Preview: Keys (from Chapter 3)
Hello Kickstarter Krewe & Curious Colleagues!
While the entire manuscript is being previewed to all backers in exclusive updates, I'll also be sharing some key (ha, get it?!) sections of the game as we move through the campaign.
These are just excerpts - more information and details will be provided when in the manuscript previews.
The gates of the Underworld are locked. Everyone knows that. They open only to admit the shades of the dead — but over the millennia, common motifs wear grooves in the fabric of death itself. Every bloody-handed murder, every plague, every senseless accident that snatches away a life, leaves an impression on the land of the dead. It’s a process not unlike taking a wax impression of a lock, but in reverse: Instead of the tumblers imprinting on the soft wax of the key, the Key shapes the lock to fit itself.
While anyone with the proper knowledge can use these Keys to open Avernian Gates, the Bound, standing as they do on the borders between the land of the living and the land of the dead, are themselves doors to the Underworld. Unlocking themselves yields a rush of power and Plasm. That power doesn’t come free; each Key bears a Doom that afflicts those who call on its power. If there’s an argument for the active, thinking malevolence of the Underworld, it may well be these.
The Bound drinks too deeply of the Underworld’s mysteries and finds their own fate controlled by the Old Laws that first created the Keys. They can’t help but find themselves drawn to situations that reflect the deaths they now draw on for power. A sense of malaise and hunger grows at the back of the Bound’s mind as they go about their lives, unaware of the well-trod steps they find themselves following.
• Note this Condition as Doomed (Key, Source). A character may be under the effects of multiple Dooms at once, even from the same Key.
• You cannot unlock Haunts with the same Key from the same source (i.e. the same Memento or the same instance of an innate Key).
• This Condition ends (without resolving) at the end of the story.
Possible Sources: Unlocking a Haunt.
• Resolve the Condition as described in the Key’s Doom.
• Help a ghost whose death fits thematically under the Key to resolve an Anchor.
The Key of Beasts
The Primeval Key, the Key of Tooth and Claw, the Key of Verdant Savagery
The Primeval Key is the feeling of adrenaline coursing through the veins. It is the discharge of the sympathetic nervous system at the feeling of teeth or hooves or horns entering the body. This is the Key of whatever it takes to be safe, to escape, to eat, to breed, to have one more day. The Primeval Key opens when humanity is reminded they are just part of the game of life and they don’t always get to win it.
Unlock Attribute: Wits
Resonance: The Key of Beasts is resonant when called upon in a place where humanity is no longer the dominant force: abandoned buildings inhabited by nothing but rats and roaches, untrammeled wilderness, or city parks after dark, for instance. Additionally, using a Haunt on an animal target always counts as resonant.
Doom: Automatically fail an action targeting an animal, or any action an animal could plausibly hinder (e.g. a barking dog could foil a Stealth action) to resolve this Doom.
The Key of Blood
The Stigmatic Key, the Key of Veils and Shades, the Key of Crimson Agony
Turning the Key of Blood is the numb feeling of chambering one last round, only to feel the hornet sting at the back of your skull. It is the knife sliding home between that drunken bastard’s ribs like a bird coming home to roost. The Stigmatic Key is the memory of passion and the lives lost because of that passion. Not all deaths that fall under the Key’s dominion are premeditated: a crazy scheme, a malicious rumor, or an irritated phone call may have never meant to kill somebody, but the tumblers of the lock turn nonetheless and the gate opens.
Unlock Attribute: Presence
Resonance: When situations spiral out of control the Key of Blood is at its strongest. If the Bound finds himself in a violent situation that wasn’t premeditated or intended, the resonance of the Key applies.
Doom: The next time the character tries to avoid a violent confrontation, whether by de-escalating a situation, running away, or some other means, she suffers an automatic dramatic failure and resolves this Doom (taking a Beat from the dramatic failure as well as the resolution).
The Key of Chance
The Bastard’s Key, the Key of Jinx and Hex, the Key of Black Humor
Who knew the weather would turn like that? I guess you’re really not supposed to operate those on a ladder? It turns you really have to be that tall to ride. The Key of Chance is the call and response of “hey y’all, watch this” and the million to one death that follows. This is the Key of the absurd, unfair, and improbable. When expectations fail, when the tools of civilization turn on you, when probability turns a blind eye, when rumors becomes truth — those are when the lock comes undone.
Unlock Attribute: Dexterity
Resonance: The Key of Chance is resonant when the Bound is risking something important, like a treasured belonging, a friend, or her life on a single action. It also has Resonance when the subject of the Haunt is a machine with at least three moving parts capable of inflicting lethal damage (e.g. a gun, an industrial press, a wood chipper, etc.).
Doom: The next time your character makes a roll with a +3 or greater bonus, roll a chance die for that action instead and resolve this Doom. If the action succeeds, it counts as an exceptional success.
You'll see more information on Keys when we share our second manuscript preview on July 9th. Until then, keep spreading the word and sharing your excitement! We're creeping up on our next Stretch Goal and expanding the Memento Mori book, and many more good things lie ahead.