Is there a Cthulhu Horror AW hack?

edited May 2013 in Story Games
Been reading up on Dungeon World and it struck me that it could be good for horror games. Are there any that are fully formed? DW is so complete, can't expect a game to be that done for horror but I can hope!

Chris Engle
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  • I think there's one called tremulus.
  • Plus Graham Walmsley did a quick one called Dark Worlds but the link seems to be broken now
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nPfff5dSHsk__rFHGQfLaAmb3ns680s_Fc0CSNlhfFA/edit#
  • tremulus was a Kickstarter project. Here's a sample of one of the playbooks.
  • I see that Tremulus was a kickstarter project but can it be purchased anywhere now? I likes me a completed game that I don't have to make!
  • The latest update looks like KS fulfillment is right on track. After that, purchase is probably available.
  • I received my copy of tremulus a bit ago, and it's definitely complete; Sean Preston's the developer, Reality Blurs is the company that put it out, doesn't look like it's out for public retail, but you could try contacting them directly.
  • edited May 2013
    Yes there is, it's called Tremu- oh, too late. Ok well I've actually played Tremulus, and I play a lot of CoC, and although I haven't played any other *World games I'm familiar with the way they work having talked to lots of peeps who have. So here's my two penn'orth. A guy I know who's also played a lot of CoC and has played lots of *World says that AW really eats up story, as you end up getting a lot of clues, which is bad if you've got a really dark, intense game of Cthulhu you want to take your time over. I'd add to that that the triggering of moves, with all that that entails in terms of negotiating outcomes with the GM, especially on 7-9 rolls, reduces the tension considerably. Having said that, it's up to the GM how much to let that interfere, and I enjoyed the game in general, but I'm not sure I'm totally persuaded that overall AW is a good fit for Cthulhu.
  • The print version of Tremulus is not out to backers of the KS yet. After that it should be available.
  • edited May 2013
    We're still waiting for a good Cthulhu hack for Dungeon World or Apocalypse World.

    (By most reports, Tremulus isn't it. It certainly doesn't use the AW rules to full effect.)
  • We're still waiting for a good Cthulhu hack for Dungeon World or Apocalypse World.

    (By most reports, Tremulus isn't it. It certainly doesn't use the AW rules to full effect.)

    Darn!

    I wonder if the game focused more on the internal struggles if it would be more fun. Some of the best CoC games I ran back in college played a lot like what I've read about the world games. Presenting the players a scene and giving them horrible decisions to make. I got my players to the point where they didn't want to make their "spot hidden" rolls. But the tension is often from not going directly into the jaws of death but instead dancing around it becoming slowly aware of how much danger you are in.
  • Is an AW Cthulhu game either possible or desirable? I'm not saying you can't design an AW game with Lovecraftian beasties in, just questioning that the mounting dread and hopelessness in the awe of cosmic eldritch intelligences is what AW is really designed to do.

    I think @Graham's Stealing Cthulhu may have corrupted me a bit here. But I just can't see what AW would give you that would help you tell such a story.

    Convince me, but I don't see how it wouldn't just turn into a glorified Elder Sign (now a story game with Elder Sign dice...).
  • Desirable? If you call $62,723 worth of demand desirable, yes. Possible? Of course, why wouldn't it be? Look at everything else the AW framework has done.
  • I think the key would be to make the Cthulhuesque elements affect the characters in a very personal way. Start out with a few scenes in the PCs' regular daily life illustrating what their goals, values, relationships are like, then hit one of their important relationships with some kind of Lovecraftian nastiness. When you think of Lovecraft's stories, many of them dealt with precisely this kind of thing, usually something terrible is happening to a friend or relative and they're slowly going insane...
  • Desirable? If you call $62,723 worth of demand desirable, yes.
    I'm not disputing there's a market. You can stick Cthulhu on pretty much anything and find a market. I'm questioning whether the finished thing would be a worthwhile game that will stand the test of time.
    Possible? Of course, why wouldn't it be? Look at everything else the AW framework has done.
    Yeah, but not all systems are suitable for all settings. AW is a quick and dirty system; Cthulhu, at least in its purest form, is all about restraint and creeping dread.

    Maybe I'm wrong and AW could be hacked to achieve that, but thinking through what changes would have to be made to make it work is at least worth considering in some depth. Otherwise, you'll just end up with Monsterhearts with tentacles.

    Monsterhearts with tentacles would be a fantastic game (I wish my game of Monsterhearts had more tentacles). But it isn't Lovecraft.
  • Well, sure, if you want a good game that is actually worth playing a lot of, it takes work. But it's just work, it's not the impossible. I've run old school D&D using the AW rules with almost no modification except play-style. Ideal? No, but it worked about as well as B/X for what the players wanted to do and for the dungeon I had. And Call of Cthulhu is just like old school D&D except you're exploring unfamiliar relationships instead of locations (and even then, some of the earliest adventures are straight dungeon crawls), so I mean, I could run it. Granted, I've played more CoC in my life than any other game, and I could run it without the rules, so that could be why subbing in AW doesn't seem that hard from my perspective.
  • edited May 2013
    The main thing I think that works in translation from Lovecraft to AW is Fronts, or their equivalent. The fact of a Lovecraft monstar is not really something you can do something about in the sense of getting rid of it, but standing aside and doing nothing will let things get worse, and as their inhuman actions take effect, it changes the situation for regular folks.

    The main thing that really doesn't fit in translation is that in AW the protagonists actually do things aggressively or at least pro-actively, and have character traits. Lovecraft didn't do that most of the time. (The one time he did, in The Shadow Over Innsmouth, was arguably his best story.)

    I haven't completely absorbed tremulus, still thinking about it/working on it, so I don't have a clear opinion on it.

    (Note that I'm talking about translating Lovecraft to AW, not Call of Cthulhu to AW, two different things.)
  • Cthulhu Dark is real good. Just sayin'.
  • Count me in on the side which says:

    "Why would you want to hack AW to do Cthulhu? It doesn't seem like a good match."

    Granted, these days people have been infected by a disease: they want to do EVERYTHING with AW.

    I think this is going to hit a wall sooner or later. I'd also rather play Cthulhu Dark than tremulus!
  • I've been playing a frequent game of Tremulus with new gamers (no rpg experience) using Grahams Stealing Cthulhu as my main GM handbook, and the ruleset slightly warped by my AW / DW ideas on how to work the system to best effect. The results have been well worth it.

    Tremulus as is kinda haltingly almost makes it, it just needs a few story game nudges for me to make it a Lovecraftian experience. Give it a try, though the playbook glut is somewhat overwhelming, so maybe just stick with the 'core' set.

    Oh and sanity is always, always about scarcity.
  • I MCed tremulus three times. Each times the players enjoyed the game and asked for more. Someone liked it more than AW.
    I think it has both the right dose of actions and creeping horror, and overall a right "lovecraftian" mood.
    I am definetly positive on tremulus, even if it is not perfect (I still have some issue on the seeding of the PC group)

    On the other side "horror" it is not only Lovecraft,there is different settings and different approach. I would say that Cthulhu is rather a particular "horror"...
  • Cthulhu Dark is real good. Just sayin'.
    That, to me, is key (disclaimer: I haven't actually played Cthulhu Dark yet). Because Cthulhu Dark has been specifically designed to tell a specific type of story. All I can see an AW hack doing is approximating that, but with a lot more complexity which you don't really need (not saying that AW is complex; just that it is relative to Cthulhu Dark).

  • The original thread was about AW hacks for Cthulhu Horror stuff. IMO replying about Cthulhu Dark is kinda missing the point.
    I agree with Johnstone that of course it can be done. I agree with Noofy that a slightly drifted tremulus is probably the current best solution (but I haven't actually got round to playing it yet).
  • I apologise if you felt I was drifting off topic, but I don't think it does anyone any favours to limit yourself to the questions "can it be/has it been done?" without exploring how AW needs to be hacked to ensure it was truly a Cthulhu game and not a horror action game. This seems doubly pertinent since the consensus among those who have read it appears to be that Tremulous isn't quite up to the job.
  • edited May 2013
    Well, if we're gonna go back to the OP, then Chris asked for a horror hack of AW. He didn't ask for Cthulhu or Lovecraft. It was just the critique of tremulus that lead to discussing Cthulhu stuff (and the obviously unhealthy obsession most of us who posted in this thread have with Lovecraft... you can really tell who the Deep Ones here are...).

    And, well, the answer is still "other than tremulus, no, and tremulus isn't available for sale yet." And actually, from most of the play reports I've read, it seems to be a perfectly adequate game (and there IS some clever and interesting things in it), it's just that the consensus is that it's not a brilliantly effective or devastatingly innovative use of the AW rules.

    As for alternatives, I've got a half-written space horror hack sitting around collecting dust and somebody in Sweden was doing a Kult hack a while back (and both of those would likely count as "action horror"), and Graham did his Cthulhu thing with AW (which, as already mentioned, is nowhere near as good as Cthulhu Dark), and... I can't think of anything else. But at the moment, none of those three are as good as tremulus.
  • Well, if we're gonna go back to the OP, then Chris asked for a horror hack of AW. He didn't ask for Cthulhu or Lovecraft. It was just the critique of tremulus that lead to discussing Cthulhu stuff (and the obviously unhealthy obsession most of us who posted in this thread have with Lovecraft... you can really tell who the Deep Ones here are...).
    Actually, he cites Cthulhu in the thread title. Apart from that, you're bang on.
  • Does everyone, with the possible exception of Johnstone ( and myself) truly have that high of an opinion of CoC?

    I mean, I love the game, but I'd certainly think of it as a type of old-skool play and can't really figure why using the core *W mechanics and concepts couldn't be used for it. JDCorley even zooms in on one that would probably be really great ( use of the fronts concept).

    I only vaguely looked at tremulus, but where are people feeling that it particularly falls down?

    ( and yes, I love C-Dark also. Stealing-C is a great book, but notably even C-Dark was being hacked almost immediately after release to make it more like CoC the Game)
  • edited May 2013
    I only vaguely looked at tremulus, but where are people feeling that it particularly falls down?
    *World rules both speed up the game too much- in the sense of eating up plot by providing too many clues etc- and slow it down, in the sense that the constant triggering of moves means that the players get all tangled up in the MC/Player negotiations. IMO these factors have an impact on the tension and slow build-up which is not devasting but significant. I still think Tremulus is a great game, it's just not Cthulhu.

  • I only vaguely looked at tremulus, but where are people feeling that it particularly falls down?
    *World rules both speed up the game too much- in the sense of eating up plot by providing too many clues etc- and slow it down, in the sense that the constant triggering of moves means that the players get all tangled up in the MC/Player negotiations. IMO these factors have an impact on the tension and slow build-up which is not devasting but significant. I still think Teremulus is a great game, it's just not Cthulhu.

    Interesting. Can you give me an example when the other one happened in a game. I'm trying to imagine the negotiation part you talked about and how that impacts things.

  • I apologise if you felt I was drifting off topic, but I don't think it does anyone any favours to limit yourself to the questions "can it be/has it been done?" without exploring how AW needs to be hacked to ensure it was truly a Cthulhu game and not a horror action game. This seems doubly pertinent since the consensus among those who have read it appears to be that Tremulous isn't quite up to the job.
    And I apologise for being abrupt in mentioning the drift.
    However, your follow-on about AW hacks leaning toward "horror-action" is IMO interesting. I guess I don't see that as a necessity in any AW hack. It just depends on what the basic moves and playbooks are like.
    FWIW I think the concerns about tremulous are over-stated here, I'm looking forward to playing it (one of our group has agreed to MC and hasn't gotten round to it yet).

    I like CoC and it's perhaps the game I've played the most, but it seems very clunky to me now. In the 80s/90s it was streamlined + elegant compared to most of the games I played!
  • If someone were to make an AW hack for Cthulhuesque horror, I would want it to be more like Monsterhearts and less like AW.

    What do I mean by that?

    Lots of moves which are triggered by subtle interactions, and don't directly resolve situations: instead they complicate them or create leverage for future events.

    That could be interesting to me.

    Otherwise, it seems to me Cthulhu-esque is well-suited by the tools we already have (from Cthulhu Dark to freeform GM fiat roleplaying).
  • edited May 2013
    I do personally like Lovecraftian horror - much less of "the monster jumps out of the darkness" than other horror. I got Trail of Cthulhu a while ago and it really impressed me, but I haven't run it since a play test. What I like about the AW approach is the way it uses dialog rather than complex rules to move things along. Right now it is very action focused but I can see how it could be more psychological. I'm kind of torn whether I want to try and pull together all the bits I like about these various games to make a set of house rules or if I want to buy a pre-made game that I'd have to learn.

    Decisions, decisions!
  • It occurs to me that the game I've been working on since last year, Getting There in Time, might be easily adapted to Chtulhu play. I think of it as a standalone game which has some mechanics inspired by Apocalypse World, but I've long suspected that people would be more interested if I had been calling it a "deep hack" of AW... The core of the game is a slow-reveal of an ominous situation while players showcase their characters in scenes, which I think is a Lovecraft-friendly forumla. Not every playtest has gone great, but I'm still reasonably confident that I've got something good in the core.
  • I guess you have taken a look at Monster of the Week. If you prepare the players for a lovecraftian tone, I think it the "high fantasy" elements (in lack of better words) can be manageable.
  • Does everyone, with the possible exception of Johnstone ( and myself) truly have that high of an opinion of CoC?
    Naw. Claiming that CoC is a good system for generating horror is like saying D&D's alignment system (as presented, not as drifted) is a good system for generating subtle morality-focused dramatic roleplay. It just isn't.

    All that the CoC system is good for is churning out fragile, incompetent, non-heroes that you can throw at your menace. The only thing it does well is generate a high likelihood of failure in your attempted actions. It makes the game like a scary dream where you can't run fast enough to get away or fight hard enough to hurt anyone. It generates the feeling of helplessness rather than competence in the face of threat.

    And that's not nothing. That's kind of useful for a horror game. But it's not much.

    But the system itself doesn't do anything else useful. It doesn't help you pace an investigation effectively (where pacing is more important than success/failure). It doesn't help generate juicy moral dilemmas. It doesn't help generate things your character holds dear so that the GM can destroy them.

    GMs can do those things. Good ones learn tricks and techniques to do so. But the system doesn't inherently do any of those things well. The only thing it does well is generate that moment when you trip and fall while the monster is chasing you, or the moment where you fire a shotgun at the beast and it doesn't work and the thing keeps coming.

    So I think when people say "It's not Cthulhu" what they mean is "the things embedded in the system are different from the things I spent years figuring out how to do outside of the other system, because so little useful stuff was embedded in it."

    People say the same thing when they look at a D&D-like system that attempts to do something with social interaction, which the old D&D systems gave pretty much zero system feedback on. So people made up their own way to deal with it. So when someone embedded another way, they said "that's not D&D".

    If you have a horror game system that tries to do anything other than make you feel fragile and helpless and incompetent, then it's trying to do more than CoC does, so it's not going to feel like CoC. If you drifted/hacked CoC to work for you, then what you did is going to feel different from what someone else tries to embed into a new system.
  • Fronts are certainly a good way of advancing the Lovecraft feel, and as has been pointed out earlier--it's about a scarcity of sanity. AW is about a scarcity of resources, and about the intimacy between characters in a world like that.

    You take that, and it's totally doable in *World games. Heck, the Harm meter is an easy way of making characters feel helpless and frail.
  • I've run CoC and tremulus, and when I ran tremulus it was a better game than CoC. tremulus is is a bit more suited and aimed at being "weird" than "dark," but it lines up with Lovecraft well enough. Stealing Cthulhu and tremulus together worked really well.

    Saying "AW isn't suited for horror" strikes me as a really odd statement, I don't quite understand the reasoning.
  • All that the CoC system is good for is churning out fragile, incompetent, non-heroes that you can throw at your menace.
    I think you might be underestimating the importance of this aspect. It is certainly the reason 13-year-old Johnstone decided to ditch Palladium and AD&D 2e and make CoC his primary rpg. This is also the source of all horror in the old school D&D games I play, which can be pretty terrifying from the perspective of the PCs.

    I more or less agree with the other shortcomings of CoC mentioned here, BUT I consider the adventures, and the heavy usage of pre-written adventures in general, a fundamental part of the game. They are what teach you how to play, and in a way, they are the real game, not the mechanics.
  • I think you might be underestimating the importance of this aspect.
    I probably went a little overboard based on a bit of reactionary exaggeration. I have some acquaintances that overly enshrine CoC as a game, so I was airing a bit of frustration over that.

    But it also comes from the fact that every time I played the quality of the game came pretty much entirely from the GM's skill at crafting and delivering an intriguing adventure, rather than from anything in the system itself (other than the fragility and lack of competence).

    I played with really good GMs. They wrote their own stuff. It was awesome.

    But nothing about the experience felt reproducible. I never left feeling like if I ran the game for some other friends that I could make the same sort of magic happen. I read the rulebook and it had extremely little in it that made me feel like I could run the game well.

    But when I look at something like Dungeon World, I look at the moves and the principles and all that, and I can easily see how I can run the game like Hamish did when I played it with him at con, which was also awesome. Because so much of the good stuff that happened is based on what the book tells you to do.

    So I want a Cthulhu game that does more of that.

    I don't know if tremulus is it, though. I started reading it and it didn't grab me nearly as much as DW did. But it looked like it was going to try to do a lot more than just generate underpowered characters and hope that you craft or buy a good scenario to run them through.

    Tried Trail of Cthulhu as well and had a horrible experience. Not sure how much of that was the system's fault and how much was a bad GM. The system looked like it was trying to do something, but it fell flat at the table. I could tell that some of the fault was the GM not getting it. I'd try it again with a GM I knew and trusted.
  • For sure, I'm with you. A game that took everything that made CoC good and made it explicit, with clear instructions, would be gold.

    I think tremulus borrows too many of the basic moves from AW and just subs in weird names. Vincent has a very particular vision of conflict and violence (and information-gathering) in AW, and it doesn't port over to other genres very well, usually.
  • Just to catch that stray reference, the guy who was doing a Kult hack a while back is still working on it.
    Here's a link to a production blog which I guess you could try to google translate if you want to. Here's a link to the current version of the archetypes (playbooks).
  • edited May 2013
    The thing that impresses me about the world games is how the GM rules make explicit what good GMing is. When reading Dungeon World I remembered CoC games I gran in college that were so good. It was a very dark time in my life and I put the players on the spot. I backed them into impossible situations and made them chose between horrible choices. This world flow of play looks like it could do this to.

    I'm with you on Vincent having a unique angle on conflict, it doesn't work for me, but the flow of play stuff and the rules lite stay in the narrative approach are great.

    Years ago I added in Matrix game element to CoC and had the players make arguments about weird things people told them about in between games. I then incorporated those things into the game. So I know the leave blanks and ask the players for input works. I would never have come up with a shower of polydactile shrimp on my own. Terri and I to this day with blurt out "Shrimp!" when an insane thing comes up. Eat baby Cthulhu before he eats you.
  • For sure, I'm with you. A game that took everything that made CoC good and made it explicit, with clear instructions, would be gold.
    I agree. I apparently love CoC more than RobMcDiarmid des, but even I think that there are things in the game could use a bit of improvement or clarification.

    More fairly, I tend to think that, like D&D, there are really several main forms or approaches to CoC that are popular that have developed out of CoC.

    For me, Graham's Cthulhu Dark nails one of those popular strains of CoC very well. ToC does a pretty good job of another one.

    The fragility/incompetence thing is I suspect, less of an actual thought out design decision in CoC, and more of an example of simply following trends set down by the highly successfully D&D game, combined with an urge to a certain flavor of simulation ( in the form of the vast skill list).

    Simply put, even CoC was influenced by the D&D concept of going from Zero to Hero over time, and that might not actually be all that great of a fit for certain kinds of CoC.

  • Just to catch that stray reference, the guy who was doing a Kult hack a while back is still working on it.
    Here's a link to a production blog which I guess you could try to google translate if you want to. Here's a link to the current version of the archetypes (playbooks).
    That looks excellent, wish it was in English.
  • Well, I told him he's got my help whenever he wants it so, here's hoping someday.
  • I just read Cthulhu Dark. Wow, @Felan is right -- it's real good
  • How many folks who are tremulus (it's actually a lowercase t) negative have played/ MC'd the game? I feel like a lot of the consensus on tremulus hate is potentially a bit of mob mentality.

    I remember being completely blindsided when the game got kickstarted. SGers were all upset and wary of the game, because all other AW hacks (that we'd heard of) had been developed more or less completely in the open, and are (probably correctly) thought to have been better games for it.

    Along comes tremulus, developed outside that community entirely, and we all get mixed feelings about it. We dislike that a game made by one of our own is being hacked by an outsider (albeit with permission) and sold as a new game. We look at the character sheets and see that the basic moves and stats are relatively unchanged, which makes us look sideways, since conventional wisdom has it that stats and basic moves are *how* you hack AW into some other genre.

    Fast forward to now, and a very simple question is asked about whether there are any cthulhu/horror AW games published. And now we have people giving a bunch of potentially unwarranted opinions and suggestions of games out of that scope, and we've managed to muddy the thread up quite a bit.

    TL;DR Yeah, there's an AW hack called tremulus that's made for Cthulhu horror, but I haven't played it.
  • edited May 2013
    I only vaguely looked at tremulus, but where are people feeling that it particularly falls down?
    *World rules both speed up the game too much- in the sense of eating up plot by providing too many clues etc- and slow it down, in the sense that the constant triggering of moves means that the players get all tangled up in the MC/Player negotiations. IMO these factors have an impact on the tension and slow build-up which is not devasting but significant. I still think Teremulus is a great game, it's just not Cthulhu.

    Interesting. Can you give me an example when the other one happened in a game. I'm trying to imagine the negotiation part you talked about and how that impacts things.

    Sure. Mind, it’s been a while since I played it, and I haven’t played any other *World games- although I feel I have via osmosis- but I’ve played a fair amount of CoC. First of all, I wasn’t very clear earlier. When I talked about negotiation, I was referring to the interaction between the player and the system, as administered and adjudicated on by the GM. Ok, say you’re in the Library, looking for a grimoire or something that’s not likely to be immediately apparent. BRP: The GM asks you to make a spot hidden roll. You have a stat of 50, you roll 45. So the GM narrates that you find what appears to be the object you’re looking for, but you’re not 100% certain etc. All of which takes about ten seconds. AW: GM says ‘Ok that will be a Detect Hidden Object Move.’ (I’m guessing here- I can’t lay hands on the character sheet from that game). You roll 9. The GM gives you the choice of:

    1. Ask for a clue (What’s the object’s significance?)
    2. a) You find the object but… you will need to come back to study it properly.
    2. b) You find the object but… as you pick it up you suddenly feel (dizzy/nauseous etc).
    3. You find the book, pick it up, and go to walk out of the room, but… just then the butler enters the room.
    All of which takes a few minutes, but it’s not just the time taken, it’s also the fact that when presented with a set of choices most players, like most consumers, will vacillate (I know I do). And that for me is what reduces the tension.

    Also, AW rules are designed to provoke and handle emotionally-charged interactions between the characters*: strings and fronts etc. wouldn’t work with Cthulhu I feel because it’s simply not that kind of game. Having said that, it was my first exposure to an AW hack and as such I was impressed with the mechanics in themselves, and following it I now want to try other *World games. I particularly like the fact that something always happens. It’s become commonplace now to talk about ‘yes but’ systems, and how they obviate whiffing and so forth- I actually think almost all systems should incorporate an element of ‘yes but’- but this wisdom is comparatively recent, when AW first came out that concept was still quite radical.

    *Happy to be corrected if this isn't the case.
  • Slowing down the speed of revelation is still up to the GM because they decide what they reveal, how fast they let things out. I imagine that even in Trail of Cthulhu where you will get all the info you could slow things down by giving part of the info a strong reference to where to look next. GM skill is not done away with even if it made more codified.

    I'd like to hear more about tremulous from people who've played it. I wonder how it handles sanity - my favorite part of CoC.
  • I've run a couple of sessions of tremulus (and hopefully another tomorrow night). It's not too bad, but you can see where it's painted over some of the AW parts.

    Personally I don't have a good handle on some of the Stats (I always confuse Affinity and Passion), and I don't always remember what each one is used for. I did initially think that all the Basic Moves were just reskinned AW moves, but they don't always map precisely.
    * Threaten = Go Aggro (Might)
    * Resort to Violence = Seize by Force (Might)
    * Act Under Pressure = Act Under Fire (Reason)
    * Convince = Seduce or Manipulate (Affinity)
    * Read a Person = Read a Person (Passion)
    * Puzzle Things Out = Read a Situation (Reason)
    * Poke Around = Open Your Brain (Luck), but you tend to find clues and objects rather than provoke psychic weirdness.

    I actually don't mind the collaborative clue-finding stuff, since I need to drop plenty of information on the players so they stand a chance of figuring out what's going on - then the real challenge is figuring out what to do about it! And if they decide to make up something that leads them in an unexpected direction, then we've just made the story together. I haven't had a lot of that come up yet, but I think that the players sharing their worst fears and theories with you, and you all getting to decide which are true, will lead to potentially better stories than if the Keeper sticks religiously to their prep material.

    Speaking of prep, the Playsets tremulus offers are an easy way to make initial situations; it gives the players a choice of the sort of content they want to see, and then directs the GM to a couple of paragraphs (some public, some hidden) they can use as inspiration to create the setting. Generally you'll end up with two "threads" which can be woven together to create an even more complex situation.

    Sanity is handled pretty much the same way damage is. You have two Damage gauges - Health and Sanity. Health gets worse as you take Harm, and Sanity gets worse as you take Shock. There's a "Sanity Check" move using Reason (another reason it's a super-stat), and a separate Shock Damage move which I don't like much - it doesn't give you any options, just one result for each of 10+/7-9/6-. You can take insanities to stop yourself from becoming unplayable, the same way you can take physical debilities to prevent harm from killing you.

    I've started a series of actual play blog posts here. We're still getting to grips with the system; in particular, I'm finding it difficult to engage the gears when the investigators are in town, because they aren't being too proactive yet, and the town is full of weird people who won't go out of their way to talk about the town's dark past. I really need to step up my game and redress that.
  • edited May 2013
    Oh and sanity is always, always about scarcity.
    Could you please expand on that? I'm trying to understand why people like it and what they use it for. It was added to tremulus on top of the AW framework, so I'm assuming there's a reason for it being there. However, whenever I played CoC and ToC I found sanity boring/frustrating, not scary. I also ran the tremulus demo adventure twice, and the whole sanity procedure was rather breaking the mood (roll +Reason to find out if your sanity loss is not as bad and if you can act, then roll +shock suffered, then - if the creature physically attacked you - roll +damage suffered) so I started treating it as optional, even though it isn't (I don't think there are any optional rules in tremulus). (It also felt futile - I dislike showing "big" monsters, so anything the players would encounter only had a small sanity loss which was usually negated by the first +Reason roll).

    TLDR: please help me understand how to use sanity to scare players :)
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