Tag Archives: halloween

Whisper on a Black Wind

Back in 2001 or 2002, I honestly can’t remember which, we were in the thick of our 7th Sea (1st edition) campaign.  It was October and I proposed a Halloween themed “one-shot” for the group.  Unfortunately, this “one-shot” took all of about 4 or 5 sessions to actually complete, something I’ve become a bit notorious for since then.

This year, over on the Facebook Explorer’s of Théah group, I proposed everyone submit a scenario for Halloween as a community project.  While this wasn’t the first of my old adventures that came to mind — that one involved a murderous redcap stalking the students of a Castillain university (“Remember the tooth!”) — I settled on this one because of the 2015 film, the Witch.

After having seen that movie, I think I would run this one completely differently than I did before.  In fact, I think this would have made a great adventure for Witch Hunter: the Invisible World, All for One: Regime Diabolique, or the Savage World of Solomon Kane with only a bit of tweaking.

So if you and your group are getting together to roll some dice for Halloween fun, I offer this short adventure scenario for your consideration: Whisper on a Black Wind.  See if you can make it the horrific one night affair it was intended to be.

Addendum

A quick shout out and thank you to Dyson Logos for his amazing work and making some of it available to use.  If anyone wants a copy of the unaltered version of the map used in the adventure, you can find it here.

Advertisements

Halloween Dark Release 2.5

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

So yeah, you didn’t think I was going to leave everyone with a broken game for Halloween did you?  With the help of a good friend, Matt, and two surprise enthusiasts, Bruce and Jim, I have a new release version cleaned up, expanded, and ready to go just in time for some serious Halloween gaming this weekend!

So here you go.  Halloween Dark version 2.5 is here and more terrifying than ever.  And what could possibly be more terrifying than every one of your fellow players callously pushing you towards your inevitable death scene?  No, this is not the creeping doom of Graham Walmsley’s Cthulhu Dark, though it certainly owe his its inspiration and DNA.  No, this one is for people lining up to be a hot lunch over a cold beer and a bowl of chips, pretzels, or candy corn.  And don’t forget to download the Joyland horror story scenario while you are at it.  Together they’ll give you all you need for a fierce, hilarious night of spook-tacular gaming with friends.  And that is what it’s all about, right?

Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and experiences.

More Halloween Dark

So after letting my issues uncovered by the Halloween Dark playtest percolate a bit, I’m very close to releasing a revision.  I’m hoping to have it all done by Friday, just in time for a fun weekend of Halloween gaming.  But before I put it out there, I could use some feedback.  So today I’m going to recap the issues and supply my proposed fixes.

Issue: The game needs a better refresh mechanic than “play a card, draw a card.”

Fix: A player may draw a new Trick or Treat card when she investigates a new Location.  This could be one she has never investigated, or one she has investigated before under different circumstances.  Characters that hide away in fortified bunkers do not get rewarded.  A player may never have more than three Trick or Treat cards in her hand unless specifically permitted by another card.

Commentary: This will hopefully solve the deck cycling issue and, to some degree, the lack of investigation.  Plus, it keeps players from hunkering down in the bunker and waiting for the action to blow over.  In addition, I’m going to add a handful of T/T cards that directly affect the refresh.  Here’s a preview:

Instant Karma (Trick): Exchange your hand of cards with another player at the table.  Your hands do not need to be equal.

Issue: Combat needs tightening up.  Monsters need to be much more threatening, and the choice of fight or flight needs to be much more definite.  

Fix: Fighting monsters works slightly different than other tasks.  Encounters with monsters are frightening affairs.  When a monster is encountered, compare its Threat Rating to the character’s current Panic level.  If the monster’s Threat is equal to or higher, the character immediately suffers a level of Panic.

When a character attacks a monster, the player rolls dice as usual but then must discard a number of dice equal to the Monster’s Threat Rating, starting with the highest rolls.  Any remaining dice results of 5 or 6 are considered “hits”.  

In combat, a monster can take a number of “hits” equal to it Threat score.  So a Threat 3 Werewolf can take three hits before being beaten.  What happens when the creature reaches 3 hits is entirely up to the Game Master, but usually it is forced to retreat or is killed.

If a character scores no hits in an fighting exchange, the player may choose to suffer a level of Panic OR Exhaustion.  If the character has no dice remaining due to the Monster’s Threat, he suffers a level of both Panic and Exhaustion.  Furthermore, some monster Schticks increase either or both the amount of Panic and/or Exhaustion suffered in an exchange (ie. Violence and Gore increases the Panic suffered by 1 level).

A character that is driven to 5 levels of either Panic OR Exhaustion (or both) is essentially dead.  They either lack the strength to fight further or are so mad with panic that they become easy prey for a determined adversary.

Commentary: This should model “fear checks” nicely without a lot of fuss.  Plus, as off the rails as play gets with dice and card play, taking away dice AFTER the roll seems a lot easier than doing the calculations before the roll.  I think having to discard your highest rolls will make the monsters seem a bit more terrifying psychologically.  Players get to drive the narrative a bit by choosing the type of “damage” their characters receive.

 

Issue: Panic and doing something Rash need some fine tuning.

Fix: When your Panic reaches 4, you are Panicked and roll one less die for any task. You may reduce your Panic level by Doing Something Rash. You break off from the group alone to do something quick, interrupt the ritual, destroy something sinister in the group’s possession (or a member of the group!), or wander into the dark room without a light source. Doing Something Rash always involves putting yourself (or someone else) at risk.  Each time you do this, roll your Fear Die. If you get less than your current Panic, decrease your Panic by the difference between the two.  So if you rolled a 1, you would reduce your Panic by 3 levels.

Commentary: This should make doing something rash a bit less haphazard.  Plus, with the new “fear check” mechanic, I expect the panic levels to be swinging around a lot more.  Doing something rash now has the potential for a much better pay off.  I’m not sure I’ll stick with the “roll low” aspect, though.  Maybe roll a d6 and reduce your Panic by half the result.  That would have essentially the same effect.  And yes, the only way your Panic level can be completely restored is with a T/T card.

If you have more elegant ideas or can see gaping holes in any of these approaches, please leave a comment.  Otherwise, watch for Halloween Dark v2.5 to hit this site later this week!

Halloween Dark: Post Play Report

509367d0177f6-image

Monday night I turned the kids in my library program lose on my Halloween Dark scenario, Joyland.  As I suspected, the game was light on actual terror and BIG on MAYHEM.  Maybe a bit too much mayhem.  It’s clear to me that while the general concept is fun as hell and works (for the most part), a few things need some reigning in and tweaking.

Here’s my list of things that need some work:

  • Card play got unwieldy, especially with eight players.  Some of the kids would just play cards to cycle through the deck as quickly as possible.  It’s clear to me the game needs a better refresh mechanic than “play a card, draw a card.”
  • Players had trouble identifying when it was appropriate to play certain cards.  Free wheeling as it is, a lot of the T/T cards are pretty specific when they should be played.  It would be helpful to add either an icon or something that identified when a card could/should be played.
  • Combat was a mess.  This part really needs some tightening up.  Monsters need to be much more threatening, and the choice of fight or flight needs to be much more definite.  Especially since combat is entirely player facing.  The *W kludge did not work as well as I had hoped.  So yeah, combat and escape need an overhaul.
  • No one investigated anything.  They were too busy throwing monsters and handicaps at each other.  Which is fun, but it feels like the game is lacking one of the core tent poles of Scooby Dog horror.  To remedy this, I’m thinking of adding some Investigation-specific cards.  I may also make play a bit more regimented.  Maybe add an “Investigation” round.
  • Panic and doing something Rash need some fine tuning.  There was some confusion about this.  I think I’m going to change the Panic from six to five ranks, mirroring Exhaustion.  With the last two ranks as “Panicked” with a similar effect (lose one die).  Once you are Panicked, you can “do something rash” to relieve the effect.  But instead of the roll under/over, I think I’ll just simplify it to Roll a die, relieve 1 rank on a 5, 2 ranks on a 6.
  • Listen up, educators!  Kids need to learn what a metaphor is BEFORE they get to college.

But other than that, the game worked VERY well.  It was insane at times.  Definitely good one-shot material.

Halloween’s a Great Time for Clowning…

The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event.

a2-1007-clown-bw-jpg

RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES!  Clown hysteria has gripped the United States.  Creepy clowns seem to be showing up in every state, every city.  Did we just leapfrog over the zombie apocalypse?  Has Trump v Clinton driven people to the extreme?  I can’t tell you that.  Funny thing, the same thing happened back in the 50’s, in a little town in Missouri called Carthage…

28e8e0b28975bcf7e34ae12a76092f0f

Joyland is a short, one-night scenario for Halloween Dark. Set in the early 1950s, a rash of disappearances coincided with numerous mysterious clown sightings.  Despite local law enforcement denials, many felt the two were connected.  The characters have come together to investigate an abandoned carnival park that seems to be at the center of the clown sightings.  But what they find is far more horrific than they can possibly imagine — if they survive Joyland, that is.

The scenario includes a complete location key of the fairgrounds, a map, as well as bonus trick or treat cards to tie into the killer clown theme.  Like the game itself, it’s a witches brew.  See something that doesn’t make sense?  That’s because you need to make up your own effect.  Why are they characters involved in the adventure?  All of the Pre-Gens have a reason, but you can just as easily come up with something on the fly.  How do you kill the big bad in the final encounter?  Let them figure something out.  You should be asking yourself how your players survived all those clowns!

Halloween Dark

horror-pic

My own modest spin on Graham Walmsley’s brilliant Cthulhu Dark is now available in the downloads section.  It’s called Halloween Dark, and if you are looking for serious horror roleplaying, look elsewhere.

Halloween Dark was born in 2014 out of the need for a very simple rpg to run Halloween-themed one-shot games for my Library Teen Roleplaying program.  Cthulhu Dark fit the bill, then I grafted on the idea of cards from a brainchild my co-GM was fostering.  It made for a fast, frantic, and hilarious 2:30 hour game session.

Flash forward two years and I’ve reworked some of the more problematic parts and finalized the cards (in the original game, the cards were spontaneously scribbled down on index cards).  It’s a witches brew of a game.  It may not make sense all of the time, but it is fun.

So if you’ve got your crew coming this October and want to throw something a bit…different at them, Halloween Dark is your game.  Check it out.  Let me know what I need to fix in time for next Halloween.

All Hallow’s Eve Fest Wrap Up

Woo!  That was a fun ride.  It’s tougher than it seems to kick our four blog posts out in one week.  I hope my kids forgive me one day.

I was hoping there would be a bit more buy in on the concept from different fronts.  MONSTROUS kudos to the esteemed Gaston’s Hat of the For Honor…and Intrigue Blog for stepping up with a quartet (beat me by one!) of werewolf themed articles for the For Honor and Intrigue RPG.  I love a good werewolf yarn, and he’s posted some great fuel for anyone looking to include these beasts in their game.  Great stuff.  Please check them out.

Next year, time and circumstances willing, we are going to do this again.  So if you enjoyed these posts of Gaston’s or mine, please consider jumping into the mix. Until then, you can expect the usual around here, though it’ll probably get a bit quiet for the holidays.