Tag Archives: Monster of the Week

Blackout: The Playbooks

In the previous posts I covered the general premise and the background of Blackout; a Powered by the Apocalypse adventure, a cross between Buffy’s Tabula Rasa and the College of Wizardry.

In this entry I will run through the playbooks I used to run the game, most of which came from Monster of the Week with one originating from Apocalypse World. I will relate each Archetype from the Background and I will link them to the existing playbook they correspond to. For the original playbook I implore you to support Monster of the Week or Apocalypse World. The ratings and terminology used should for the most part correspond to the Monster of the Week rule book. I will continue on to describe what I did differently with these original playsets.

The Mulder: The Flake, Monster of the Week

Muggle: You are unable to cast spells, create potions or perform alchemy due to a lack of magical potential. Your weirdness is a measure of your knowledge of the secret magical world helping you use magical artefacts.

Moves and Ratings remain the same for the Mulder.

What’s in your pockets?

Badge: Detective Sergeant Wasserman

99mm [gun]: 2-harm close loud

Flashlight: 1-harm hand

Flip phone: One unread message:
If you are hearing this message it means they’ve got you again and they have erased your memory, killing a past version of us. The short story is these people are from a secret society of magic users, hiding amongst us. On the most part they seem just like us besides the fact that they can use magic. There seems to be some sort of government and law enforcement agency that aids in keeping their world secret. Their favourite tool to employ on ‘muggles’, (this is what they calls us) are memory altering charms. They change your lives with their power and then they take away our memories of these events.

All you know is that they don’t understand technology very well and their reliance on magic has left them complacent to physical attacks. Get in close remove their wand. Your partner can be trusted. Once you have listened to this message mark it as unread.’

Look:

Man, woman, transgressive, concealed.

Wild eyes, tired eyes, focused eyes, searching eyes, suspicious eyes, wide eyed.

Utilitarian clothing, unkept clothing, neat clothes, comfortable clothes, ruppled suit.

The Scully: The Mundane, Monster of the Week

Muggle: You are unable to cast spells, create potions or perform alchemy due to a lack of magical potential. Your weirdness is a measure of your knowledge of the secret magical world helping you use magical artefacts.

Moves and Ratings remain the same for the Mulder.

What’s in your pockets?

Badge: Detective Sergeant Pavlov

99mm [gun]: 2-harm close loud

Pocket knife: 1-harm hand useful small

Car keys [BMW in fairly good condition]

Look:

Man, woman, transgressive, concealed.

Friendly face, alluring face, laughed-lined face, trust-worthy face, ‘every-man’ face, serious face.

Uniformed, casual clothed, immaculately kept clothing, street clothes, slept-in suit.

The Warden: The Brainer, Apocalypse World

Cloistered: Blessed with magical potential you are able to cast spells, brew potions and perform rituals with roll +Weird. You are unfortunately cloistered from the muggle-world and receive -1 to all rolls when dealing with muggle artefacts. For fast magic you require a wand like all witchards.

The Moves remain mostly the same but are flavoured differently:

  • Casual brain receptivity = Casual leglimancy
  • Deep brain scan = Deep leglimancy
  • Direct-brain whisper projection = Forced entry
  • In-brain puppet strings = Hypnotic eyes

The Warden was also given the Moves:

  • Bottle it up: If you want, you can take up to +3 bonus when you act under pressure. For each +1 you use, the GM holds 1. That can be spent later – one for one – to give you a -1 on any move except act under pressure.
  • Healer: You have a full healer’s kit, and the training to go with it. When you do first aid, roll +Cool. On a 10+ the patient is stabilized and healed for 2 harm. On a 7-9 choose one: heal 2 harm or stabilize the injury. On a miss you cause an extra 1 harm. This move takes the place of regular first aid.

The ratings were also altered to to reflect those of the Monster of the Week format. The Warden was also given one additional Ratings line:

  • Charm =0, Cool +1, Sharp +1, Tough -1, Weird +2

What’s in your pockets?

Identification [edict of legimancy]
Warden Konstantin as part of their duty to uphold the tenants of secrecy is awarded extraordinary means to determine the truth during their investigation. This provides Warden Konstantin the authority to administer truth serums and utilise memory extraction techniques on those thought to be in breach of the tenants or protecting one in breach of the tenants, jeopardising a witcharding Conflux.

This edict is published with the authority of the Warden.

Wand: Range small

Photograph The people in this photograph are moving. It depicts two muggles within a witcharding conflux/conclave dressed in ludicrous attire, one actually appears to be wearing a bath robe.

Veritaserum: small vial potent truth serum

Look:

Man, woman, transgressive, androgynous.

Soft eyes, dead eyes, deep eyes, caring eyes, pale eyes, ruined eyes, wet eyes, scarred eye.

Ministry blue robes, tattered robes, garish robes, impractical robes, leathers.

The Scion: The Spell-slinger, Monster of the Week

Cloistered: Blessed with magical potential you are able to cast spells, brew potions and perform rituals with roll +Weird. You are unfortunately cloistered from the muggle-world and receive -1 to all rolls when dealing with muggle artefacts. For fast magic you require a wand like all witchards.

Combat Magic, Tools and Techniques are ignored for this archetype, it is assumed that the wizard is able to cast magic appropriately.

The Moves remain mostly the same but some are flavoured differently:

  • Advanced Arcane Training = Advanced ritual training
  • Arcane Reputation = Reputation through lineage

The remaining Moves remain the same. As do the Ratings.

What’s in your pockets?

Signet ring: On your finger is a signet ring looking around the room you notice a coat of arms over the mantelpiece that matches the ring. The name Van Maldergem and Quia Divina et Humana Prudential.

Wand: Range small

Pendant: Set in one panel is a small photograph, which includes yourself and someone that looks suspiciously like you. On the opposite panel are the words.
‘Never Forget Avalon’

Look:

Man, woman, transgressive, concealed.

Sly eyes, fierce eyes, weary eyes, sparkling eyes, soft eyes, ancient eyes.

Fashionable robes, ink stained robes, gothic robes, casual slacks.

The Magus: The Montrous, Monster of the Week

Hedge mage: You are an illegal magical practitioner, you did not attend any of the magical colleges and learnt the craft through trial and error. Most die before they come of age, those that do normally dabble in crime, dark magicks or both. They often bear the marks of their unsanctioned experimentation on their person. For fast magic you require a wand like all witchards.

For the Magus; Curses, Natural Attacks, Mental Dominion, Unquenchable Vitality and Incorporeal are ignored.

The Moves remain mostly the same but some are flavoured differently:

  • Immortal = Dorian Grey
  • Unnatural Appeal = Monstrous appeal
  • Unholy strength = Full metal alchemist
  • Preternatural speed = Quicksilver veins
  • Shapeshifter = Animagus

Ratings remain the same for the Magus.

What’s in your pockets:

Wand: Range small

Bag of salt useful

Stick of chalk useful

Vial of viscous crimson liquid useful

Ritual Dagger: 2-harm hand small

This dagger has a living bloodshot eye fashioned into the hilt like a gemstone which follows the holder.

Hand: animated useful

Look:

Man, woman, mysterious, transgressive.

Tattooed face, manic face, scarred face, soft face, aged face, gaunt face, monstrous face.

Archaic robes, tattered robes, singed robes, stylish robes, animal skins, white flowing robe.

Next we will delve into the manor itself.

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Blackout: or How I Stopped Worrying and Love Powered by the Apocalypse

Wednesday night leading into a heatwave we held the fourth Weekly One-shot meetup in the comfort of an air conditioned meeting room. Tonight it was my rotation to host a game. I decided to playtest a home brew adventure of mine I’ve penned as Blackout with those that attend our weekly games.

An adventure for 3-5 players, Blackout would interest players interested in investigating and those who enjoy conflicting agendas between the player characters.

You wake up to find yourselves in chateau, with no memory of who you are or how you got there. As you all try to piece together the events of the previous few hours from things on your person and from the house, you begin to realise that something definitely went wrong. But will you be able to stop this threat before you tear each others throats out?

This year I plan to attend the College of Wizardry LARP in Poland which probably inspired the adventure. Other inspirations include Sir Poley’s Harry Potter and the Natural 20 as well as JK Rowling’s popular Harry Potter series. The themes I wanted to capture in this adventure are heavily inspired by the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Tabula Rasa where the player characters play a mixture of muggles and witchards that find themselves in a strange manor with no memory of their past.

Since the beginning of this year I have been tossing up what system to use. The adventure would be heavily investigative so Trail of Cthulhu came to mind but didn’t quite serve the PVP that might ensue. So I turned to Fate which I have previously used in Potterverse RPGs but figured that Aspects that linked the players may give away too much of the mystery. Finally, I decided to road test Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) even though my adventure goes against the very tenants of the system and improvisation. But I felt that how the playbooks aid quick character development and the Moves really suited the adventure I had planned (also this year has been a bit of a showcase for the PbtA system).

Monster of the Week was the PbtA system of choice, the idea of each ‘episode’ contains a mystery with a monster of the week, which was the driving premise of my adventure. I had a couple of ideas that differed from Monster of the Week that I thought would suit Blackout. The ideas I wanted to experiment with included:

  • Instead of using Cool to Help or Hinder, I planned to use HX much like Apocalypse World but with the difference; instead of HX being determined during character creation a character would gain HX as they learned about another character throughout the adventure. The incentive to learn about your enemies would be just as important as learning about your allies.
  • Character creation would remain much the same the players choosing their Ratings, Appearance and Moves. But each character would also be given items that they find on their own person. These included identification, weapons, or sinister artifacts that aim to give the characters an impression of who they are, provide hooks and raise suspicions between the other characters.
  • The biggest deviation from the PbtA mission statement are the pre-established flags of the adventure.

Alpha Test of Blackout

The adventure was played with 3 players and ran for 3.5 hours. There were enough hooks in the adventure flags that the adventure could be easily played over two sessions, especially with more players.

The HX mechanic I introduced unfortunately was not utilised to enough to truly gauge if it was effective.

The players felt that the most of the Basic and Hunter Moves were appropriate to a Potterverse world but a couple of Hunter Moves just did quite work with the amnesia or a one-shot setting. The hooks that were found on each character were effective, though once again sort of goes against the intent of PbtA.

Overall the players enjoyed the adventure and the hooks. The only thorns from the players was that one didn’t really like investigation games but he said he just made up for it by causing conflict.

Conclusion

I plan to run the adventure again the next time we run a introduction to RPG session. I haven’t decided yet if I will continue to use PbtA or try a different system like Trail of Cthulhu.

Over the next couple of weeks I will post the adventure in segments for those of you who would like to try out the adventure which will start with the background for Blackout.

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