Nightmare Fuel: Tabletop Games

This ain't your grandaddy's Candy Land anymore...

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Games below are listed in alphabetical order.

Tabletop Roleplaying Games

  • All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Sure, the scenarios are designed to be one-shot and varied by the GM's plans... but they're pretty horrific. One sample flavor story is from the perspective of a scientist in a military base who's studying the zombie plague, and gets bitten. He describes what happens to him in graphic detail. Bad enough, sure, but another one has the zombie plague as an STD.
  • Bliss Stage.
  • The Call of Cthulhu game, being based off HP Lovecraft's works of horror, has this as its core quality. The modern-era conspiracy thriller version of the game, Delta Green, is the same. It is a dark, depressing RPG book, and very well-written. Conspiracy theories, UFO lore, and the Mythos all rolled into one makes for a very bleak view of the present and near-future indeed.
    • The introductory fiction for the original Delta Green core rules is of a clean-up squad sent out to handle an incident of a retired Navy SEAL having gone insane and murdered his entire family. Why? Because he had a traumatic flashback to an old mission involving Deep Ones, triggered by the smell of his house's backed-up septic tank. That detail alone hammers home just how much the touch of the Mythos never goes away, even years later.
    • The entirety of anything inspired by the Cthulhu mythos is Nightmare Fuel. Even Cthulhu Tech. The good side: hey, we've got mecha! The bad side: it's still a world where there are games between ancient evils and we are so pitiable and worthless that all of them but Dagon (and maybe Nyarlathotep) don't even consider us worthwhile pawns. Even when we have Humongous Mecha.
      For additional persective, we've got giant robots, the Guyver, and everybody knows they're fighting for the survival of the species. We're still losing. And if Cthulhu wakes up, it's an automatic Game Over.
    • The game actually tries to remain canon to Lovecraftian Mythos standards, as well. From the spell "Bind Lycanthrope" (which removes their humanity over the course of several days) to the fact that the Rat-things turn out to be, at least in some cases, created from willing cultists and unwilling murder victims, The Mythos is designed around the entire concept of Nightmare Fuel.
    • Which makes sense, once you know that H.P. Lovecraft had horrible nightmares that inspired a lot of his work...
  • Dark Conspiracy, the old GDW game, is basically made of Nightmare Fuel. Never mind The Greys or The Fair Folk. No, take a Vrkolak, who is most likely based on the 1961 Mexican horror film The Brainiac, except that it doesn't kill you when it sucks your cerebrospinal fluid out of the base of your skull though its hollow forked tongue — it changes you into another of its own kind. And by that, we mean the computers made from the living brains of humans who cannot die, are fully conscious, and are totally aware of what is being done to and with them. That's just one of the more "PG" rated horrors.
  • Dead Inside. How would you like to lose your soul and become a gray, empty husk of a person? And that's not even the worst thing that can happen to you in this world. If you die while Dead Inside you become a zombie, lose what little emotion you had, and can never heal your soul, you're stuck like that for a long long time while you slowly rot away. And even worse then that is what happens if the last dregs of soul-stuff you have get lost or stolen, you become an Omnicidal Maniac Quippoth intent on eating the souls of everybody and everything and turning them into monsters as well.
  • The Deadlands roleplaying game. The setting is in 1876 America with a few major changes. The civil war has gone on for 14 years and the country is still divided into north and south with an uneasy truce. The men killed at the many great battlefields in the Civil War, like Shiloh and others, have risen as zombies and formed the Black Regiment. The world is suddenly infested with strange monsters that range from Bigfoot to pod-people replacements, one of whom happens to be Confederate President Jefferson Davis. But even that is not the worst: as it happens, it is all the result of something much worse. Four powerful demonic spirits are 'terrorforming' the earth by causing ungodly amounts of fear and paranoia in the populace that eventually makes the area an uninhabitable 'Deadland' filled with monsters and unnatural weirdness. Oh, and those spirits? They become the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
  • Eclipse Phase. Anything and everything involving the Exsurgent Virus.
    • Eclipse Phase is made of this. Even the bits that don't involve the Exsurgent Virus or the TITANs can be incredibly creepy. Gatecrashing gives us the Iktomi ruins dotted with a warning to "Mind the Weave" and a picture of a Pandora Gate, and the virtual reality setup that could hold an entire planetary population but isn't, to name just two.
  • The German RPG Engel comes close, though. Unless you play it as a superhero/D&D hack-n-slay setting, which would totally kill the creepy.
    • The creepy only really sets in when you get the fact that the so-called 'angels' are actually brainwashed, nanomachine-infected children mostly aged 12-14 who were stolen from their parents and forcefully molded into androgynous 'angelic' figures meant to know nothing outside of service to their Himmel. And you know that age-range? Well, aside from the standards dangers of the world, there's a Papacy-sponsored reason as to why Engels never seem to get any older...
  • The GUMSHOE system's Esoterrorists setting has a sourcebook called the Book of Unremitting Horror. Thirty "creatures