Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Dark Worlds, by Graham Walmsley
Dark Worlds, as taken from here.
"A game of Lovecraftian horror, based on Apocalypse World. One player is the Keeper, the others play Investigators.
Investigators have the following stats:
Perceptive, Persuasive, Strong, Sane
Sane starts at 1 or 2. Everything else starts from -2 to 2. To create an Investigator, assign values to the stats, so that they total 1.
Throughout the game, your stats will always total 1. This means that, when Sane goes down, you may add a point to another Stat.
Here are the things an Investigator can do. When one of these happens in the story, roll the dice.
You’ll roll two six-sided dice and add the Stat indicated: for example, when the text says roll +perceptive, roll two six-sided dice and add your Perceptive score. If you roll 7 or more, follow the instructions below. If you roll below 7, that is a miss: you fail and the Keeper can make a move against you.
When you try to understand, roll +perceptive. On a 10+, ask the Keeper one of the questions below, plus one of your own invention. On a 7-9, just ask the Keeper one of the questions below.
What are the whispered tales about the horror?
Who glimpsed the horror and what did it look like?
What does the horror take from people?
What name is the horror given?
What did the horror do, long ago?
When you try to make them talk, roll +Persuasive, then treat it as try to understand above.
When you simply observe, roll +Perceptive. On a 10+, ask three questions. On a 7-9, ask one.
What is indefinably wrong?
How is it beautiful?
What is the foul smell?
Why can’t I see it fully?
What are the disturbing sounds?
What are the curious shapes?
What repulses me?
Why do these people seem wrong?
When you glimpse the horror, roll +Sane. On 10+, you didn’t see it clearly or you deny what you saw. On 7-9, choose 1 from the list below. On a miss, reduce Sane by 1 and, if you cannot deny the horror any more (see below), go insane.
It will haunt you.
It infects you.
You realise who it is harming.
You lose control.
When you try to run away, roll +Strong. On a 10+, you are safe for now. On a 7+, you get away but choose one:
They saw you.
You glimpse the horror in escaping.
You run into something horrific.
When you help or hinder another Investigator, roll +Perceptive, +Persuasive or +Strong depending on what you are doing. On a 10+, they take +1 (help) or -1 (hinder) to their roll. On 7-9, they take +1 or -1, but the Keeper exacts a price for your actions.
When you cannot deny the horror any more, you go insane. You also get the Insane Moves below.
You can, if you wish, try to escape your insanity by making any Investigator Move or Insane Move that is narratively appropriate. For example, you could try to run away from the thing that’s making you insane or try to kill yourself. If you roll 10+ on that roll, you are no longer insane.
When you try to kill yourself, roll +Strong. On a 10+, you succeed. On 7-9, you half-succeed or harm someone in the process. On a miss, you cannot do it.
When you destroy evidence, roll +Strong. On a 10+, it is completely destroyed. On a 7-9, a fragment remains or you cannot forget.
When you attack, either someone, something or the horror itself, roll +Strong. On a 10+, they are killed, subdued or destroyed. On a 7-9, they are partially subdued or destroyed and you are injured.
When you babble to someone, roll +Persuasive. On a 10+, your words make terrible sense and they glimpse the horror. On a 7-9, you make no sense, but they may try to understand.
When you embrace the horror, roll +Perceptive. On a 10+, you descend fulfilled into the horror. On a 7-9, you descend screaming into the horror. On a miss, it destroys your mind. Either way, your story ends.
If you are the Keeper, follow these principles:
Show the creeping horror beneath the world
Take them deeper
Kill any hope
Keep the picture incomplete
If you have a scenario ready, run that. If not, think of a location and a horror and improvise: follow the principles and answer the questions above as they come.
When an Investigator fails a roll, you may make a hard move on them. Your two best hard moves – the details of which I’ll leave to your imagination – are:
Turn their move back on them.
Let them glimpse the horror
Remember that Investigators go insane when they cannot deny the horror any more. That means: when they cannot deny that humanity is doomed, when they cannot rationalise what is happening, when they realise there’s nothing they can do. So ask them.
Can you deny the horror any more?
Do you think there’s a way to stop this?
Can you rationalise this?
Do you think there’s a chance for the town / the people / humanity?
If they answer “No”, then that Investigator is insane.
Notes for those familiar with Apocalypse World
There’s no Harm. There is no Hx. This is by design.
There could be Experience and you are welcome to write Playbooks.
I’ll update this game from time to time. I’d welcome feedback, especially if you play it: I think the questions will need changing a little"