Sunday, September 4, 2016

New Cryptworld Skills: Combat in the Victorian Era

And we're back!

This blog has been on hiatus for far too long. It's time to get back to work now that summer is about to transition into fall, and Halloween is just around the corner. To get things started, I've returned to my mission to bring you new rules for injecting a little Hammer Horror into your CRYPTWORLD games. Hammer Films produced such rich and colorful productions with beautiful period costumes and atmospheric sets I can't help being inspired to recreate that same feeling when I run my games.

Today I have not one but three new CRYPTWORLD skills, this time focusing on combat. While I tend to lean toward the Victorian age in my own games, these new skills could certainly be used in other historical eras including modern times (albeit a bit eccentric). You might have some trouble getting a swordstick past the TSA though...

Exclusive: No
Base: (Str+Agl+Dex+Per)/4
Check: Specific

The swordstick (or cane-sword) is by all appearances a typical men’s walking stick or cane that conceals a rapier-like weapon within. By the late 18th century, carrying a sword in public became increasing less socially acceptable and practically unheard of by the Victorian age. The swordstick allowed gentlemen trained in the art of swordsmanship to carry the weapon on their person without appearing uncouth. The sword parasol is a variant of the swordstick preferred by women of the Victorian era wishing to conceal their socially unacceptable (for the period) knowledge of swordsmanship.

Having the Swordstick skill is not required to use the weapon, but it takes 1 round to withdraw the sword from concealment within the cane. Those possessing the Swordstick skill do not suffer this penalty.

Stick Fighting
I said "Good Day", Sir!
Exclusive: No
Base: (Str+Agl+Pcn)/3
Check: Specific

Stick fighting is a martial art where any type of wooden stick is used as a weapon. Examples include staffs, canes, walking sticks, even umbrellas and parasols. It does not include fighting with heavier wooden weapons like clubs or maces (see the Short-handled Weapons skill instead).

Characters with the Stick Fighting skill at the Expert or Master level may choose to use the unarmed combat results key instead of the armed combat results key to reflect their training and ability to “hold back” their blows. This determination must be made during the declaration step of the Sequence of Play. All others including characters without the Stick Fighting skill may only use the armed combat results key. Anyone fighting with a stick may still make a called shot.

Dry Clean Only!
Exclusive: Yes
Base: (Str+Dex+Agl+Per)/4
Check: Specific

The art of fighting with a cloak was developed by various sword fighting schools during the Renaissance but saw a resurgence in popularity during the Victorian era when one did not walk around armed and armored in polite society. Cloaks may be used to deflect sword blows, cause confusion, obstruct an attacker’s vision, and entangle opponents. Characters trained in this skill are able to entangle their opponents with their cloak, cape or coat.

A cloak has no effect except on a “C” result. A “C” result indicates that the defender has become entangled in the cloak. As long as the defender is tangled in the cloak, they must make a general Agility check each round to remain standing. If they fail the check, they immediately fall down and are considered “on the ground” until they stand up—which also requires a general Agility check. The entangled defender may use no melee skill in attacking, and they defend in melee on column 1 while entangled. See the notes on the Bola in the core rulebook for the defender’s chance to free themselves (or be freed); the same rules apply.

At the Expert or Master level, characters with this skill may also use their cloak, cape or coat as if it were a small shield shifting their defense column one column to the right. All restrictions for shield use apply normally: protects against only two attacks per round and offers no protection from firearms or paranormal attacks.
Pulp Sherlock Holmes or Steampunk Tony Stark?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Cryptworld Unsettling Power: Automatic Writing

One of my favorite things about CRYPTWORLD are the unsettling powers, little supernatural abilities for things designed not necessarily to harm the PCs but add flavor, mood, and atmosphere to encounters and trigger fear checks. They are also a lot of fun to design, and I have a few in the recently released MONSTERS MACABRE supplement for CRYPTWORLD and here on my blog that came about from my horror movie viewing. I have to admit to watching horror movies lately through a CRYPTWORLD lens and actively looking for moments that would make great unsettling powers.

Here is a new unsettling power for your CRYPTWORLD games expanded on from the Ghost entry in Chapter 7: Things.

Spirit Writing
Automatic Writing: This power allows an undead thing (typically a ghost) to communicate with the living by temporarily taking control of a character’s hand to deliver a written message or warning. This usually requires the presence of paper and a writing implement such as a pen, but a planchette and spirit board (commonly called a ouija board) may be used instead. This costs 10 WPR per minute. In extreme cases, a knife or other sharp object might be used to carve a message on a surface like a wooden table or a wall at a cost of 10 WPR per round. All written communications resulting from this power will appear to be in the handwriting of the thing using the power. The hand of the character chosen (left or right) will be the same dominant hand the undead thing had in life.

I've got to say "hello" to an old friend...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Cryptworld Skill: Psychiatry

Halloween is fast upon us, so it's time to celebrate with some new content over the next few days! Up first is a new skill for CRYPTWORLD based once again on a skill found in the original Pacesetter CHILL roleplaying game. My version of Psychiatry presented below includes the NPC sanity determination from the original skill, but I've added a little something extra for dealing with the results of fear checks. As always, this skill is not intended to be a factual representation of psychiatry but to emulate the conventions found in horror movies that touch on madness instead.

For added flavor, characters that take the Psychiatry skill may also be interested in taking the Hypnotism skill presented earlier on this blog as well.

Tell me about your early childhood...

*† Psychiatry
Exclusive: Yes
Base: (Pcn+Wpr+Per+Luck)/4
Check: General

Psychiatry is a medical specialty that encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Characters with the Psychiatry skill are medical doctors referred to as psychiatrists although they were commonly called alienists from the late Victorian era up until the early 20th century when the term fell out of use. This skill may only be taken if the character has the skill Medicine at the Expert level.

A character with the Psychiatry skill may attempt to mitigate the result of another character’s fear check. After a character makes a fear check, a psychiatrist can immediately make a general Psychiatry check to prevent the character from running away (or hiding) and improve their fear check result by one category. For example, failure on the fear check becomes an S (scared) result, an S result becomes an L (loathing) result, an L result becomes an M (misgivings) result, and an M result becomes an H/C (heroism) result. Failure on the general Psychiatry check means the psychiatrist has had absolutely no effect on the victim’s fear reaction. Unlike the Medicine skill, a psychiatrist may not use Psychiatry for self treatment.

Straight Jacket Required
This skill may also be used to determine if a seemingly insane NPC patient is in fact telling the truth about a supernatural encounter with a thing, or merely making up stories, rambling incoherently, or hallucinating. After a character with Psychiatry spends 1-5 hours (1d10/2 rounded up) with the patient, the CM makes a general check for the PC in secret. If the check fails, the PC is convinced only of the patient’s insanity whether they truly are insane or not. Success reveals the truth as determined by the CM: the patient did indeed experience a supernatural encounter with a thing and is quite sane (or perhaps was driven insane as a result of the encounter), or the patient is completely insane and their persistent belief in or deception about having an imaginary encounter with a supernatural being is symptomatic of their mental disorder.

This Nice Padded Room Awaits You...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ravenwick: What's This All About?

What's this? Ravenwick is the beginning of an idea I've had kicking around in the back of my head for a few years now. It's the first in a series of system-neutral locales intended for horror roleplaying games that will include detailed location descriptions and NPCs, both friend and foe. Ravenwick is a fictional seaside town by the windswept moors set in Britain's late Victorian Era and presented in the Gothic horror tradition. It draws inspiration from the horror movies of Hammer Films, the Whitby of Bram Stoker's Dracula, the works of J. S. Le Fanu (particularly his imaginary English village of Golden Friars), Ravenloft's Mordentshire, and more. I'll be sharing elements of the setting here on my blog as the project progresses, then compiling and expanding that material into a published work complete with poster maps. Eventually, I hope to do the same for a fictional Old World "Überwald" setting taking inspiration for Stoker's Transylvania, Le Fanu's Karnstein, Shelley's Barony of Frankenstein, and their interpretations by both Universal Studios and Hammer Films.

Ravenwick is the prominent settlement located in the fictional county of Ravenshire on the eastern coast of England. Ravenshire is the ancestral family seat of Lord Ravenstone who lives with his family at Ravenstone Hall in Ravenwick.

The Village of Ravenwick and surrounding environs will feature:

  • A seaside village on Raven Bay surrounded by dangerous, foreboding cliffs 
  • Superstitious villagers, fishermen, and farmers
  • Prominent old families enduring cursed lives in their haunted ancestral homes
  • Werewolves roaming the windswept moors
  • An imposing lunatic asylum on a hill overlooking the village
  • Haunted ruins dotting the countryside
  • A centuries-old cemetery where the dead do not always rest in peace
  • Ancient pagan sites surrounded in legend and witness to forgotten prehistoric rituals
  • A mysterious African prince recently arrived in England who has taken up residence in the ruins of Norfax Abbey
  • An exciting locale to explore steeped in dark secrets and the supernatural!

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more details about Ravenwick as well as sneak peaks at the area map as it progresses. And even though this is primarily a system-neutral project, I'll probably throw in some gameable content for CRYPTWORLD and more.

Rocky Cliff with Stormy Sea, Cornwall, 1902 by William Trost Richards

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New Cryptworld Unsettling Power: Slam

I was recently reading through the old Pacesetter THINGS supplement and rediscovered an Evil Way discipline called Slam that I thought would make a nice addition to CRYPTWORLD. I've rewritten and reworked it as an unsettling power and added a little something extra - your CRYPTWORLD investigator might not be playing the piano for awhile!

Get out. GET OUT!!!!
Slam: This power allows a thing to forcefully slam shut any single portal (door, window, or gate) within a range of 100’ that it has previously shut normally. No amount of human effort can reopen the portal while the slam remains in effect, although the portal can be destroyed by extraordinary means (e.g. using explosives on a door or throwing a heavy object through a glass window). If a character is unfortunate enough to have their fingers caught within the slammed portal, they remain trapped until the thing relinquishes control of the portal and suffer a -20 penalty to DEX for 24 hours afterward. Use of this power costs 5 WPR per round of use.