Halloween is the perfect excuse to gather in huddled clumps against a darkening sky and share spooky stories. It’s even better when those tales are collaboratively told through terrifying tabletop games, perhaps around hot mugs, a campfire and a bitter wind rattling the windows in their frames.
The collaborators on the 2023 Halloween Spooktacular bundle would agree, as these creators are selling 9 tabletop titles for $20 - some full games, others adventures for popular systems - that will inject a healthy dose of chills into your Autumn exploits that have little to do with the weather.
This is the third consecutive year that Cat Elm and a crew of seven other tabletop designers have packaged bite-sized experiences on Itch.io purely for the benefit of entertaining players during Spooky Season. Purchasing the bundle this way saves about half of the normal cost buying them separately, and Elm claims in the Itch.io subscription that each title has been hand selected to curate a broad range of scares.
If your group loves the aesthetics of Halloween more than dumping adrenaline into your system via fear responses, Vamp Camp might be a great place to start. Created by Sebastian Yūe, this collaborative, GM-less RPG takes place at support group meetings for vampires struggling to handle their new unlife. Players will take turns responding to prompts and building out an explicitly non-white vampire that eschews much of the traditional European-derived lore baked into our modern understanding of blood suckers.
Monkey's Paw Games’ SMILE definitely wants to raise the hair on players’ arms with their investigation in the saccharine-sweet town of Sunnyvale, where everyone (and they mean everyone) can’t help but wear a massive, disconcerting grin. Players use a dice pool system to uncover the horrifying truth of this dentistry nightmare - roll more dice if you’re skilled in an action or take a Devil’s Bargain and create collateral damage in your wake.
Elm’s own addition to the bundle, Children of the Night, pits players against a vampire hunter hoping to smoke their sleeping master out of their massive gothic castle. As wolves armed with teeth and keen senses, the players must work together to outsmart and ultimately eliminate this intruder, teaching the smallfolk below to fear and respect you all. Children of the Night is explicitly designed for Halloween one-shots and boasts a simple system that new players can learn in seconds.
Mörk Borg fans, rejoice. You won’t have to pack away your grungy, death-obsessed system of choice in order to enjoy this Halloween Bundle. Veteran designer Chris Bissette, who has created plenty of supplementary material for the Swedish doom-metal RPG, has contributed a digital point-crawl adventure called The Chapel of the Hanged God. Those brave (or foolish) enough to venture below this church should prepare to fight for their lives against horrors that refuse to stay buried.
More information about the Halloween Spooktacular 2023 bundle can be found on its Itch.io page, where the sale will be running through October 31st.