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Tuesday, 25 December 2018

OSR Game Mashups: What would it be like?

A while back I wrote up a tiny table for shit and giggles, where two OSR-related games are mashed up. For fun I tried to flesh some of them out a little bit in trying to imagine what it might be like in term of setting and adventures:

  • Flying Swordsmen + Stars Without Numbers: The Great Empire Under Heaven span all known space and maybe beyond. It is a large empire, where the rule of law, order and bureaucracy is supposedly adamant. However beneath this world of workers, peasants and magistrates is one of swordsmen, mercenaries, martial artists and demons. Basically, space Wuxia with maybe a dash of cyberpunk and transhumanism or space wuxia with space fantasy elements via the Codex of the Black Sun. Every single Wuxia cliche and tropes exist and is cranked to eleven but in a world of spaceships and super science flavored around Taoist and Buddhist principles.
  • Godbound + Spears Of The Dawn: Depending how you play it, you could simply take the 'fantasy faux Africa' style of Spears (the same way D&D is implied to be 'fantasy faux Europe') and apply it to Godbound's own setting, meaning the Three Lands are actually a distant Realm to Arcem. More interestingly I would say one should play off the African fantasy and mythology aspect but crank it to epic levels using the Godbound rules in the setting of Spears rather than importing the setting of Spears into Godbound's own world.
  • Flying Swordsmen + Mutant Future/Gamma World: Another Wuxia one, but rather than being set in ancient China or a future analogue it is set in a post-apocalyptic, mutation-ridden post-WW3 China. The lawless lands are a breeding ground for bandits but new martial art schools and sects are formed to compete and bring order. Like Fist of the North Star but in China with mutants.
  • Mazes & Minotaurs (and Vikings & Valkyries) + Spears Of The Dawn: Ancient world massive crossover shenanigans where 'all myths are true': assemble an army of adventures from all the continents as you travel the world. Historically accuracy be damned.
  • Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea + Carcosa: Your mighty-thewed barbarian and amazon huntress found this strange portal in the 'Caves of Zur Gartsar' and next thing you know you are on a faraway alien world. Could be a whole campaign or a single adventure side-trek.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Rambles: Monsters were never meant to represent 'people'

A repost of something I rambled off on MeWe:

"My understanding of 'fantasy monsters' at their most basic is that they represent the impersonal forces of destruction of early human lives (animal, disasters and diseases) made into a coherent and physical, yet beatable form. Not that they represent 'the other'. Barring those cases of folklore/mythology mixed with potentially historical events, mind you.

To me this is the mythological root of 'the monster'. Something you normally cannot fight again is made manifest and physical for the hero to triumph over and, maybe, in the process tell a cool story around a campfire. That monsters exist in the myth of highly insular people, all over the world, seem to show the very concept of them is something deeply rooted in the human psyche. That and, of course, fear of the dark and the unknown. Of what lies beyond the light and warmth of the fire of civilization be it a simple tribe or a burgeoning nation.

Why do you think even young children in this day and age worry about monsters in the dark? It's the primal fear of what cannot be known nor controlled."

Mecha Hack: The Gundam Plot-O-Matic

What's that, want to run a Gundam (or Gundam-esque) mecha game but don't feel like reading and watching through metric tons of contradictory and over bloated canon? Want to create your own Gundam timeline? I've got you covered.

And that one is grossly outdated, too!

War: What is it good for?*

The first thing any Gundam timeline need is war. As much as the show love to rag on and on about the horror and futility of war there is no denying that war with giant robots is cool. If it wasn't the show wouldn't be such of a media juggernaut. Thus, armed conflicts (via Mobile Suits) plays a very central role in Gundam as a whole.
*Model Kit sales, obviously.

Here's a few scenarios which have been repeated here and there in the franchise. They generally form a good starting point for any game, especially if one take time to play around with enough elements present in the main inspiration to make it distinct.
D12
Plot Type
1-5
Earth vs Space
6-7
Remnants vs Regime
8
Invaders From Beyond
9
The War For Outer Space
10
After War
11
War For Earth
12
The New Era


Earth Versus Space

This is the most iconic Gundam scenario and is the one found in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam Wing and to a certain extent somewhat in Zeta, ZZ and even maybe Turn A. In this one, the driving force are the tensions between the Earth and the Earth sphere: namely the space colonies floating around it and possibly the moon. The point is that the people living up in space are fed up with the Earth's government. What happen next depend on which side one intend to make more gray: if it's the Earth that is of a lighter grey, then it might be corrupt but it's people are ultimately good and plucky heroes who find themselves thrown into the prototype's cockpit. If the Earth is the one chosen as antagonist, then they are invariably ruled by truly corrupt and despicable individuals and the space colonies find themselves with no other choice but to take their freedom by force.
  • Key Elements: Corrupt Governments, Colony Drops, Mobile Suit emerging to change the war, Kid Heroes, Space Nazi-Communist-whatever with fancy uniforms.
  • Major Setting Decisions: Which side is evil?
  • Examples: Mobile Suit Gundam (the original), Gundam Wing, Gundam SEED and parts of Zeta and ZZ.


Remnants vs Regime

This one is usually more found in settings which saw the first scenario: in this one, the big war which change the world already happened in the past. How far in the past and how big the war is one decision which will decide the overall tone. The later elements of the Universal Century are good example of this, with Zeon Remnants and Neo-Zeon popping up from under every rock to resume their war. One key element of this setup is that one side generally has the major advantage of more established infrastructure. Another decision is to choose if Mobile Suit existed in the previous war of if the emergence of Mobile Suits is what the Remnants intend to use to turn the tide. If the Remnants are the 'good guys' then it is likely the current regime is corrupt.
  • Key Elements: Grudges, Past Tragedies, Familial Ties and War Veterans.
  • Major Setting Decisions: How far past the war? Did Mobile Suit exist before?
  • Examples: Anything Universal Century from Zeta to Unicorn.

Invaders From Beyond

In this scenario, the Earth Sphere is being invaded by outsiders: not proper aliens, but rather people which are more clearly isolated from those around the Earth. They likely are descendant of colonist from Mars, Jupiter or Venus. The key element here being is that they are, at least by the scale Gundam usually operate, outsiders. While space travel to and from Earth and Space Colonies is generally a rather casual thing, going to Mars or Jupiter take more time. These are more isolated societies. As Earth's power wane, the sentiment of 'manifest destiny' of these outsiders  grow. This setting option allows for some more interesting locale as it see the other planets opening up for action.
  • Key Elements: More developed space travel, Exotic Locales, The Splintering of Humanity
  • Major Setting Decision: Where do these invaders come from?
  • Examples: Gundam F91 and it's spinoff as well as Victory Gundam. Gundam AGE. Martian Successor Nadesico (not a Gundam show but still relevant).

The War For Outer Space

This is one I thought of which hasn't really been touched up much on Gundam beyond Late Universal Century and some bits and pieces of Iron-Blooded Orphans. In this scenario, the outer planets are the new frontier, the new Wild West. Humans being human they begin fighting over the richest locales and the best settlements. Greed and the difficulties of cooperation are part of human nature, they say. One possible origin for Mobile Suits, if they are new, is that they are an outgrowth of exploration and construction technology.
  • Key Elements: Deep Space Colonization, Exploration and the waning of the Earth's relevance.
  • Major Setting Decisions: How many factions? Is Earth even important in this story?
  • Examples: Not really any canonical stories. For a non-Gundam example, parts of Exo-Squad.

After War

Named after the timeline of Gundam X, this one is fairly obvious: in this scenario 'the War' was a long time ago. It could be roughly a generation to whole decades and could be combined with 'The War for Outer Space' if parts of humanity moved on away from their war-torn home world and now-broke cradle. Mobile Suit technology was definitely already developed long before the game started and it is quite likely that for the first half of the game the players and others have to constantly salvage pieces from leftovers of the war.
  • Key Element: Post apocalyptic landscape, ruins, a renewed sense of hope for the new generation. Abandoned Mobile Suits and lost technologies.
  • Major Setting Decisions: How post apocalyptic is it? Has it gone full Mad Max or did it just wipe out a massive % of the population but society survived?
  • Examples: After War Gundam X, Turn A Gundam and MS Saga.

War For Earth

In this scenario, the focus is somewhat more removed from the space colonies and brought back to Earth. Perhaps their role is less important or perhaps this is combined with another scenario to explain that, as sovereign nations, the Space colonies have little to no desire to get involved in a war between Earthmen. This is an example which, again, somewhat diverge from most official Gundam works unless combined with another.
  • Key Element: A recognizable world. Possibly recognizable countries. If combined with another scenario, combine both Key Elements.
  • Major Setting Decisions: Why is the war centered on Earth: is it because Space Colonies are less important to the setting, because they refused to get involved or because this is simple the Earth theater of a larger war?
  • Examples: Gundam 00. Gundam the 08th MS Team (for an example of Earth-focused action in the scope of a larger war).

The New Era

Maybe all the previous scenarios already happened but that was centuries ago. In this setup, mankind has long suffered space wars, left for the outer planets or even left the solar system. The current year is that of a new calendar back on Earth and the still-floating colonies. History has become myth. This is less of a plot and more of a setup so, perhaps, one should reroll the table and combine.
  • Key Element: A long history most likely poorly remembered.
  • Major Setting Decisions: How different is society? Does Earth retain contact with the deep space colonist? Have Mobile Suit been forgotten? Is this an era of peace that some fools intend to destroy for petty reasons?
  • Examples: Gundam Reconguista in G and Gaia Gear. Gundam G Savior.

Spicing And Shaking It Up

Now you have your general idea for a setting, so it is time to both add and remove some key and/or expected elements of the setting to make it somewhat more unique.


D8
Removed Or Added Element
1
Transhumanism: Tackled on mainly with SEED and 00 but it’s always been here and there, just never truly expanded to anything satisfactory. Transhumanism and its ramifications may be the very catalyst for the war or it could be about how science can be abused for war.
2
Artificial Intelligence: It’s always been hinted at here and there with plot-convenient super computers and the Mobile Dolls of Gundam Wing but drone warfare is increasingly a reality in our world: what would it do to the mecha formula?
3
Religious War: A really, really subject (a fact which I am all too aware!) but what if these ideas about ‘Newtypes’ and other posthuman ideas were taken to a religious direction? How does the Earth sphere deal with a rise of far-out beliefs? What if the not!Zeon revel more in the religious imagery than being faux space nazis?
4
Third Faction: Most Gundam shows have only two major factions, so why not make the war a Threesome with potentially constantly-shifting allegiances?
5
Super Prototypes: What if every mobile suit, at least initially is an ISO Standard model fresh off the factory? What if the special prototype isn’t blatantly more powerful and simply has a slight edge which the enemy faction can close in time?
6
Newtypes and Others: What if there are only regular humans and no superhuman with odd powers which also make them excellent pilots? What if being an ace pilot really come down to pure skill?
7
Beam Weapons for Mobile Suits: Here there is no miniaturisation of beam technology. The big, devastating lasers are limited to suitably large spaceship and Mobile Suit have to make do with solid projectiles and purely physical weapons.
8
Char Clone: There is no Char Clone. Be original with your enemy aces, you lazy fuck!


Saturday, 8 December 2018

Random World Part 9: Rock-People hate you!

Back to some more locations, this time with another area full of monsters organized and ready to murder you, your friends and family. Only this time they're made of rock and can (sometimes) fly.

East of Cryham

It sucks to be in Cryham, in part because the area has a bit of uncanny position of being close to not one but two wastelands of magical bullshit, with only a comparatively small countryside of verdant landscape. Anything else which is fertile is down south and the further you go south the further you go into the jungle.

The Desolation of Taani

Blendowska Desert, Poland
There are two contradictory origins to the Desolation of Taani: one which state that it always was a dry land, flat and rough and born from the mountain cutting the rain's path. The other origin state that this land is one born of human greed. Mythology says that once, mountains which existed between the world of mortal and spirits existed in these lands but 'man grew greedy' and tore down these mountains to the last stone.

  • A harsh, dry rocky desert. Not the most lovely of places but it has life of it's own nonetheless. It is comparable to a mixture of the various European desert climates.
  • Inhabited by a variety of people, some whose ancestors stretch back to primordial times. Other descend from invaders who assimilated into the people they conquered.
  • What little stone still exist consist of horrific, jagged hills where some say restless spirits dwell.
  • People trade what they can with Cryham. Many adventurers journey into the dry lands in hope of finding the entrance to forgotten, subterranean temples or pathways into the spirit world where, maybe, mountains still exist. Practical people hold they just get eaten by wild dogs and giant vultures.
  • There are nomadic dwarven clans. They are traders and distrusted.
  • The people there are at war with the gargoyles.

The Citadel of the Gargoyle Warlord


Stone Citadel by Adrián García.
He is the progenitor of the Gargoyles, some say: one of the oldest spirits of the earth crying out for vengeance against man's greed. Others say he was a sorcerer, once human, now cursed in a prison of stone flesh. Others yet say the Gargoyle warlord is but a title passed on from one monster to another. Either way, in the wilderness rise horrific eldritch spires and the ground splinter to lead into endless, subterranean chasms.
  • An area inhabited by horrible monsters with stone flesh called gargoyles.
  • The ruler of the area is the Gargoyle Warlord. He is very much a stereotypical 'dark lord' in many aspects, horrific and hidden behind armor and/or a massive black cloak and raising armies of monsters slavishly loyal to him.
  • Gargoyles claim the are merely avenging past crimes but anyone who see them raid and destroy believe this to just be excuses.
  • These creatures capture humans to be their slaves. Disturbingly a few ambitious would-be warlords are not above allying with these monsters.
  • The Converts of Stone are humans who worship the gargoyles and seek to emulate them, using alchemical and magical process to turn both their flesh and hearts to stone.
  • They are currently planning to invade the region of the Jungle of Spears called the Illaronga Jungle.

Gargoyles

Born of stone and hate, Gargoyles are monsters with a bitter and cold heart. They do not feel much of anything, safe perhaps hatred. How much of it is justified is up for debate, as many believe the myth of the Gargoyle's creation is a lie perpetrated by the Warlord. Some even believe he was an accident, a malformed and mutated element of stone who somehow tricked other elementals to follow his wicked ways and shape.
  • Gargoyles are a form of elemental and have a body made of rock.
  • They have monstrous forms but most are roughly humanoid. There are non-humanoid gargoyles.
  • The flying Gargoyles form an upper class to both their society and military purely on the basis they have the most mobility and are as such the most efficient raiders.
  • There are (supposedly) Gargoyles with more unusual abilities such as being able to transform into dust devils, vomit lightning or acid or even regenerating.
  • Gargoyles should be played off as a cross between an evil minion to the dark lord and an mid-'90 White Wolf splat angrily lashing out at perceived wrongness. They are brainwashed minions of a zealot.




Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Monsters of Magic The Gathering: Sliver (Basic Fantasy)

This is partially based off the work of Daniel Nnorth on the 'Shrill', which are a conversion of Slivers for D&D 5e which can be found here.

Purebred Sliver by John Stone.

Sliver Biology

Sliver are a communal, hive-based swarm of...things. Calling them insectoids is not entirely accurate, as the classic Sliver body shape combine traits of arthropods, lizards and snakes. They have a large plated head, (usually) one or two limbs which (usually) end in a blade and a bifurcating tail which compose most of their body length. There are exceptions, however, as later Sliver breed appear to have evolved into new shapes. Sliver are creatures which are entirely based on adaptation and addition: each Sliver's mutations are shared with nearby Slivers, making the overall brood stronger. Large concentrations of Sliver turn an otherwise dangerous but mostly manageable beast into a swarm of horrific monsters with razor-sharp talons, flight, regeneration and acid spit among many other abilities. 

The Sliver stats listed here are mainly for Basic Fantasy but conversion to similar systems should be fairly easy. Sliver statlines are based on their overall bulk, which inform their Hit Dice and thus overall combat potency. Each Sliver usually has a single ability shared among those it is encountered with but not every Sliver in a pack has an ability which is useful in combat. Fortunately. Sliver are graded ranging from the newborn Broodlings, which are larval Sliver to the Lesser and Drones to the Warriors. The Large Sliver tend to be those rare few breeds notable for their sheer size and bulk and they share such growth with their allies in time of need.

Stats
Broodling
Lesser
Drone
Warrior
Large
AC
11
12
13
14
15
HD
1
2
3
4
5
No. Attacks
1 Claw
1 Claw
1 Claw
1 Claw
1 Claw
Damage
1d4
1d6
1d6
1d6+1
1d6+2
Movement
40’ Scuttle
40’ Scuttle
40’ Scuttle
40’ Scuttle
30’ Scuttle
Save As
Fighter 1
Fighter 2
Fighter 3
Fighter 4
Fighter 5
Morale
11
11
11
11
11
XP
49 XP
125 XP
205 XP
320 XP450 XP
All Slivers have the innate capacity to share their special ability to any Sliver within 60'. This radius increase to 'plot convenience' when inside a hive/nest or when the Sliver assemble in a force large enough to qualify for some suitable system of Mass Combat, whichever you are using.

Sliver Encounter Table
Type
Wild
Small Nest
Large Nest
Hive
Broodling
0%
50% 1d4, 50% 2d4
3d4
6d4
Lesser
2d4+1 Ability
3d4+1 Ability
4d4+1 Ability
5d4+2 Ability
Drone
10% 1 Ability
50 % 1d4+1 Ability
1d6+1 Ability
1d8+1 Ability
Warrior
5% 1 Ability
15% 1 Abiliy
30% 1 Ability
60% 1d4+1 Ability
Large
1% 1 Ability
2% 1 Ability
4% 1 Ability
8% 1 Ability

The Hive Stir and hungers...

Hive Stirring by Johann Bodin
The Sliver Hives are myriad in the forms of abominations they can spawn as the ravenous Slivers constantly adapt, mutate and refine themselves. The following abominations have been known to exist and to grant these special abilities:
  • Muscle, Predatory and Sinew Sliver (Lesser): Usually a single one of these exist within a specific Hive and they represent an overall increase to Sliver combat potency as they share their enhanced vigor. These Slivers grant to others +1 to hit and damage.
  • Armor Sliver (Lesser): These Slivers have extended, almost metallic armor. They give to other Slivers the ability to ignore 1 point of damage from each attack they receive.
  • Battering Sliver (Warrior): Battering Slivers are living siege engines who give all other Slivers a burrowing speed equal to their land movement speed.
  • Diffusion Sliver (Warrior): These Slivers dispel the energy of spells targeted at them and other Slivers, giving all Slivers the ability to pass a Spell Saving Throw on an 8+ irrelevant of HD.
  • Fury Sliver (Drone): These energetic and vicious Slivers give all other Sliver have a second Claw attack.
  • Flying and Galerider Sliver (Lesser): These creatures have the fairly self-explanatory gift of giving Slivers a flight speed equal to their land movement speed.
  • Meganthic Sliver (Large): Towering monstrosities who grant Slivers +1 to hit, damage and AC.
  • Reflex Sliver (Warrior): These Slivers grant enhanced metabolism and reflexes, giving all Slivers the ability to pass a Dragon Breath Saving Throw on an 8+ irrelevant of HD.
  • Spitting Sliver (Warrior): These Slivers have the ability to spit stream of biological acid, granting to other Slivers an extra attack in the form of a spit which deal 1d8 damage.
  • Talon Sliver (Lesser): These Slivers share their lengthened talons, increasing the damage die of all Slivers by one category.
Of course these do take some creative liberties with the original game material while others are some new creations. Slivers are infinite in shapes and functions, so get crazy!

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Godbound+Red Tide: Crossover Ideas

Both the game Godbound and the Labyrinth Lord setting Red Tide (found in the book of the same name and as the default setting to the stand-alone game Scarlet Heroes) were made by Kevin Crawford. Not only do they share a certain amount of aesthetic and thematic similarities but they also very much exist under the same core game system, making combining the two quite easy.

Take One: Epic Red Tide

In this version, the default setting and cosmology is that of Red Tide. It's history is true and a proven facy and there is no war for the Throne nor are there Made Gods or any of the setting elements of Godbound which relate to that game's backstory. In fact, the 'Godbound' themselves don't even really exist and rather are used as a loose approximation of high power characters. One could use mortal heroes or, perhaps more fittingly, could use rules akin to that of the 'Lesser Godbound' to represent the mightiest individuals of the Isles. This method is the simplest but, arguably, the most boring.

Take Two: Godbound in the Red Tide Universe

In this version, the previous assumption hold true same for one: the cosmic cataclysm which has affected the world of Red Tide has brought divine powers to the brink of desperation. In order to save their world, the Gods (both the pantheon of the Nine Immortals and other deities) agree to essentially commit a form of ritualistic suicide/self destruction. This will, initially, begin by causing a weakening of Divine Magic. In the short term there will be confusion. In the long term, mortals will be reborn as God-like beings (the Godbound), able to wield divine power in the material world and possibly slowly help repel the Red Tide.

Take Three: Red Tide in Godbound

In this version, the Red Tide setting is the future of the Godbound universe. The world which existed before the Tide consumed it is, in truth, a rather large and stable Realm. Or, rather, it was one until the Tide came to devour it: as it turns out, the Tide is very much a semi-sentient phenomena which hold it's origins in the Uncreated Night. This version does require you to rework quite a few bits of Red Tide lore so here are a few ideas:
  • In this version, the line between Arcane and Divine magic (meaning, Magic-Users and Clerics) is vastly more blurred and more likely down to cultural conventions.
  • That said, the Gods do exist: they are ancient beings of divine potential who underwent a form of abstract apotheosis in order to stabilize their Realm. Prayer-derived magic is the result of passing down their teachings, which are actually complex systems which allow the teaching of Low Magic and Theurgy.
  • The Angels (renamed Celestials or Daeva, as Godbound's Angels are something else entirely), the Devils (or Asura) and other celestial beings are created by the abstract thoughts of the incorporeal Gods.
  • Devils and the Hell-Kings are also Divine, just of a very different nature and persuasion. They hunger for souls to sustain their existence.
  • Dwarves are degenerated and altered descendants of the slaves of some ravenous, underground Parasite Goddess. The deeper one dug into the world, the less stable it became and in ancient time a woman fell down a cave. She was changed and, in isolation from the outside world the Mother Below had centuries if not more to grow in power. Of course, being a Parasite Goddess she remained trapped within her domain, unable to ever return to the surface.
  • Elves are the result of rediscovered and long-lost theotechnical soul-modification.
  • Halflings likely have an origin of some distant relation to the other human-like races but what that history is remain vague.
  • The Shou's origin is mostly unchanged: they are still magical transhumans. If anything, their origin ties into Godbound even better than everyone else. Shakun might have been a powerful Made God who ruled his own realm.
  • Tidespawns are very much a type of Uncreated.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Silent Legions+Tokusatsu Game Concept

An oddball game concept, because these tend to be what I produce. Blending genres and drawing from inspirations generally not found among OSR blogs is slowly becoming my 'calling card'.

The Masked Warrior: Who Is He? Man or Monster?

Picture this scene: A mother's personal life is in tatters: her daughter has been increasingly dragged into dark matters which can only be described as a 'cult'. Fearing for her daughter's life, this ordinary woman one day decide to tail her child and single-handedly sneak up on the cult and observe their activities, perhaps hoping to snap some pictures and drag in the local authorities. An act of heroism, arguably, but it's a stupid idea. As she observe the hooded figures, trying to see which one is her child, a horrible monster emerge from the shadows and attacks her for daring to observe the cult. She's going to die.

Angrey, from Garo.

Out of the darkness, another monster emerge and takes the blow for her. Before she can even ask what is going on, the 'monster' speaks up and barks at her to leave if she wants to live. Terrified, the woman runs away but ultimately curiosity makes her look from a distance as the two monsters fight. Finally, her savior destroy the creature (which become an ordinary human in the same black cloaks as the cultists) and then...collapse in pain before he too revert into an ordinary person in horrible pain, which struggles to get back up, body and mind shattered by the eldritch powers they were currently a host to. Just what the hell happened?

Game Pitch

Main Inspirations: Devilman, Guyver, Kamen Rider Kuuga, Kamen Rider Agito, Kamen Rider Amazons and the Garo franchise
The idea itself is very similar to ordinary Silent Legions, albeit a bit more combat-focused. Not that it mean combat will be a piece of cake. Far from it. Not only do the characters have to contend with the horror outside, they also have to deal with the horror within.

There's been an upsurge in eldritch phenomena and murders in recent years around the area where the game is set. That area could be anywhere with enough people but personally I do think using Tokyo in the recent past is a good idea: for one thing, Japan allows one to more properly homage the key inspirations and also has the added bonus of limiting access to guns a whole lot more than setting the game in the United States*. The near past (from the '70 to the early 2000, depending on your flavor and how much research you want to do) has an added bonus that smartphones and social medias aren't a thing yet, limiting exposure of the eldritch as well as making finding information harder.

*This isn't me lecturing on gun control. I have no particular stance on it as it related to American politics, not being American, I'm simply stating that Japan has far more draconian gun laws which make getting your hands on a gun able to make holes in a monster far more difficult unless you're willing to deal with the Yakuza. Which is convenient for a horror game.

They could be parasite, they could be mimicking humans or they could be themselves transformed human. Or they could be all at once and also nothing like that at the same time. Whatever the case is, an ancient race (or a collection of races) of eldritch beings has arisen in the area. They prey on humans, be it their minds, flesh or sanity. They are forming cults, horrible cults which commit endless atrocities. There is a good chance they are preparing for an incoming eldritch apocalypse, possible the awakening of ancient and vile, thirsting gods. All hope is likely lost.

Another Agito

A hero emerges? Yeah, right, good luck...

Not all hope is lost. Somehow (depending on the needs of the game, this could happen mid-game even!) there exist ancient, petrified artifacts of some lost order of antediluvian warriors, human or not, who fought back against the darkness before the dawn of recorded history. They did not win but the eldritch horrors left mankind (mostly) alone for millennia after their battle. Now that the ancient beings are rising again there is hope, if people are brave enough to wield this ancient power.

Except it's not a walk in the park.

Oh sure, you get to be what people call a 'henshin hero': you transform into a super powered form able to go toe to toe with eldritch monstrosities. Unfortunately, the downsides is that it mean you are yourself now an eldritch monster. The process is painful, maddening and will eventually kill you if it doesn't make you go mad.

How it all works, in theory anyway...

Here's some bullet points on how the idea for such a game would work:
  • The monsters are scary in a realistic way. What I mean by that is that when these bastards start butchering people there is no PG or PG-13 violence. These are monsters who can chow down the average human like it's nothing.
  • The transformation is limited. Ideally, the artifact which allow humans to temporarily transform into horrible monsters themselves should be limited, maybe 1 or maximum 2 in the entire game. Furthermore, the amount of time one can spend transformed is measured in mere rounds with a serious cool down time.
  • The transformation is horrific and dangerous. The ancient humans (or whatever they were) fought fire with fire and using these artifacts make you some horrible monsters which is likely to terrify people. Furthermore, using it too much and for too long will guarantee you go insane and become a monster.
  • Expect to pass on the powers several times. When the current wielder goes insane/die, the artifact become usable by someone else, who can now pick up the mantle and go into battle by turning into a monster. It is likely many characters can and will die and the players have to replace their ranks, possibly even having to hunt down strong-willed individuals to rope up or even force into their desperate crusade by shoving them the transformation trinket and not telling them the side-effects.
  • Those wielding the power will degenerate. There's pain, madness and a whole lot of problems. There should be some kind of corruption table. In other words, whichever character (PC or NPC) currently wielding the artifact is a dead man (or woman) walking who is buying humanity a bit more time.
  • The powers become more terrifying as they are used. There should be a power growth for the artifact's transformed state the more it is used by individuals not killed in the first or second use. This power growth is a terrifying thing. At first they just gain some measure of super strength, toughness and agility but then they might find there are more sanity-warping abilities. And what if one of them goes rogue?
  • Those who are ordinary humans are still useful, if not more! Just because your character isn't wielding the doomed artifact doesn't mean they sit on their asses. Being a slightly-more-sane investigator who doesn't have to deal with eldritch degeneration mean you can perform the expected investigator duties, finding and exposing monsters and cults.
The rest can and should be fairly standard Silent Legions fare, believe it or not. The rest depend if the group the player characters belong to is an impromptu one of loosely allied ordinary people who have agreed to fight the horror in the shadow, sacrificing one of them to become that thing. Alternatively they could be some cult themselves, amusingly enough. Just one with slightly more benevolent goals. Maybe.

Additional threats would be law enforcement. Sure, on paper having the cops on your side seems good but then there's the issue that your merry band of 'heroes' is killing cultists and transformed human and doing shady activities to possibly stay afloat. Of course, there is also a good chance the cops have some monsters in their ranks and don't even realize it, which could go a long way to explain how so many of these newborn cults have evaded the authorities even as they go kidnapping and murdering people.

Of course there is a good chance the 'masquerade' gets utterly broken. This is normal and even to be expected, but it will also mean mass hysteria and people murdering each others as they try to expose who is and isn't actually a monsters/a human turned into a monster.

Thoughts? Is there any potential in the idea or is it dumb?