The Best Horror Settings For A D&D Game

Halloween night is right around the corner, which means a lot of last-minute planning for horror fans. While some people organize parties or take their kids around to collect candy in a mad dash before bedtime, others opt to stay indoors and enjoy a good game.

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THEGAMER VIDEO OF THE DAY

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Related: Dungeons & Dragons: Things To Do During Session Zero

Whether you’re partying or not, there’s still time to squeeze in a good Dungeons & Dragons session with your friends and family or plan a sesh with your usual tabletop group. If you’re looking to keep your setting in a spooky Halloween theme with some great horror and monsters, look no further than the very best hair-raising D&D settings to use during your night of fright.

Updated on September 27, 2023, by Rosa Baumgartl: Halloween means gathering your adventuring party around the table, setting out pumpkin snacks, and dimming the lights to embark on another terrifying tale together. It’s a great time of year to really pull out the stops, and immerse the players in horror and gore to get them shivering in their Boots of Elvenkind.

So here are some more settings to jump off from and prewritten adventures to dive right into.

10 The Far Realm

Dungeons and Dragons Aberration Chained Dreadnought Teeth And Jaws Tabby Cat
Halas’s Chained Dreadnought, by Nikki Dawes

Made up of many multidimensional layers of ever-twisting, grotesque landscapes, the Far Realm exists far from the Material Plane, and is a place of haunting madness. This is where Aberrations form, such as Mindflayers, Beholders, and Kaorti, a race of humanoids that were warped when they sought to explore this realm. Any devious horrors your mind can conjure would work very nicely in this setting.

If you need some inspiration, Spelljammer provides plenty of stats for Nautiloids, the ships piloted by Mindflayers, which can teleport to other planes to spread their madness. Huge Aboleths swim between dimensions in the Far Realm, using their incredible psionic abilities to create slaves from other sentient races. The possibilities out here are endless.

9 Planescape

Dungeons and Dragons Adventures In The Planescape Time Dragon Morte's Planar Parade
Art via Morte’s Planar Parade Wizards of the Coast

First released in 1994, Planescape is often considered the gateway to all other planes and dimensions, as well as all manner of realities. This is where everything overlaps, and angels take tea with demons, while the capital, Sigil, is home to the courthouse at the center of the multiverse. Trials here transcend time and space, and is the only place deities have no sway thanks to the Lady of Pain.

This mysterious and fascinating woman oversees the Planescape, creating gateways into her city for almost anyone that wants access, while sending those who displease her into a demiplane of mazes to slowly go mad. Wizards of the Coast released Planescape: Adventures Into The Multiverse in 2023, along with a bestiary and prewritten adventure to get those creepy creative juices flowing.

8 Tomb Of Horrors

Dungeons and Dragons Tomb Of Annihilation Lich King
Art from Tomb Of Annihilation Adventure, Wizards of the Coast

Published in 1978, and written by Gary Gygax himself to test and punish those players who touted that they’d developed the strongest characters possible, the Tomb of Horrors has been the inspiration for books, movies, and plenty of other adventures ever since. This maze is tortuously punishing, with multiple false entrances, impossible traps, and paths that teleport you back to the beginning with every wrong step.

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Tales From the Yawning Portal adapts the early edition of Tomb of Horrors into something that makes sense for the fifth edition, while remaining just as frustrating and humbling. Originally built for PCs levels ten to 14, the monsters, curses, and pitfalls make it a challenge for any level, with many beloved characters never returning to the surface again.

7 Innistrad

Dungeons And Dragons Dragonborn Fighter In Armor Fighting Aquatic Monster Creature
Artwork via Wizards of the Coast

Shift some planes around, and you can run a 5th Edition horror-themed game in the Innistrad setting, a world familiar to Magic: The Gathering players who love a good fright. Humanity is outnumbered by monsters and mages of the night, and there are countless opportunities for terror and suspense.

There’s something for everyone within Innistrad, from occult magic and demons to the classic vampire and werewolf feud. Innistrad also happens to be the best setting for recreating The Exorcist in D&D form if you really want to get a theme going.

6 Ravenloft

Dungeons and Dragons Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft cover art
Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft Cover Art, by Anna Podedworna

Published in 1983 and still going strong, Ravenloft is Dungeons & Dragon’s quintessential horror setting. This module is perfect for one-shot Dungeon Masters who need to pick up a quick adventure and don’t want to spend ages writing and brewing up a whole new world. The most recent official material is Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, released in 2021.

The more famously popular adventure, however, is the Curse of Strahd, a refreshed take on the classical setting. This adventure has the party hunting down a frightening and powerful vampire named Count Strahd von Zarovich. The cunning vampire may be missing in action, but he’s left behind a mystery, a curse, and some pretty threatening challenges for your party.

5 A Night Of Masks And Monsters

Duchess Dhonaire at a masquerade ball dissolving a man
Duchess Dhonaire, by Zoltan Boros

This Edgar Allen Poe inspired adventure can be played as a one-shot or part of a larger series. The first entry in the Requiem of Wings series and a Dungeon Master’s Guild bestseller, A Night Of Masks And Monsters takes place in an opulent palace setting that quickly turns deadly and terrifying. Individuals from all walks of life hide behind extravagant masks, casting intrigue and misery in their wake.

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This murder mystery with a twist can also be played as part of A Lantern In The Dark, a bundle including all of Ashley Warren’s collective works of horror and mystery. Whether you play this as intended, or simply use the setting as a jumping off platform for your own campaign, a night of horrors is always a fun one.

4 Ghosts Of Saltmarsh

Dungeons and Dragons Ghosts Of Saltmarsh Kraken Ship At Sea During A Storm
Ghosts of Saltmarsh Cover Art, by Greg Rutkowski

Available in both physical and digital format, Ghosts of Saltmarsh combines the living dead with swashbuckling action and monsters from the deep. From start to finish, this nautical tale of terror and despair winds you and your friends through treacherous waters with no respite from the constant danger and horror that befalls them. It takes the party from level one to twelve, and through a host of watery graves and cursed crew along the way.

Brave the stormy seas to fight for the Lizardfolk, and save the Port of Saltmarsh from the clutches of Sahuagin. And, for good measure, because they always make every setting better, there’s also a big mysterious murder-cult lurking just out of sight in the shadows at all times.

3 Tasha’s Haunted Realm

Cover Art for D&D: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything showing a witch casting from a spellbook
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything Cover Art by Magali Villeneuve

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is a tome that every fan of spooky settings needs to get their hands on. Many pre-written adventures are available that utilize the book’s expanded lore, patrons, and magic, including the Haunted Realm and a few even creepier insect and zombie-themed worlds.

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Tasha’s Cauldron has everything you need to be able to put together your very own occult campaign in a haunting setting in no time at all, with fantastic art and detailed descriptions for everything new it adds.

There are plenty of creatures and whimsical items to inspire a whole new adventure, or why not throw your party into the Colony of Mimics? The dawning horror that everything, everywhere is a Mimic in disguise, watching them in plain sight is sure to get them in the Halloween mood.

2 The Pumpkin King

Dungeons and Dragons The Wild Beyond The Witchlight Cover Art
The Wild Beyond the Witchlight Cover Art, by Tyler Jacobson

Rise of the Pumpkin King is an adventure that truly embodies the spirit of Halloween from beginning to end. So much so that the author just had to release a delightfully frightful sequel, Realm of the Pumpkin King. Something dark and sinister is bringing the pumpkins to life, and they’re not happy.

The grim and eerie setting of Rise of the Pumpkin King is only amplified in the sequel as bigger and badder enemies emerge from the shadows, threatening reality as everyone knows it. Cast your players into a missing child mystery, where the orphanage loses one ward every Halloween. Or introduce the party to the Realm of Fright, a very apt name, wherein lies the Hallowgant Manor and a demon waiting for its ultimate judgment.

1 Got An Idea? Brew It

Dungeons and Dragons Three Hags Around A Campfire Cauldron Smiling and Cooking
Van Richten’s Guide To Ravenloft Art via Wizards of the Coast

Homebrewing, making your own campaign from scratch and scraps, has been a staple of the Dungeons & Dragons community since the beginning. In fact, some of the best-selling adventures started as a homemade setting for the author and their friends. If no standard or author-written adventures and settings are doing it for you, you can always put together your own.

Make your own Army of Darkness universe, or doom your players to an adventure in Night Vale. Maybe even just go trick-or-treating, but with some monsters in the way.

NEXT: Dungeons & Dragons: Spooky One Shots For Halloween

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