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The Objective
Horrorcraft's goal is to create a rules-light system for Lovecraft-inspired horror atmosphere adventures. Action should encompass a wide scope of possible actions or challenges, and combat should be simple but stressful.


The Core Mechanic
Horrorcraft uses a dice pool mechanic; all rolls are made using varying numbers of six-sided dice. A roll of four or five is a success, and a six is a critical success, which counts as three sucesses. If a certain target number of successes is met, a roll is successful. In addition, critical successes will often have extra effects based on the situation. Advantageous situations reward the character with bonus dice, and disadvantageous situations penalize them with fewer dice.


Opposed Rolls
If two entities are in opposition, both roll a dice pool, and whoever gets more successes wins. In the event of a tie, the contest ends in a tie. If a tie makes no sense in the context of the contest, the winner is determined randomly.


Skills
When doing something in which the character has no training, they have a pool or 3 dice (0 to 9 successes, average of 2.5). A character, however, can have any number of skills, represented by a field (athletics, interrogation, lockpicking, revolvers) and a number 4 or higher representing the size of ther dice pool when performing actions related to that field.


Injury and Madness
Players have two gauges: Injury, which tracks their physical health, and Madness, which tracks their mental health. Both begin at 1, and monsters can make attacks to harm either one. If a monster physically attacks a player, then for each succcess they get, the victim gains one tick towards increasing their Injury level. Once the number of ticks equals the current Injury score, those ticks are discarded and Injury increases by one. For example, if a character has 2 injury and an enemy gets 3 successes on an attack against them, then they would accrue 3 Injury ticks - the first 2 would then be discarded as Injury increases to 3, and they'd be left with 3 Injury and 1 tick left over. Another 2 ticks of injury would bring them up to 4. When something would cause injury, the player can reduce the number of ticks by using the Toughness skill - in the above example, the character would roll Toughness to resist the damage - if they got 2 successes, they would only gain 1 tick of Injury.

Every time Injury increases, the player must make an Injury Roll, using a dice pool the size of their current Injury level. If they get at least three successes, they'll suffer from some sort of injury effect, such as being knocked to the ground or dazed. If they get six successes, they suffer a more severe effect, such as a broken limb. Nine successes means the character is completely incapacitated and dying. Twelve successes means the character is killed instantly. If a character already has two injuries of the severity rolled, they instead get one from the next level up.

Madness works the same way. When a character sees a frightening event or creature, they accrue a number of Madness ticks, which accumulate the same way as Injury, and are resisted using the Sanity skill. Whenever Madness increases, then a Madness Roll happens, with successes building towards insanity effects. Three successes on a Madness Roll will cause a minor effect, such as being frozen to the spot in fear for a moment, or laughing uncontrollably. Six successes will cause a more debilitating effect, such as vivid hallucination. Nine successes will leave the character completely incapacitated with insanity. Twelve successes mean the character is driven to suicide or a permanent vegetable state.

The main difference between Madness and Injury is that there are advantages to having a high Madness. When attempting to understand something about madness-inducing horrible creatures or the world beyond, a character can use Madness as a skill pool.


Combat
Combas is, for the most part, a series of skill rolls or opposed rolls against enemies. When attacking a monster, roll a pertinent skill pool, and successes equate to damage dealt to the creature - a monster's Health translates directly to the number of sucesses needed to kill it. Weapons increase the damage inflicted, as long as at least one success gets through the enemy's defense - for example, if I have a +2 damage weapon, and roll 3 successes, and the enemy rolls 1 success on defense, then the final damage inflicted wlil be 4.

Critical hits will cause special effects, possibly depending on the creature and the weapon. These bonuses probably result in bonus dice when attacking the injured creature. Sturdier creatures may have the Toughness skill, allowing them to resist successes from player attacks.

Gunplay is a tradeoff of attack power and economy. In a single action, a character with a revolver can make two or three shots, or a single shot with bonus dice. The total damage will be higher with the multiple shots, but you'll also run out of ammo faster and have to reload more often.

When you see a monster for the first time, it makes a fear attack against the player, rolling some number of dice to cause Madness damage to the person who saw it. Some greater creatures, such as elder gods, are so horrifying that they can continue to make fear attacks every turn.

Monsters are primarily differentiated by their special attacks, characterized by special effects they inflict if you get rits on an Injury Roll caused by them, overriding the usual injury tables. They might poison the player, causing ticks of damage over time, or grab onto them, initiating a close-range grapple, or unleash a piercing shriek to damage the victim's sanity as well as their health.


Character Building and Advancement
Characters are quite simple to build - the character consists of a background and a set of skills. Beyond that, the only things that need tracking are Injury and Madness.

A character starts with a pool of XP that is used to purchase skills. To get a skill at 4 dice costs 3 XP - after thaat, the cost of increasing the skill further is the current number of dice in the skill pool - 4 XP to raise it to 5 dice, 5 to raise it to 6 dice, and so on. A character can get more starting EXP by taking flaws, which drop them to 1 die in certain situations.


Difficulty Adjustment
Not everyone wants the same game - someone might want Resident Evil 4 (mostly action with horror elements) while someone else might want Silent Hill (psychological horror with some action elements). It's simple enough to handle this - if you want to de-emphasize one side of the danger off the setting, add 2 to the number of ticks required to increase the related gauge. So in a more action-heavy game, it would take 6 ticks to increase Madness from 4 to 5 instead of 4 ticks.


Thoughts? If I fleshed the details out more, who would be interested in playing a one-shot of it some time?

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July 2017

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