Curious about our upcoming investigative wargame of supernatural horror? Hear all about When Nightmares Come from the author, Patrick Todoroff...


With the imminent release of When Nightmares Come, I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk about the game and perhaps answer some questions.


Although there are plenty of contemporary examples in books, film, television, and video games, my personal inspirations are the original Kolchak the Night Stalker show with Darren McGavin, the old Scooby Doo cartoons, the original Twilight Zone TV series, and the book Vampire$ by John Steakley. (Showing my age, there)  

Of course, there are dozens of recent examples, from X-Files, Buffy, and Supernatural, to the excellent Delta Green/Cthulhu mythos. Then there’s Silent Hill, 30 Coins. Midnight Mass, The Fall of the House of Usher, and Stranger Things, but those older sources are the real foundations of Nightmares. As a wargamer, the idea of ordinary people confronting supernatural enemies in the midst of a skeptical, even contrary, society seemed like a great narrative engine and basis for a tabletop miniatures game. 

An illustration of an ominous, old-fashioned museum building An illustration of an abandoned docks with a rickety peer, small boat and a crane in the background

Open World, Open Miniature

Nightmares don’t discriminate. There is no official range of miniatures, nor is the game associated with or advocating any particular fictional universe, mythos, culture, or locale. It’s my experience that those narrative specifics are best left to the players’ diverse and disturbed imaginations. They can conjure far better, deliciously twisted scenarios than I ever could. The goal was to give as much latitude as possible for players to fit the system to their personal collections and preferences. I’m very intrigued to see what people come up with, their versions of Nightwatch crews, enemies, conspiracies, and conflicts.

Tabletop Wargame

‘Nightmares’ has a strong narrative component centered on the investigation of unnatural crimes and events, but at its core, it is a miniature wargame. The rules are there to help players get their miniatures and terrain on the table as quickly and easily as possible. Use what you have or what you want, and start forging epic stories on the tabletop.

I apologize in advance to those who would have preferred a stronger emphasis on the roleplaying or investigative elements, but my love for cool minis combined with the constraints of the book’s format meant I concentrated on miniature combat. The narrative elements are there to generate a sense of immersion and drama, and they influence the disposition and deployment of allies and enemies on the battlefield. That said, When Nightmares Come is a toolbox, not a legal contract, so there’s plenty of room to expand game sessions with more ‘theater of the mind’ roleplaying and storytelling.

An illustration of a crowd of young people sat and stood drinking and chatting outside an establishment with a light-up sign reading "Pen-y-Darren". From an alley behind them, a swarm of vaguely humanoid, many-eyed monsters of varying sizes are crawling and skulking down buildings and from the shadows. An illustration of two modern human figures standing in a spooky room facing down a supernatural being. The being is humanoid but twice their height, with a mostly featureless head and glowing yellow eyes. It is holding a book covered in occult symbols up to its face and appears to be reading.


That seems to be where my head is these past few years, wargame-wise. My local game group heavily favors roleplaying games, and I’m in this hobby to have fun with friends, game with cool toy soldiers, and see epic adventures unfold on the tabletop. It’s a natural progression from there to design rules that let people work together for common objectives and fight against common enemies.

The Hunter types - the combat-oriented Warden, the support specialist Wright, and the spell-slinging Weaver – are designed to complement one another. In fact, they have to rely on one another because the Dark Spawn, the supernatural adversaries, only get more dangerous as the investigation progresses. Understand that no single character or type of character can hope to defeat these enemies on their own.

On top of that, each game of When Nightmares Come has a time limit during which there’s a vital need to collect clues at the crime scene, as well as the chance to gather rare substances that will upgrade weapons and equipment. This means players need to work fast, work smart, and work together. I guess it’s fair to say that the only thing that’s mandatory in a game of Nightmares is cooperation.  


There’s more to say about character creation, the dual-mode Narrative and Tactical portions of the game, the mix-n-match menus for flavoring your particular Dark Spawn adversaries, but those are topics for another day.

Until then, revisit your own sources for supernatural dread, gathering your favorite miniatures, dice, and terrain, then tell your friends it’s time to gear up and hunt monsters. Nightmares are coming.

When Nightmares Come is out now in the UK and is out April 30th in the US.

Order today.

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