ESPER: The Horror Roleplaying Game
ESPER: The Horror Roleplaying Game
Horror Roleplaying with a realistic but simple system. Create your character the way you want it to be.
Horror Roleplaying with a realistic but simple system. Create your character the way you want it to be. Read more
(please enjoy the commercial above. We'll be adding a personal video soon)
“Darkness cannot cast out darkness – only light can do that.”
–Martin Luther King, jr.
Welcome to the world of ESPER, the society for Extraordinary Supernatural Phenomena Explored and Revealed. It is a world much like our own, with a single exception… every scary story, every myth, and every fireside tale is true. It is a world where your worst nightmare could be lurking in the darkness, hiding around the next corner, or disguised as your best friend.
In this world, where every imagined horror is made manifest, the natural evolution of the human race has included a closer attunement to the magickal forces of the universe, the development of powerful psionic abilities, and, most importantly, the creation of an organization to battle these unseen foes and keep their existence from the rest of the world. This organization is called ESPER.
What is ESPER
ESPER is a horror role playing game in which players take on the roles of those special people who either have felt the encroaching darkness or will be feeling it very soon, and who have decided to fight against it and help keep those who aren’t aware of the hidden dangers of the otherworld entrenched in their ignorant bliss.
The game uses a simple percentile system which makes character creation and gameplay much quicker and easier. Under this system, combat can be much more detailed and tactical while maintaining a simplicity which keeps it from getting bogged down in numbers.
ESPER is primarily a role-playing game, and so every precaution has been taken to make sure that what happens in the game can be as detailed and realistic as possible without giving rules lawyers fodder for argument. The primary rule of ESPER is that everyone should have fun, and the second rule is that the Game Master’s entire purpose is to enforce rule one. The rulebook encourages the GM to create stories around the characters and their backgrounds, and to give everyone a chance to shine.
Players are able to make any type of character they can imagine that fits in the game world, and can do anything that the Game Master deems possible. Most characters will start the game not even knowing about the ESPER organization, and many will not have ever even experienced the supernatural. The first mission the GM runs will normally be to bring new characters “into the fold.”
The character creation process of ESPER is very easy, and yet is very detailed, and in playtesting many players would enjoy spending a long time just focusing on putting together a character. There are no “classes” like in many other role playing games, but this is made up for by the level of detail that goes into the process. Skills, Positive Characteristics, Negative Characteristics, Magick, and Psionics are extensive but understandable and allow for precise fine-tuning of your character. If you can imagine someone who would fit in the ESPER world, you can create it. Examples of characters created during playtesting include:
-An Australian hunter who brings rich clients on monster-hunting expeditions, and who by night is a monster himself.
-A huckster who stars in one of those “Talking to the Dead” shows to hide his true psychic power.
-A skeptical videographer for a ghost hunting show.
-A young teenage boy who had to run away from home because his latent psionic powers accidentally killed a group of bullies, and his Native American mentor who is exiled from his tribe and wanted by the law for kidnapping his grandfather to fulfill his final wish of dying in his ancestral home.
-A brutish Norwegian warrior, possessed by the spirit of his Viking ancestors, unable to feel pain.
-A female Japanese exorcist forced to present herself to the world as a man.
-A doctor cast out of his practice for accidentally killing a man on the operating table because the voices in his head convinced him he was a monster, found homeless and forsaken by ESPER and asked to join in exchange for the possibility of silencing those voices.
Magick and Psionics
Magick and Psionics is based entirely on whatever effect the player can dream up, and there are (currently) eight different types of magick by which characters can weave their spells: Ritual Magick, Incantation, Focus Magick (the use of wands and other Focus items), Blood Magick, Sympathetic Magick (“as above, so below,” think of movie portrayals of Voodoo), Ecstatic Magick (think of tribal rituals), Sigilism, and Practical Magick (such as Alchemy). With over 50 different primary spell effects, magick-wielding characters can create almost any spell they can think of using a number of different means.
Also present are Psionic powers, which can be used to create world-altering effects. The player can choose from Telekinesis, Psychokinesis, Cryokinesis, Pyrokinesis, Reiki, Psychometabolism, Clairvoyance, Telepathy, and a number of other different powers.
Most of the players who tested the game in beta expressed the desire to move to the ESPER system permanently, and two new game universes, one fantasy and one sci-fi, are already in the works and will begin production as soon as ESPER and its two major expansions are released as a result of this enthusiasm.
ESPER went through rigorous playtesting over the course of a year, with some sessions lasting up to 12 hours at a time (at the request of the players). Four different groups, one of all RPG newcomers, one of long-time D&D players, and two of varying levels of gaming experience, played through unique campaigns throughout the year. During this time, ESPER was fine-tuned and perfected until every play session became a smooth and perfectly enjoyable experience. Characters were developed that became part of ESPER canon. Players were shocked and terrified. Some laughed, and some even cried, but all of them had an amazing time.
There are two major expansions planned for the ESPER game universe, not to mention the monthly adventure packages that will be being released. FOUNDATIONS OF DARKNESS, the first major expansion, will include a host of different creatures and villains for the players to go up against, physical, spiritual, and psychic. It will also contain a complete listing of gods, demons, and Horrors, along with a whole list of new powers and characteristics for them. You’ll also find different types of creatures that already exist, unique named creatures, and rules for creating your own new nemeses to pit against your players. It increases the number of monsters present in the original manual from 22 to 250. Most of this expansion has already been written and needs art and some formatting before it’s ready for release.
The next expansion, which is not yet in production, is THE ESPER GRIMOIRE, which will be a complete spellbook with new spell effects, new methods of spellcasting, and a list of hundreds of spells the characters can employ.
Beyond that, we still have THE DAYS OF OLD fantasy roleplaying setting and STAR CAPTAIN science fiction settings, along with expansion packs and all the adventure modules and campaigns for each.
ESPER was in full swing in terms of production until about a year ago, when our ability to fund it ran out. Back then, a small game company was planning on distributing it, but that offer fell through as the company started experiencing some financial difficulties themselves. Any support received through Kickstarter will go to finishing the artwork for the game (several examples of which are included with the text above) and then marketing and distributing it ourselves. Any extra support obtained above and beyond the current projection will go toward enhancing the production value of the campaign modules. We’re hoping that the finished products will be able to include “feelies,” which are tangible extensions of the game world designed to enhance the play experience. This will include (hopefully) artwork, photographs, video, animations, and sound clips which can be used to give a much better play experience and enhance the enjoyment of the game for everyone. We will also use some of the extra to create commercials like the one above to help market the game.
- (30 days)