Actual play/Play-test report from my Gothic Horror Supplement. The goal of this supplement is to introduce horror elements into #DungeonWorld in the vein of a certain campaign setting.
The main thing this supplement adds are rules for fear. I’ve posted these already but I’m re-attaching them here for anyone who hasn’t seen them.
The other major addition is Roles which are like compendium classes that are taken at character creation. They help make the standard character classes function like the characters from Horror fiction. These are still in development.
Last night I got to try out two of the roles: The Scarred and the Tainted. The Scarred is effectively a vampire hunter, able to pull monster killing tools out of his pockets based on a limited pool of resource called Vengeance. daniel colwell played Bartleby, Scarred Fighter. Bartleby’s massive long sword glows in the presence of his hated enemy, vampires, but for now his tragic past is clouded in mystery.
The Tainted is my least developed Role. It is an attempt to capture the nature of characters who are monsters, like Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They get the ability to use monster moves at the cost of sacrificing Courage (a new stat used to track… uh… courage). Christopher Kidner played Sanguinus, Tainted Paladin. After a little talk we decided he was a Death Knight. As a member of his order who had fallen into sin he has been brought back from the grave to fulfill some mysterious purpose.
After set up and choosing classes and Roles I started things up using Adam Koebel’s starter posted earlier that day:
“You’re in the middle of the street. There’s a carriage overturned nearby and two dead horses. Someone is bleeding to death nearby. It is very important that this person does not die. There are people around you, shooting arrows at you. It is obvious they want you to be dead, yourself. Only the ruined carriage is protecting you. It is on fire.”
Who is trying to kill you?
Who is the dying person?
Who paid you to keep them alive?
Where are you?
and, as always, what are you going to do?
We established that they had been hired by House Illan to keep a Dr. Guillermo safe. Dr. Guillermo’s daughter, Mina, had married into House Illan and had been infected with vampirisim and only Dr. Guillermo could save her. The people trying to kill them were a group of reinfileds enthralled by The Vampire Conspiracy that has been worming it’s way into the city (good thing I’ve been reading #nightsblackagents ).
First thing our heroes did was have one of the players push the burning carriage as moving cover while the other one moved the doctor. They got the carriage into a position where they could escape down and alley and when the fighter aced his defy danger roll to turn the burning carriage on its side and block the alley I decided that I needed to up the stakes. Mixing the ideas of Spring Heeled Jack with Punchinello I described the unknown assailants as leaping across the street on strange spring loaded stilts. I gave a brief image of motley clothes and hook nosed masks caught against the moon before the Paladin made a Lay On Hands to heal the doctor. Now I had set up a clock for the doctor’s bleeding out, but Sanguinus aced his roll and so I said that the doctor had stabilized, but was still weak and needed help to move. Sanguinus decided that it was best to retreat to the sewers as their assailants were still taking shots from the rooftops. He used his Inhuman Strength (one of his monster moves, courtesy of his Tainted status) to throw the manhole cover off and they made it into the sewers.
After discovering that they were being followed Sanguinus and Bartleby decided to lay a little trap. Christopher Kidner did amazing work here, taking up a pencil and adding to the map a little alcove for Bartleby to hide in while he went on with the lantern. Bartleby Defied Danger with INT to hide and got a 7-9 so he was able to jump out after the crowd had passed (and not into the middle of it) but he had the attention of whole crowd who saw him coming. But he went at it like a true vampire hunter and aced his Hack and Slash roll killing the first of the vampire thralls and only taking minimal damage from the others.
Meanwhile Sanguinus came at them from the other side and laid into them with with long sword as well. The heroes made short work of the first couple of renfields and when one of them revealed himself to be a minor vampire Bartleby made his first fear role. He got a 7-9, so he didn’t panic, but his Courage went down by one. When the Vampire made for the doctor, Sangunius used his Cold of the Grave (another monster move from Tainted) to freeze the water in the sewer they were able to trap the vampire’s strange spring-stilts in ice, as well as their own legs. But, they managed to smash their way out, even though the noise alerted… something deep in the sewers. Cue vampire dispatching, running from tentacled beasty and brief fight ended with a flask of oil (one of my preferred ways to tie up any disagreement).
We stumbled around for a little while after this. I could have continued the chase sequence with more bad guys, but that felt lame, so we got to the textile mill, owned by the Illan family, where Nazir Illan awaited them with Mina. We fumbled around while I struggled to introduce a decent conflict, but eventually we got everything settled. The vampires were coming and the good doctor had only a matter of hours to cure Mina. There was talk about how to get the doctor up and running as he was still weak from his ordeal. We talked about going to get help when daniel colwell had the brilliant idea to just use a healing potion.
With that problem solved I had the attack of more punchinellos commence. Sanguinus looked out the window and I took the opportunity to say there was some horrible lumbering shadow, being dragged in chains by more punchinellos up the road, but that it couldn’t be seen clearly. Three of the little bastards burst through the upper windows and Bartleby took them all on by himself, holding his own and simply gritting his teeth through the damage. Meanwhile, Sanguinus decided to take one of the huge bales of cloth and throw it at the lumbering figure using his Inhuman Strength. He did so, and scattered the Punchinellos dragging the thing, but the monster caught the bale and revealed itself to be a warped and twisted flesh golem, powered by arcane electrodes mounted all along its spine. This triggered our second Horror roll, which Sanguinus did fine with, despte having burned a lot of his Courage on monster moves. It threw the bale back and crashed the door of their safe house in.
During this time Bartleby used his I’ve Waited for this Moment, a move that lets the Scarred retroactively declare traps to capture the Punchinellos in a tangle of cloth.
By this time the electric flesh golem closed the distance to Sanguinus who failed a Defy Danger roll to get inside its reach. It did its damage and pinned him to the ground before charging up with electricity. Sanguinus tried to get away by opening a vat of dye (to short ciruit the charge) but failed the defy danger roll. He got caught in the blast, but so did the monster and Bartleby was able to finish it, even though the body started to heat up as it prepared to explode (!) Sanguinus used his inhuman strength to throw the smoldering corpse at the remaining punchinellos who scattered and fled.
Our heroes ended the evening in desperate need of healing and looking for a safe house both from the Vampire Conspiracy and the city watch. Even with House Illan’s protection they can’t be safe from both.
Over all the fear rules seemed to work well, though I never got to see anyone break under the pressure of horror. I tried to strike a fine balance between Heroic Fantasy and Horror. Castlevania, Ravenloft, and Hammer Horror moves are what I’m striving for. The Heroes need to wrestle with fear and have it wear them away as people, but they still rise to meet it. The Roles saw lots of usage and colored the fiction well, but I really need to see more of the Horror Rules in play. So that is what I’ll be looking to focus on next time.
If anyone is interested in helping out with a play-test I’d love to hear what happens at your game table!