Happy “last GURPSDay before Halloween,” GURPS ghouls!
In honor, today’s post outlines a simple system for generating a random horror game for you to GM off-the-cuff. This is not going to provide you with pre-gen characters, maps, and a detailed background. Instead, it’s going to give you the most basic of adventure skeletons that answers the questions Who, What, When, Where, and Why, which you can then (hopefully) use to run a short but entertaining game. It’s for those times when you’re just looking to kill an hour or two with some gamer buddies.
So, I think the bare minimum I can get by with as far as adventure elements go is knowing Where and When the adventure takes place, and Why the PCs get involved; Who the PCs are; and What stands against them (the phrasing here is kind of stretching it — really, it’s “Who is the Villain?”).
To generate the first element, roll a single d6 and consult the table below.
As for the When, the above are intended to be generic enough that the GM can set them in any time period that sounds fun, so they can be tweaked even further. For example, “A small town…” could be a village in Feudal Japan, a town in Medieval France, a small moon base in the year 2150, whatever. If you really want to be random, make an extra roll on the chart below.
Now that you have a setting, it’s time to find out who the characters are. For actually creating the PCs, I would suggest Quick-Start Character Creation or something even simpler, so you can get up and running as soon as possible!
And, finally, the heroes need a Villain to oppose.
That’s it! That’s as much as these charts are going to provide. Hopefully, it’s enough to give your imagination and creativity a poke if you find yourself needing a quick horror game.
For example, if you roll a 1, a 5, and a 2, you get:
“A haunted house on the outskirts of town. Because they will receive a valuable reward if they can rid the house of evil” for the setting, “Non-humans with human intelligence” for the PCs, and “Well-funded and well-trained mercenaries” for the Villains. Throwing that in the mental blender could yield…
If you roll a 3, a 1, and a 4, you get:
“A small town that doesn’t appear on any map. Because they need to rest and resupply if they want to make their deadline” for the setting, “Everyday folks just going about their day” for the PCs, and “A monster/alien” for the Villain. You could bend this as…
And, if you hadn’t noticed, if you roll 6, 6, 6, you get:
“A pocket Hell dimension full of demons. Because they must work together to escape” for the setting, “Severely broken/evil people” for the PCs, and “Wicked, murderous demons” for the Villains. The PCs could each be from very different times and places, with one thing in common — they are evil, they are in Hell, and they want to escape!
Of course, you can modify/expand the tables to include elements that you enjoy instead of things I enjoy, but this is a nice little framework to give your brain a kick if it needs it.
Have a fun Halloween! If you run any horror games for the holiday, using these tables or anything else, I’d love to hear how it went.
The unofficial GURPS Discord channel continues to grow, and every day sees all kinds of GURPS questions discussed, asked, and answered. I’ve added a server monitor to the sidebar on the right of the page so you can see who/when people are hanging out from here at Game Geekery. We’re up to nearly 90 members now, and I’ve already picked up a ton of interesting ideas from the chats going on there. Click the link and check it out if you’re looking for some real-time GURPS discussion!
If you enjoyed this post and others like it, might you consider the Game Geekery Patreon?