Today’s KULT update comes from Head Writer & Designer, Robin. It provides a bit more insight into how the new game system works. For those of you who haven’t been following along (here and here, too!), the original premise was a hack of the Apocalypse World system. This didn’t sit well with your’s truly or a lot of other old school KULT fans. Nothing kills a horror game faster than Monty Python quotes and handing over the narrative to the players. Oh, you can disagree with me on that note all you want to. I have plenty of backup on that score.
ANYWAY! Needless to say, that news item was quickly followed by assurances that the *World hack K:DL was using had morphed considerably into…something else. But no one was coming forward with specifics. Well here comes Robert to give us taste of what we can expect system-wise. This was all posted on the Kult: Divinity Lost Facebook page.
The number one goal of KULT: Divinity Lost is to wake this universe up from its slumber and give it back to you, old and new Kultists, with all the love, respect, and twisted imagination you could hope for. We think we have an awesome game and we want to share it with you.
The most important philosophy of KULT: Divinity Lost is to have context, to have rules and background materials about the world that supports playing stories deeply seated in the vast and complex KULT universe.
For me that can be summarized in five statements:
- The game should support the players creating interesting and unique characters.
- The game should support the narrator creating terrifying horror stories.
- The game should support stories of characters that see through the Lie and therefore are cursed (or blessed) by Awakening.
- The game should support stories with multiple dimensions and entities: make them intelligible and horrifying for the players, and manageable for the narrator.
- The game should support suspense, drama, and action without breaking the flow of the story.
When I play KULT: Divinity Lost, I want the rules to fade into the background. The number one rule during development is that all rules must support the ongoing immersive story, instead of breaking the flow or draw attention away from the story. The players should focus on playing their characters and the narrator use the rules as tools to advance the story. When dice are rolled, something is happening! The story moves forward. The result can be good or bad, but it will always be something exciting that pushes the story and forces the characters to make fast and hard choices!
The most defining rules concept in KULT: Divinity Lost are moves.
So what is a move? First, before explaining each mechanic, here is an example of a basic move in KULT: Divinity Lost.
When you investigate something roll +Intellect. On a success, you get all open clues.
- (15+) In addition, ask 2 questions from the list below.
- (10-14) Ask 1 question, but information comes at a cost.The narrator decides: You need someone or something to get all answers, you have put yourself in danger, or have sacrificed time or resources.
- (-9) You get to ask 1 question anyway, but you expose yourself to dangers or costs. The narrator make a soft or hard move.
- How can I find more information about the object of the investigation?
- What do my gut say about the object of the investigation?
- Is there something weird about the object of the investigation?
The basic moves includes skills and abilities that the characters in KULT: Divinity Lost use when confronted by the world, and to defeat obstacles in their way. All are built in the same way with an activation phrase, roll, and effects.
The activation phrase tell the players what actions in the story that can activate the move. For example, “When you investigate something” means that the player can roll for the move when the character investigates something, and if the narrator agrees that a roll is needed. Perhaps there is nothing to be found or that clues are so obvious that it isn’t necessary to roll dice, or that the situation does not lend itself for investigation—such as in the middle of a fight. In KULT: Divinity Lost, it is always the Narrator that decides if dice are rolled or not.
In KULT: Divinity Lost you always roll two ten-sided dices and add the results. The roll tells the player what attribute will modify the outcome of the roll. For example Roll +Intellect means that you will modify the outcome of the roll with your modification in Intellect (which generally range from -2 to +4).
The effects explain the possible outcomes of the move if the player roll a complete success (sum of 15 or higher), a success with a complication (sum between 10 to 14), or fails the roll (sum of or below 9). Based on the effects the player and narrator get to make choices, and the narrator eventually describes the end results of the move in the story context and how it affects the characters.
There are 11 basic moves that all players can use and a lot of unique moves for advantages and disadvantages that the players choose between for their characters during character creation, and when the characters realize new abilities in between game sessions.
KULT: Divinity Lost has rules that support for playing both prepared and unprepared stories. If you, like me, dare to tread the dark universe of KULT without any knowledge of what will happen before play, the rules will give you extensive tools for the creation of creepy, bloody, and agonizing stories. If you want to prepare the stories before play, with pre-made characters, scenes, story arcs, etc, the tools for unprepared stories will still be very useful for inspiration, improvised events, and for making the universe seem real.
What we would really appreciate is if you can help spread the word about the coming of KULT: Divinity Lost, on websites, forums, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Please suggest to like this page, and/or sign up for news on http://kultdivinitylost.com. Please share the update on forums. And if you know of bloggers or influencers, please let them know about us, or give us feedback so we can seek them out.
Alright. So. Thoughts. I’ve never been a big fan of what the *World games term as “Moves.” To me, it takes something organic to play (“I listen to the door. What do I hear?”) and turns it into something boardgamey (“What’s behind the door? Can I Investigate?”). I’m not even sure that’s a fair criticism. I just feel there is a slight difference between an Action (something you MAKE) and a Move (something you DO). I just can’t quite put my figure on it. Maybe it’s because it takes something players have always done (drive the action) and slap some new terminology on it. Hey remember when Gygax got all that flack for changing the term “round” to a Critical Turn? Or an Activity Block Count? Anyhow, I do agree with the principle: I WANT the rules to fade into the background. Say what you want to do, roll a couple of dice, and see what happens.
I’m a bit worried about the roll results scale. 2d10+Attribute, with a roll of ≤9 being a failure. Not being familiar with the Attribute scale, that’s almost a 50/50 chance of failure. I’m not a big fan of 50/50 systems. But, without seeing what a starting character in K:DL looks like, its hard to gauge. At least they are keeping the modifiers low for us math adversed types.
Don’t misunderstand me. As much as I love the original KULT (1st edition from Metropolis Games), it wasn’t because of the system. I’ve always felt something super stripped down (a lot of people suggest Over the Edge, which might be a touch too light for my tastes, but a good start) would serve it better. So I’m keeping an open mind here. Most of their statements have more to do with the GM than the system, but it never hurts to have a system that doesn’t work against you. I’m honestly not familiar enough with the mechanics of *World games to tell how big a departure they are describing. But I feel the info is worth passing on.