Quietus is a one shot, prepless RPG of melancholy horror. It's a game for a GM and one or two players, and emulates tragic horror movies like Oculus, The Strangers, The Babadook, Inside and the recent Netflix version of The Haunting of Hill House. If a piece of fiction can make you cry and scream, then it's a great model for the sort of stories that you can tell with Quietus.
This is a game of slowly building dread, tension and tragedy. With only one or two main characters, there's no pressure release via a high body count.
The mechanics of Quietus are inspired by Forged in the Dark, the award winning system behind John Harper's Blades in the Dark, streamlined and repurposed for one-shot play and the horror genre.
Character and scenario creation is quick and intuitive, based around a series of leading questions that drop your characters right into the action. The small player count, minimal to no prep and short time to run the game - it usually lasts anywhere from one to two hours - makes it ideal for pickup sessions, or for horror fans who want to try roleplaying.
Players will need to build a dice pool using ordinary D6s whenever their character does something challenging - and the nightmarish situations that they're plunged into will push them towards those sorts of challenges constantly.
There are no easy choices in Quietus. You can gain dice by raising your anxiety - which comes with the chance that you might panic - by involving doomed side characters - who are certain to die because of you - or by revealing tragic details of your characters' past. It's in these Scar scenes that the melancholy aspect of the game really comes into play, as we jump back and forth between the current desperate action, and quieter moments, horrible rather than horrific, from your characters' backstory.
Quietus is a race between two competing scores, Hope and Despair. If you max out your Hope, you get away - scarred and possibly broken by the horrific events, but alive. If your Despair maxes out first, you die. No get out. No saving throw. No hope.
You can see the game being played here on Katy Morgan's Twitch Channel:
Oli is a lifelong horror and RPG fan, ever since he picked up a copy of Beneath Nightmare Castle at the age of 8, and Quietus is the cumulation of his deep love for both. He's written extensively for The Gauntlet's Codex zine, designing games and scenarios about obsessive compulsive disorder, haunted dolls, and Babymetal. He's also the author of the bestselling Dungeon World adventure The Foulness That Came to Dunfell Township, and was the winner of the Lovecraftesque scenario contest with The Wilder Parts of the Forest, an adventure that mixed Cthulhu and Narnia.
Oli will also be handling the layout for the book, and is an accomplished graphic designer focusing on RPGs. His layout work can be seen in Legacy: Life Among the Ruins 2E, Dust, Fog & Glowing Embers and the first two volumes of The Gauntlet's Codex zine. Chat with him about RPGs and horror movies at @ojeffery.
Thuy is a digital artist and graphic designer based in Dallas. She's in charge of creating promotional materials for Transworld DFW Metro South and works as a freelancer in her spare time. She's passionate about bringing ideas to life and bringing a fresh approach to every project. Check out her work at thuyltran.com.
Kasha grew up in Overland Park, Kansas and pursued a five-year double degree in art and music at St. Olaf College. In 2017 they completed a year of illustration graduate study at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. Their primary medium is digital drawing/painting, but they enjoy experimenting with other mediums such as collage, printmaking, and ceramics as well. Kasha writes, edits, and illustrates tabletop role-playing games, and is available for both personal and commercial illustration work. They enjoy listening to pop-punk music and podcasts, playing tabletop games with friends, discussing gender and sexuality in media, and making art constantly. Check out their work at kashaprinzing.art.
Lauren McManamon is a professional editor, game designer, technical writer, and horror buff. Her previous editing credits includes Good Society: A Jane Austen RPG by the Storybrewers, The Veil: Cascade, Uncanny Echo, and Hack the Planet by Fraser Simons, and A Town Called Malice by Monkeyfun Studios. She's also the editor and a contributor for Codex, the Gauntlet community's monthly zine.
Quietus will come in a beautiful 8.5" by 8.5" book, with a haunting wraparound cover by Thuy Tran, which you can see a mock-up of below:
The book will be available in PDF, black and white softcover and a gorgeous colour hardcover will striking and atmospheric full page illustrations by Kasha Prinzing and layout by Oli Jeffery.
If we exceed our initial funding goal, we'll be bringing you a series of quickstart scenarios written by a wide variety of exciting RPG writers, and an essay on melancholy horror from film critic and horror fan Sarah Dobbs.
The Putnam by Jason Morningstar
Zia and Nasim are pregnant, in a strange country, and delighted when the residents of The Putnam welcome them. Now the baby is coming. And the Residents are coming for the baby.
Jason Morningstar is a game designer who lives and works in Durham, North Carolina, USA. In addition to tabletop and live action roleplaying games including Fiasco, he has also made games for clients like Google and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His collaborations include the #feminism collection, Fastaval nominee Old Friends with Ole Peder Giæver, and the popular Love in the Time Of… games with Matthijs Holter. Jason’s games have been featured at Indiecade and in the Gen Con 50th anniversary museum. He has been a guest at a variety of events, including Ropecon, Gen Con, Lucca Comics and Games, and Dragon Con. Jason was a keynote speaker at the 2016 Living Games conference.
A Knock at the Door by Nell Raban
Aging and superstitious mother Ruby Libunao and her financially struggling daughter Clara found themselves living under the same roof again after years. They both had thought they’d hit bottom, but a knock at the door from some unexpected visitors will change everything in this terrifying tale of Filipino mythology.
Nell Raban is a writer, game designer and interactive software developer. In the past, she has contributed writing to such works as Orun by New Agenda Publishing and the Mythic D6 Adventure Anthology by Khepera Publishing. Nell is currently developing Home Again, a magical realist game about marginalized communities rediscovering their roots.
Darling by Alex Roberts
The thing is, it likes you. Even as it eats you alive, it softly whispers your name.
Alex Roberts is a tabletop and live-action game designer best known for Star Crossed and For the Queen, and has contributed to games like Dialect, Misspent Youth, and WITCH: Fated Souls. She also does consulting, event organizing, game criticism, and journalism, including the acclaimed interview show Backstory. She'd love to hear from you at helloalexroberts.com.
The Brief Life of Melancholy Horror by Sarah Dobbs
Sarah is a freelance writer, editor and film critic. She loves horror movies, unusual storytelling techniques and smoking jackets. Ask her about the Saw movies. Go on. Ask. Sarah's work has appeared in Total Film, SFX and Den of Geek. If we hit this stretch goal, Sarah will write a 3000 word essay chronicling the history of melancholy horror.
Heritage by Misha Bushyager
After a tragedy, Sam and Lex decide to take a vacation to process their grief. They flee to a rental in an old Georgia plantation, but something there objects to the descendants of slaves in the Master's quarters.
Misha is a longtime gamer and designer working on making sure the next generation of geeks sees themselves represented. She's a panelist, writer, editor, proofreader, and sensitivity reader for tabletop RPGs and larps. Misha is one of the founders of New Agenda Publishing and a curator for More Seats at the Table. Her writing can be seen in Orun, #Feminism, Chill:SAVE, Lovecraftesque, Dead Scare, Misspent Youth:Sell Out With Me, Masks:Unbound, and the as yet unpublished LARP Nightingales.
Hammond Hall by Brandon Leon-Gambetta
Alannah, Marcus, and Ruis, the old gang, are back for their 20 year college reunion haunted by memories of their fourth friend who died in old Hammond Hall. With tensions and grudges high, they visit the place where Jaime met his end and find that his memory still haunts this place. Reflections show more than changed faces and darkness hides blades.
Brandon a Peruvian-American game designer. He's the designer of Pasión de las Pasiones: a telenovela ttrpg, is a host on the Stop, Hack & Roll podcast and a GM on the Protean CityMasks actual play podcast. He's the GM of #Latinxplosion, an all Latinx actual play Twitch channel, and posts short form RPG videos on his YouTube channel!
Holes by Alex AK
The bullet holes in the side of your grandma’s building have been there for as long as Malak and Khaldoun remember, a reminder of 25 years of civil war that ended 5 years ago. Recently, Malak has been noticing them in other places, places she could’ve sworn they weren’t before.
Alex is a non-binary Arab immigrant, artist and game designer focused on creating a safe environment for queer adults to explore gender and sexuality. They have worked extensively on diversifying the TTRPG space from a corporate and personal standpoint.
Ward 16 by Becky Annison
Nina thought her worst days were over; that would have been fair. She was past the dangerous stage of the sickness that kept her on the isolation ward. She was ready to restart her life and so, so desperate to see her wife and kids, desperate to see anyone who wasn't a medic in a Hazmat suit. But, weak, and exhausted from illness, Nina's worst day was about to start.
Becky is the award winning game designer of Bite Me!, When the Dark is Gone and co-designer of Lovecraftesque. She has worked on games such as Trail of Cthulhu, Hillfolk, Liminal and Itras By. Becky loves games that get under the skin of your emotions and let you feel things in your heart. She can be found at www.blackarmada.com and on twitter @beckyannison.
The Fruits of Our Labour by Hayley Gordon
They say Javier will burn at the stake. Your brother is no witch! Yet why do your fields grow plump with crops when those around you have only ash and waste?
Hayley is a game designer and writer, and one half of Storybrewers Roleplaying. She is the co-creator of games such as Good Society and Alas for the Awful Sea. She adores cheeses of all kinds, and will gladly trade her kingdom for a good blue cheese.
Ties that Bind by Lauren McManamon
Rural New Zealand. No bloody reception, patchy wi-fi, and you've gotta' walk half a kilometre just to take a shit. Ashleigh's stuck on house arrest after a botched drug-deal, stuck with her mum who she's been avoiding the past few years and an ankle tag that means she can't run. Which is a problem when the drug dealer she ripped off is coming for her.
Lauren is the co-designer of recent runaway Kickstarter success Girl Underground and Strange Birds, and author of The Final Girl: A Game of Love and Hot Guys Making Out: Sherlock for The Gauntlet's Codex zine amongst others.
If we hit £6,500, we'll commission more art from our interior illustrator Kasha, who'll add a series of their awesome line art illustrations throughout Quietus to enhance the overall mood and texture of the book.
Might Delete Later by Kira Magran
It's been getting closer to you for the past few days, in reflective pools of water, shadows in corners of rooms, crowds of people. Someone staring at you intently, urgently, coldly. That someone is you. Or at least, it looks like you. Is it trying to tell you something? What does it want? Why does it look just like you?
Kira Magrann is a tabletop roleplaying game designer, queer nonbinary cyborg, and snake mom living in Columbus, Ohio. She's known from her Kickstarter inspired by the surreal worlds of David Lynch Something is Wrong Here , has a Patreon where she designs experimental games, a YouTube channel where she talks about game design, and she blogs a few times a month at Gnome Stew. More Seats At The Table is a bi-monthly newsletter she co-curates that features marginalized designers. With the support of her patrons she recently released a game about Lesbisnakes in wintertime titled A Cozy Den. See her body of work here
A Wrecking by Josh Fox
Fifteen years ago you braved stormy seas to claim salvage from the wreck of the Hathersage. Little did you realise that you were observed in the act, and now the one remaining survivor of the wreck has returned to take their revenge on you.
Josh Fox is the award-winning designer of Lovecraftesque and Flotsam: Adrift Amongst the Stars, as well as many smaller games. In his spare time Josh is a smallholder (which is exactly like a hardholder, but smaller), a policy wonk and a parent. Find Josh's stuff at blackarmada.com
Couples Therapy by Grant Howitt
Mallory and Alex both told their therapist everything - anything to get their relationship back on track. The therapist realises how important their family is, and the strength of the bond they've forged, and they're not going to let the couple's petty fears and weaknesses get in the way of a perfect marriage. Even if that means breaking into their house while they're asleep; even if that means threatening to reveal one partner's secrets to another; even if that means severing their connection to the outside world.
Grant is lead writer at Rowan, Rook & Decard - his previous works include Spire, Goblin Quest, One Last Job, Honey Heist, Paranoia, and about twenty-five more games besides. He lives in London with his partner and a rotund ginger tom called the Colonel, and you can find him on Twitter as @gshowitt.
If we hit £14,000, we'll be able to do an offset, lithographic print run and distribution for the hardcover books. This will mean a higher quality of product for all hardcover backers - better print quality, better paper quality - and don't forget that those hardbacks will include all of our currently unlocked stretch goals so will be almost double the size originally planned!
Softcover books will still be printed digitally as the number of pledges at that level doesn't make a full print run feasible. DriveThru's black and white printing is excellent, however, and softcover books will also include all stretch goal scenarios, art and the essay. But - if you were thinking about upgrading to a hardcover, now's an even better time to do it!
At the core level, you'll be funding: more illustrations from Kasha, who'll provide a full page illustration like the one you see above for each flavour-fiction section of the book; full professional editing from Lauren McManamon; helping to recoup the cost of the fabulous art already commissioned from Thuy and Kasha; and cover the cost of printing and postage. In short, you'll be paying to make the best version of the book that we can.
If we make our stretch goals, you'll also be paying for me to commission a series of quick start scenarios from an exciting and diverse group of indie RPG authors from across the industry.
"Having played and run Quietus, I love this game. Horror is my favorite genre of RPG and Quietus brings it in spades. It is cooperative in all the best storytelling ways, creates tensions that leaves beautifully frayed nerves, and reaches a climax that is as satisfying as it is horrifying. It's also so refreshing to have a game that plays for 2 or 3 and can be done in 2 to 3 hours. A real masterpiece of RPG terror!" - Tyler, playtester.
"I spent the whole game on that perfect edge of “NOPE” and “but what happens next?” The setup mechanics do a great job of tailoring the horror to the players while still allowing them to choose what degree of discomfort will be scary in a fun way, and Quietus’ flashback mechanic is the best I’ve seen yet." - Ryan, playtester.
"Quietus expertly captures the feeling of isolation, desperation, and hope. It's chilling, it's anxiety-inducing, and filled with heart-felt, touching moments where you're always wondering: is this it? Is this how we end?" - Lauren, playtester
"I remember the immense sense of dread it evoked ... first only small things that could easily be explained away ... then it got more sinister ... then yes, so much danger, so little time to think ... still some tiny hope to make it in the finale ... but no, a bloody, creepy end. Just what I love in a horror game" - Sabine, playtester.
" Quietus is an intimate and damning experience, where your story unfolds like a dark novel, each page turn bringing you closer to an ending which will leave it's mark on you." - Ferrel, playtester.
Blades in the Dark™ is a trademark of One Seven Design. The Forged in the Dark Logo is © One Seven Design, and is used with permission.
Risks and challenges
This is my first Kickstarter, but I've sought advice from colleagues in the games design industry who've run Kickstarters before. All costs should be covered by the budget of the Kickstarter, and I've focused on paying the people I've commissioned before myself.
To make distribution, printing and logisitics easier, I'll be fulfilling through DriveThru RPG, which allows me to keep my postage costs low because they have multiple printing and warehousing locations.
Quietus has been heavily playtested over a year of development and is ready to go. The book is 90% written: all the rules are there, the only remaining text is examples, clarifications and fiction.
The UK is currently undergoing some political upheaval as the result of Brexit and the resignation of our prime minister. All payments should be received and made before the UK leaves the EU, but fluctuations in the price of the pound are possible and almost all other staff working on the project work outside of the UK. I've allocated a contingency fund in the budget to account for this.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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