This Gassy Gnoll has become a bit of a grump as far as the kiddish aspects of Old Hallows’ Eve goes. Dressing up in a costume and traipsing around the neighborhood in search of handouts from strangers hasn’t been his thing for a long time… (He leaves that side of the holiday to Mrs. Gassy Gnoll and hands out candy at the door. Told you he was a bit of a grump.) But recently I’ve begun looking at it a different way or two for use in a setting or adventure.
First, the holiday is about maintaining a relationship with the dead. Supposedly the veil is weakest between the realms of the living and the dead at this time of year. Whether the visits between these planes are willing or un-, wanted or not, it offers some interesting ideas to explore… I can imagine a fantasy world where one of the solstices leads to a weakening allowing the dead to roam free…
- Villagers might wear masks to distract the dead from finding a loved one or target of a vengeance from beyond the grave.
- Rituals such as leaving jack-o-lanterns might be used to ward off the dead spirits so they would do no mischief.
- Costumes could be part of the offerings to the dead or even more of a Mardi Gras-style atmosphere, a true Dead Man’s Party.
All of these could be worked into background for a setting or an adventure quite easily.
Second, there is always the spectre of monsters in the real world. Spooky stories told around around campfires, but there’s something about the time of Halloween that brings out the best of the horror tales. Horrific tales of haunted houses, gruesome murders, ritual sacrifices, occult rituals, creepy figures from history (local or otherwise)… You name it and they seem to come out of the woodwork this time of year.
Why not use that very fact as part of a game?
- The very act of telling tales could be worked into a campaign. Imagine a tavern filled with a rowdy crowd sitting around a table telling stories, attempting to one-up each other. Using such a method could be used to allow a group of PCs to get to know each other better by sharing old experiences from their characters’ pasts…
So though Halloween may not be my cup of tea, I think I may use a few new tricks as treats in future games. 🙂
How are you planning on using Halloween in your games this year?