Top 10 Horror Tabletop Games That Are Awesome!

Horror Tabletop Games
From werewolves to vampires to tentacled beasts, we’ve got a gory and scary selection for you!

What are the best tabletop horror games?

The rise in horror-themed video games in the last decade has finally reached a firm balance between quality and quantity. From zombie games to survival-horror to games that only exist to jumpscare you, the selection is enormous. But this trend dives into much more than video games as tabletop games have been running the gambit for years. Below is a selection of tabletop games that are guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your game board!

10. Call of Cthulhu

The one and only Call of Cthulhu is, like many others, a top choice for those that enjoy a good psychological horror romp. Call of Cthulhu is a Tabletop Role-Playing Game (TTRPG) that puts you and several other players in a party against the elder mythos and eldritch horrors of Lovecraftian design in the roaring 1920’s set up by another player known as the “Keeper”. This game is infamously difficult in design as it not only strains your characters physical aptitude but also pressures the boundaries of the human psyche. Be prepared as it’s commonly said that you can’t beat Call of Cthulhu, it beats you. Whether you take this as a challenge or as a warning, you will nevertheless find yourself in for some tentacled delights with this game!

How to Play

  • As with all TTRPGs, you will need a Keeper (Game Master) to create the world of the game, play the NPCs, choose the monsters and create your demise using rules provided in The Keeper’s Rulebook.

  • Find a group of two to four people, preferably ones that you can play with smoothly, and create your characters using The Investigator Handbook.

  • Once everyone has created their characters and the campaign has been set up, let your Keeper send you on your party on an eldritch journey! And may you survive the horrors for as long as you can!

Eldritch Mysteries: Cthulhu isn’t the only Great Old One to worry about! Eldritch beings come in all shapes, sizes, and maddening forms for mortals to gaze upon.

Lurking Dangers: Dangers come in all forms in Call of Cthulhu. Sometimes it may be an extremist cult or very possibly you might be face to face with tentacled doom itself.

9. World of Darkness

The World of Darkness TTRPGs are most well known for Vampire: The Masquerade but many forget that they also include whole series in which you play as werewolves, mages, ghosts, or even demons! Flipping the classic horror theme  on its end, The World of Darkness series of books explore what it is to be the monster and what atrocities you have to endure to keep your last bits of humanity in check. Will you give in to your inner monster or will you fight it every day of your existence? Either way the choice is yours but beware who, or what, may be watching you from the shadows!

How to Play

  • Gather yourself a willing group of vampire or monster lovers and a willing GM to set you off on a journey. A good suggestion is to start with Vampire: The Masquerade’s Alien Hunger.

  • Players will be using the Storytelling System developed by White Wolf, Inc to play and create their characters.

  • After you’ve learned about the system and what the game entails, be ready to jump into a world through the eyes of a hungry beast. Be careful, for those who lose their humanity find that the world becomes a much more cruel place.

Choose Your Clan: As a player, you get to choose a type of vampire that’s reminiscent of vampire lore such as the Nosferatu, Brujah, and Malkavian which drastically changes the appearance and behaviour of your character.

Satiate Your Desires: As part of Vampire: The Masquerade not only do you need to survive but you need to feed in your new form. Who will be your victim and how will you take them?

8. Dread

Dread is a TTRPG that brings horror elements into a simple game of Jenga, meshing two types of tabletop games under one roof. Every major action that your character takes in this game requires a pull at the wooden blocks and if the tower falls on you, then your character will often be met with a grisly demise! With a simple setup, Dread is a great game to play without needing too much prep or space. If you’re looking for a quicker one-off kind of game, I highly suggest this one as you can get through a game in one sitting but can extend it into multiple sessions if you enjoy the tension it brings.

How to Play

  • Grab a group of friends willing to play and one person to be the Game Master.

  • Acquire the Dread core rulebook.

  • Get a Jenga tower and set it up in the middle of you all.

  • Once you set up your character according to the rulebook and the DM figures out the story to the game, you are all set to go!

The Horror of Jenga: The tension of Jenga’s leaning towers and the campfire-like stories of the game combine in a twisted and suspenseful tale.

Dreaded Space: A scenario for Dread, called Beneath a Metal Sky, is about a tale on a spaceship, showing some of the diversity of themes for the game.

7. Betrayal at House on the Hill

A cooperative board game that incorporates an eventual defector, Betrayal at House on the Hill is both creepy and fun for everyone involved. You join several other players as you all explore a creepy old house on a hill. At about halfway through the game, it turns out someone in the group actually lured you there to murder you and you must deal with this traitor before you are all killed! With the layout of the house changing each time you play and over 50 stories to try out, the replayability is very high. Lovers of B-list horror movies will enjoy some of the tacky cliches and references to old horror movies all throughout the game. A very easy pick up and play, this game is an easy way to spend an hour or two exploring and experiencing what it’s like to be both a murderer and murder victim in an cheesy old horror film!

How to Play

  • Choose a character to play such as a psychic, a jock, or a professor.

  • After setting up the game, each character has a certain amount of space they can move on the board.

  • You uncover rooms as you explore and obtain Events, Omens, and Items and expand the map throughout the Ground Floor, Upper Floor, or Basement.

  • Picking up an Omen forces a Haunt Roll to happen and if the player fails the roll, the Traitor is revealed and thus begins the second half of the game.

  • The Traitor and Players have their own books that describe the win conditions for each side.

  • Whoever achieves their win condition first are the winners!

A Broad Selection: While the base game is very replayable, there are plenty of upgrades and expansions available to expand on the enjoyment!

Meddling Kids: Imagine Betrayal at House on Haunted Hill as a Scooby-doo mystery gone wrong, where one of the gang suddenly summon demons or becomes a werewolf and murders the others.

6. Atmosfear: The Harbingers

A modular VHS board game from the early 1990s, Atmosfear has you move around the board looking for keys so that you may give them to The Gatekeeper and win the game. There was a previous edition of the game known as Nightmare but Atmosfear is considered the more improved version of the game. Atmosfear and Nightmare both incorporate a being known as “The Gatekeeper” who is on the VHS tape that interrupts the game off and on. His job is to alter gameplay on a whim for players in sometimes good but mostly bad ways. The snippets of video of this Gatekeeper bring about a creepiness and sometimes scary atmosphere to the game that really add an element of “it’s so bad it’s good” into the game.

How to Play

  • Simply set up the board, choose a figurine, and start at your end of the board.

  • Pop in the VHS and let it roll as The Gatekeeper will introduce himself and begin his punishments and rewards as you play.

  • Make your way across the board, collect keys and Fate cards, and mess with your opponents along the way.

  • Once you have enough keys, make your way to the center of the board to win the game!

Yes, My Gatekeeper: Say hello to The Gatekeeper, your constant “companion” that will either likely be the bane of your existence or the cause of many, many laughs.

Riders in The Sky: A playable character you can chose, Soul Rangers are basically skeleton cowboys that ride on motorcycles and are just badass element all around.

5. Eldritch Horror

Eldritch Horror is a Pandemic-like board game that is thematically about Lovecraftian beings trying to conquer the world. As you progress through the game, solving mysteries with your party, the Elder Ones wreak havoc on your plans by spawning monsters and rifts throughout the world. If you and your party don’t deal with the Elder Ones influences, the Elder One will awaken once more! This highly cooperative game involves strategy with each move thought out carefully. For if you don’t perform well with your teammates, the world will be plunged into the insanity that the Elder Ones bring.

How to Play

  • After setting up the board and picking which Elder One will be influencing your game, players pick their characters.

  • They then take one turn doing certain actions that their specific character can perform.

  • A card is drawn for the location they are at and they will respond to that particular scenario.

  • It is then the Elder Ones turn which will always hampen the players goals or possibly kill their characters. It also progresses the Doom counter down towards 0.

  • Players win when they have solved three Mysteries by traveling around the world before the Elder One awakens or if they beat him after he has awoken.

  • Players lose when the Doom counter reaches 0, the Elder One awakens, and you meet the Loss Conditions they provide, often being the demise of your Investigators.

Globe Trotter: Travel across the world to help you and your allies against the Elder Ones! New encounters are ever-changing depending on where you stay.

Beware Your Enemies: You may never know what may happen in this game. One false move and you’ll be reaching for a new character to play.

4. Elder Sign

Elder Sign is a cooperative Lovecraftian board game similar to Eldritch Horror but more condensed in scale. Instead of traveling the world and solving mysteries, you are in a strange museum and must unravel the tasks in each room to gather Elder Signs. These Elder Signs keep the Great Old Ones locked away but beware! At each stroke of 12, the game becomes more difficult and gets closer and closer to impending doom. It’s a lot of fun with simple rules and everyone loves a good Cthulhu escapade after all!

How to Play

  • Players pick their characters and obtain special items associated with them.

  • They then choose a Great Old One to play against and set the clock at midnight.

  • Each player chooses a room to perform certain tasks and beat monsters in by rolling the appropriate dice needed on the task card. If they roll the appropriate dice needed to complete the task, they gain the rewards from the room. If they don’t succeed in gathering the appropriate dice, they will pay a penalty instead.

  • The game ends if the players either gather enough Elder Signs to seal away the Great Old One or if the Great Old One gathers enough Doom counters to be released into the world.

Collect the Elder Signs: Although needed as a mechanic, they reveal little in lore. What are they? Why are they so powerful? Why do we get one for going through a hedge maze?

Items Are Key: Obtaining items and special spells are the keys to success in this game! Fail to collect them and you’ll soon find yourself swimming in madness.

3. Mysterium

Another cooperative board game, Mysterium has the players take on the roles as mediums that can communicate with a ghost in a haunted house. In the vein of Clue, the players must figure out who, where, and how the ghost was killed. However, the ghost is another player who can only send visions to the players in an attempt to show them about their murder. The ghost is silent and must try to communicate with the others only through picturesque cards, creating a delightful and creepy blend of a murder-mystery whodunit!

How to Play

  • Players set up the board and choose their characters.

  • The Ghost randomly picks a who, where, and how card for each player about their murder.

  • Each round, the ghost gives the players one or more vision cards in an attempt to tell them about the murder.

  • The players have a limited time to chose the who, where, and how of the murder each round and only have 7 rounds to figure out the entire murder after one final round.

  • If the players guess correctly, the players win and the ghost crosses over into the afterlife. If not, the ghost continues to haunt the house forever more and all the players lose!

Visions Abound: Many cards like these provide the visions for the players and while nonsensical and indirect, they often have just enough details needed to give clues for the players.

Communication Board: Being a silent ghost to communicate everything is tough but the gorgeous art makes it easier. Whether if it was in the kitchen or done by the magician, the murder can be solved if you are all crafty enough.

2. Savage World’s Accursed

Heading back to tabletop RPGs, Accursed is similar to that of The World of Darkness series in that you take on the role of monster rather than human. However in this case, your monstrosity is being used to fight against other greater evils out in the world instead of just survival. You band together with a group of similar “Witchmarked” players who are ready to bash some bad guy’s heads in. This game is a great pick up for its short preparation time and easy to understand universal system for all Savage World games.

How to Play

  • Obtain the Accursed Rulebook.

  • Have 3-5 players and a game master ready to set up an adventure.

  • Have players set up characters according to the rulebook.

  • Enjoy your adventure as all kinds of different monsters!

Monstrous Races: From a variety of undead to werewolves and even golems, Accursed brings that bit of “what if the bad guys were good guys” trope and spurs it to life for players!

Monster Mash: A vampire, a Frankenstein’s Monster, and a zombie normally look rough and tumble for a party but in this case, they blend perfectly to create a spooktacular group.

1. Dead of Winter

Rounding out the list is a cooperative survival zombie board game in which the players are a band of survivors trying to keep the last bits of humanity alive in a frozen zombie wasteland. The players are pitted against the games mechanics while also accomplishing your own hidden objective along with the group’s objective to achieve victory. Throughout the game, you are gathering resources from locations around the area and dealing with the zombie menace outside. Keep resources and morale high as you play and you just might win against the zombie apocalypse.

How to Play

  • Players are given two random characters, five items, and a scenario for their session along with a hidden objective for each player.

  • A Crisis Card is drawn which has objectives that must be met for the Crisis to be prevented at the end of the round.

  • You can perform a number of actions on your turn and roll dice to determine the success of your actions.

  • One of the players has a possibility of being a traitor as well and if so, will often be detrimental in some way to the party.

  • If morale hits 0, the game is lost. However, if the traitor is in the party, they can possibly win this way as well!

Zombies, Zombies Everywhere: The board becomes littered with zombies after only a bit of play and while a great aesthetic piece, it also serves as a daunting reminder of what your situation is.

A Dog’s Undead Life: A comic is coming out based on Dead of Winter that features a plucky canine protagonist ala Air Bud style in that he’s very good at zombie killing.

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A writer in both nature and heart, Josh weaves tales of fantasy, beauty, and carnage for his readers. Searching for the lost treasures in this world, he seeks to share this knowledge with others.
Gamer Since: 1997
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition, Fallout: New Vegas, Shovel Knight

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