Posted on October 6, 2012 by Michael Holland
“I want to kill some zombies.”
That is what my daughter said to me just the other day in the matter of fact kind of way which meant no matter what I wanted I was going to do exactly what she said. It doesn’t matter whether I had an opinion on the issue or not we were going to “kill some zombies.” I timidly said okay and did my damned best to choke down my geeky tears of pride and joy (which may or may not have looked more like a seizure). My little girl was growing up!
So I ask her, “Why do you want to kill zombies?”
Without batting an eye she shoots back, “Because it’s Monstober dad, duh!” Then she walked away as if I had just offended her sensibilities.
Dear lord, how could I not know it was Monstober!?! Monstober is… Monstober is… Hell, I had no idea what Monstober was other than obviously being a mash up of the words “monster” and “October.” So I jumped on the trusty internets and did some research. It didn’t take me long to find Monstober had something to do with the Disney channel and their Halloween line up of shows. Most of it had nothing to do with zombies but it made me realize what my daughter was really saying. Halloween is coming and my daughter was in the mood for some supernatural horror oriented gaming.
Halloween is pretty big in my house. In fact, we have two of them. We have the big event on Oct. 31 like everyone else in which we dress up and stalk the neighborhood demanding candy lest we vandalize people’s pumpkins. Okay, we would never vandalize pumpkins. It’s not the pumpkin’s fault their owners give out lame treats (or no treats at all). Well, actually we might vandalize the guy who gives out toothbrushes. Who the hell wants toothbrushes on Halloween?
The other Halloween consists of the entire month of October and as much of September and November as I can squeeze out of my wife before she drops the hammer. Yes honey, I will take down those decorations. I’ll get right on that. I just need to… adjust… my dice drawer first and then I’ll do it. Is she gone kids? Quick, hide! One more day of Halloween for us! Yes!
Boiling my daughter’s message down to its obscure while obvious meaning I needed to start prepping some supernatural and horror oriented games. That or risk she and her two siblings would hunt me down like ravenous animals and rip out my spleen. Yeah, they do that. Kids are vicious. I’m still missing a kidney.
There are a lot of different kinds of ways we celebrate Halloween. Decorating, “Trick or Treating,” the annual trip to our local apple orchard to pick out our pumpkin for the year, movies and games. Oh yeah, we play lots and lots of games. It’s what we do anyway and it only makes sense that we combine the best of Halloween and gaming at this time of year.
But what to prepare?
Obviously I am not the only one who asks this question this time of year. I imagine for most gamers Halloween is a much beloved holiday and the perfect time to drag those themed games out of the darkest corners of the game closest. Fortunately for us there are a lot of great options to get our spooky game on.
When it comes to horror-themed roleplaying games, you don’t have to look far to find the granddaddy of them all, Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium. Players take on the roles of intrepid (perhaps foolish?) investigators who delve the madness of Lovecraftian horror. Match wits with crafty cultists, dodge the walking dead and flee from anything that completely unnerves you. On a good day you make it out alive and sane. On a bad day you end up being sucked dry like a grey matter Capri Sun by a tentacle horror from beyond space and time. But hey, at least you go out with a smile on your face.
If you don’t have time for a creepy night of Cthulhu you can always get your madness fix from other games like Cthulhu Dice or Munchkin from Steve Jackson Games. Cthulhu Dice is a fast paced dice game of strategy and madness in which you are trying to be the last cultist standing who hasn’t lost their mind. Each game is very short and you don’t need to carry a lot of game material to play it (just the Cthulhu die and glass beads).
Munchkin Cthulhu brings the best of Lovecraft to the popular Munchkin card game. Play as one of four classes (including Cultist) and do battle with the forces of madness. Steve Jackson also offers a number of other card sets which work quite well this time of year. Munchkin Bites! (vampires and such), Munchkin Zombies and Munchkin Apocalypse are all great choices as well. The best part is you can mix these sets and use them together in one big, slimy tentacle, blood sucking, brain-eating and end of the world monstrosity. That sounds like fun to me.
If board games are more your thing Fantasy Flight Games has you covered with Arkham Horror. Up to eight players play investigators facing off against the Ancient Ones and their minions. This is classic horror gaming at its finest and when your brains are leaking out your ears you can keep going with FFG’s expansion, The Dunwich Horror. Then hop over the Mansions of Madness (and its five expansions) to keep the board game investigations going all night long.
Man that is a lot of Cthulhu awesomeness but there is definitely a lot more to horror than the mad children which danced in Lovecraft’s head.
You can spend a life time in White Wolf’s Worlds of Darkness. What’s that you say? White Wolf makes a horror-themed roleplaying game? Holy crap, who knew!?! Yeah, they make a whole lot of them. From vampires to werewolves to mummies White Wolf has what you need to keep yourself running scared. And now Onyx Path Publishing is surging forward with support for all of the Worlds of Darkness, classic and new. Grab some ten sided dice and become the monster.
If you are like my daughter and you want to experience survival horror there really are hundreds of games out there for you to try but I my highest recommendation goes to Origin Award winning All Flesh Must Be Eaten by Eden Studios Inc. This game includes everything you need to bring zombies to “life” at your game table including zombie creation rules and eleven different settings in which to set your story.
Honestly, the list goes on and on and on. Beyond the Supernatural from Palladium Books, Deadlands by the Pinnacle Entertainment Group and many, many more. If you find yourself hurting for inspiration or you’re just low on cash drop by DriveThruRPG and do a search for “horror.” You will find somewhere around 1,800 product hits which range in price from FREE (hundreds of them actually) to bundles around $80 to $90. The important part is you find something you are interested in, get your friends together with some snacks and play games. There really is no better way to celebrate Halloween than that.
My daughter is eye balling my copy of All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Should I be disturbed that my spleen stealing children love zombies so much? Oh well, at least there is work for them in Florida if times get tough.
Time to kill some zombies.
Michael Holland – 2012