To the best of my recollection, they went to a house of some sort for the evening to enhance the role-play aspects of some D&D clone/adaptation, and there was even a stuffed octopus or some such in the basement to serve as a monster. For some reason, an alternate reality began to seep into theirs. Apparently, in creating their game & characters, they had somehow tapped into or been influenced by beings in the other world, to create fictional equivalents of them for their game. There was some horrible crime of some sort that one or more of them had committed in their reality that had something to do with why this was happening, but I don't recall the details. The personas of their alternates, however, began to take over the players.

The stuffed critter in the basement even animates. It can speak, and explains some of what is happening to them.

I believe the cover showed tentacles from the octopus creeping around a door frame.

I read this in the early 80s, and would guess it was no more than a few years old, based upon what I recall.

  • 2
    Keith, do you remember anything about the details of the game they played? What you are describing sounds remarkably similar to something I read, down to a tentacled monstrosity in the basement. I remember each character identifying their character by name and powers at the start, e.g. "I am Kylethion, and I have powers of Wind and Flame". When things turn real the powers activate, but I also seem to recall there was a danger in using then. Alas, I do not remember the name, but does that ring a bell?
    – peacedog
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 17:53
  • 1
    Yes.. It rings a strong bell. There was something about their characters existing in another world, and them 'creating' them in the game was a side of effect of some kind of link, and was allowing them entry to this world, taking over the players.. And, as I recall, the stuffed octopus in the basement was a sentient being, too.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 20:20
  • 1
    @chad - Sorry; no. That's actually been offered as an answer before. GotF has the characters transferred to the real world that their game models; this has the 'souls' or something from the other world taking over the characters in this world.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 18:54
  • Jumanji? :).... Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 19:31
  • LOL sorry didnt realize this was the original question that got bumped.
    – Chad
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 20:22

6 Answers 6


I'm pretty certain it's Spirits and Spells by Bruce Coville, printed in 1984 by Dell Publishing Company as part of their Twilight: Where Darkness Reigns series. Matches your cover and story description to a tee.

Front cover of Spirits and Spells

Trying out their new haunted house game, Sprits and Spells, in the creaky old Gulbrandsen place seemed like a cool idea to Travis, Tansy and their friends.

Thank you for asking. I've been looking for this book for years and the details you provided filled in the parts I didn't remember very well. It took me over an hour on the internet to find it, and, believe me, it wasn't the first time I've searched for it!

Hope you locate and enjoy a copy soon if you haven't already.

  • YES! That's the one! The cover clinches it! Many thanks!
    – K-H-W
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 13:11
  • Wow, after well over a year. So there's still hope for all those unanswered questions!
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 13:27

Guardians of the Flame?



  • Nope; sorry. I love both of them, but this is far less significant.. It's a single novel, meant to be Young Adult horror, and probably written from a story bible. The characters never leave this world, but another world somewhat overlaps it, to some degree, bringing the characters, powers, monsters and so forth into their world.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 16:45

I think the story you are thinking of is Mazes and Monsters.

It was also made into a (really bad) movie staring Tom Hanks.

  • Unfortunately, no.. I'm familiar with that one (I even have the god-awful DVD), but that's not it. This is much lighter fare; I'd call it more of a YA Pulp horror kind of publisher. They were always paperbacks, some of them made me think of John Bellairs kind of semi-religious books.. But they were specifically horror, not the kind of cautionary 'D&D is satanic' novel Mazes and Monsters was.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 22:07
  • Not a Goosebumps book, was it?
    – Asmor
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 22:32
  • Goosebumps started in 1992. So couldn't have been them. Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 22:57
  • Yeah, and these were targeted closer to 14-18 year olds, I'd say.. No sex that I recall, but a bit more in the Lovecraftian and psychological kind of horror, over the Boo! / creepy kind.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 17:01

Intersteller Pig?

  • Nope. Good idea, tho. This was a novel meant to be horror, but for the 14-17 set, I'd guess... Some kind of 'your game characters actually exist in an alternate universe, and it's bleeding into this one' kind of thing.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 17:27

Could this be Hobgoblin by John Coyne?

You can read some reviews from other readers at GoodReads - Hobgoblin page or another review at Guys Lit Wire.

Most of the descriptions are repetitious, and none mention a basement or stuffed animal (octopus or otherwise), however keying off comments on other answers, and reading through some of the reviews, it sounds like this may actually fit (despite the likening of the book to Mazes and Monsters on the first Wikipedia link).

  • Sorry; nope. The book I'm looking for wasn't a cautionary tale like Hobgoblin or Mazes & Monsters; it was more of a 'lets write horror / creep out people who play D&D games" kind of story. No real lesson, just cheap horror with the game as the vehicle to provide it.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 16:49
  • @KeithHWeston I'm not sure this one is cautionary (in the sense of 'stay away from RPGs'). Most of the reviews at GoodReads don't suggest such at least. The closest are references to parental concerns of the time e.g., Legitimately creepy YA novel about a Dungeons and Dragons-esque role-playing game that comes to life. Written in the early eighties at the height of D&D's popularity and growing parental concern, this goes straight for the supernatural. Still holds up well in spite of some clunky prose and occasional melodrama. A preteen favorite of mine. - I am speaking w/out reading tho
    – Josh
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 14:35
  • It looks interesting, but it's not it; the story I'm looking for has an old house, but no castle, and it's not set in Ireland.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 15:08
  • @Josh: Just following up on the comment, it's kind of a mixed bag. The protagonist's obsession with the game makes him a bit of a social outcast (although that has more to do with being bullied for being new in town), but his theoretical knowledge of medieval weaponry, and his retreat into the mindset of his character, lets him save his classmates from the real villain. And then, at the end, he outgrows his RPG habit and moves on to "normal" things.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 14:12

Was it this Chick Tract? Almost certainly not, but it strongly reminded me of it. It has a large number of the same elements as you describe. Only no octopus.

  • Nope; full blown paperback in the Young Adult section.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 23:29
  • @KeithHWeston figured as much, but sometimes people will initially consume something in one medium, only to misremember it as from a different one. Makes it almost impossible to find the source. For example, I spent quite some time looking for an adventure game before I realized it was the one in the movie Big.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 23:41

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