curse the darkness is a roleplaying game set in a post-apocalyptic version of our world.
EXCITING UPDATE! Mark Truman has launched his Kickstarter for his awesome world-saving RPG, Our Last Best Hope. If you back both his game (which you can do here) at $10 and curse the darkness at $15 (meaning you get the pdfs of both games; feel free to back either or both at a higher level!) you get a specially designed Our Last Best Hope playset for the curse the darkness setting! Go check it out!
Just to spare folks who are watching this space scrolling down, I'll update our progress here:
- We've made our first stretch goal ($6000). All backers get the rules for ghosts in curse the darkness before anyone else, and for free! (Hopefully that'll be ready alongside the game, but it might slip to September.)
- We've made our second stretch goal ($7500)! That means we're doing a fiction anthology based on curse the darkness. More information, included how to submit a story, here.
- Our next stretch goal ($10,000) is the curse the darkness companion. Details about this book below (and more coming soon).
- You might notice we're offering the chance to write some graffiti for the book - only 1 slot left! If you want to know more, click here.
- You can download a playtest packet and all of the necessary character sheets here. Feel free to take all that and run a game to try it out! If you do, message me and tell me how it went!
In 2012, a mysterious, unnamed individual conquered the world, leveling cities and destroying institutions of finance, religion, nationality and other ideology. He demanded that the people of the world take care of each other, with no promise of reward in the afterlife and no monetary compensation. Anyone who dissented and tried to hold on to their ideological identity was executed. The man wielded a force that no one on Earth could match - the creatures from the Between.
The Between is the place behind shadows, and it connects every shadow on the planet. While the man who destroyed the world isn't the only one capable of accessing the Between (in fact, your character can be an Opener if you'd like!), He does seem to be the only one with the ability to control the monsters therein. He sent these monsters out after anyone still clinging to religion, national identity, politics or economics, and those people were either killed on the spot or dragged into the Between, never to be seen again.
It's been 10 years. Over the ensuing decade, His oversight has grown less stringent, to the point that expressing one's faith or beliefs isn't quite so dangerous anymore. The people living in this world gather together in small, often mobile communities, doing their best to take care of themselves and each other. But some people just aren't interested in helping, and seek to take what they need. Some people tempt fate by trying to bring back religious worship or commerce, or other overt forms of ideology.
And some people still feel, even after so much death and destruction, that it's possible to win back the world.
curse the darkness uses an original game system based around playing cards. Unlike many RPGs, it doesn't have a skill list or a complicated system for resolving combat and other situations. Instead, players undertake two kinds of Challenge: Character and Removal.
A Character Challenge helps define the character, and resolves an action that doesn't carry a risk of death or removal from the story. Character Challenges are based on one of four Attributes, each corresponding to a suit of cards: Focus (Diamonds), Stability (Clubs), Stamina (Spades) and Humanity (Hearts).
A Removal Challenge happens when the characters enter a situation that might lead to one or more of them being taken out of the game. Removal Challenges aren't based on the four Attributes, but on the characters' actions within the context of the situation. Characters in curse the darkness can and do die, much more easily than in many other RPGs.
The death of a character, however, can spur the survivors on to accomplishing their goal. When a character dies or leaves play, the others can gain Memory Points from that loss, and use those to find the inner fire to finish the scenario. Of course, the players also each have the option to refuse to fight, to be simply swept along by events.
Everything in the game, then, comes down to this essential choice: light a candle, or curse the darkness?
What You Need
In order to play curse the darkness, you will need:
- A copy of the book
- Three standard decks of playing cards, jokers included
- Copies of the Player Mat, Scenario Creation Sheet, Suit Assignment Sheet, Condition Assignment Sheet, and Character Cards (these will all be available for free download from cursethedarkness.net)
- Two types of small objects to use as Memory Points and Between Points (glass beads, dice, coins, etc. - about 15 each is safe, and you need to be able to tell the two types apart)
What We Need
The funding we get from this Kickstarter will be used to pay for the art, graphic elements and layout of the book, as well as to physically print and ship the copies for backers. The writing portion is done, the book is edited, and the rest of the photos are in the process of getting digital effects (you can see the first few in our video, in fact). If you want have a sneak peek at how the game works, I invite you to download our playtest packet, which you can do here.
Above and Beyond
So what if we go over our funding requests? Well, we've got some ideas, but some of them require information we don't have yet, so I'll update as we go and add some other cool stuff that folks can get if we blow by our goals. For now, though:
If we hit $6000, I'll write a brief expansion that provide rules for ghosts in the curse the darkness setting. You can click here for more details. - YOU DID IT! You get ghosts! Everyone who backed the project will get the ghost expansion, hopefully alongside the book itself, but possible a little afterwards (depends how long it takes me to write it).
If we hit $7500, I'll produce a fiction anthology of stories inspired by the setting of curse the darkness. I don't know who's going to be involved yet (it's very difficult to approach talented authors and say, "Hey, I don't know if this will actually happen, but perhaps you could write a story for me?"), but Michelle and I will definitely contribute. - YOU DID IT! We've made this stretch goal, and you can see more details about the project here.
If we hit $10,000, we'll produce a companion book for curse the darkness. This book will have scenarios, characters, fleshed-out locations and story hooks, the ghost rules (which, remember, backers will get free and early), and some other expanded rules for curse the darkness (to be decided - we're still in the planning stages).
We've got some other ideas for related products. One is an art book that ties our photographs together with a running fiction piece, another is a modification of the system to simulate conflict resolution in the context of bullying in schools. But it's all moot unless folks pledge! So spread the word!
If you want to order copies of curse the darkness for your store, we've added some backer levels to facilitate that! Please contact me and tell me about your store (where it's located, the website URL, etc.) so that I can promote your store on the curse the darkness site. Likewise, if you're a reasonable distance from Cleveland, Ohio, I'd be happy to swing in and run some demos (and I'll be doing some traveling this summer, so even if you're not close to Cleveland, it might be doable!). Non-US retailers, please contact me specifically about shipping costs, since they'll vary quite a bit.
Who We Are
curse the darkness is the first game from Play Attention Games, Inc. PAG is a new game company founded by Matthew McFarland and Michelle Lyons-McFarland. Perhaps you know us?
I'm Matthew McFarland, also known as BlackHat Matt. I've been writing and developing roleplaying games professionally since 1998. Most of the work I've done has been for White Wolf Game Studio, where I've contributed to almost all of their game lines (including both incarnations of the World of Darkness). I spent three years as lead developer for the Dark Ages game line, I wrote the Ennie-winning demo chronicles for Vampire: The Requiem and Mage: The Awakening, but the project I'm proudest (prior to curse the darkness, obviously) of is probably World of Darkness: Innocents. I've also done some assorted work for Green Ronin, Eden Studios, and Guardians of Order. In my day job, I'm a speech-language pathologist for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
I'm Michelle Lyons-McFarland (the McFarland is a fairly recent addition). I've been writing and editing roleplaying games professionally since 2000. I started out in-house at FASA Corp, working on Shadowrun, BattleTech, and Crimson Skies, then moved into freelancing after they closed. I've written for White Wolf, WizKids, Wizards of the Coast, Green Ronin, Guardians of Order, Catalyst, and a host of others in addition to editing for nearly everyone in the roleplaying game industry at one time or another. I was an editor with Wizards of the Coast before I moved into computer games, working at Microsoft Game Studios, and NCsoft on community websites, game fiction, and game dialogue. I'm one of the GenCon 2012 Industry Insider Guests of Honor. In my day job, I'm a 1st-year PhD student in English Studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.
- (42 days)