Boo! It’s the spookiest time of the year, which makes it the perfect time to grab some dice and subject your friends to a night of rousing terror. But what could the most frightful of scares be? Ghosts? Demons? Monsters or ghouls? No, there’s nothing more terrifying than people - weapon wielding slashers, that is! From the masked to the monstrous to the just plain maniacal, it’s slashers who put the blood in bloody good time. Here are some of the best and most blood-curdling tabletop roleplaying games and supplements about the killers of the screen for you to break out at your table, though be warned: the following contain mention of violence, blood, gore, and DEATH!
Best slasher RPGs
- Slasher: Extended Cut
- Scream: The Horror
- Shiver: Slasher
- The Final Girl
- Dead Teenager
- The Hunted
- World of Darkness: Slasher
- Enter the Survival Horror
- End of the Line: Slasher Edition
1. Slasher: Extended Cut
As the name so aptly tells us, Slasher: Extended Cut is a game for four to eight players about the climactic showdown between a group of, relative, innocents and one tragically murderous slasher. The cast of characters take on various movie archetypes, from the sleazeball to the nerd, while the slasher crafts for themselves a tragic backstory that only reveals itself in the third act of the game. Taking a page out of the books of Dread and The Wretched, Slasher makes use of a tumbling block tower to emulate the escalating dread between the slasher and the cast. And when it all comes tumbling down - naturally, somebody comes to their bloody end.
You can get Slasher: Extended Cut from itch.io.
Speaking of Dread, it’s the time of year to remind players that Dread is a classic of horror roleplaying games for a reason. Beginning with character questionnaires that probe into the strengths, weaknesses and deepest flaws of the characters that you’ll bring to the table, you’ll be relying on your own shaking fingers to ensure that you make it out the other end alive. While Dread is not specifically tailored to the slasher genre, the Beneath the Mask scenario in particularspecific makes it a perfect fit for a game of murderer vs. victim.
You can get Dread from DrivethruRPG.
3. Scream: The Horror
A slasher offering in two pages, don’t take Scream’s succinct nature for a lack of heart. Scream is a semi-adversarial game, pitting the games master/horror against the rest of the players in a package that asks you to be “brave, sexy and dumb”. What makes Scream stand out is that characters can generate hope by leaning into the type of actions you can only watch through your fingers - going off by themselves, messing with the supernatural and generally inviting trouble into their lives. This hope can then be used for certain benefits such as bonuses to dice rolls or getting out of tight scrapes, just to even the odds between the Horror and the Horrified.
You can get Scream: The Horror from DrivethruRPG.
4. Shiver: Slasher
The Shiver series of games have already gained a strong reputation for being able to emulate the feeling of just about any type of horror movie except slashers… until now! Part of their currently funding Double Feature release, Shiver: Slasher ups the ante by now allowing you to play generational characters, letting you escape murderers across sequel after sequel. The basic rules and framework - rolling d6s and d8s with easily discerned symbols - lend themselves to a jaunty, breezy chase between the killer and their potential victims, and the best part is that being part of the Shiver universe makes the game structure ripe for crossover potential.
You can get Shiver: Slasher from DrivethruRPG.
5. Dead Teenager
A slightly heftier volume than the other tabletop RPGs on this list, Dead Teenager uses the classic three act story structure to create an atmosphere of collective dread. Elements and characters introduced in the first act are then deployed in a whirlwind of terror. However, the use of card draws adds a seemingly heightened element of luck to the gameplay. Neither the players nor the director know precisely when the killer will come out of hiding. All you can do is rely on your wits, your knowledge of your flaws, and a little dumb luck - no, really, it’s a mechanical thing - to try and stay alive!
You can get Dead Teenager from DrivethruRPG.
6. The Final Girl
The Final Girl begins with a statement by the author, declaring “I consistently hate survivors in horror movies” and for good reason. Where Final Girl distinguishes itself from its contemporaries is by putting more emphasis on the relationships between characters - you know, so they’re not just disposable and unlikeable blood bags. No, Final Girl wants you to care about the characters that make up the game’s beating heart, working collaboratively as a group to decide who lives, who dies and whose story is worth telling. Those relationships that are formed then become the tools that keep characters believe, giving characters one more card as a resource and one less in the Killer’s hands.
You can get The Final Girl from DrivethruRPG.
7. The Hunted
Thus far, the games on this list have dealt with killers that are, mostly, humanoid - as slashers typically are. What makes The Hunted special is that it delves into the realm of supernatural horrors on the prowl, some force of malice preying on unsuspecting humans. Running on a hybrid system that brings to mind Blades in the Dark and Powered by the Apocalypse, The Hunted puts some measure of control back into the hands of its characters. Death is not inevitable, but the lure of the mystery at the game’s heart is hard to resist. The more that players delve into the story they spin, the more structure and form their Hunter takes.
You can get The Hunted from itch.io.
8. World of Darkness: Slasher
Though not strictly a game in its own right, the Slasher sourcebook goes hand in hand with Hunter: The Vigil to add some murderous mayhem to the World of Darkness. It introduces Slashers as manifestations of the supernatural, or hunters who have taken their oaths a step too far, inviting the creation of characters who go beyond the norm into the realm of violent and bloody obsession. The characters created here, when married to the systems of the new World of Darkness, also better serve players who want a long-term campaign where the tables can be turned on the slashers themselves.
You can get World of Darkness Slasher from DrivethruRPG.
9. Enter the Survival Horror
Like Shiver, Enter the Survival Horror is a system that was designed to emulate multiple variations of horror. Where it differs from Shiver is that EtSH uses Forged in the Dark, taking elements of the gameplay system to create characters who are a little more resourceful than your average victim. The game begins in media res - having taken damage, the players must heal up, regroup and find a way out of their predicament. You delve through your environment, searching desperately for weapons and items you’ll need to face down all kinds of Intrusions, from traps to distractions to killers behind the closet!
You can get Enter the Survival Horror from itch.io.
10. End of the Line: Slasher Edition
Full disclosure - this game was written by this article’s author.
Slasher movies unavoidably contain trace elements of comedy, but every End of the Line game leans heavily into the laughs generated by guts and gibs. Utilising the Bad Time system, a d4 engine that assumes the worst, players have to alternate between fucking around - investigating haunted places, making out and being generally annoying - and finding out: trying not to discover the error of their ways via violence. Along the way expect your errors to pile up around you, inevitably leading to someone’s death - accidentally or purposefully. Thankfully, even if you die your game isn’t over, as you come back to life wielding a weapon of your own!
You can get Enter the Survival Horror from itch.io.
This is just a small selection of the wide array of games centred around things that go bump in the night! Got your chills, thrills, and screams out with a Halloween game full of mayhem and guts? Comment below with what you played this Hallow-scream!