they’d like to.
Did we mention this game is also traditionally played by candle light? Ten candles to be exact.
The candles act as more than just ambience, though. Players are encouraged to use tea candles to actually count down their session. They can also be used to burn away parts of your character sheets (use extreme caution if you choose to do this, though!).
Monster of the Week (Best for One-Shots)
- Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
- System: PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse)
- Buy It: Amazon
While Monster of the Week can be like any other serial tabletop game, it really specializes in episodic stories. Players will come together to create their very own supernatural scenarios with all sorts of ghosts and other grotesque creatures.
If you’re in the mood for some Scooby-Doo shenanigans, some epic Buffy the Vampire Slayer action, or intense Supernatural drama, this is the perfect RPG for you. The tone of the campaign can be changed to suit whatever your group needs, which gives it a lot of flexibility.
For the most part, even with all that flexibility, the typical campaign will be set in a world where monsters and the like are hidden from the regular people. Which also opens the door to some hilarious hijinks.
One of the most important aspects of the game is of course going to be your characters. Thanks to the number of character playbooks available, players can choose whether to be human or…something else. Which also makes it easy for the GM to get inspiration for new creatures for the group to face.
The system overall is pretty player-friendly, so it won’t be too hard to pick up even for the most inexperienced. Not to say there isn’t anything for experienced players to get into, though.
Alien: The RPG (Best for Classic Horror Fans)
- Publisher: Free League Publishing
- System: Year Zero Engine
- Buy It: Amazon
This entry in our list of the best horror TTRPGs may sound familiar even if you haven’t actually played it before. It is, after all, based on the Alien movie franchise. Which also makes it pretty easy for anyone to understand the campaign setting and world building.
It’s also pretty much the perfect game for anyone who saw how deadly Xenomorphs are and thought “yeah, I could take them.” Or facehuggers. Or any of the other creepy, gooey creatures that can and will tear humans to shreds without a second thought.
Despite being based on a movie franchise, there is plenty of room for creativity and new ideas. The canon materials are just there to guide you, but you can always throw them out. Alien is an easy game to get into even if you aren’t familiar with the movies, as the rules will help provide context for all the tech and cool things that make it unique.
If you’re looking for some pre-made storylines to run with, there are a couple of official modules filled with plenty of suspense and alien horrors. Most of the pre-made stories you’re going to find take place in space or at least on alien planets.
While the Alien movies do have a lot of tie-ins to Earth, their focus is definitely outward, so it only follows that the horror tabletop RPG would be as well.
My Life with Master (Darkest Twists)
- Publisher: Half Meme Press
- System: My Life with Master
- Buy It: Half Meme
The next up on our list of the best horror tabletop TTRPGs is quite the doozy. My Life with Master is based around players acting out as the oppressed servants to a cruel and terrible Master (or Mistress). Essentially, players take up an Igor-like role in the game after helping their GM craft the Master/Mistress character.
Character statistics are largely based on their relationships with others and their own senses of self-loathing. As usual, each stat influences certain dice rolls and can impact how the story plays out.
Games usually play out through a series of scenes, which end with the Master/Mistress dying either at the hands of the players or the NPC townsfolk. The townsfolk may also turn their torches and pitchforks upon the players, depending on previous interactions between the two groups.
While long campaigns are possible, My Life with Master tends to be a shorter game. Combat is kept to a bare minimum since the focus is on telling a complete story, rather than beating up unthinking creatures.
While the tone of the game is up to players and their GM, this tabletop game can get very dark very quickly. After all, in order to create a worthwhile villain, the Master/Mistress character will need to have committed acts of villainy. Which can be hard for some players to swallow if the premise is mishandled.
You won’t be fighting any real monsters in this game, but rather trying to break free from the one creating them.
MÖRK BORG (Best for Murder Hobos)
- Publisher: Free League Publishing
- System: Old School Revival (OSR)
- Buy It: Amazon
If you’re looking for something a little more hardcore, you’ll definitely want to check out MÖRK BORG.
The world of MÖRK BORG is essentially a post-apocalyptic hellscape. Man has suffered great disasters and the only civilizations left are the ones that constantly prey on themselves and their neighbors.
If that wasn’t enough of a description, the game describes itself as a “death metal album of a game.” Dark, insane, and intent on driving you to the brink, this RPG is definitely not for the faint of heart. The game’s symbol is also an upside down cross, if that tells you anything about its tone. If it helps, you can kind of imagine it to be like a darker, twisted, and rotting version of Dungeons and Dragons.
If old school apocalypses aren’t really your thing, the publisher has also released a cyberpunk variation. All the horror with a sci-fi twist.
While MÖRK BORG doesn’t have too steep of a learning curve, we definitely recommend it to players with some experience. The rules take a lot of influence from original RPG rulebooks from the 70s and 80s. Which can be a bit much for someone who has never played a tabletop game before.
Kult: Divinity Lost (Best for Conspiracy Theorists)
- Publisher: Modiphius
- System: PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse)
- Buy It: Amazon
If you’ve ever wanted to play a paranormal version of The Matrix, Kult: Divinity Lost is probably going to be your best bet. The whole game is centered around seeing the unseen and uncovering the truths kept just out of reach. If you could just see a little further, hear a little more, even taste a bit more deeply, you could just uncover the greatest truths your captors don’t want you to know.
The setting for this game is to basically assume everything you know about real life is in the game, but is also a lie. Our mundane everyday world is actually a thin shroud meant to keep humanity docile and manageable while sinister forces work behind the scenes with their own dark machinations.
Players will create characters based on common archetypes who have pierced the veil (so to speak) and understand that the world is not as it seems. Though uncovering the reality of the world or succumbing to it is up you.
Unlike in many of the other horror TTRPGs on our list, players can technically win, but it will be a very long campaign to overcome such powerful enemies. Which could be just the thing your group is looking for.
Sleepaway (Best for Forever GMs)
- Publisher: Possum Creek Games
- System: Belonging Outside Belonging
- Buy It: Possum Creek Games
Summer camp is one of the most classic horror movie tropes. Young kids and maybe a few teenage counselors to terrorize with nary an adult in sight. Easy pickings for all sorts of monsters and inhuman freaks.
What makes Sleepaway one of the more unique horror TTRPGs is that your characters are already experienced. You play camp counselors offering innocent youths a place to step away from the constant anxieties that come from constantly being bombarded by social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and in some cases harassment just for being a misfit.
You’ve gone through it yourself already and want to give your campers a place of solace during the summer while also protecting them from the constant, unseen dangers of the Lindworm. You’ve tangled with it before and your character is determined to prevent anyone else from doing the same.
There are no dice in this game, and no Game Master either. Play is determined through interactions between characters and a deck of cards, which prompts events related to the Lindworm.
Other gameplay elements include rituals that players can evoke through various means to add more nuance to the game and help direct the story without relying on a single person to oversee everything.
The game is separated into three acts, which helps players control the flow of the story as well as their individual session playtime.
Join the High Ground!
That’s it for our list of the 10 best horror TTRPGs around! Have you played any of them or is there another we should add to the list? Let us know in the comments below! You can also let us know if you’re looking for any other RPG recommendations. In the meantime don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and check out our list of the top 10 best superhero tabletop RPGs.
Until next time, happy gaming!