Collecting Horror Roleplaying Games
Those interested in collecting horror roleplaying games are going to choose from a varied list of products, including the many versions of Lovecraftian horror that have been published over the years, the many horror-themed White Wolf campaign settings, and a vast array of independent horror games. Beyond that, you’ll find that most roleplaying games, especially in the fantasy category, have some elements of horror, due to the many monsters and supernatural situations characters (and their GMs) get into.
Demon: The Fallen RPG
The Demon: The Fallen roleplaying game is the hellish side of White Wolf’s World of Darkness. I’ve played this game a few times and fall into the same category as most of White Wolf’s games–you get something recognizable without being entirely predictable. In theDemon setting, a war between heaven and hell has taken place, but a magical event is weakening the gateways between worlds and demons can escape to Earth, if they find a human host. Your player character is therefore a human host for a demonic spirit.
Like all WoD games, the demons have their own houses (character archetypes) and factions (organizational ties) they belong to. Meanwhile, the 200 mysterious Earthbound are inspired by the Grigori/Watchers of the Bible, but resemble the Old Ones in game terms–they’re sleeping entities ready to “destroy the Earth” or cause tremendous destruction if they wake up. Given game material, gaming groups are encouraged to set their stories in Los Angeles.
Collecting Call of Cthulhu
The Call of Cthulhu RPG is the classic horror game, based on the world of H.P. Lovecraft. First published by Chaosium back in the 1980s, the game included game element like a sanity rating and a Cthulhu mythos rating, which did a lot to create the sense of creeping doom found in Lovecraftian horror. There have been many adventure supplements for investigators since then, perhaps spurred on by the fact that the Cthulhu Mythos is part of the public domain. That means plenty of independent RPG publishers have supplemented Chaosium’s list of publications. Let me give one obscure example.
Lurking Fears is a six-adventure book for CoC published by the little-known Triad Entertainment in 1990. While this book may not have a lot of buzz among Cthulhu gamers, it sells for about $75 on eBay. The combination of limited publishing run and enjoyable genre make the book a rare find for a collector.
A more famous example of Cthulhu roleplaying for collectors is theDelta Green setting, an updated modern version of Lovecraftian horror that won awards and has a devoted fan following. Imagine a cross between X-Files and the Cthulhu Mythos and you’ll immediately known what Delta Green is about.
Delta Green was first published in 1997 by Pagan Publishing and the setting eventually included over a dozen books, including separate publications (latest in 2010) from Fantasy Flight and Ronin Arts, five books of fiction based on the setting, and even significant unofficial setting information like “Across the Fence”, “Our Finest Hour”, and “A Handful of Dust”.
Other Delta Green titles to look for include the following names. A kind of second edition has appeared since 2007, but the most collectible books are those listed below and the original rulebook. Also look for the Unspeakable Oath magazine from the early 1990’s, also from Pagan Publishing.
- Delta Green Eyes Only Volume 1: Machinations of the Mi-go
- Delta Green Eyes Only Volume 2: The Fate
- Delta Green Eyes Only Volume 3: Project Rainbow
Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem
The Vampire settings from White Wolf also have produced some modern horror roleplaying collectibles. Vampire: The Masquerade is the first edition of Vampire, which is credited with helping to create the public frenzy for all things vampire in the last 20 years.
While the game conjures up images of brooding goths that somehow led to the glowing fairylike abomination that is Edward Cullen, these are dark games of horror more than vampire romances. Regardless, the horror RPG collector is going to find a continuing market for these games, which sometimes go for $50 to $100 on eBay.
Even the newer and less famous Vampire: The Requiem retains significant resale value on the market. While not a direct sequel toMasquerade, Requiem contains elements of that game.
The Unknown Armies RPG
First released in 1998 and offered as a hardcover 2nd edition in 2002,Unknown Armies is an example of an indie rpg that became a cult classic. Written by Greg Stolze (author of several White Wolf games, including Demon: The Fallen),Unknown Armies is a postmodern rpg which is said to be inspired by sourcing ranging from Grant Morrison to David Lynch. UA outdoes Call of Cthulhu by having five madness meters, instead of just one. You’ll find the second edition of this game selling for two or three times its cover price on eBay.
More Indie Horror Games
There are so many other horror roleplaying games that could be mentioned. My friends and I played an enjoyable Dread campaign a couple of years ago. There are many licensed horror RPGs, from theBuffy and Angel games to Supernatural. Beyond that, you have oddball indie games like Kill Puppies for Satan and more expansive settings like Deadlands, though I’ll discuss this more in the western roleplaying article.