QUICK START AVAILABLE!
The Quick Start rules and adventure for Night Shift are now available! Please click the link to download. Note if you've already downloaded to re-download! We've added spell descriptions and made a few clarifications based on requests and observations.
UPDATE: One of our backers ran the Quick Start and posted a blog reviewing the play and rules. Thanks, Mark, and please, everyone, check it out!
Check out the first draft of the character sheet for Night Shift!
Read an interview and Q&A with Tim and Jason about the game!
Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars
Debuting the new Elf Lair Games house system, O.G.R.E.S., Night Shift is an urban fantasy, horror, and dark modern supernatural game that uses old-school mechanics derived from the original, basic, expert, and advanced versions of the World's Most Famous Role Playing Game. It allows you to mimic all the tropes of just about any film, TV series, or novels you like.
Over the past couple years, there have been a lot of folks experimenting with different things to do with "old school" rules sets. Many of these have been of the "kids on bikes" variety, but it occurred to us that you could easily use these rules, derived from the earliest forms of tabletop RPGs from the 70s and early 80s, to handle just about any kind of game. We also feel there's a shortage of games on the market dedicated to the kinds of serialized urban fantasy and horror TV shows that are common in what many are calling a Golden Age of TV. Certainly there aren't many licensed games.
Night Shift seeks to fill that gap with a fast, easy-play rules set that gives you old-school style rules which fade into the background and let you focus on archetypal characters and the story at hand.
Designed by industry veterans Jason Vey and Timothy Brannan, whose names have appeared in such products as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ghosts of Albion, Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, C.J. Carella's WitchCraft, All Flesh Must be Eaten!, Nightbane, Amazing Adventures, Castles & Crusades and more, this game brings together two noted designers with decades of combined experience.
What Is the System Like?
There are three mechanics at play in the O.G.R.E.S. system: The percentile check, the d20 check, and the Rule of 2. These are mechanics that have been the core of fantasy gaming since the earliest version of play, but were never specifically codified. We have streamlined them and brought them to the forefront.
Percentile Checks: The first is the percentile check. In a percentile check, you will roll percentile dice against a chance of success, to use a class ability, cast a spell, etc. The GM can set a difficulty for a task, modifying your base chance of success up or down. They need not tell you what the modifier is; they simply may ask you what your base chance of success is and secretly modify it, then ask you what your result is and tell you if you succeeded. For some tasks, the GM may even secretly roll the ability for you—for example, when a Survivor tries to move silently, they always think they're doing it right. Likewise, when you search for traps in a given area, you don't know if you simply failed the roll or there's nothing there to find. In either case, the GM may opt to roll secretly, and simply tell you what happens.
The d20 Check: The second is the d20 check, wherein you'll roll 1d20 plus applicable bonuses, and attempt to get 20 or better. This is used for combat, saving throws, and ability checks. Difficulties for these checks are often modified based on the hit dice or level of the person you're challenging—if you try to seduce someone, for example, you may roll a Charisma check, which will be modified by the difference between your level and the opponent's level. Alternately, if an NPC (who doesn't have full statistics) tries to seduce you, you might roll a Wisdom saving throw, with the difference between your level and their hit dice modifying the check.
In general, attacks and magical effects notwithstanding, ability checks and saves should slant towards the player making the check as opposed to the monster or NPC. Naturally, if you cast command on a monster, it will save, but in general…
Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Abilities, and Attack Bonus: In Night Shift, at character generation, abilities are designated as primary, secondary, and tertiary. Characters get higher check bonuses for primary and secondary abilities. This check bonus is only added to ability checks, and not to combat rolls, which add the class attack bonus instead of the check bonus.
Rule of 2. The Rule of 2 is largely reserved for the GM, though it applies to PCs in terms of their surprise chances, the GM can adjudicate a situation on the fly that isn't otherwise covered by the rules. Choose a die based on how likely the scenario is, and throw it. A result of 1 or 2 indicates the result you're adjudicating.
Say, for example, characters are casing a crime scene. The Survivor has a Perception skill they can roll, but everyone else just has to use their basic peepers. The Survivor rolls their percentile skill, while the GM rolls 1d6 for the rest of the characters. If any come up as a 1 or 2, they find something. The Survivor, in turn, if she fails her Perception check, will still get a Rule of 2 check (and if she succeeds, should find more detailed info than those who succeeded on a Rule of 2).
The GM can alter the probabilities by changing the die type thrown, or changing the range of success (1 in 6, 3 in 8, etc.). Some GMs may do away with the Rule of 2 altogether and simply use percentile dice for probabilities. This is fine, too, but we think the Rule of 2 adds an elegant and very basic symmetry to quickly adjudicating these issues.
Check out the Quick Start kit for an example of play!
What Can I Do With It?
All of the following are possible with Night Shift:
- Cheerleaders that are chosen to slay vampires, granted with extranormal powers to accomplish their destiny;
- Sisters imbued with the power of chosen witches;
- Worlds where Fae of all manner battle in the politics of light and dark;
- The great-grandniece of a famous gunslinger inherits the legacy of the demon hunter;
- A world where two brothers armed with knowledge and weapons hunt the supernatural in their father's name;
- And more!
Night Shift is built to handle just about any sort of urban fantasy you can dream up, using the tropes of classic horror-based television, motion pictures, comics, and novels.
Within its pages, you'll find:
- Complete character generation using familiar stats
- Major character archetypes, including the Survivor ("I've seen something weird"), Veteran ("I hunt something weird"), Chosen One ("I am the weird thing that other weird things fear"), Theosophist ("I see weird dead things"), Psychic ("I sense and control something weird"), Sage ("I study weird things"), and Witch/Warlock ("I am something weird")
- Complete rules for magic, psychic powers, and necromancy/spirit channeling
- Customizable supernatural character race--play a werewolf, vampire, succubus, or fae
- An optional skills system to expand what your character can do
- A simple rules system comprised of three basic mechanics, designed for fast and intuitive play
- Variant styles and levels of play that modify the system to represent gritty, realistic, and cinematic styles
- A GM section with tips and tricks on creating a series, seasons, and more, as well as guildelines for building custom character classes
- A full bestiary with all of the classic monsters like werewolves, vampires, demons, devils, zombies, mummies, and a few new surprises
- Several complete mini-settings you can use to get up and running right away
- Conversion rules to use the game with Original and B/X, and O.R.C.S (Elf Lair's Spellcraft & Swordplay) systems
- A complete alternate combat system, which hearkens back to the very earliest days of the hobby, before the publication of the first version of the World's Most Famous RPG.
What Is O.G.R.E.S?
O.G.R.E.S. stands for "Oldschool Generic Roleplaying Engine System." It's the new house system for Elf Lair Games, which will run alongside our current O.R.C.S. and Cd8 Systems. It's another step forward in presenting a new approach to a "unified system" for running just about any kind of game, using mechanics that will be instantly familiar to players of "old school" fantasy games, specifically those that powered the Original, Basic, Expert, and Advanced versions of the World's Most Famous Role Playing Game.
What O.G.R.E.S. does, however, is streamline and codify these mechanics, to remove what many view as arcane and confusing elements, and break the system down into a fast-playing, fun, easy-to-understand, and open presentation, adding a few modern design elements to improve the smooth play.
This also means that the majority of products which are compatible with any of these editions of the game, are also compatible with O.G.R.E.S.
Does it Use Classes and Levels?
The system does use classes and levels. For some, that may not seem ideal, but classes and levels work, especially for games of this type, which express the tropes of television and movies, wherein we see heroes grow incrementally better from season to season, and even at certain benchmark points within seasons. There are, however, several options for awarding of experience points that will allow you to tailor the advancement rate of your game based on story points, the traditional XP values of monsters and specific challenges, or general threat levels, role playing and subjective qualities of play.
If Night Shift is successful, future books may explore classless options, and point-based advancement. We have ideas, but they are not currently in active development.
What am I Paying For?
The complete rules are already written and well into playtesting at this time, and layout and artwork have been largely covered. This Kickstarter will cover the cost of printing the book, of obtaining ISBN and bar codes for the publication, and to a lesser degree of setup costs to bring Elf Lair Games from a small POD publisher into the next level of a genuine small-press game company. In the end, however, it's all about getting this game printed in a way that does it credit and makes it look as great as it possibly can.
If the Kickstarter is successful enough, we may kick things up further, including more art from professional industry artists, and even color...but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
$10,000 - We will include, as an appendix, a complete point-buy system for character creation and advancement that bucks the traditional class-and-level approach!
$15,000 - We will commission new, professional cover art from a to-be-announced artist.
$20,000 - We will add 2 new Night Worlds to the book
$25,000 - We will add custom demon creation rules to the bestiary
$30,000 - We will commission 100% original artwork for the book.
$35,000 - We will print the book in full color
Currently, Elf Lair Games products are not in print, but can be ordered individually from DriveThruPRG and Lulu as print on demand books. As such, we are not making them available as add-ons here, as separate shipping costs from these sources makes that difficult at best. Please visit our website at https://www.elflair.com/ for a product listing and links!
We are hoping to offer a full line of print products in full distribution soon.
Add-ons from this Kickstarter are as follows:
- Night Shift Corebook (Hardcover): $30
- Night Shift Player's Guide: $5 each
- Night Shift Leather Corebook: $100
Shipping costs will be calculated after the campaign ends, based on the destination and weight of the package. You will be charged for shipping during the fulfillment stage of the Kickstarter, but non-U.S. customers, please be advised: shipping to other countries from the United States is extremely expensive. There is nothing we can do about this, sadly, but we pledge to charge you the actual shipping cost of your items (which will include the cost of shipping and packing materials).
Many people who back kickstarters add extra money onto their original pledge to cover the eventual costs of shipping (or a portion thereof). That is certainly an option, but you are not required to do so by any means. Again, you will be charged shipping during the fulfillment stage of the campaign.
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges of this campaign are the same as with any other unproven, small company. We can tell you that the book is written except for a few Night Worlds settings, initial artwork has been sourced, and layout is covered. There's very little risk in being able to fulfill the production of this book. I am also an established professional in the RPG industry, with a reputation to uphold, and I have contacts with several mid-sized publishers who are willing to help me out with advice and resources where possible.
We are also trying to mitigate any risks by keeping stretch goals well within manageable levels so that we don't end up in over our heads with expensive items that we can't afford to produce or ship. Every step we have taken has been well-thought and carefully managed to ensure that the stretch levels (if any) that we achieve are 100% manageable, and the book publishable.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)