2 Page Random Adventures?

What is that quote?….
There are only 7 plot devices for every metastory. Perhaps you only need a D7 

Aspire2HopeGM

I always think of adventures as all being variations of “Put the characters in a hole, throw stones as them as they try to get out.”

Your plot is the hole, the stones are the encounters and the characters attempts to climb out is the story we tell over the campaign sessions. So I make that a D1.

Of course we are all talking about slightly different things here. There is a wonderful random adventure generator I have used in the past. It was written for D&D based upon tables from the Dungeon Master’s Design Kit by TSR, Inc. You can find it over at Donjon.

I use the generator, copy it all into word and then rip out everything I don’t like. I then create the NPCs I want to play, reprising any that I think deserve another outing and from there I can start the stage dressing. That is the thing about RPGs, they are all about the people. No people then no role playing. If the NPCs are barbarians then you get an instant impression of the locations. If they are ninjas then that suggest something else, wood elves are another thing all together.

For my random toys idea, I could:

  1. Run the Donjon random generator enough times and borrow the ideas to build some d10 tables. Eliminate the bits I don’t like. Then mash up Brian’s encounter tables to make it more Rolemaster.

    or
  2. Buy the design kit myself and build a random generator myself with Rolemaster as a design criteria right from the start. It only costs $4.99 for nearly 100 pages of stuff that I could adapt.

Both options have problems. The first is that I would be using second hand random tables. There are only 7 possible ‘cruel tricks’ in the Donjon tool. Does that mean that there were only 7 in the original book? Did the original table say 1-3 no trick, then the 7 tricks were listed from 4 to 10? I personally don’t think 70% of adventures should have a cruel trick in the tale.

I also don’t really want to build a web tool. I feel I want to keep my cake and eat it. I was detail and sophistication but I also want the simplicity of a few tables and only a few rolls.

There is a part of me that would quite like to try and get the entire adventure generator on to a double page spread. That gives quite a lot of paper real estate to work on. Pages 1-2 could be Alpine adventures, 53-54 would be Waste/Barren adventures and so on. Creatures and Treasures defines 27 different environments.

Preselecting an environment would mean that I would know what monsters are viable, the weather conditions could be tailored as well.

Without having actually tried this I am guessing I would be able to fit four d100 tables, one per column over a double page spread or eight to twelve d10 tables. The Design Kit uses 22 criteria which I would have to condense into 12 or less tables. I could then combine things like Omen/Prophesy, Moral Quandary, Red Herring and Cruel Tricks into a single table. There is also the option of on an 99-00 roll twice and use both results. so they do not become mutually exclusive but also not every adventure will be driven by a prophesy and have the players face a moral dilemma.

The more I look at the Donjon tool the more I think it can be compressed into my double page spread format. If I don’t buy the Design Kit I cannot be accused of copying their work either. At most it is a derived work from a derived work with a healthy dose of Rolemaster thrown in as well.

Four d100 rolls or 12 d10 rolls are more dice than I originally intended but everything on just two pages also seems to be pretty light weight. It also does away, to some extent, with RM’s obsession with obscure codes for climate and terrain.

The last key factor is what monster to include in each environment. I could just go with my Creatures & Treasures but there are a few monsters that are in RMFRP/RMSS and RMu that are not in RM2/RMC. There aren’t many but there are some. If I put this project on a back burner until January we will have the actual Creature Law book to work from or at the very least I can work from the RMC Creature Law, which is the most restricted monster book out of all the RM versions.

I really think there could be a book in all of this somewhere. What do you think?

The Mirror Tells Her Lies

Way back last year sometime I did a direct comparison between RMu, RMSS, RMc/RM2 starting PCs and those of other d100 systems like vsDarkmaster and BRP.

In all cases the starting skill bonuses were within a handful of percentage points of each other. To all intents and purposes you could play any adventure from any game system using any rule system and things would work with little or no changes. When I say little change it would be things like Zweihander has no #hits or hit points so you would have to fill in the blanks or you would need to know what AT to assign to the actual armour descriptions.

This only works with starting characters. As characters level up or advance they diverge rapidly. Zwei characters barely change for great blocks of time, BRP/OpenQuest/Runequest has characters improving across the board by by a few percent at a time and Rolemaster has stepped progression with each level but that could be two ranks plus profession bonuses. In the early levels RMu’s DB inflation has not really kicked in either.

By sixth level RM characters are toting around core skills over 100 including skill, stat, profession and some minor power items. Many d100 games max out at 100 so never break that ceiling.

Seeing as almost noone is writing adventures for Rolemaster AND Runequest conversion rules were published in the back of the RM2 C&T books we can mine Runequest/OpenQuest/BRP adventures for modules, cool locations, NPCs and so on. On DTRPG there are nearly 250 books in the RQ/BRP/OpenQuest categories.

What prompted this post was an adventure I saw posted on Kickstarter. It is the book named in the title of this post The Mirror Tells Her Lies. What made it stick out was this bit of the description…

“The Mirror Tells Her Lies” takes full advantage of this quality. It is a take on the moral quandaries faced by PCs, in a place where all the dark places of their souls will be used against them. It is a short adventure, playable in one to two sessions, designed for experienced characters and players who love roleplaying their characters as opposed to hacking away at everything they see!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mhpress/the-mirror-tells-her-lies

Nearly all Rolemaster players and GMs are experienced. An ‘experienced’ RQ/BRP/OQ character is only the same as a 3rd or 4th level RM character. That means the adventure is quite possibly a good one for experienced players playing lower level characters, old heads on young shoulders.

If you can get the knack of doing the conversions to your preferred version of RM then I think these adventures could be a great source of inspiration. The adventure above is by Michael Hopcroft and is fully funded. It also says that it is the first of many. Lots of potential adventures there then!

Cities of Hârn

We have an English saying, which is in the same sort of vein as Murphy’s Law ( Anything that can go wrong will go wrong ) and Finagle’s Law ( hope for the best, expect the worst ). This one is to describe something as ‘just like busses, you wait for hours for one and then three come along at once.’

I know I have already posted today but I just got an email about the Hârn kickstarter and it fired two thoughts.

The first was that plenty of people seemed to like Hârn as a rolemaster setting. The whole thing being d100 based made adopting material fairly easy and the harsh realities of Hârn fits well with those that like their Rolemaster gritty and dangerous.

The second was the way that people, even to this day still reuse the Pete Fenlon maps and floor plans from the old MERP books as they have never found anything better.

Keep those floor plans in mind when you see some of the images below.

So I had an email from James Eisbert at Columbia Games, the publisher of Hârn promoting their kickstarter, Cities of Hârn.

You can check it out yourself here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/columbiagames/cities-of-harn?ref=ekv5oe

But it is this sequence of images that got me…

If we look at that last panel in detail you can see how they have atomised every possible common form of door, ladder, stairs and surfaces. That is going make setting difficulty mods pretty easy.

I also liked the whole zooming in from city to building to interior scope.

If you world need maps and cities then I think one could do a lot worse. If you buy in at the $1 level you get the first PDF immediately which I think is fair. For a dollar you get to see what you would be buying into.

It looks good value to me.

Adventure Writing

I saw this exchange on Reddit today…

Adventure Writing

Hey guys, I am writing an adventure for a campaign set on Skull Island and I was wondering what advice you guys can offer to make the campaign and adventure great. 🙂

Reply…

Don’t “write adventures”; doing that creates a tendency to railroad players. Instead, create interesting situations, with an idea of how they might develop over time free of PC interference, then throw the PCs at those situations and enjoy watching them kick over all your sand castles in new and inventive ways.

I really liked that reply. It is pretty much the approach I took in the Corrupted Jungle. There was a villain with a plan and the players may or may not thwart those plans, the villagers had an agenda, there were locations with inherent dangers but there was no actual compulsion for the characters do do anything or go anywhere. If they were completely inactive then events would over take them and they would be swept up in them.

I quite like this style. Sometimes players can become paralysed into inaction. I try and avoid any castle or tower assaults in my face to face game as my players desperately try to achieve the perfect plan with such poor information that their planning discussions simply become circular and the game threatens to break down.

With a gathering storm or wave of events that will happen regardless of the characters inactivity the characters will be thrown into a situation and they can be either proactive or reactive but the only option that isn’t there is being inactive.

Writing this sort of adventure is a strange experience. You cannot really plan a climatic scene where they face down the villain, save the prince or rescue the kitten from the well if you don’t know what the players are going to do or how they are going to react. It becomes all about planning for contingencies.

I have used this approach in the July issue of the Fanzine. The elves are doing their thing, the humans are doing something else and between the two is new(ish) NPC antagonist with their own agenda. Put enough explosive ingredients into a small space and add the PCs you hopefully fireworks will fly.

All is quiet in Rolemaster world.

I have literally 5 minutes to spare so I thought I would get in a quick blog! As RMBlogs reader have seen, activity is WAY DOWN on the blog and even the RM Forums are pretty slow moving. Let’s chalk it up to the dog days of summer, real life commitments and a temporary lull in the conversation. I have 5-6 posts stewing on the dashboard that I hope to get to, some polishing up on the 50in50’s and then of course the rest of my projects.

So what have I gleaned from quick and random perusals around RM land?

  1. It feels like RMU is close. There was a flurry of activity on the development forums on several topics and it looks like some tightening of the rules. Generally though it feels like most everything is now set and close to publication. That is just my sense–no inside info.
  2. GenCon. I was sad to see Terry had to cancel  his GenCon game. I think his presence would have been a big hit and brought some exposure to Rolemaster and Shadow World. On the other hand, it’s time for newer younger players to take up the banner and run with it via RMU and new products.
  3. Real life news. No not politics! There has been a ton of cool archaeology news lately. I should do a weekend round up soon!
  4. According to Terry, my SW submission and Lethys are on the shelf! He has asked Nicholas to find a new editor since he is busy with his own projects. That’s discouraging… I’m leading towards just publishing it for free so I can have closure and move on to the next one.
  5. When things free up we are going to put together a super edition of the Fanzine with a compilation of updated SW material. I promise Peter!

ok, back to the grindstone. If anyone wants to put their big toe into the land of RM or RPG blogging now would be the time! And it would be a great help.

Revenge is inevitable. The blowback of a murder hobo party.

 

Today I wanted to talk about unintended consequences of game play and connect two previous blog posts about “Newman Groups” and “Murder Hobos“.

Let’s be honest, PC’s in Rolemaster and other RPG’s kill a lot of people and creatures! Even if you focus on role-playing and noncombat situations, most game mechanics support adversarial and violent action. In our last session alone, the group killed (or incapacitated, maimed or left for dead) over 20 creatures–and that wasn’t a particular violent session. Not all of their opponents were purely evil or non-sentient; in fact, most were sentient humanoids or thinking creatures–they just happened to oppose the players or obstructed their goals. These opponents may have had family, friends or compatriots that would feel anger or loss, and probably want some sort of justice or revenge on the PC’s.

Now multiply that ten-fold or more. By the time a player is 20th level, they’ve probably killed THOUSANDS of people, creatures, monsters and animals.  In reality, the adventuring party is constantly creating new groups of enemies that might want to hunt them down.

I’m not making a moral point; Rolemaster is predicated on a detailed combat system with sometimes brutal or gruesome criticals. Killing is normal and common. But should there be consequences for years of endless murder and mayhem?

 

Upcoming Game Design Posts

I posted my first entry to this website a few weeks ago and implied that I was going to write more, at least about spell lists. That has not happened.

Instead, amidst the slowly expanding but disorganized mess that I did write, I found a few other things I wanted to talk about which I believe provide necessary context. This post serves as an outline to help me organize my thoughts… and to warn you about what I have planned. Ok, and also as a way of committing myself to following through and finishing. I might change this outline based on comments, on a need to break this up even further (I’m looking at you, CLT&SL) and on ordering (thoughts about rpgs can come at any time, and is the most fluffy.)

The Cost of Charts

Maybe charts are good, maybe charts are bad, but charts are definitely expensive. Since charts are the elephant in the room when it comes to Rolemaster, I think it is important to talk about the size of that elephant. This post will put math to explain why I claim charts are expensive. I will also suggest that rule tinkerers (You know who you are!) who have been adopting a single “Non-profession” class in RM, or who have been having problems with skill categories in general and how they don’t quite work the way you want in RMU, or who have been surprised about how long it RMU has been gestating have run into the iron wall of this math. It’s light math, so don’t worry!

The Illusion of Choice

Many of the choices we think we have in real life are not choices at all, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the game is rigged with options that are not worth taking, sometimes we are heavily guided, almost coerced, by social engineering, and sometimes we are deluded that something deterministic involved any choice at all. This discussion will focus on various kind of false choice in rpgs. Although the conversation generally applies to all rpgs, it especially matters for RM, because choices in RM cost a lot more than they do in most other rpgs because of math.

The Splendor of Classes, Levels, Talents and Spell Lists

Although sometimes maligned, there is much to admire about all of the features featured in the title. I want to talk about that. Although I don’t think they come together quite right in RM, I think that they can, or at least come closer. I want to talk about that too. None of these features originated in Rolemaster. Of these features, only Spell Lists have been significantly developed and leveraged within Rolemaster. All can be retained without creating more adverse math, even if false choices within these features are also retained.

The Right Setting for Rolemaster

The right setting should be cool, of course, but I’m not cool enough to come up with that! So I will settle for a conversation about the characteristics I think that game world should have. It might be a short conversation: I think magic in the right setting for RM should be ubiquitous but usually of low to moderate power. Pretty much every PC should have spells and/or interesting talents. This seems contrary to the mindset I infer from having spent time around RM players and forums, so perhaps the conversation might not be so short after all.

Some RPGs I Think You Should Know About

There has been a lot of RPG system development and evolution since RM was published, nearly all of which has occurred outside of RM. If you are tinkering with RM, I think some of these other games deserve your attention, to plunder for ideas and perhaps to think about while reading this series of posts. At the very least, I wish to talk about a few: Anima pretty much stole the core RM system but then did something very different with it, different from anything that ICE has done with it, and not just because of the slick production values. Ironclaw (Squaring the Circle) might disturb you because it is written by, for and about furries, but it is a solid system of special interest to RM fans because of how it handles magic and combat lethality. Burning Wheel is a low magic, consequence-ridden system whose rules govern players as much as characters, attempting to achieve an old-school feel through modern means. I do not necessarily recommend any of these for you to play, especially since I suspect you already have a favorite system!

 

Anyway,

Ken

Chargen Part 2 Questions

I used to have a GM that would start the first game session with dishing out about 5 pages of questions about your  character. The format was sort of question followed by about 10 lines of space then next question and so on. I cannot remember the actual questions except the very last one which was “What would your character sell his soul for?

I used to detest these questions. For a start I rarely know my characters personality when I sit down to play. I tend to have an idea of what I want to play but I am heavily influenced by the other players characters and the first adventure.

It is not the actual questioning I objected to but the timing of it. During that first session there is so much to take in, you could be getting to grasp with an entirely new setting, your new character, new party members, a new mission and possibly new rules or variations on the rules you thought you knew.

What brings this all to mind are twofold.

  1. Spectre771 mentioned in a comment to my last post about the differentiation between experienced players and newer less experienced players.
  2. My reading of the 7th Sea rules.

One of the things that my Rolemaster house rules always share is that character generation is always diceless. In RMC I use fixed #hits and point buy stats. In RMU hits are skill based, not rolled, and there is a core rule for point buying stats. Spell acquisition is skill based in both games although using different methods but the net effect is the same. If you know my house rules then you can create your character well in advance. For me it means that I can then devote my time and effort to any new players who cannot be left to create a character without some support.

7th Sea is also a diceless character generation system, you just pick options at each stage to create your hero. It is exceptionally quick and easy but lacks much of the detail and granularity of RM.

The stand out difference is that 7th Sea starts with 20 questions. These start with objective things like What Nation is your Hero from? and progress through things like What are your Hero’s highest ambitions? and What is your Hero’s opinion of his country? to eventually end up with What does your Hero think of Sorcery?

The fundamental difference between these questions and my old GM’s questions is that of timing. I can give out the 7th Sea questions along with a primer on my setting, nations and game world long before the game starts. That way you get to think about the sort of character you want to play in your own time. You can answer the questions then go back and change your mind. The answers you come up with then turn into a blue print to use in creating your character.

Adopting the same technique for Rolemaster, particularly with new players, has massive advantages. For really new players coming to RPGs for the first time the difference between Roll play and Role play are not always clear in their minds, particularly if they are coming from a wargaming background where the use of dice for combat resolution is an idea they are comfortable with.

I don’t see this just as a structure for new players either. It doesn’t hurt to give it to experienced players. My group have a tendency to slip into the same old personalities again and again. I get my players to create a post-it sized personality description which is stuck on the front of their character sheets. At the start of every session I ask them to read it to themselves as a reminder. If they tell me they do something that I think would be seriously out of character then I will ask them to read their post-it and then reconsider. Sometimes they read it and then insist that they are happy with their original choice, others they retract the action and do things differently because the character simply would not rip the innocent bartenders fingernails out just to get the address of an informant.

The 20 7th Sea questions do not take up any game time as they happen before the first game session but they make creating that personality prompt post-it much easier. It also makes creating a character with a new player easier too. As a guiding GM with a new player if you know what the player wants to play it is easier to help them achieve that. This is doubly true with a fully expanded RM2 I would say.

If you want I will list the 20 questions but I would also suggest that you create your own and make them setting specific. For modern espionage settings (I’m looking at you Intothatdarkness) you could style it like a psych evaluation. For shadow world if you have already decided on your characters starting location then you can add in cultural influences or drop in questions to hint at the Unlife or if everyone is going to be Gryphon College trained then twist things to reflect their world view.

Any thoughts? Do you want to see the questions?

The core feature of RM

Hi,

RM is famous, renowned, infamous for its charts, for its criticals, for its fumbles, but I don’t see these charts as the heart of the game. Charts? Yes. The central feature of Chartmaster absolutely must involve charts. But these are not the charts I’m looking for.

I’m probably wrong about this. RM has never been my RPG of choice. The real players have spoken! The game is still alive because of you, not me, and you know why you are here.

But RM crits themselves are a feature bolted onto a combat system that is largely D&D, with hit point damage and all, not even a substitute feature, for all that hit point damage is far less feared than side effects of criticals.

And really, are the critical tables as interesting as all that? Mostly, they all boil down to something like this (table results truncated):

01-20: I’ll get you next time Inspector Gadget! Next time…

21-40: You lose more hit points.

41-55: You lose more hit points and start to bleed. Arg! Blood, blood, everywhere! Does anyone have a Flowstopper? Why doesn’t someone have a Flowstopper?

56-65: You lose more hit points, bleed and suffer a minor setback for a round or two.

66: You are exterminated by a Dalek!

67-85: You are stunned for a few rounds, bleed, take damage and really hate life.  Don’t worry, at the rate you’re going it will be over soon.

86-98: They told you to wear a bicycle helmet. But did you listen? No? Well, next time you’ll listen. And by next time, we mean when you start rolling up your new character, which might as well be right now, because you can’t play this one any longer. Oh, you did listen? Fine. Then just take some minor side effects and damage. Damned helmets.

99-00: Great that you wore a bicycle helmet. But is it certified versus being pasted by an asteroid? Or pulped by Grond? No. No it’s not. No, a +3 helmet isn’t going to help either. Consumer Reports tested it. They roll that way. Speaking of rolling…

Don’t get me wrong. The critical and fumble charts do add character to the game. RM is among the first games to implement criticals, perhaps the first to really focus on these.

Other games out there just toss out hit point damage for crits and fumbles, but that’s admittedly kind of bland. Other games let the GM just pick a consequence, but that’s not quite the same as getting to slough off all responsibility for killing a PC by rolling on a chart. The Dalek wasn’t my idea. Don’t blame me! You were exterminated fair and square! Still other games feature a much smaller set of charts for criticals, wieldy and functional and that’s it.

When it comes to charts, RM wins. Even so, a player tends to use only a few attacks, and tends to generate similar results very often. Each edition of the game has a few sweet spots for weapons and armor, and players naturally gravitate toward these. That’s another conversation, about tactics and choices in rpgs. Maybe more than one conversation. Mostly, strange results happen to PCs, from the wider variety of Things that accost them. Regardless, because combat is so dangerous, and is avoided, these charts do not see life all that often. They do not shape a RM campaign.

The charts I noticed when I encountered RM in the 80s, the charts that dominate, the charts that most define RM for me, are the spell lists. Charts and charts and charts, filled with little spells.

I’ll talk about these more some other time.

Anyway,

Ken

Adding “dark things” to your Rolemaster and Shadow World games.

Poisons, diseases, curses. Oh my. In the earliest days of D&D, adventurers not only had to avoid traps, navigate mazes and defeat monsters, they had to contend with other insidious agents like poisons, level drains, curses or cursed objects, petrification and the diseased touch of the Mummy.  Not really a safe vocation when you really think about it! While much of the Saving Throw/Resistance Roll mechanic was built around these attack types, how often do GM’s really use these “dark things”? How often do you introduce poisons & diseases in your campaign?

D&D made many challenges fairly simple. Curses could be countered with a particular spell, poisons could be Saved or cured etc. They were designed to be yet another discrete challenge that has to be overcome. A binary mechanic: effect vs. cure. D&D didn’t bother with specific poison antidotes (unless part of the narrative) or even causation (what is a curse and why so prevalent in D&D). You Saved and you were good, you failed and you had to seek out a singular solution.

Rolemaster introduced a more realistic system for many of these challenges; and poisons were definitely more detailed! Not only were there many poisons, they were defined into 5 types, had specific antidotes, and had varying levels of effects. A similar approach was taken with diseases and whole spell lists were devoted to varying curses whose effects spanned the realm of imagination.

A few years ago I took a critical look at my own campaign and GMing proclivities. I realized that I rarely used diseases, never used curses (or at least hadn’t for many years) and was reluctant to delve into poisons.  Now I see these interesting affects as not just a quick add-on but great additions to my narrative toolkit. Let’s take a look:

  1. Poisons. Many GM’s are reluctant to use poisons due to their variety, unpredictable effects AND some sort of ethical standard (maybe established by D&D class restrictions). I think that’s just wrong and leaves a whole layer of complexity to gaming. Putting our own social norms aside, the widespread use of herbs in the RM/SW world clearly lays a path for the common use of harmful herbs and agents as well. I just finished then newest Mark Lawrence book that prominently featured the use of herbs and poisons–it really inspired me to add more depth to poisons and an added value to the skill. Luckily, RM and SW already has a comprehensive list of substances that I collated into a MASTER LIST. I also left Poison as a meta-skill that covers identification (by taste, smell, symptoms etc) preparation, application and use, and as part of our system that provides a benefit for ranks, the # of ranks in Poison is also added to any RR vs poisons.  (This models the idea of a poisoner taking low doses over time to build up their resistance). So now poisons are like spells, with varying effects, methods of delivery and counter-antidotes. To facilitate poison (and similar substances) it helps to use a variety of mediums: paste, liquids, powders, oils that have varying effect times and for pre-prepared antidotes to the most commonly known agents. And poisons don’t just have to kill, they can paralyze, knock a person out, make them dizzy etc, so they aren’t just a deadly, unethical or cowardly attack only favored by assassins and “low men”. Poison preparation also shoehorns into our alchemy rules and can be combined with various substrate delivery systems. I’ll be expanding on this in an upcoming blog or RMBlog fanzine edition in the near future.
  2. Diseases. I think my reluctance to use diseases is multi-fold. First, diseases are generally slow acting so they don’t create a sense of urgency. Second, Elves and even half-Elves are basically immune to diseases so in SW much of the population doesn’t eve worry about it. Finally, Spell Law healing makes curing diseases fairly simple and implies most societies are not going to have problems with disease in general. Besides having a disease as a core plot point to an adventure, I think diseases only work well if they have affects measured in days or weeks and not months or years. That may only be magical diseases. Like poisons, I avoided using diseases for many years, but now I like them a lot–especially the slow, sapping type. Perhaps it’s reduces Str & Co 1 pt a day or week, or there is a slowly increasing fatigue penalty. That hits home with the affected player as it directly impacts the game play–they’ll want to deal with it!
  3. Curses. I still can’t remember when I last used a curse. I specifically reduced “Curses” down to a single spell list in BASiL (and even then it was difficult to rank them by level) and I don’t think I’ve used a cursed object in RM or my SW campaign. I feel that curses are very setting driven and probably generated from Channeling/Diety. In Rolemaster, Curses are more “ill effect” than the common idea of curses that tend towards future effects and augury.  Traditional curses are too open ended and hard to fit into the gameplay. I’m open to ideas, so happy to hear other peoples experience with them.

But “dark things” are not just limited to poisons, disease and curses. Beyond these traditional agents, Shadow World may provide a bevy of interesting taints, attacks and complications that can add to your campaign. Here are a few thoughts and ideas:

Demonic Possessions. I’ve blogged about the problems with summoning and demonic possessions should be based on the particular setting. But Shadow World does have Demons, so it’s possible to have Demonic possessions beyond the thematic demons introduced by Terry. Having a player possessed could make for interesting sessions: Demons may not have any particular agenda beyond being a chaos agent and maybe they even impart some Demonic powers (like Frenzy).

Mental Illness. Introducing a mental illness to a player really relies on their roleplaying skills, but can add a interesting twist to group dynamics. Traditional Mentalism spells can cause mental illnesses, but how should they work and manifest in game play. Serious illness beyond phobias and violent tendencies are going to be metagamed by the player, but a players that really commits to it can be a lot of fun even if it gets the group into trouble.

Unlife Taint. There has been several attempts to mechanize Unlife taint in past GC’s and some other thoughts on the Forums. Obviously there needs to be corruption rules for SW. Should this work as a player accesses “Dark” spell lists? In my own campaign I differentiate between “dark” lists (that are the result of the Gods of Charon) and “Unlife” spell lists which tap into an alien, malevolent power. These lists are the various Priest Arnak lists I posted up on the RM Forums, and the lists Terry made for the Steel Rain and other Unlife organizations. Ideally, the Unlife lists should be really different from standard SL lists and more powerfully to justify and entice spell users to explore and experiment with them–and start down a slippery slope. Unlife corruption should be a core rule mechanic for SW. The concept of players “flirting” with learning and casting powerful Unlife spells and risking being corrupted or subsumed by the Unlife is a great fantasy theme.

Channeling Block. A priest who defies their god, behaves in a inappropriate way or similar should be punished. The quickest and most obvious is to sever them from their spell casting ability until they make atonement for their actions. This atonement process is a natural trigger for an adventure or quest!

God Cursed. Similar to the disfavor in a channeling block, a character could get a “mark” that shows they are cursed, outcast or disfavored by a god. This could be in the form of a birthmark, shaped scar, change in eye color, or symbol that can be seen in the person’s skin (excommunication). This would be an ill omen in most cultures, and make it difficult for the player to interact with society.

Just a few ideas that I need to explore in more detail or finalize as rule mechanics. RMSS and RMU have introduced Flaws that are similar to these, but I like for fluidity to these more than CharGen mechanics to offset talents. What has been your experience with “Dark Things“?