Flexing the writing muscle with a horror tabletop game

Right about the time this post is published, I’ll be starting up the single-session Halloween tabletop adventure I’ve been putting together for my gaming group.

One-shot tabletop games—games designed to be played in one sitting—are pretty much interactive short stories. I get to put together a story, a setting, and a cast of characters, and let my players run with it. It’s not all elves and Mountain Dew. This horror game has a modern setting, and it’s going to get pretty dark. But, after all, it IS for Halloween.

The players will be playing as kids out trick-or-treating in costume on Halloween night. They’ve volunteered to bring candy and Halloween decorations to a child who is sick and can’t go out door to door, and they end up trapped in an evil house where the hallways change and something is attacking them from the darkness. I’m calling it A Good Deed, because, as we all know, no good deed goes unpunished.

I’m using the core rules from Grimm and drawing heavy inspiration from Dread with its cool Jenga tower mechanics and creepy one-shot scenario titled only “13”Instead of the Jenga tower, I have illustrations of each player character (by comic artist Jen Vaughn on commission, because she’s awesome). Each time the lights go out, one character will discover they’ve been scratched by something unseen, and I will mark the scratches on the character illustrations in red ink. As they go further and further into the house, their characters will look more and more beat up.

EPSON MFP image

In the end, they’ll discover the house’s secret—the “sick child” is actually a child vampire who was trapped in his bedroom a century ago by crosses nailed to his bedroom walls. He can only feed by luring people to him. The scratches come from his pet (inspired by 13’s Gackle character), who is stealing their blood in the dark and giving it to the vampire to make him stronger, giving him more of a supernatural influence on the structure of the house.

If you’re a writer and you’re looking for new ways to flex your writing muscle, get some friends together and write an adventure for them! You get to practice character creation and worldbuilding, and you get instant feedback on your plot. And there’s nothing like having other people play around in the story you created to show you

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