Altar of Freaks: The SOV Gore-Horror Game

Altar of Freaks
If you have sacrificed your identity to the false altar of white supremacy, capital, and cisheteronormativity, you will not be saved. If you use this game to live out fantasies of violation against those whose very existence trembles the small, pathetic rag of your heart, may every act you take in this game be returned to you in earnest. We will split your skull, piss on your brain, and leave your toothless mouth sucking on the curb.  
You will not survive us. 

Altar of Freaks is a love letter to SOV grime, the low-budget sleaze films that drip out of the corners of your screen when the only people left awake are the perverts and gore-hounds, the mentally sick and the sexually deviant.  You play as Freaks, dragged from hell to invade Altars and deliver unwitting Sacrifices to their Dooms, creatively killing them with the various Fetishes each Altar provides before the Ceremony Clock runs out and you are sacrificed in their stead. 

The Ceremony Commences. The Freaks are summoned.  The Fetishes are at hand. The Sacrifices are assembled at the Altar. Their Dooms are hungry.  Let the slaughter begin!

Demon Queen (1987)

The Ceremony
Each session of Altar of Freaks is a distinct Ceremony; a bloodbath where hell-bound Freaks deliver Sacrifices to their Doom before the Ceremony Clock strikes midnight and they are dragged back to the abyss.
To Conduct the Ceremony: Lure your local psychos and deviants, along with any unsuspecting innocents, to the chamber where the Ceremony will take place. You will need:
- Paper and pen with which to detail the layout of the Altars and the lurid rumors of your Freaks
- A pile of 6 sided dice; around 12-18 should suffice
- A clock to be used as the Ceremony Clock
- 2 or more stopwatches; these CANNOT be the same device as the Ceremony Clock.  
- An appropriately sludgy, manic soundtrack
A Few Offerings
        - Twisted Issues OST
        - Pulse Demon - Merzbow
        - Demo 3 - Prison Affair
        - Stoner Witch - Melvins
- An appropriately filthy, scuzzy film on in the background. 
Some Choice Tribute*
        - Demon Queen (1987)
        - Evil Laugh (1986)
        - The Imp (1981)
        - The Beyond (1981)
        - Alien Beasts (1991)
        - Pieces (1982)
        - Dr. Caligari (1989)
        - Twisted Issues (1988)
        - Wicked World (1991)
        - Boarding House (1982)
        - The Abomination (1986)
        - Disgusting Spaceworms Eat Everyone! (1989)
        - Id (2005)
        - Red Spirit Lake (1993)
        - Ogroff (1983)
        - Junkbucket (2008)
        - Blonde Death (1984)
        - Cannibal Hooker (1987)
        - Suffer, Little Children (1983)
        - Nightmare (1981)

*(I haven't listed obvious and readily available choices like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hellraiser, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Mandy, etc., if you're playing this game, those should be familiar to you. The films listed here I can't link to safely, but if you want sources, hit me up.) 

 Set the Ceremony Clock to 9:00 minutes +2:00 for each Freak beyond the first. When the Ceremony Clock Starts, Each Freak is Called Forth for 30 seconds at a time. When first Called, the Freak invades an Altar of their choice, and begins to hunt for Fetishes and Sacrifices. 

When a Freaks time is up, they must Call Forth another Freak. All Freaks must be Called Forth before any can be Called Forth a second or third (etc.) time. 

To End the Ceremony: if all of the Sacrifices have met their Doom before the Ceremony Clock runs out, the Freaks will live to see another Ceremony. If any Sacrifice still lives, the Freaks must take their place, and are slain according to their own Dooms. 

The Beyond (1981)

The map of the Ceremony is broken up into interconnected Altars. Typically, each room or distinct area of the map constitutes a new Altar.  Each Altar has a list of various color items and details as well as potentially one or more Fetishes and  Sacrifices. 

Sample Altars
- Confession Booth; Cramped, Hot, Scent of Sweat and Incense
- Briar Patch; Soft Earth, Knotted Thorns, Scraps of Torn Silk
- Hotel Corridor; Striped Wallpaper, Dirty Carpet, Flickering Light

Mandy (2018)

Fetishes are psychically weighted objects that the Freaks must use to butcher the Sacrifices.  Fetishes can be anything; even potentially part of the Freaks themselves. Regardless of what the Fetish is, a Freak can hold or otherwise possess only 1 Fetish at a time. When a Sacrifice is killed, the Fetish used to kill them is destroyed or otherwise loses its potency and cannot be used again. 

Sample Fetishes
- Bone Saw
- Power Drill
- Gloved Hands
- Shard of Mirror
- Bloodstained Teeth
- Trained Rats

Twisted Issues (1988)

Sacrifices are those unfortunate people who have gathered in the Altars. It is for them that the Ceremony is held, for their Dooms have called to the Freaks, and ache to be fulfilled. It does not matter who or what they were before this night; and they will not live to see the dawn. Sacrifices are defined by a few color details, but the Freaks must concern themselves with two things: their Doom, their Terror, and, should the Sacrifice prove to be a Wolf in Lamb's clothing, their Teeth. 

Sample Sacrifice
- Joni Giles
    - Lamb: Terror 3
    - Doom: Dig Deeper
        -  Amateur Ghost Hunter
        - Cries Easily
        - Huge, Oversized Jacket

All Sacrifices have a Doom. They must be killed according to this Doom, and the Freak must use a Fetish to kill them in this way. They cannot die in any other way. Dooms are abstract and interpretive; the Freak must be creative in order to ensure that the sick appetites of their companions are satisfied with the kill. 

Sample Dooms
- Don't Wake the Baby
- Walking on Eggshells
- A Mother's Love
- Pig in Shit
- Broken Bridges

All Sacrifices have a Terror rating. A Sacrifices Terror rating determines how many seconds a Freak has to roll their dice, look for 6s, and kill that Sacrifice. If a Freak fails to kill the Sacrifice before the Sacrifice's Terror is exceeded, the Sacrifice Struggles. 

If the Freak does not roll a 6 before the Sacrifice's Terror is exceeded, or if they attempt to kill the Sacrifice with something other than a Fetish and/or in manner other than their Doom, the Sacrifice Struggles. The effects of a Sacrifice's Struggle depends on if the Sacrifice is a Lamb or a Wolf

Lambs and Wolves
Sacrifices are either Lambs or Wolves. 

are harmless, and can do nothing but flee and hide from the Freaks. When a Lamb Struggles, pause the Ceremony Clock and roll 1d6: 
1: the Lamb flees to an Altar of the Freak's choice [2d6, keep the highest] away from the Altar they are in. The Ceremony Clock resumes.  
2-4: the Lamb flees to an Altar of the Freak's choice [1d6] away from Altar they are in. The Ceremony Clock resumes.
5: the Lamb flees to an Altar of the Freak's choice adjacent to the Altar they are in. The Ceremony Clock resumes.
6: the Lamb hides or barricades themselves within the Altar they are in. The Ceremony Clock resumes.

Regardless of the outcome, the Freak must once more gather an Omen pool before attempting to kill the Lamb again. 

fight back.  In addition to Terror, Wolves have a second stat: Teeth. A Wolf's Teeth rating determines how many seconds they may fight back against the Freak for  if the Freak fails to kill them or another Sacrifice in the same Altar. 

When a Wolf or Lamb Struggles, all Wolves in the current Altar attack the Freak. Do not pause the Ceremony Clock. Any Freak describes the Wolves' attack for a number of seconds equal to the sum of all attacking Wolves Teeth before the Freak can take action again. 

Wolves may inflict grievous harm while a Freak describes their attack, but when the attack is through, the attacked Freak may undo any damage they have suffered. 

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

To kill a Sacrifice and deliver them to their Doom, a Freak must first set the stage, using the Altar's details and their own imaginations to create Omens: details describing the scene preceding their violent descent upon the Sacrifice. 

The Freak then takes 1d6 for each Omen they describe, forming their Omen Pool. When they finally wish to slay the Sacrifice, they must start a stopwatch and roll their entire Omen Pool as many times as they can, as fast as they can, until they see a 6 or the time on the stopwatch exceeds the Sacrifice's Terror.

If the Freak rolls a 6 before the Sacrifice's Terror is exceeded, the Sacrifice is slainprovided that the Freak kills them with a Fetish according to their Doom

A Freak may kill multiple Sacrifices at once with one Fetish; to do this, the Freak must be satisfying each Sacrifices Doom, and must roll one 6 for each Sacrifice. 

Killing Another Freak
The Freaks bloodlust is not necessarily limited to the Sacrifices. Freaks may turn on one another in order to gain more Revelations or Raptures, or to add more time to the Ceremony Clock.  Combat between Freaks is limited to cage matches between 2 combatants, and uses the Stopwatch Duel rules created by Dreaming Dragonslayer. 

When combat begins, the Ceremony Clock is stopped.  Each Freak needs a stopwatch. Both Freaks press "Start" at the same time. Neither may speak. Each Freak may stop their stopwatch at any time. 

The closest to 10″ flat without going under wins the fight and kills the other. 
If one combatant is under 10″ while the other is over, the latter wins the fight. 
If both combatants are under 10″ then whoever is lower wins the fight.

The survivor of the combat may gain 1 Revelation, refresh their Rapture, or add 30 seconds to the Ceremony Clock. 

The Freaks
Ogroff (1983)

Sickos vomited from hell to deliver Dooms that could not be met another way. In life, they were grotesque. In death, they are worse. In addition to the Fetishes found throughout the Altars, each Freak has a Revelations and Raptures to help them rip and tear, as well as a Starting Fetish and finally a Doom that claims them if the Ceremony is unsuccessful. 

Every Freak starts with 1 Revelation, which they can spend to turn an item in their current Altar into a Fetish. 1 Revelation can be gained by killing 3+ Sacrifices in 6 seconds, or by killing another Freak. 

Each Freak has a Rapture, which can be used to replace the Doom of any Sacrifice with the Rapture. A Rapture can only be used once, but it can be refreshed by killing 3+ Sacrifices in 6 seconds, or by killing another Freak. 

Starting Fetish
Each Freak begins with a Starting Fetish. This Fetish functions identically to any other Fetish, and is destroyed or rendered impotent after it is used to kill a Sacrifice. 

Each Freak has a Doom, which describes their fate should they fail to kill all Sacrifices before the Ceremony Clock runs out and the Ceremony concludes. 

Boarding House (1982)


Ruby Viper
Who Was this Freak???: In life, Ivy Haag ran an orphanage. Into hungry bellies she placed snake-eggs, and let the warm bodies of those children incubate her reptilian lovers.
What Are They Now???: A writhing knot of scarlet snakes in a nude woman's skin. Tearing at the seams, churning and bulging as the serpents squirm. 
Why Won't This Freak Die???: Snakes killed by strikes or shots are devoured by the others. There are always more. 

Revelations: 1
Rapture: Feed the Baby
Starting Fetish: Snake Egg
Doom: The snakes devour each other, becoming a braided ouroboros before winking out of existence entirely. 

Indigo Baby
Who Was this Freak???: Genesis Jupiter never stood a chance. Skin soaked with essential oils, gemstones buried in his flesh from the time he was born, cult leadership, hypnotic orgies and forced overdoses all followed naturally as breathing. 
What Are They Now???: Galaxies winking beneath closed eyes, deep blue skin pustulent and blistering around gemstones festering like tumors. 
Why Won't This Freak Die???: The universe won't allow it; his deaths are half remembered dreams, already unraveling as he picks himself up off the floor

Revelations: 1
Rapture: Flower Child
Starting Fetish: Sunflower Staff
Doom: His eyes open, and in the same instant, he is gone. 

Who Was this Freak???: You only ever met Hollis Boucher when no one else would meet with you, when you'd already choked on the smoke of all the bridges you'd burned. The Loanshark fed on peoples greed and desperation, until a debtor fed him a bullet.
What Are They Now???: A squat, lead-heavy demon, a coin in each eye socket and a mouth full of other people's teeth. 
Why Won't This Freak Die???: He'll take everything you can give him, pain and punishment included. 

Revelations: 1
Rapture: Pound of Flesh
Starting Fetish: Heavy Chain
Doom: Too heavy for the ground to bear, he sinks through the earth as it screams with the pain of his weight. 

Who Was this Freak???: The earth always hated Kyoko Barnett: its pollen-heavy air choked her, its flora and fauna, deadly poison. She hated it in return, and the Air Force offered her freedom from the loathsome planet and napalm revenge against its dwellers. 
What Are They Now???: Combat boots hovering above the ground, tattered flight suit, pilot helmet smashed inward, cracked glass and steel fused to her skull. 
Why Won't This Freak Die???: The earth will never let her rest within it, no matter how broken her body. 

Revelations: 1
Raptures: Crash and Burn
Starting Fetish: Flare Gun
Doom: Gravity looses its last tether on her. She is flung skyward, burning up like an inverted meteor. 

Who Was this Freak???: Yetta Merriman's hands were her best and only friends. The rest of her body was a knotted mess of burn scars; her hands alone survived the fire. Long and perfect and beautiful, they caressed and consoled her, and when she dressed them in puppet-skins, they even spoke to her. 
What Are They Now???: Shuffling shape beneath a white shroud. Gnarled arms protrude: dislocated at the elbow, ending in deadly, unblemished hands, each finger wearing a different puppet.
Why Won't This Freak Die???: The hands are indestructible, and can always piece the rest of the body back together. 

Revelations: 1
Raptures: A New Friend
Starting Fetish: Fabric Scissors
Doom: Her body is of no more use to the hands. They tear themselves from her wrists, scuttle towards freedom.

The Black Site Baptist
Who Was this Freak???: By the time he died, executed in the same secret prison he'd worked in for the majority of his life, Garth Muncy had forgotten his own name. He'd had no need of it; his was a business that called for the grinding of identities down to brutal stumps: the one who hurts and the one who hurts them. 
What Are They Now???: Hulking, silent. White tee, black cargo pants. Black boots. Black gloves and a black veil, dripping and heavy with water. 
Why Won't This Freak Die???: Black water spills from his wounds. He feels nothing. 

Revelations: 1
Raptures: Talk to Me
Starting Fetish: Rusty Pliers
Doom: His own veil drowns him; his breathing heard for the first time as it sputters out. 

Room 1
Stained Sheets
Velvet Horse Painting
Half-Eaten Candy Bar
Nitrous Tank and Mask (Fetish)

Radio Playing Boxing Match
Candy-Flavored Condoms
Dripping Sink

Penny Poulin
Lamb: Terror 4
Doom: Dream Deep
Deep, Bruise-Purple Eyes
White Lace and Sapphires
Nitrous Problem

Room 2
Worn Pulp Fantasy Novel
Cigarette Ash on the Rug
Nudie Mag Under Pillow
Chunky Diamond Rings (Fetish)

Cracked Mirror  (Fetish)
Towel on Ground
Bloody Toothbrush

Deon Bain
Wolf: Terror 3, Teeth 10
Doom: Perfect Smile
Bitten Nails
Disgusting Teeth
Photorealistic Dog Tattoo

Room 3
TV Tuned to "1000 lb Sisters" (Fetish)
Tiny Chipped Gnome Figurines Hidden Everywhere
Binoculars and Polaroid Camera by Window

Remarkably Clean
Towels Crisply Folded, Untouched
Developing Polaroids Hung From Shower-Curtain Rod

Pamela Anglin
Lamb: Terror 3
Doom: Under My Skin
Chewed Lips
Fried Bleached Hair
Too-Small Wife-Beater
Like Nine Different Belts 

Room 4
Katana (Fetish)
Recently Wallpapered with Torn Bible Pages and Tape
Incense Smoldering
Mice Chewing Bits of Paper

Prescription Bottles Everywhere
Rusted Pipes
Tub Full of Water

King Nixon
Lamb: Terror 2
Doom: The Kingdom is Yours
Tall, Skeletal
Jean Jacket Covered in Jesus Patches
Huge Hands
Astrological Face Tattoos
Driving Gloves

Scuffed Particleboard Desk 
Singing Catfish on Wall
Ripped Faux Leather Armchairs
Grimy Windows
Peacock Feather Display
Scratched Up Poster for Hawaiian Cruise
Guttering AC Unit

Lashay Kilgore
Lamb: Terror 2
Doom: Filthy Habit
Sitting at Desk
Barbie-Level Plastic Surgery
White Gloves
Claw-Sharp Nails
Chewing Tobacco, Spitting into "Babe" Mug

Duncan Valentine
Lamb: Terror 4
Doom: Cupid's Arrow
Checking In
Bigass Cigar
Harsh, Harsh Fake Tan
Red Leather Trenchcoat
Skin-Tight Black Jeans

Trenton Sloan 
Wolf: Terror 4, Teeth 6
Doom: Looney Toons
Lounging in Armchair
Perpetually Pensive 
Grotesquely Ripped
One Arm
Sequined Shirt

Donetta Dill 
Wolf: Terror 3, Teeth 8
Doom: Ouroboros
Chain Smoking Out the Window
Middle-Aged, Looks Older
Elaborate Acrylic Nail Dragon Art
Puka Shell Necklace
Schoolgirl Skirt

Management Office
Bent, Filthy Blinds
Dark Heirloom Desk
Virgin Mary Candle
Open Gin Bottle
Water Stain on Ceiling

Leda Coughlin
Lamb: Terror 4
Doom: See No Evil
Drunk, Sleeping
Tiny, Waiflike
Horn Rim Glasses
Huge Turquoise Rings
Oversized Green Blazer

Staff Bathroom
Broken Lightbulb
Distressed Zebra Clipped From Safari Magazine
Gummy Lobster-Shaped Soap Bar

Maid's Room
Chipped White Dresser
Too-Low Desk
Bowl of Wrinkled Plums
Half Finished Sketches of Dancers
Carefully Sharpened Pencil (Fetish)
Rickety Bed

Halina Ivory
Lamb: Terror 3
Doom: Starving Artist
Hunched At Desk, Drawing
Shock of Red Hair
Appropriated Tribal Sleeve

Suite 1
Shining Swan Tiles
Mud Tracked on Floor
Browning Apple Slices
Big Chefs Knife (Fetish)

Sky Blue Sheets
Huge Pile of Pillows
Filthy Sneakers on Floor

Lilac Walls
Goofy Little Clouds Painted on Ceiling
Overwhelming Pinesol Smell

Booker Gage
Lamb: Terror 4
Doom: Blue Eyes White Dragon
White Guy Dreads
Ripped, Stained Pink Pants
Wolf Graphic Tee

Bennie Gage
Wolf: Terror 3, Teeth 6
Doom: Lust for Life
Homemade Straw Hat
Wide Smile
Very Fat
Glittery Lipstick

Suite 2
Nightmarishly Grimy
Roaches Underfoot
Silver Zippo (Fetish)
Pine Tree Painting Looms

Pack of Cards
Beer Bottles Arranged On Window Sill
Murky, Underwater Lighting 
Spilled Change

Tall, Bald Man's Body, Folded and Drowned In the Toilet
Cracked Hand Soap Bottle Leaking Onto Floor
Crusty Kitten Face Hand Towels
Tibetan Book of the Dead on the Back of the Toilet

Idalia Nunn
Wolf: Terror 2, Teeth 13
Doom: Pay the Piper
Body Covered In Skeleton Tattoos
Loose Fitting Yellow Suit, Matching Gloves
Crocheted Headscarf, Homemade

Molding Porn Taped Up
Glint of Old Paint Cans
Weedwhacker (Fetish)


  1. While I haven't played this yet, I really like the idea of how its on a short time limit and super frenetic, that's a really cool way to lean into these ideas. I could imagine all sorts of ways to integrate this into a campaign, like a dungeon crawl where the PCs have to tiptoe around in typical OSR style, only to find a magic blaster or guitar or chainsaw and cause as much mayhem as they can within the timespan.

    I also like how this would work super well for a shooter-game style "emulation", like when I first read this I immediately thought of the Doom videogames, but you could also imagine twin stick shooters like enter the gungeon.

    This is a fun idea.


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