A lot of horror stories begin with the protagonists returning to their hometown and end by them confronting the terrible secret lurking there. Think of Stephen King’s IT or the recent movie The World’s End. Wilhelm Person’s storygame Okult uses that very same premise.
Each player in this GM-less storygame plays an adult who has returned to his hometown after many years of being away. Over the course of one game the player characters meet, reminisce about their teenage years (in the form of flashbacks), and slowly uncover the secret of their hometown.
The 36-paged rulebook shines because of Wilhelm Person’s awesome writing and the terrific photos it uses to set the mood of the game. And it’s a joy to read through the extensive game play examples.
What sets Okult apart from most other games I’ve reviewed in the past is that it can be played without a GM, has almost no rules, and uses no dice. It’s a storygame by heart, where the players have full control over the story. The rules give some guidelines how to create your hometown, how to escalate the story towards an exciting and terrifying climax, and how to frame scenes and flashbacks.
Especially if you are new to storygames I recommend giving Okult a look. What I really like about the game is the premise and the great and unpretentious writing. The game is available as Pay-What-You-Want on RPGNow.
A while ago, Obsidian Portal has undergone a massive relaunch. The way the site looks and works has changed tremendously. Earlier this month I have been contacted by the people running Obsidian Portal and was asked if I was interested in reviewing the site. I have played around with Obsidian Portal in the past, but never done anything serious with it, so I decided to use it for releasing my Fallout Fudged rules.
So what does Obsidian Portal offer to its users? On OP you can create a site for your campaigns which features a blog (called Adventure Log), forums, a wiki, a calendar for scheduling game sessions, digital character sheets and many more. Alas the forums and calendar are for paying customers only. And if you don’t pay for OP’s services everything you create is public.
Over the last years Pelgrane Press have become one of my favorite publishers. Their games are written by my favorite game designers, the artwork and production quality is excellent, and they are one of the few publishers which release soundtracks for their games. For some of you the notion of scoring a roleplaying game may sound weird, but for GMs like me – who love to use music during the game sessions – it’s brilliant.
Dust and Mirrors, the soundtrack for Kenneth Hite’s Night’s Black Agents is the latest work of James Semple and his team (Marie-Anne Fischer, Thery Ehrlich, and Chris J Nairn). The album contains 19 tracks with a playtime of about an hour. Like Kenneth Hite’s game, Dust and Mirrors combines two genres almost seamlessly. There are fast and exciting tracks reminiscient of the spy genre and the more dark, brooding and atmospheric tracks that are firmly rooted in the horror genre.
Each track was obviously composed with a certain kind of scene in mind. “The Brief” for example is a slow and peaceful tune that might work well while the players are preparing for their next mission. This is contrasted by tracks like “Heist”, which is much faster, more aggressive, and which makes your heart beat faster. Other tracks like “An Eye for an Eye” are very dark, and almost atmospheric and reminded me a bit of their other work for Esoterrorists and Trail of Cthulhu. Overall Dust and Mirrors contains a wide variety of musical styles, but each of them fit perfectly to the genre-mix that is Night’s Black Agents.
Even though each track fits a certain type of scene Dust and Mirrors can also be played as background music. I actually enjoy the music so much that I even listened to it repeatedly during work. It makes dreary office work so much more exciting and mysterious! Alas the first track called “Night’s Black Agents Theme” is a bit too short. But that’s only a minor quibble. Overall James Semple and team have produced another great soundtrack. I hope that Dust and Mirrors has not been the last album he and his team produced for Pelgrane Press!
The soundtrack is currently available from the official Pelgrane Press store for $15.95 (£9.95) for the MP3 download.