The Night Clerk: an architectural horror TTRPG scenario zine

The Night Clerk: an architectural horror TTRPG scenario zine

A full color illustrated zine of architectural horror, suitable for any modern tabletop RPG system, Escape the labyrinth of the Hotel before the Mystery Guest finds you. Written by Ross Payton of Role Playing Public Radio.
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The Night Clerk is a system agnostic scenario usable in any modern horror game. Based on one of Role Playing Public Radio's most popular actual play episodes, The Night Clerk has been updated, after years of fine tuning and is ready for your gaming table.

Characters check in at the Sleep Easy Inn, a cheap hotel, for the night and wake up...somewhere else. At first, it looks like the hotel but the windows show only a black void outside and no one can open a door or break a window to escape. The guests are now trapped in an infinite labyrinth designed to break their minds. Escape is possible but only if they find the Night Clerk, the person who trapped them in the first place or the 13th Floor, the heart of the labyrinth.

The Night Clerk is a full color 44 page zine featuring a new monster, tables for unnatural artifacts, random encounters, and more! It's a flexible framework to make a unique architectural horror experience for your playing group. 

Work in progress layout of the zine

The Night Clerk is written by Ross Payton, host of Role Playing Public Radio, an Ennie Award winning podcast, and author of Base Raiders, a Fate RPG about superheroic dungeon crawling. He has written for Eclipse Phase, Delta Green, among other publishers and also co-hosts Ludonarrative Dissidents, a tabletop RPG review podcast with Greg Stolze and James Wallis. View his portfolio of work here


  • Digital Basic: A PDF of the zine on the platform of your choice, DrivethruRPG or
  • Print Basic: The print version of the zine. All print backers also get a PDF on their platform of choice. 
  • Digital Deluxe: A PDF of the Night Clerk and bonus digital material. 
  • Print Deluxe: The print version, the PDF, and digital bonus materials. 
  • Online Game Digital: As Digital Deluxe and a seat at a game of The Night Clerk, run by Ross Payton. 
  • Online Game Print: As Print Deluxe  and a seat at a game of The Night Clerk, run by Ross Payton.  

List of Deluxe Bonus Digital Materials

  • Secrets of the Night Clerk Podcast: A discussion on running the scenario, with alternate ideas on using the Night Clerk in your campaign. 
  • Three Playtests of The Night Clerk: each in a different RPG system, run by Ross Payton. 
  • Hotel Audio Ambience: An hour of ambient sound of the hotel, usable for any podcast or livestream of this scenario. 
  • Sleep Easy Inn Stationary: Perfect to make your own handouts.  

Online Games: Ross Payton runs a one shot session of the Night Clerk for backers at this level, using Streamyard. System and times to be discussed with backers.

A note on shipping: Shipping is not included with this pledge. Shipping is charged approximately a month before copies are sent out to backers. The zine is 5.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches high and 44 pages. US copies are shipped out by USPS media mail. International copies are sent out via USPS priority mail. 


Main Features of The Night Clerk zine include:

  • The Mystery Guest: A new monster designed to destroy the sanity of its victims!
  • Exploration focused scenario: Characters earn clue points by exploring the labyrinth and use them to find a way to escape.
  • Artifact random tables: Find unnatural weapons and tools and use them to survive.
  • Full Color with original illustrations from artists like Matt Emmons, Galen Pejeau. and Patsy McDowell.
  • Random Encounter Tables: Separate tables for NPC trapped survivors and unnatural beings
  • Multiple pocket universes: Behind each door of the labyrinth lies a pocket universe with its own rules. 
  • Advice: Guidelines on how to run the scenario.
  • Two paths to freedom: Characters can either escape by finding the Night Clerk and getting him to reveal how to escape or they can find the 13th Floor, the heart of the labyrinth. 

One of the many pocket universes found inside the Hotel...

Architectural Horror

Architecture is an art form about transforming an environment to suit a purpose, to turn the chaos of nature into order the mind can understand. Outdoors into indoors. Architectural horror explores how designed spaces can be used to harm and terrify. Examples of this genre include haunted house stories, slasher films about killers who build traps and hidden torture dens for their victims, and survival horror games about dead cities filled with monsters. It is a genre of intentionality and consequence. There is no raw violence from the wilderness. No divine or infernal hand is behind the horror. Architectural horror is defined by the intention of the architect behind the evil. In many tales, the architect is left anonymous or unknowable but their presence is still felt in the narrative.

Listen to a discussion on architectural horror on Role Playing Public Radio with Ross Payton and Rob Stith, author of the Orpheus Protocol RPG.

In the Night Clerk, the architect is left described, except as a powerful cosmic evil, so that the scenario can fit your individual game better. The labyrinth is a machine designed to transform its victims into unnatural monsters by breaking their perception of reality. Shattered victims become Mystery Guests, malevolent creatures intent on breaking more victims. Everything in the labyrinth is designed to achieve this goal. However, it is an ancient place and its creator has long since disappeared. It is decaying and that rot has made it unstable. Who knows what else you can find in there?

What is a system-free scenario?

The Night Clerk is designed as a scenario that can be run in any modern horror RPG and can be easily adjusted to run in many other systems. It is meant to be easily adapted for your favorite RPG. The campaign has several stretch goals for free PDF conversion guides for popular horror RPG systems for NPC and creature stats to make it even easier for you.

The Library, one of the countless pocket universes in the Hotel. 

Stretch Goals

Conversion Guides: at the following levels, a conversion guide with stats for the following is released for free as a PDF. Stat blocks for The Mystery Guest, Night Clerk, and Hunter, and guidelines for physical and mental health threats are included. 

  • $6,000 - percentile SAN-based systems.
  • $7,000 - Fate Horror
  • $7,500 - Gumshoe
  • $8,000 - Powered by the Apocalypse system games

$9,000- The Left Angle Hotel, a novella based on the Night Clerk. Written by Laura Limehouse of Technical Difficulties Podcast.

Jack Garcia and Calvin Ridge would much rather be lost in a good book than this hotel. Although, considering how little the hotel accords with reality, maybe the books in here aren’t better. Join Jack and Calvin as they battle the Night Clerk while trying to escape The Left Angle Hotel.



I have run multiple crowdfunding campaigns, dating back to 2010. I published my RPG, Base Raiders after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Most recently, I have almost finished with season 2 of Ludonarrative Dissidents, a podcast series funded via Kickstarter. I am excited to try out Backerkit with this campaign and I am confident that I can fulfill every pledge to backers. 

I plan to use Mixam for printing the zines. Every other reward is digital, so those rewards should be easy to send out to backers. I'll handle mailing myself, which given the small scope of this project, should not be a problem. 


Current Status: The Night Clerk is already in layout. It has the majority of artwork done but I am still waiting on a few pieces.

Next Steps

Finish layout and edit the text. A beta PDF is sent out to backers for typo hunting. Estimated time - Early December 2023.

Print proof: Have a test print made to make sure print quality is acceptable. January 2024. 

Print copies and mail them out to backers: February-March 2024. 

All Deluxe rewards and online games to be fulfilled by April 2024. 

About the Author

 Ross Payton is an award-winning writer and podcaster. He created Base Raiders, a superhero RPG about exploring abandoned superhero lairs. He has written for Eclipse Phase, Red Markets, and many other tabletop games. His podcasts, RPPR Actual Play, Role Playing Public Radio, Ludonarrative Dissidents, and Night Clerk Radio, are available on all podcasting apps. 
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