The season is upon us! And what better way to celebrate than to fire up roll20 and check out some spooky scenarios this Halloween? Whether you play Starfinder or either edition of Pathfinder, there are numerous ways to scratch that horror itch. If you are in a position to play in person, you can even supplement your games by using candy as tokens for all the enemies! (Starbursts works great since they have distinct colors and are individually wrapped.)
In every case, make sure you prepare the scenarios in such a way as to give your players plenty of time to roleplay out their investigations. Take your time talking to villagers, throw in additional sounds, or leads the PCs can investigate just to find little creepy ambient easter eggs. Horror is built around the idea that something is off, but that requires some level of normalcy as an established base to crank up the unease. As always, make sure you know your audience, how to adjust the horror tone, and that you understand the basics of the x-card.
For more information about Organized Play (with a focus on 2e), you can see my post from August right here.
Pathfinder Society 1e Scenario #8-06: Reaping What We Sow
This is a ridiculously fun scenario that has adjustments to crank the horror dial from 1 to 11, making it a great story for any audience (check out the sidebar on page 8). You have a pumpkin carving contest that you can make a little more real with some permanent markers and prop pumpkins. There’s a mysterious curse afflicting a village, jack-o-lanterns, and a special featuring of leshies! The scenario is tier 1-5, so even friends who have never played PFS can roll up a character or play a pregen and get in on the action. This scenario really shines when the GM let’s the players explore the town and get heavy into roleplaying their interactions.
Starfinder Society Scenario #1-04: Cries from the Drift
Just take a second to look at that cover. Glorious, isn’t it? This one features body horror, gore, and suspense. There is starship combat, but it’s one of the least cumbersome I’ve experienced. The environmental effects and atmosphere of the ship is perfect for that science-horror vibe, and the encounters are well balanced. The ship can feel a little rail-roady, and be prepared for certain players who might try to “out-smart” the scenario (“let’s just tow the ship…”). I recommend using the haunted nature of the vessel to further the horror vibes by having something “go wrong” when they try these solutions. Again, this is a low-tier scenario so you can play with anyone and everyone!
Pathfinder Society 2e: Scenario 1-02: The Mosquito Witch
Ever seen the Blair Witch Project? This atmosphere cryptid hunt is perfect for a table who is into intense investigative roleplay. It’s easy to play up the creepy factor in this scenario, with images like horses being eaten alive by giant mosquitos and NPC villagers randomly disappearing as though they were snatched up by the mysterious “mosquito witch”. Print out a few copies of the doll to pass around the table and hide among your player’s goods when they leave to get snacks, cranking up the idea that something is happening despite the player’s desperate castings of “detect magic” coming up empty.
Pathfinder Society 2e: Scenario 1-25: Grim Symphony
This scenario features some of the best gothic horror tropes blended seamlessly into a “creepy” music themed haunted mansion right in the heart of Ustalav. This is ideal for an experienced PFS group (being tier 5-8) who especially enjoys a little spooky background music for this year’s halloween celebrations. You can easily stretch this game out to 5 or 6 hours by expanding on the cosmetic aesthetics around the house and encouraging your players to fiddle around with the wonderfully put together atmosphere.
Pathfinder Society 2e: Bounty #3: Shadows and Scarecrows
And for 2020 we are given a spooky bounty! Bounties are one-hour organized play adventures that represent non-Society sponsored adventures, such as hunting down the spooky menace terrorizing the streets of Nidal! While this particular product isn’t available until Thursday, the author has written for numerous other successful products and I don’t doubt for a minute that this will be another fabulous addition to our spooky repertoire! And since this is a bounty, it’s perfect for introducing new players into PFS!