Ah, horror roleplaying! One could argue that horror is second only to fantasy in the roleplaying world. And one could also argue that the vast majority of that roleplaying has revolved around the works of a certain Mr. Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
Mine certainly has! I heard the Call of Cthulhu early and I heard it well. But I was also smitten during my 70s childhood with the last, dying gasps of the anthology horror genre. Titles like House of Mystery and House of Secrets were great fun, but were pale shadows of the long-gone 50s horror boom. Years would pass before I discovered the EC line and the groundbreaking, genre-defining horror within. EC was a phenomenon, and like any popular enterprise, they bred imitators, and thereby begat a genre.
While the horror boom of the 50s was wildly influential on the generation of horror writers and film makers that ingested it during their formative years, this vastly important genre has been largely ignored in roleplaying–until now.
Stories From The Grave is a short, sweet, beautifully written and illustrated rules set designed to deliver the classic anthology horror comic as an rpg experience. A session is intended to feature three short games telling different stories. As campaign play is not the point of the game, character generation is swift and easy. In many situations, the GM will likely have the characters of the story already developed for the players to run. The players can, of course, embellish them the way an actor might develop a role in television show or film. The GM also has the pleasure of creating his own horror host to intro and outro the tales. (Mine is called the Howling Skull.)
I’ve run the game and I can report that the rules handle as smoothly as a Cadillac.
The rules are very simple, but capable of handling about anything the GM will need to adjudicate. An interesting twist is that as the stories head into the middle and third acts, death and injury become far more likely outcomes. Remember, these stories didn’t always have survivors and a happy ending was usually defined by the amount of gore and trauma on the final panel!
Whether you are a fan of TV’s Tales From The Crypt, Tales From The Dark Side, and Night Gallery or a lover of vintage comic book horror, this game is a must-have.
A great choice for an evening of candle-lit roleplaying fun! After all, we can’t spend all our time in the dungeon.