Since we’re in the season for it I thought I’d talk about my two favourite horror board games I’ve played: Betrayal at House on the Hill and Elder Sign. These are both games you should play with your friends on this Halloween.
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a dangerous one, to be sure, but one of the primary joys of it is that you almost never play the same game. It’s so variable. The way the system works: it has several players with a figure they move around a board. The players find various items that can be both helpful and harmful. The game will then have an increasing chance for a kind of item you find that can either turn you into a monster or make you die at the hands of a monster.
The player then plays as the said monster and begins either purposefully hunting the other players to destroy them, or have pre-set conditions to make it likely that the players get killed or lose the game. There is an entire book about these conditions which are kept a secret from the other players.
When the transformation happens, the monster reads out what happens to the other players adding some flavour to the whole situation. The game is meant to be played with a bit of a cutthroat stance of mind. The main problem that arrives from playing it is when people try to be to kind to each other. It’s not as fun unless the challenge is presented. I have gone through that on more than one occasion. In all other regards it’s a pleasure to play and can be played several times in one evening to make things interesting.
Elder Sign is a game based in the Cthulhu mythos that has you and several other friends trying to prevent the end of the world by flipping cards, each representing further terrifying situations. The classic events that are often involved in these stories feature prominently, such as playing a detective or a scientist. In this game you have health and sanity as resources that both go down from failing certain endeavours that are attempts to save the world. As the title says, you need to gather Elder Signs which are clues to saving the world. You get a random horror from the mythos to go against and each one does different threats against the world. Some will simply destroy the world right away, but others will simply add more danger to the players and make the game exceptionally more difficult by trying to kill the players or making all their actions more difficult.
This season I hope you enjoy playing these games with your friends and may you defeat your monsters or be the best monster you can be.
Mark Drew has been LARPing for three and a half years, at Ashendael Underworld, has been a Dungeon Master using edition 3.5, he is 25 years old and has worked in fast food, and manual labor. He’s been working on a novel for several years.