What do you do in this game?
This was the question that really took some time to figure out: What do characters do in curse the darkness? It's easy enough to create the setting, plunk some characters down and say "go," especially in a post-apocalyptic setting in which "explore the ruins" or "resource management" or "fight the mutants/looters/monsters from the shadows" are all viable options. But curse the darkness is a little different; the mechanics are based on simulating actions, they're based on resolving specific types of Challenges. I wanted the stories in the game to support and be supported by those mechanics. I wanted things to be tight.
Turns out tight isn't easy. You want focus, that requires attention. But at the end of the day, we did pretty well with it, I think.
So what do characters do in this game? That's largely up to the players. Let me tell you what I mean.
When a group sits down to play curse the darkness, they collectively answer five questions (this can be before or after making characters; personally I like to figure this out beforehand and let the scenario questions guide character creation). The five questions are:
- Where are we?
- What just happened?
- How are you following the rules?
- How are you breaking the rules?
- What is the goal?
Based on these questions, you've got your scenario. You now have a goal - the story ends when that goal is realized or abandoned entirely. Characters come and go in curse the darkness (but are never forgotten!), but the goal remains.
The scenario might be anything from a one-shot to a long, multiple-arc chronicle, depending on your group and how long you want it to run. The longer it runs, the more characters you're likely to see and the more Memory Points you'll wind up accruing from the unfortunate dead. But longer stories have more complex and interesting payoffs. You're probably not going to find and confront Him in a single session.
Some examples, then? I've run curse the darkness at multiple conventions, and I generally write the sessions up on the blog. Here are the links so you can jump right to actual play:
- The Capitol Ablaze, a game I ran at Con on the Cob last October.
- The Severed Bridge, a multi-session game I ran with my gaming group. (That's Part I, you may also want to look at Part II, and Part III.)
- The New Pope, a session I ran at MarCon last month.
- The Elder's Secret, another session from MarCon.
- The Dam, a session from UBCon, also last month.
I will be running curse the darkness at Origins Game Fair later this month, and I'll be around the DriveThruRPG booth some during the Con. So if you want play curse the darkness, I'll be happy to show you how it works.
As for the Kickstarter, as you can see, we're at $5400 even! Let's not slow this train down, folks. $600 more and you get ghosts, $1600 and you get an awesome fiction anthology. Beyond that? I've got some cool stuff in the works, but I don't want to talk about it until a) I've got some confirmation and b) a real sense that it could happen. So if you know someone that hasn't pledged and you think might enjoy the game, send 'em the link!