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Murder! Be Thy Name

Murder! Be Thy Name
Rob Justice
Role-Playing Game 2018

I began writing Murder! Be Thy Name on July 4th, 2018 and gave myself the challenging deadline of producing this, in print, in time to bring a copy of American Murder Song on September 16th, 2018 at their show in Kansas City.

Creating this game was a real challenge for me but it is one of the most meaningful and enjoyable pieces I’ve ever written. I’m exceptionally proud of this book. It’s my first self-published game that I’ve had physically printed. The first game I’ve ever done graphic design and layout for. The first game I wrote completely by myself.

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New Podcast? Kind of…

Hey everyone. Welcome to my brand spanking new personal website. You’re probably here because you know about my work over the last six years in the wide world of podcasting. I know, less than a month ago I ‘retired’ from the hobby but, as wrestling fans should know, retirement never sticks.

I’m back, but things are different this time around. This site isn’t a new podcast, it just has podcast-like features on it. There isn’t a weekly (bi-weekly or even monthly) show, instead there will be audio content when there is something worth recording.

A big part of this, aside from having a topic I really wanted to talk about, comes from wanting to get more into writing. I have two games I’m working on and hope to get published someday. I’ll need a site to sell PDFs and promote my work from.

After years of trying to build a brand with Bear Swarm! and BS! Radio, I’ve decided to focus on the most important brand I have. Myself. This site is the first step in that direction. It might be pretty barren now, but I plan on bringing content back from the Blog of Justice, old Bear Swarm! episodes, stuff from BS! Radio, along with fresh new written, audio, and maybe even some video content.

Storium Philosophy

This document is under constant revision.
Thoughts and ideas expressed here are subject to change on the owner’s whim.
The views and opinions expressed in this document are solely those of the owner.
This is not a definitive guide to Storium behavior.
Last Update: 10/9/2015

Storium Philosophy

Thoughts on Etiquette and Gameplay by RobJustice

Introduction

The nature of Storium is very open to interpretation. Every narrator and player seems to have a different vision for how the game works or should work. This is one of the great strengths of the game, but it’s also a crippling weakness. When you find people who agree with how you see the game working it’s fantastic, but when you butt heads…

To help prevent disagreement and argument I’ve decided to put together my Philosophy document. This lays out how I interpret the game and conduct myself while playing or narrating. This way you know what to expect from me and the games I run. While I use broad generic terms all of the details I outline below are only personal beliefs and not a de-facto guide to how to behave on Storium.

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Honor & Darkness

This was something I wrote about a year ago. It’s unfinished and was never playtested. I still think its a neat idea and I had some interesting thoughts in here. I might pick it up again some day, unlikely but maybe.

Author’s Note: I wanted to run a game about medieval monster hunters and while there are many systems that could accomplish that task,none of them did it in the way that I really wanted. I’ve been a big fan of Houses of the Blooded since it came out and I really wanted to use some of it’s ideas in my game. The biggest hurdle I had was… well… the entire game. I’m not a fan of Narrative control as my default and I wanted a game that was a little more traditional. One where the monster hunters were rolling dice to kill monsters and not describe scenes. I’ve now set out to turn a version of Houses, specifically the samurai tragedy Blood & Honor, into the game that I wanted.

This game requires a copy of Blood & Honor to play. That’s it.

Chapter 0: Game Style

This might sound weird, but Honor & Darkness isn’t intended to be a Tragedy. Instead, it should be a heroic epic. Your character’s are just plain better than normal people and it’s fallen to them to fight the monsters of the world. This means that every character doesn’t have to meet a tragic end, though surely some will.

A lot of the abilities and adjustments made to this game are to increase the overall feeling of bad-ass-ary in the characters. That same feeling has also lead to a general feeling of throwing “balance” to the wind. Some characters may be mechanically better than others, but hopefully all of them feel awesome to play. It’s not my goal to make a solid, perfectly balanced sword. It’s my goal to make a sword that’s really f’n fun to use.

Chapter 1: Risk

Lets jump into the biggest changes I’m making. After all, what is the point of knowing how to make a character if you don’t like how you’re going to be playing the game. Before I get too carried away I want to make it crystal clear that the when isn’t changing, just the how.

A risk is a meaningful action taken by a character whose outcome may influence the plot and/or other characters.

Achievement

Honor & Darkness doesn’t have Privilege, it has Achievement. You’re rolling dice to see if things go your way or not. This is a radical departure from the base game so keep that in mind. When you roll dice, you should have a goal in mind. If your risk is successful, you’ve Achieved your goal.

Target Numbers

This is something I’m stealing from Dungeon World. There are two tiers of Achievement; Partial and Full. A roll totalling between 7 and 9 is a Partial Achievement while a roll of 10 or higher is a Full Achievement. A roll of a 1 to 6 is a total failure, which means you’ll always need more than two dice in your pool if you even hope to accomplish anything.

Partial and Full Achievements affect your Wagers; a Full Achievement allows you to apply your full set of Wagers against your target while a Partial only gives you half of them… Unless you Compromise. Your Narrator may grant you a Full Achievement but they get to change what your outcome is. More on that later, but first lets talk a bit more about how Wagers are used.

Wagers

Wagers are made just like they are in Blood & Honor, but end up getting spent a little differently. The first, and biggest change, is that some actions require mandatory Wagers to accomplish. Before you roll, your Narrator will tell you how many mandatory Wagers a particular action is going to cost you. Those Wagers are tossed aside and can’t be used for further effects. These Wager’s are not used for your Achievement.

After you’ve paid your mandatory Wagers, you can continue setting aside additional dice for greater effects. The obvious example is in combat, dealing Injuries costs you 1 Wager per Rank. Wagers are also used for Maneuvers; special abilities your characters have.. More information on Maneuvers in their own chapter later.

Contested Risks

In a Contested Risk there are no mandatory Wagers, the only difficulty is your opponent and not the action you’re trying to accomplish.

All characters involved gather their dices pools and set aside their wagers in secret. Once all the Wagers have been determined everyone rolls their pools. Whomever rolls the Highest acts first, second highest acts second, and so on.

Every roll is a considered a Round, but within that round there can be several Beats. On a Beat a character may make Maneuvers or cast Spells. The first character takes their Beat first, then the second character takes theirs, and so on.

At the start of a Beat the Acting Character can spend Wagers to make a Maneuver or cast a Spell. Any characters affected by the Acting Character then have a chance to spend Wagers on counter Maneuvers or Spells. If the Affected Characters make a move, the Acting Character has a chance to spend Wagers again on counter-counter Maneuvers and Spells. This continues until either a character is out of wagers, or decides to not counter a move. Then it’s the next character’s turn and the process repeats.

There are a few more outcomes depending on how each side rolls. When figuring your Wagers, always round down. In all of the examples, assume that  Player (A) made 6 Wagers and Player (B) made 8.

Full Achievement and rolls higher (A) than Full Achievement (B)

Result: (A) get full and (B) get half. Example: (A) keeps 6 and (B) keeps 4.

Full Achievement and rolls higher (A) than Partial Achievement (B)

Result: (A) gets full and (B) gets half of half. Example: (A) keeps 6 and (B) keeps 2.

Full Achievement and rolls higher than (A) No Achievement (B)

Result: (A) get full and (B) gets none. Example: (A) keeps 6 and (B) keeps 0..

Partial Achievement and rolls higher than (A) Partial Achievement (B)

Result: (A) gets half and (B) get half of half. Example: (A) keeps 3 and (B) keeps 2.

Partial Achievement and rolls higher than (A) No Achievement (B)

Result: (A) gets half and (B) gets none. Example: (A) keeps 3 and (B) keeps 0.

No Achievement and rolls higher than (A) No Achievement (B)

Result: No one gets any Wagers. Example: (A) keeps 0 and (B) keeps 0.

Cooperative Risks

When making a Cooperative Risk, the characters need to only set aside the number of mandatory Wagers in together. That could be one character setting aside all the dice for the mandatory Wager or the two characters splitting the requirement between them.

The various outcome situations are the same as with a Competitive Risk, with some characters having less Wagers to spend than others.

Yes, it’s a totally valid strategy for one character to totally shoulder the burden of the mandatory Wagers so another one can use all their Wagers towards their goal.

Narrative Control

If you want to kick the system back to it’s roots, you just need to spend an Honor point. That’s all. One Honor and the game goes back to functioning like Blood & Honor. The Narrator always has the right to decline the Honor point though; which is the polite way of saying no.

Compromise

Earlier I mentioned that on a Partial Achievement you can Compromise with your Narrator to keep all of you Wagers. On a result of 7-9, the Narrator can offer a complication to your current goal or a different goal altogether. This is hard to illustrate without an example, because there are no hard rules for what the Narrator can offer. The idea is to start a dialog about how this action is turning out, not limit the Player or Narrator.

Example: Mike wants to pick a lock to a house, he’s set aside two Wagers and rolls. But he only gets an Eight. A Partial Achievement means he only gets to use one of his Wagers, but he needs two if he wants to get any Glory for breaking into this house. Mike asks his Narrator, Rob, for a Compromise. Rob thinks it over and says he’ll let mike have a Full Achievement if he gets spotted breaking into the house. Mike hesitates and tells Rob that it’s not worth being caught in the act if he wants to improve his reputation. Rob then suggests that instead of being seen, he leaves some trace behind of his break-in. Mike likes that idea more since it can’t be traced directly back to him. Mike agrees to the Compromise and gets to use both of his Wagers.

Compromises are always optional, if the Narrator can’t think of a good twist for you they do not have to offer a Compromise. Players are encouraged to make suggestions, but the final decision on if a Risk can be Compromised or not rests with the Narrator.

Chapter 2: Violence

One of the biggest changes to Violence from Blood & Honor is how Injuries are dealt. First, the rule about being struck with a katana meaning instant death is gone. That’s just not very fun or fitting for monster hunting. Instead, in order to deal damage you must spend Wagers on the Injure Maneuver. Every character starts with Injure, so it’s simply a matter of spending Wagers.

Weapons

Optionally, your Narrator might grant unique weapons Free Wagers that can be used towards Maneuvers. These unique weapons could come with limitations on what the Free Wagers may be spent on, like a hooked sword that grants +1 on the Disarm Maneuver, or be flat bonuses, a well crafted sword that grants +1 towards any Maneuver.

Injuries

Injuries do not add together or stack up. A character with a Rank 1 Injury may take a second Rank 1 Injury, it does not make the existing Rank 1 into a Rank 2. There are also no limits on how many of any kind of Injury a character can have on them. A character can have eight Rank 1 Injuries, seven Rank 4 Injuries, and two Rank 5 Injuries and still be running around.

Injuries may be tagged by other characters when being used against the Injured character. The character tagging the Injury gets a number of bonus dice equal to the Rank of the Injury. Injuries can never benefit the Injured character, so they can’t be tagged in cooperative Risks. They are wounds that only hurt you, remember that.

It’s suggested that player’s name their Injuries, especially ones that are going to be sticking around for awhile. This can help everyone role-play the effects and keeps the players from losing track of why they are hurt. Descriptors like “Bruised Ribs” and “Severed Tendon” can go a long ways in reminding you why you’re getting tagged for bonus dice.

Narrators are also encouraged to add Injuries to Risks in the form of Mandatory Wagers. Injuries tend to make everything more difficult, but it’s the Narrator’s discretion on this. If the Narrator feels like the character’s injuries wouldn’t affect the Risk then they don’t need to be Mandatory Wagers.

Rank 5 Injuries are a special case because they mean your character is on death’s door. They leave deep scars and cost limbs, everyone is encouraged to treat them with the gravitas they deserve. If a character is walking around with a, unhealed Rank 5 Injury, they are subject to Killing Blows. Killing Blows are simple actions, not even  a Risks, that kill characters. Any character can announce, “I kill you.” and you’re dead.

Healing

Rank 1 Injuries heal in a day, Rank 2 take a week, Rank 3 a month, and Rank 4 a year. Rank 5 Injuries, being a special case again, are detailed in depth below. This  healing time is total, after a week a Rank 2 Injury is completely healed; it does not become a Rank 1 Injury.

Rank 5 Injuries last until they are treated in a significant way. Once the Rank 5 Injury is attended to the character is no longer subject to Killing Blows, but the effects continue to last, mechanically, for however is thematically appropriate to the story. This means other characters can continue to tag your Rank 5 Injury for five dice, but they can’t simple kill you by announcing it.

Anything reduces the healing time of an Injury, the next steps down from Rank 1 are Hours, Minutes, then Seconds. Anything beyond seconds is trivial. Rank 5 Injuries are healed in a Year and are no longer subject to the Killing Blow effect.

Chapter 3: Character Creation

Character creation remains largely the same, but there are a few adjustments we’ll have to make to account for things like the addition of Maneuver & Spells and the removal of Clans & Duty.

Step 1: Choose a Name

This step is wholly unchanged from the Choose a Name step in Blood & Honor.

Step 2: Choose an Order

Instead of a Clan, your character has an Order. Information about the Orders can be found in the Setting chapter later on.

Characters get +1 to their Order’s Favored Virtue.

Orders are Ranked and can be Invoked for dice equal to their Rank for any Risk they are appreciated to.

Every Order has a Benefit that all it’s members enjoy that increased with their Order Rank.

Step 3: Choose a Division

Instead of a Giri (Duty) your character has a Division. Information about the Divisions can be found in the Setting chapter later on.

Every Order has three Divisions. Divisions are Ranked and can be Invoked for dice equal to their Rank for any Risk they are appreciated to.

They also grant Abilities at their 1st, 3rd, and 5th Ranks.

Step 4: Choose Virtues

This step is wholly unchanged from the Choose Virtues step in Blood & Honor.

Step 5: Choose Aspects

Instead of selecting Aspects from your Clan, Aspects are selected from your Order. Every Order also has Three Aspects, one of which any character from that Order must take.

Note: The Church has two Aspects and each Faction has two of their own. Characters affiliated with The Church also choose a Faction and select their Aspect from the four Aspects available to The Church and their Faction.

Also, no characters start with the None of Us… Aspect for free.

Step 6: Honor & Glory

This step is wholly unchanged from the Honor & Glory step in Blood & Honor.

Step 7: Choose an Advantage

While this step is mostly the same, a couple tweaks need to be made for the new system.

The following two Advantages no longer function correctly and should be omitted: Archer’s Eye and Daimyo’s Favor.

Ancient Sword

The Ancient Sword Advantage doesn’t make any sense. Instead, pretend it reads that you gain access to a Rank 4 Sword (Exquisite Quality) and then see the updates Seasons & War chapter for how crafting has changed.

Fast Healer

Because of how Healing has changed, this Advantage needs to change a bit too. Treat all Injuries as if they are 1 Rank lower for the purposes of Healing. If you have something that already does this, the Advantage stacks with the other effects. This means that Fast Healing Immortal Vigilants heal Rank 1 Injuries in a minute and Rank 5 Injuries in a Month.

Insight

Since there are no longer Giri (Duty) the Insight Advantage needs to be altered. Now, Insight allows you to begin the game with either an Order Rank or Division Rank of 2 rather than 1.

Outsider

Some clarification: You gain +1 to any Virtue instead of your Order’s Favored Virtue.

Quick

Some clarification: Quick applies to land speed movements, not fighting agility. Quick characters do parkour and run faster than others. It’s not a Prowess booster, like Born to the Blade.

Step 8: Choose a Maneuvers and Spells

Every character starts with the Injure Maneuver and either one Maneuver or one Spell of their choosing. See the Maneuvers and Spells section for more details.

Chapter 4: Honor & Glory

Honor is still hugely important, but functions slightly differently.

Chapter 5: Maneuvers and Spells

Maneuvers

Maneuvers are spent during Strikes, Duels, and Mass Murders. They represent specialized training and techniques that help you thwart your foes. All characters know the Injure maneuver to start and can use it to spend Wagers to inflict Injuries. Detailed rules for how to use Maneuvers can be found in the Risks section.

 

InjureCost: 1 – 5 WagersTrigger: When attacking.

Result: Your enemy receives an Injury that’s Rank equals the number of Wagers spent on the Injure Maneuver.

BashCost: 2 WagersRequires: Injure, Strength

Trigger: When attacking.

Result: You knock your opponent on the ground.

BindCost: 2 WagersRequires: Parry

Trigger: When attacking or defending

Result: You lock your weapons together and prevent both you and your opponent from making any more Maneuvers this round.

DisarmCost: 2 WagersRequires: Parry, Beauty

Trigger: When attacking.

Result: You knock your opponent’s weapon from their hand(s).

DodgeCost: 4 WagersRequires: Parry

Trigger: When defending.

Result: Cancel any single Maneuver, except for Dodge. Dodges can never be canceled.

FeintCost: 1 – 3 WagersRequires: Parry, Cunning

Trigger: When attacking.

Result: Set aside a number of Wagers equal to Wagers spent on the Feint Maneuver to use on the next round. Feint Wagers can not be used to Feint again.

LungeCost: 2 WagersRequires: Injure, Courage

Trigger: When attacking

Result: Lunge must be used before you use any other maneuver. Add your Courage to your Injury rank, but you may spend no more Wagers that beat.

ParryCost: 1 – 5 WagersTrigger: When defending

Result: Reduce the Rank of your Injury by a number of Wagers spent on the Defend Maneuver.

PressCost: 2 WagersRequires: Prowess, at least two other Maneuvers (other than Injure)

Trigger: When attacking

Result: Cancels the Recover and Parry Maneuvers.

RecoverCost: 3 WagersRequires: Dodge, Wisdom

Trigger: When defending

Result: Chancels the Bash, Disarm, and Feint Maneuvers.

RiposteCost: 2 WagersRequires: Parry

Trigger: After a Parry Maneuver

Result: Make any Maneuver that normally only triggers when attacking

SapCost: 1 WagerRequires: Injure

Trigger: When attacking an unaware opponent.

Result: Knock your opponent unconscious.

SheathCost: 1 WagerTrigger: When attacking or defending

Result: You sheath your current weapon and draw a different one.

Spells

Casting a spell is always a Courage Risk, this also means you can not cast Spells if you have a Courage Weakness. Spells also requires great concentration, preventing you from doing much more than casting them at any given time.

Spells must be cast first at the beginning of your character’s Beat and prevent any further Wagers from being spend on Maneuvers or Spells for the rest of their Round. If the Risk is not being contested the Spell must be cast with the first Wagers and any other Wagers made are lost.

The question inevitably arises, why would I ever set aside more Wagers then I’m going to spend on any single spell? There isn’t one, unless you only have Partial Advantage and are unable (or unwilling) to Compromise or don’t make the highest roll in a Contested Risk. If you ever don’t have enough Wagers to cast a spell, you simply can’t cast it.

Shield

Cost: 1-5 Wagers

Requires: Courage

Trigger: At the start of your Beat

Result: Reduce the Rank of all Injuries inflicted on you for the remainder of the Beat by a number of Wagers spent on the Shield Spell.

Title

Cost: X Wagers

Requires: Courage

Trigger: At the start of your Beat

Result: X

Chapter 6: Seasons & War

We’re dropping this entire system. For now, it doesn’t have a place in this game. There is one thing we need to address though, and that’s character growth.

In place of Season Actions for Personal Improvement, characters only need to spend a Honor point to change their characters. Everything costs 1 Honor; Learning a new Maneuver or Spell, Swapping any two Virtue scores, Adding a new Aspect, Increasing anything Ranked by 1 Rank, Crafting items (1 Honor per Rank), buying additional Advantages (at the Narrator’s discretion), etc.

There is one caveat though, your Personal Improvement MUST be role-played. You can’t just magically learn the Lunge Maneuver, you need to find someone to teach it to you. You must spend time practicing and studying the form. Like anything, when you try to hand an Honor point to your Narrator they reserve the right to refuse the point. They should explain why they feel you’re not ready and suggest steps to take to learn what you want. Remember, you’re working together and your Narrator isn’t out to get you.

Crafting

The Benefits of Quality remain the same, 1 die for Good, 2 dice for Fine, and 3 dice for Exquisit.

Legacy

The world can’t be saved in a single generation. Eventually, your characters will need to appoint their heir. Someone to pass along their knowledge and resources to. But before you can start training your apprentice, you need to find one.

Your heir could be a biological child, an adopted orphan, a distant relative, or even a hireling. The Narrator and you should work together to come up with the story of how you discover your heir and work it into the overall plot.

Mechanically, you should also work with your Narrator to come up with your heir but ultimately it’s up to your Narrator to make the mechanical decisions. You can express a desire to have a great swordsman, but the Narrator alone decides their Prowess Rank.

Once your heir has been introduced to the narrative, you can start training them. Every Honor point you spend on your own Personal Training bestows an advancement on your heir as well; except your heir can only learn things your character knows and can never have Ranked traits at the same level or higher than your character.

Eventually, your current character will retire and you will be able to pick up your heir’s sheet. The heir should be slightly inferior to your old character, at least mechanically, but given enough time (and Honor) then can be just as great.

Chapter X: The Setting

In 1337 France was embroiled in a civil war, Edwardian War, which quickly spread across Europe. When Edward III called on English allies, Philip VI had little choice but to seek allies of his own. Soon France, England, and Scotland were involved but the conflict didn’t stop there. Deals were struck with with nations across Europe and fighting spread across the mediterranean into Africa and even Asia..

The Edwardian War became the Hundred Years War, but as it raged on past 1437, it became known as the Great War, the World War, or simply the War. Hundreds of years passed and the fighting never ceased. Countries were obliterated and the landscape of the world was forever changed. Then, in 1712, the unthinkable happened when the ground began to shake in Arkhangelsk Russia.

For twelve days the tremors intensified until eventually the earth cracked and the entire city fell into pit. Fires erupted from the earth and a giant obsidian archway rose into the sky. The creatures of Hell poured onto the Earth and the War that had raged for 375 years finally ended. It looked like humanity might finally be united against the forces of Darkness. Except they were too weak and broken to mount any defense. Soon they fell to in-fighting again as disagreements about the best way to save their homes arose.

The Legion quickly captured most of Asia and would have surely taken Europe if it hadn’t been for an alliance between the Golden Hoard and it’s Russian Principalities. The Golden Camp was the first of the Great Orders to rise up against the Legion and it’s frontlines served as inspiration for the rest of Europe. Soon other Orders began rising. To fight the Hellspawn in the north Scandinavia reached back to it’s Viking traditions and created the Grey Order. Polish orphans were sent Malbork Castle in the Teutonic States to begin their training as crusading Warlocks. The remnants of the Holy Roman Empire began training it’s germanic Zweihänders to combat the Darkness. From the Byzantines and Ilkhans the great Immortal Vigilants returned and the Pope ordered the restoration of the Carolingian exorcists.

It’s been 87 years since Hell was unleashed upon the Earth and while humanity still survives it’s battered, beaten, and bloody. The resistance to the Legion has been strong, but it’s never been able to deal a mortal blow. Asia still rests firmly in the grips of damnation and most of Africa has fallen as well. Wallachia was invested with vampir and France, the birthplace of the War, is a wasteland of walking corpses and undead nightmares. When a plague broke out in Dublin, a pact was formed between England, Scotland, Ireland, and a seemingly benevolent group of Fae creatures the rose from the mists. It’s borders sealed by mystical fogs, on one has set foot on the British Isles since 1781. Communication with the Orient has been long since lost and reports of the New World to the west were never explored.

Even the Orders have suffered, the most notable was the in-fighting between Castillian Catholics and the Papal States. The Castillian’s didn’t think the Papal Carolingians were active enough outside of Italy and announced the return of the Inquisition. Some Carolingians, stymied by the Church’s politics, jumped ship and gave birth to the splinter Order. On the frontlines, the Golden Camp and the Greys have both suffered continual losses and have been forced to resort to the recruitment of criminals to man posts. And alliance between the Zweihänders and the Warlocks to reclaim Wallachia ended with so much blood and each party blaming the other that skirmishes between the two Orders have become all too common. While the initial sweep  into Africa by the Immortal Vigilants was a rousing success, the Order soon encountered difficulties clearing Egypt. Their pleas for assistance fell on deaf ears and the already insular Vigilants become more xenophobic than ever.

In the year 1799, Europe looks hopefully towards the 19th Century but with demons and monsters around every corner things are still looking bleak.

Orders

The Greys

When the Legion roared from Archangel, Scandinavia felt the tremors as much as Novgorod did. While not as quick to respond as the Golden Hoard, the Greys were established and found more success any any other Order. Reaching back into its history, Scandinavians connected to their Viking ancestors and began exterminating the darkness wherever it was found. The Order of the Grey were the first group to experiment with the blood of Demons. The Úlfhéðnar berserkers would slit open the throats of the slain and feast upon their hell blood, many would die but few were strong enough to endure. Some prospered, becoming Seiðr sorcerers able to bend reality to their will. Some were weakened and pulled from the battlefield to become Skald, warrior poets tasked with recording the triumphs and failures of the Greys. Out of all of the Orders, the Greys have been the most successful in combating the Legion. Many attribute this to their scorched earth policy. The Greys operate as an extermination force, if a report of demonic appearance come in the Greys respond by burning the entire town to ash. This has led many Scandinavian towns to become more independent and less tolerant of Legion influence.

Favored Virtue: Strength

Stronghold: Gripsholms Slott (Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland)

Aspects: Dig two graves, Waiting for luck is waiting for death, & One word can warm the winter

Benefit: The Greys have all drank the blood of demons, and enough of it to kill a normal man. This has given them a psychic connection with the forces of darkness. Innately, all Greys can sense the presence of Demons and can telepathically communicate with some of the more powerful minions of the Legion. This link provides many Grey with a keen understanding of the thought processes of Demons and monsters, sometimes even giving them prophetic visions of a Demon’s plans. [Greys can not be affected by illnesses, diseases, or poisons. Greys gain a number of Free Wagers equal to their Order Rank when dealing with Demons.]

Divisions

Úlfhéðnar [Berserkers]

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5: Úlfhéðnar can prevent their opponent from Tagging up to 5 Ranks of Injury.

Seiðr [Sorcerers]

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Skald [Poets]

Rank 1: You may redact, alter, edit, reinterpret or change anything said by any other Grey to make it sound more appropriate to the current situation.
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Warlocks

Nobody knows how the deal was originally struck, but shortly after Archangel the Teutonic States reached out to Poland for recruits. They claimed to have an ancient secret order or Warlocks and they would combat the Darkness if only they had more recruits. Poland had become home to a large number of orphans from the War, which only attracted more orphans from surrounding countries. A quiet deal was struck and soon Poland was shipping large portions of it’s orphan population north to a Teutonic castle. Raised from youth on a diet of alchemical demon’s blood, the Warlocks were bred to be a fighting force. The Canis school focused on martial prowess, training it’s members to fight with a unique combination of two swords, one of meteorite steel and one of silver steel. The Felis school taught magical Signs to it’s practitioners, teaching them to command arcane forces. Finally, it’s the Haliaeetus school that learns how to brew the mutagens that Warlocks use.

Favored Virtue: Cunning

Stronghold: Malbork Castle (Poland, Hungary, and the Ukraine)

Aspects: All married women are not wives, First the man takes a drink, & A merry companion is as good as a horse

Benefit: Raised on small doses of demon blood mixed with a special alchemical blend of potions and poisons the Warlocks have toughened their immune systems rendering them incapable of illness, disease, and poison. These concoticious, called Mutagens, are used by the Warlocks to release their untapped potential. The debatable downside to this conditioning is complete and total sterilization. Some Warlocks consider it a curse to not be able to create a lineage, others view it as a blessing since they are immune to sexually transmitted diseases rendering sex completely risk free. [Warlocks can not be affected by illnesses, diseases, or poisons and gain access to a special set of temporary abilities, called Mutagens. Mutagens last for a 24 hour period, and only one Mutagen can be used in their system at a time. Mutagens are requested from the Malbork Castle and Warlock’s are only approved to carry a number of different Mutagens equal to their Order Rank. Warlocks are typically sent a one-month supply but can be approved for longer if they are sent on extended assignments.]

Mutagens

Black Blood: Turns imbibers blood lethal to demons. Demons feeding on it die immediately.

Blizzard: Two bonus dice towards Parry or Dodge maneuvers.

Cat: Allows seeing in total darkness and grants the ability to detect invisible beings.

Kiss: Rank 5 Injuries are automatically considered attended to (meaning they still last as long as thematically appropriate, but are no longer subject to Killing Blows), this includes any Injuries inflicted while under its effects.

Philter: Two bonus dice towards any Spells cast.

Rook: Injuries are treated as if they were 1 Rank lower when Tagged.

Shrike: Any successful Injury inflicted also reduces the opponent’s Wager pool by 1 die.

Swallow: Injuries are treated as if they were 1 Rank lower for Healing, Swallow must be taken daily for the duration of the Injury for the effect to last.

Thunderbolt: Injuries inflicted are 2 Ranks higher, but can’t use Parry and Dodge maneuvers.

Willow: Immune to Bash and Sap maneuvers.

Divisions

Canis [Dogs]

Rank 1: The Sheath maneuver no longer costs Wagers and is considered an Action. The Canis are also given a wolf’s head pendant that grows warm and vibrates in the presence of evil. The warmer and more violent the pendant shakes the more corrupt the soul.
Rank 3: The Canis gain two free wagers every round for any maneuver other than Injure.

Rank 5: When dealing a Rank 5 Injury, the Canis can decide that instead of being fatal the Injure undoes the target’s demonic possession. A single action can turn the creature back to it’s original being, either human or animal.

Felis [Cats]

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Haliaeetus [Eagles]

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Zweihänders

The Zweihänders are an elite fighting force trained by the Holy Roman Empire. Named after their massive two-handed Zweihänder swords, Zweihänders are comprised of three divisions. The Legatus are women whose mother was human and father was Demon, the Centurios are the pure human companions of the Legatus, and the Black Cloaks are men and women who follow a Zweihänder unit to collect payment for their services and ensure the Legatus finished their job. The Centurios are also tasked with keeping the Legatus in check, if the Legatus ever falls to the Darkness the Centurios are empowered to dispatch them. Despite their effectiveness, many peasants fear the Zweihänder Legatus as much as the Legion. Non-payment of Black Cloaks lead to towns being blacklisted and wholly unprotected, while a fallen Legatus can be even more dangerous than Demonic Princes.

Favored Virtue: Prowess
Stronghold: Hohensalzburg Fortress (Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Austria)

Aspects: None of us is as great as all of us, Nail and hammer, & A merry companion is as good as a horse

Benefit: Zweihänders always travel in groups; with one Legate, one or more Centurios, and a Black Cloak following behind the group. As a Legate gets more powerful the Zweihänders send more and more Centurios to look after them. [Rank 1 Zweihänders gain two followers of whatever Division they are not part of. At Rank 2 they are joined by a second Centurios. At Rank 3 three more Centurios join the team (for a total of 5 Centurios). Rank 4 grants 10 a total of Centurios while Rank 5 characters are accompanied by 20 Centurios, 1 Legatus, and 1 Black Cloak.]

Divisions

Centurios [Officer]

Rank 1: In Mass Murder, Centurios can spend wagers on Parry to reduce the Injury taken by another Centurios or Legatus.
Rank 3: Whenever following the orders of a Legatus, they can add the commanding Legatus’ Division Rank to their own for any Risks they roll their own Division Rank for.

Rank 5: When the Centurios calls a Strike against a Legatus, instead of a 2 die bonus they receive 5 bonus dice.

Legatus [General]

Rank 1: The Legatus can sense the location of Demons up to a number of miles away equal to their Legatus Rank. Also, Legatus can not be affected by illnesses, diseases, or poisons
Rank 3: While wielding a Zweihänder sword, their Prowess is considered 1 Rank Higher.

Rank 5: Legatus’s may spend an Honor point to reduce any of their Injuries by one Rank per Honor Point spent. This ability can be used at any time.

Black Cloaks [Rogues]

Rank 1: You have a number of agents who gather information for you. Your agents give you a fact on characters you meet, and each game, you may a single “truth” about NPCs. You may not use this ability on other player character.
Rank 3: Your agents allow you overhear or see any discussion or event during the game that you are not present for that it would be reasonable for your agents to witness.

Rank 5:

The Golden Camp

The oldest Order, the Golden Camp is also the least organized. With no true leadership, the Camp is only united in purpose; the constant battle with the Legion. Then the Golden Hoard first encountered demons it fought back fiercely. Soon, battle lines were established and the Hoard hasn’t given an inch since. A few Great Khans have attempted to seize control, but their mortality rate seemed to increase tenfold and none lasted more than a month. Members of the Camp call each other Brother and are divided into three groups. The Kheeshig and Noyan are fighting forces, with the Kheeshig being more aggressive and the Noyan more defensive. The Gers are builders and workers who keep the Camp in running order.

Favored Virtue: Courage

Stronghold: Moskovskiy Kreml (Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia)

Aspects: Laughter is the fool’s hiccup, The deer hunter pays no mind to the hares, & The mountain never falls

Benefit: The one thing that holds the Golden Camp together is it’s loyalty. Brothers give their lives for each other regularly and there is no room in the Camp for cowards. It’s a common sight to see three or four brothers rally around a single soldier to bolster his chances. More than any other Order, the Golden Camp value their Order before themselves. [A Camp Brother can give anyone a number of Free Wagers equal to their Order Rank for any task.]

Divisions

Kheshig [Elite Guard]

Rank 1: Your reputation precedes you. If you are ever in an antagonistic position toward another character, that character must set aside a number of dice from any risk against you equal to your Division Rank.
Rank 3: Whenever you lose a Prowess risk you may choose to spend your wagers first or make your opponent spend his.

Rank 5:

Noyan [Officers]

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Gers [Builders]

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Immortal Vigilants

The Byzantine Empire empire responded the the threat of the Legion in a very curious way, by reaching out to the Ilkhanate Empire and striking a deal with their former allies. The Byzantines asked for the Ilkhan to help train young noblemen and resurrect the ancient army of the Persian Immortals. Working closely together the two empires gave birth to the knightly order of the Immortal Vigilants and began their crusade to recapture the Holy Lands. The Immortal Ghazi warriors were incredibly successful, if unnecessarily violent, and soon they reclaimed the ancient cities of Israel, Jordan, and Damascus. It was in Damascus that the Vigilants rediscovered a lost art; Damascus Steel. Blades forged of steel and bathed in the blood of Demons turned out stronger than any other metal seen before. Men and women, called Damascene, who trained to work the metal became prized members of the Order, as they enabled Ghazi to train the Janissaries. The Janissaries were elite soldiers who wielded the magical blades with deadly efficiency. The Immortals continued their push into Africa and were met with great success until they encountered Egypt. When they reached out to their neighbors, the Carolingians and the Golden Camp, they were met with silence. Many Vigilants fell in Egypt and the Order grew more withdrawn than ever before.

Favored Virtue: Wisdom

Stronghold: Qala’at Dimashq (Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq)

Aspects: The best sword stays in the scabbard, Even a thief must learn his trade, & Ten men, ten colors

Benefit: The Immortal Vigilants have a dark secret; they can not die. Upon induction into the Order the Vigilants swear an Oath over the blood of demons. They then ritualistically bathe in the demonic blood for the Oath to be sealed. As part of the Oath the Vigilant swears upon a task for the Order and until that task is completed they gain inhuman resistances. Once completed, the Immortal becomes Mortal once again. These Oaths are the reason the Vigilants have been so incredibly successful on their Crusades. [Pick, or be given, a Task. Until that Task is accomplished Healing times for Injuries equal to your character’s Order Rank are treated as if the Injury is 1 Rank lower. Rank 1 Immortals heal Rank 1 Injuries in an hour. Rank 5 Immortals heal Rank 5 Injuries in a year and are not subject to Killing Blows. Also, Immortals can not be affected by illnesses, diseases, or poisons ]

Divisions

Ghazi [Warrior]

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Janissaries [Soldier]

Rank 1: Have a Damascus Steel sword with the Aspect: Damascus Steel and the Trait: Unbreakable. Because the sword is forged with the blood the Janissary swears in and only they can access it’s abilities.

Damascus Steel

Invoke: You gain three dice for any Duel, Mass Murder or intimidation risk.

Compel: Damascus Steel seems to have a mind of its own, forcing their owner’s hands when least expected. The Narrator (or another player) may compel you to act in a violent or disagreeable manner–even in the most inconvenient times.

Unbreakable

Damascus Steel cannot be broken through normal means; it can only be broken against another Damascus Steel sword or by being melted back down in the forge that crafted it.

Rank 3: The Damascus Steel sword gains the Trait: Wicked.

Wicked

When you perform a successful attack against an opponent, you always deliver an extra rank of Injury with every successful strike.

Rank 5: The Damascus Steel sword gains the Trait: Sharp.

Sharp

Injuries that do not heal normally. No medicine, no amount of time. Any Injury caused by the sword take an entire Year to heal just one rank.

Damascene [Smith]

Rank 1: Each game session you can craft a normal quality weapon. You can bank sessions by not crafting and increase the rank of your equipment by one level of quality. For example, after two game sessions a Damascene can make a single fine quality sword. It takes five sessions and the blood from the Oath of a new Janissary to craft a Damascus Steel sword.
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

The Church

Favored Virtue: Beauty

Aspects: Fog cannot be dispelled by a fan, & One word can warm the winter

Carolingians

Stronghold:Vaticano (Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Greece)

Aspects: If my dog knew my plans, & Ten men, ten colors

Benefit:

Divisions

Exorcista [Exorcists]

Quick but weak Rituals

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Propheta [Prophets]

Slow but powerful Rituals

Rank 1: At the beginning of each game session, you may make a prediction about a risk that may happen during the game session. You may be as vague or specific as you like. If your prediction occurs, you gain 5 Honor points.
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Schola [Scholars]

Rank 1: Every game session, your contacts within the Vaticano gain you a favor. A favor represents a boon another character owes you that must be returned by the end of the game.
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Inquisition

Stronghold: El Escorial Castillo (Portugal, Spain, and Morocco)

Aspects: If one man praises you, & The mountain never falls

Benefit:

Divisions

Inquisitors [Torturers]

Rank 1: Any Injuries inflicted by an Inquisitor heal as if they were one Rank higher.
Rank 3: After meditating on a person on you know exactly where its weakness lies. Even the weakness of an argument. You can reveal this weakness to another, but the person you are communicating to does not gain complete understanding. You gain 4 bonus dice when you choose to exploit this weakness.

Rank 5:

Crusaders [Knights]

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

Nuncio [Employee]

Rank 1:
Rank 3:

Rank 5:

The Enemy

Legion

Favored Virtue: Prowess

Territory: Most of Asia

Fae

Favored Virtue: Cunning

Territory: England, Southern Ireland, and Scotland.

Undead

Favored Virtue: Strength

Territory: France, and in pockets across Europe.

Sirens

Favored Virtue: Beauty

Territory: Northern Ireland

Vlad Tepes

Favored Virtue: Wisdom

Territory: Romania and Moldova

The Heart of Africa

Favored Virtue: Courage

Territory: Most of Africa

Fury Road is Coming

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome came out in 1985 which mean’s we’re looking down the barrel a thirty year gap going into Mad Max Fury Road. I’m normally a skeptic about sequel movies this far out from the original, sometime I’ll have to write why I think Ghostbusters 3 is a terrible idea, but it seems like George Miller isn’t falling into the traps that would normally sink a movie to me.

First, we’re not going to see Mel Gibson. Now, I don’t have any problems with the guy. I understand why some people do, you know the whole antisemitism thing, but I look at him the same way I look at Tom Cruise. I don’t have to like the guy to enjoy his work. It’s also not that I’m a huge Tom Hardy fan. Well, I am, but that’s not my reasoning. No, I’m glad we won’t see Mel Gibson again for one simple reason; he’s old. Hell, even Gibson knows it’s a bad idea and that guy hates Jews!

“It’s getting to the point where they’ll start calling it Fat Max”
Mel Gibson on reprising his role in Mad Max

Word is there isn’t even a cameo. Which is a bit disappointing but ultimately what’s required if we’re going to see the franchise resurgent. The audience doesn’t a reminder that Hardy isn’t the original Max. Which brings me to my next point…

Second, it’s not a remake, a reboot, prequel, or passing-of-the-torch movie. It’s the next damn movie, plain and simple. I trust that an audience is smart enough to understand why we’re getting a new actor. We don’t need to retread old ground just to explain why Max looks different or create a new character, conveniently named Max, to explain why Gibson is out and Hardy is in. They aren’t going to take a dump on the previous movies by pretending they didn’t exist or making up shit that conflicts with movies later in the timeline.

By all accounts, this film is continues the story from Beyond Thunderdome. Like I said, it’s just the next damn movie. Don’t believe me, just read what Miller himself had to say about the movie. Which will then bring me to my next point.

“Mad Max is caught up with a group of people fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by the Imperator Furiosa. This movie is an account of the Road War which follows. It is based on the Word Burgers of the History Men and eyewitness accounts of those who survived.”

Third, Mad Max is all about style and the way Miller talks about the movie drips with it. War Rigs, Road Wars, and ‘Word Burgers of the History of Men’ just scream that je ne sais quoi of a Mad Max movie. The trailer delivered that vibe to the nines. Haven’t seen the trailer? Go watch it. Now-ish.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akX3Is3qBpw

Now that you’re all caught up we’ll continue. If you didn’t get chills from that trailer you’re a goddamn robot. I know that it’s the design of trailers to sell tickets, which is why everything is so tight, but they also inform about the movie. Intentionally most of the time, accidentally other times. There is very little dialogue in the Fury Road trailer, instead the trailer tells its story with music. Pounding, riveting music. Again, we’re knee-deep in style. To me, that says something about the movie. Lets roll back to something Miller said for my next point.

Fourth, it’s about a big Road War, which is a Mad Maxian way of saying it’s one giant ass car chase. According to one early reviewer that’s exactly it too. The movie is about rag-tag vehicles racing across the desert belching fire and smoke. More of that style I just talked about. While I think this is a freaking awesome idea it could go horribly wrong if it weren’t for my next point.

Finally, it’s mostly traditional special effects. Call me what you will, but non-CG special effects just look better to me. According to IMDB over 80% of the effects are real practical effects, stunts, make-up and sets. There is an art to using CG and it’s not what George Lucas thinks. Sparingly to enhance traditional effects is the way to go right now. Maybe one day we’ll be at the point with CG is able to wholly replace make-up and stunts, but today isn’t the day and Miller knows it.

More than anything though, I think I’m just plain ready for a movie like this. We haven’t got a lot of non-Zombie post-apocalyptic movies lately and the last Wasteland movie I can think of is the Book of Eli from 2010. It’s a genre that is under served and if Fury Road can bring it a resurgence I’m on board all the way. I just hope that Mad Max doesn’t become the new Zombie movie craze.

Actually. I’d be fine with that.

mad-max-fury-road-charlize-theron

What? Dirty, bald Charlize Theron doesn’t do it for you too?

 

The Dead RPG

A game idea I kicked around for awhile. An attempt to create a zombie survival RPG. I’ve had new thoughts on the genre since I wrote this but there as still some ideas in here I think are super nifty.

The Dead RPG is played with a standard deck of 54 playing cards. The cards are separated into two decks; number cards plus aces and face cards plus jokers. The number deck is used for checks while the face deck is used to determine damage.

Damage is dealt similar to the Dresden Files RPG – Each character has three wound slots: Jack, Queen, & King. When a face card is drawn, damage is applied to the slot associated with the drawn car. If the slot already has damage, the card is ignored and discarded. Jokers are wild damage and are dealt to the slot of the player’s choice, but they must be dealt to an empty slot. If a character ever has all three slots filled, they are killed. Once drawn, damage cards are discarded until any one of the slots is healed. As soon as a slot is healed, the drawn cards are re-shuffled into the face deck.

Players have two sets of attributes, Renewable and Permanent. Permanent attributes give a flat bonus to actions taken while Renewable attributes are spent and must be replenished.

The game has scalable granularity presented within the book. There are Four levels presented for various aspects which can be applied at group discretion. Story Level is the most basic scale, things are simplified into broad categories mostly based on function. For example; Food, Ammo, Supplies, etc. The Action Level is the next step up the latter, things are separated into more specific groups but everything still serves one function. For example; Food, Ammo, Medicine, Fuel, Clothing, etc. The Survival level is yet another step up, things are separated under umbrella groups and there are multiple items that serve similar functions. For example: Food – Solids & Water, Ammo – Pistol, Rifle, & Shotgun, Medicine – Physical, Psychological, & Recreational, Fuel – Unleaded, Diesel, Propane, & Wood, etc. Finally, the Management Level steps everything up to 11.There are multiple groups provided that can all apply under the same type of function. For example: Food – Water, Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats, Vitamins, & Minerals, Ammo – 0.20, 0.204/5mm, 0.22/5.56mm, 0.24/6mm, 0.25/6.35mm, 0.26/6.5mm, 0.27/6.8mm, 0.28/7mm, 0.3/7.62mm, 0.303/7.62mm, 0.323/8mm, 0.357/9mm, 0.4/10mm, 0.45/11.43mm, 0.5/12.7mm, 12ga, 20ga, & 28ga.

Regardless of granularity there is a universal Renewable attribute: Relationships. Relationships that are rated on a scale of 0 to 10 and can be replenished by kindness, friendship, and generosity. When a relationship is used it’s pushed down a point, this represents a strain on the friendship. You can lean on your friends more than strangers, but even your friends will eventually get sick of your shit if you don’t treat them like friends. Users don’t last long in groups as they quickly burn through friendships and find themselves in a group of enemies.

The number deck represents a character’s energy level. As you take actions, you draw and discard cards from the deck. Things like eating and sleeping allow you to reshuffle cards back into the numbers deck. If you ever run out of cards, you collapse in exhaustion.

Checks are made by drawing a number card, adding any appropriate Permanent attributes, and comparing the total against a Target Number determined by the Game Master. For example; Rick and Shane are trying to clear an abandoned house of Walkers. The GM determines that the TN is 9 to clear the house safely, TN 6 to clear the house and draw a single Damage card, TN 3 to clear the house and draw two Damage cards, and failure results in three Damage card draws. Rick has a Firearms skill of +3 while Glen has a Firearms skill of +2. Rick draws a 7, adds is +3 Firearms skill for a total of 10; safely clearing the house. Glen draws a 6 and adds is +2 Firearms skill for a total of 8. He then draws a single Damage card for only passing TN 6, and it’s a King. Glen then marks off his King damage slot as he and Rick finish clearing the house.

 

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Episode 2 – Prince of the City

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Rob and John watch the second episode of Kindred: The Embraced, Prince of the City. Join them as they talk about all the things the show does that can inspire your game.
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Episode 3 – Nightstalker

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Rob and John watch the third episode of Kindred: The Embraced, Nightstalker. Join them as they talk about all the things the show does that can inspire your game.
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Murder! Character Sheet [PDF]

The Children of Mother Columbia, more commonly known as the Americans, are the main cast of this story. The focus of Murder! Be Thy Name is to tell the tale of how these Americans find themselves pushed to the brink and willing to commit a most heinous crime: Murder.

Murder! Be Thy Name [PDF]

Murder! Be Thy Name is a tabletop role-playing game for 2-7 players inspired by the musical experience of American Murder Song. This game uses tales of murder to explore America’s history during the Westward Expansion era.

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Gif-Kwondo [TheGameCrafter]

A fast-paced game of animated hilarity.

Gif-Kwondo is the fast-paced game of animated hilarity.

A party game where the players race to see who can find the best gif for a Noun & Verb combination.

In order to play all participates need a device capable of searching the internet for gifs (cell phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)

REQUIREMENTS

  • Three to Six Players
  • One copy of Gif-kwondo
  • Something to search for gifs
    • (cell phone, tablet, laptop, etc)