Halloween is fast approaching! Finally! The one time of year when grown-up nerds can cosplay without fear of judgment! It’s also a prime opportunity for some festive tabletop roleplaying game Halloween adventures. With loads of nightmare fuel in our favorite books by Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press and more, we’re just about set. All we need is to build a framework to unleash these delightfully dreadful monsters. In this week’s RPGtube video, I’ve shared 5 session prompts to keep your players on the edges of their seats! While good monsters and a good plot can make a fantastically frightful session, I’ve thought of 5 ways to immerse your players just that little bit more!
1. Amp up the atmosphere
A spooky playlist in the background of a session can really raise the tension for your players. One of my favorite tips I came across recently was to play a soft loop of white noise, steadily raising the volume very gradually. Then, stop it abruptly. The result is the players filtering out their awareness of the noise, until it’s suddenly gone, and they feel like they missed a loud sound they never actually heard.
Another tip for atmospheric ambiance is lighting. Dim lighting can work to great effect for a Dungeons & Dragons game. If you’re especially good (and extremely careful) with fire, a candlelit session could really build the tension.
Just maybe don’t use candles if you use minis or a game map, or if your players need the light to see their character sheets. This is one place where everyone using D&D Beyond on their personal devices can really shine (pun intended).
In general, get creative with your senses! Lighting and sound effects can take your game to the next level.
2. Brew a colorful potion
Along the lines of incorporating your senses in creative ways, suppose you mixed some drinks ahead of time? A few drops of food coloring in your beverage of choice turns a cocktail into a witch’s brew. Garnish with some spooky candies (like those really creepy jelly eyeballs) and you’re ready to go.
For some added immersion, present the drinks to the characters in-game, then serve the drinks. Who partakes? Who refuses? Maybe the vile concoction offers a necessary buff to complete the quest.
3. Costume party
Remember what I said earlier about cosplay? Encourage your players to attend your game adorned as their characters, elf ears and all! With the loads of costume goodies at local stores right now, finding affordable materials to dress as your character has never been easier. Maybe make a day of going out shopping as a group, hunting down the pieces for each person’s ensemble! Plus, getting out in the community together is a great way to strengthen those real-life friendships formed around the table. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: Nerdarchist Ted recently gave me a great tip for filling out your costume rack: hit up those Halloween stores a few days after Halloween for amazing deals on all sorts of costume pieces and accessories. Now you know the secret to Nerdarchy’s extensive costume department!]
4. Mystery box
I’m drawing inspiration for this one from first grade, where my teacher had this game we played sometimes. She’d cut a hole in a shoe box and inside the shoe box was something like sand or cooked spaghetti. We had to take turns feeling the contents and guess what was inside. This could make for a fun or interesting trap the players could encounter in-game! In order to pass, they have to guess what’s inside. Just make sure to know your players’ allergies prior to doing this one.
5. Jump scare
Okay, okay. I know jump scares are the epitome of cheap in entertainment, but some people love the thrill that comes with it. The adrenaline rush just does something for some people.
This particular idea requires a co-conspirator. Essentially, you arrange with someone else to dress as whatever enemy you want to scare the players with in-game. Wait until the players encounter the enemy in-session, then have your friend jump out, revealing themselves.
For some added fun, let your friend dressed as the monster decide its actions. While your players might be well aware of how you run monsters, bringing in someone new adds a new level of unpredictability and thus, tension.
What are you doing for Halloween this holiday season?
Do you have your own ideas for a ghoulish good time at the game table? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. We shared a selection of D&D Halloween adventures if you’re interested in bringing a spooky holiday mood to the gaming table.
And until next time, happy Halloween, you goblins!