Tagged: Ghastly Affair

Deadly Sins & Heavenly Virtues

I’ve wanted to incorporate the Seven Deadly Sins into a RPG (or should I say a RPG other than Pendragon) for a long time. Ghastly Affair strikes me as a perfect game to try out some of these ideas.

Determining Sins & Virtues

With the exception of the True Innocent, all characters are predisposed to sin. Each has one vice that is particularly troublesome. True Innocents, on the other hand, have a particular virtue the hold above the rest. The player may choose a sin/virtue or roll on the table below.

d8

Sin…

Virtue…

1

Lust

Chastity

2

Gluttony

Temperance

3

Greed

Charity

4

Sloth

Diligence

5

Wrath

Patience

6

Envy

Kindness

7

Pride

Humility

8

Player’s Choice

Player’s Choice

Gaming with Sins & Virtues

Sins and virtues are roleplaying aids. For example, a wrathful character may have a short temper, and be prone to violence or fits of rage. A prideful individual is always trying to “one up” his enemies and may challenge people too duels over slight offenses.

The Presenter should keep a list of the character’s deadly sin and use them in the game. Confront the character with situations where their sin will get them into trouble or complicate the adventure. Characters may attempt to resist their predilection. Roll 1d20 against the character’s Perversity score. If the die roll is lower than the character’s perversity they will succumb to temptation.

The presence of a True Innocent will help characters resist their sinful ways. If a True Innocent makes an impassioned speech (and succeeds in a roll against Charisma on 1d20), the player of the sinful character may roll 2d20 and choose the highest value for the Perversity roll. True Innocents automatically pass their Charisma test for the virtue they hold dearest.

Review: Hunter’s Song

TL/DR: Give it a read.

Hunter’s Song is the debut novel from William Rutter. I recall when it was announced on Daniel James Hanley’s excellent The Engine of Oracles blog last fall. I dropped it on my Amazon wishlist and promptly forgot about it… I sure wish I’d ordered sooner!

The novel centers around a young English gentlewoman named Lila Davenport. The sole child of a wealthy banker, Lila’s only ambition is to marry the man she loves – her childhood sweetheart Richard Fairfax. Unfortunately, Fairfax has been ensnared by dark powers. His actions drag Lila into hidden terror. Disowned by her friends and family, she must fend for herself in a world where monsters are very real. Rather than give in, Lila takes up arms to fight against the creatures who stalk the night. She finds a mentor who teaches her to become the hunter instead of the hunted.

I really enjoyed this book and I am all the more impressed that it is the author’s first novel. Lila is engaging. From the first chapter, you can see the iron in her character. Here is a woman who “had it all”. Not only did her world fall apart when she was disowned by her family, but it was also turned on its head when she realized that what she heretofore took to be superstitious nonsense is actually very real. A lesser woman would have given up, but Lila strikes back, taking revenge for the wrongs she has suffered, only to become the target of revenge herself.

My hope is we will see more novels set in the world of “A Ghastly Affair”. I sure won’t let the next one sit on my wishlist for months!

You can purchase this novel at DriveThru Fiction or Amazon.

Postscript –

Mr. Hanley, my wife loved the cover of the book.

Review: Ghastly Affair

TL/DR: Buy it – it’s great!

Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual & Presenters Manual by Daniel James Hanley

Caveat
I’ve not played this game. The review is based on a read through of the manuals only.

Premise
Ghastly Affair is a horror role playing game set in the late-eighteenth/early-nineteenth century. It takes its inspiration from the gothic novels, such as Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, written in this period. It is obviously a labor of love. The author has created a great game with mechanics that reflect the source material well.

System
At first glance, this looks like another “OSR clone”. The stats are the same, characters have levels, classes, and so forth. That’s not the case. Hanley has redesigned the underlying mechanism to be a roll-low system. Actions are based on a character’s statistic and the player needs to roll below it on 1d20 to succeed at a task. It reminds me of Flashing Blades in many respects. There is also a system to resolve “opposed actions”. This requires reference to a table where stats are compared to come up with a modifier to the die roll. Given how light the rest of the game is, this seems a little over-engineered. Maybe a system where you compare margin of success would be simpler for a house rule?

Character classes are evocative and based on archetypes in the source material. For example, you can play a mad scientist, grave robber or true innocent. There are even options in the appendices to play a vampire or werewolf! As characters gain levels they become better in combat: hit points rise and they gain bonuses to damage. I’d probably house rule some of this away as I am not a fan of gaining HP with levels. I think I’d give the classes more “oomph” for their base skills as they rise in level too. For example, the  “fighting classes” would gain bonuses to hit in combat, while mad scientists would get better at their “science” skills (maybe level/2). Stats are rolled in the 3d6 range, but there is an option for an “allocation” system. Finally, there are advantages and disadvantages that give the characters bonuses or penalties to specific actions. These are really excellent additions to any OSR game.

The magic and mad science systems are fantastic. Magic doesn’t use the “Vancian” system common to most D&D games. Instead the character loses temporary hit points (simulating exhaustion) when casting a spell. There are systems for talismans, pacts and rituals as well. I think this is my favorite implementation of magic for any OSR game I’ve read. It’d be easy to port over to a more traditional fantasy game as well. Mad science also makes use of the “spell list”, but the trappings are different. Does Dr. Ivanovich to use a galvanic rifle? You can replicate it with the Lightning Bolt “spell”. At first blush, it feels like mad scientists get the short end of the stick as far as “goodies” go since they are limited to a items based on their level. It’d be easy to house rule giving them more stuff or allow them to create all kinds of monsters and devices, but rule that they can only carry items up to their level and the rest of it stays “in the lab”.

Monster statistics will be familiar to anyone that knows D&D and it is straightforward to import creatures from other “monster manuals” into this system. I feel the creature list is a little bloated. Hastur only knows when I’d actually need combat stats for an albatross! Outside of mundane creatures like bears and wolves, you are also treated to faeries, revenants and many other “things that go bump in the night”. The monsters are interesting enough that most can serve as a basis for a scenario.

Fluff
The default setting of A Ghastly Affair is in a fictional version of earth where monsters prowl the night and cultist conduct foul rituals. Hanley does a great job of providing the GM with enough detail to run a fun game without becoming lost in minutia. Scattered throughout the book are “sidebars” with examples of the times including some really interesting (and disturbing) facts. What really shines are the year-by-year timelines that pull together historical and strange events. This thing is chock-full of scenario seeds and makes me want to try and wade through my Dad’s copy of the Complete Works of Charles Fort again. The author regularly updates his blog with NPC write-ups, random tables and information about the Highdark Hall manor. It’s great stuff! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some proper scenarios to make getting into the game a little easier – maybe we’ll see another book soon?

The illustrations are very nice. It’s amazing when a one-man operation pulls together some really appropriate art instead of just searching for public domain images on the internet. It shows how invested the author is in this project to see him pony up for decent art to support his game. The full page illustrations are excellent (I think the one with the werewolf is the only one I don’t like). The silhouettes are really cool (and in a twisted way kind of period authentic) as well.

Layout is clean and easy to read. This is the first set of books I’ve picked up from this Amazon self-publishing program and they look like they’ll hold up to gaming use well. They’re at least as good as anything I’ve gotten from Lulu or RPGNow.

Overall
Buy it. Even if you are not into horror, the Player’s Manual has some really great ideas you could use in any OSR game. Even better – both manuals are on sale through Xmas 2016!

Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual
Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual
Try before you buy? No art versions are available for download at the author’s blog.