One of the things I’ve wanted to try for a while is a game of Dead of Night where the victims are all monsters – or at least have access to Monstrous Specialisations (aka cool powers). I know Scott has tried this a few times, so I hope he’ll pop up in the comments to talk about his experiences, but I’ve only ever tried it a couple of times in the past, and never with the whole group.

The idea I had was to run a game inspired by the Craft or the Covenant – you know the schtick, a group of teenagers mess around at playing witches, end up summoning something bad and getting into trouble. I wanted to run that game, with the players all as witches with supernatural powers, running from something worse.

So at Furnace the other weekend I ran Salford’s Lot (I’ve got an actual play report of the game in the works so keep an eye out for that), which posited the victims as members of an amateur cabal out to cause trouble of an evening. I had the group create their own characters as normal – complete with complex relationships (I’ve got a post brewing about this too) – but gave them the option to take Sorcery as a power. In game I treated it as any other specialisation but with a vastly expanded remit, albeit at a price to use – a survival point per attempt.

This worked rather well, albeit rather painfully for Elaine’s character, who ended up nearly burning herself out trying to hex the witch hunter during the climax. This was pretty much what monsters did in 1st edition – burn through survival points trying to use their cool powers – but I didn’t find it such a problem for a player to have to endure as it limited their supernatural nature to when it mattered.

I’d like to try it another way next time, perhaps actually throwing open the Monstrous Specialisations section (p73 of Dead of Night 2nd ed) to the players, or else inflicting a price of some sort – perhaps like a Bad Habit. What do people think?

And while I’m on the subject of Dead of Night – don’t forget the PDF is only $5 over at RPGNow until Monday.

  1. Scott Dorward says:

    As you mentioned, I’ve run a few games with monstrous characters, and most of the time I’ve done it much as you’ve described, with a Survival Point required to use the ability. The other two variations of this I’ve used are:

    1) In Kiss of the Maker, the characters were subject to uncontrollable and random mutations, I didn’t charge any SPs to use the Specialisations the mutations provided. The characters were picking up a new mutation, drawn from a random pile, every time they spent a Survival Point anyway (there was the usual rule in play about paying for Specialisations by dropping the values of stats, and if a stat hit zero, the character mutated beyond all trace of humanity). Also, the game was designed to be gonzo, so it made sense to allow free and regular use of these powers.

    2) I’ve run a few Urban Fantasy games using a tweak for magical powers. If a power is defined as magical (e.g. Fairy Glamour) then it can automatically beat any non-magical power, but you need to spend a Survival Point (or two points of Tension for an NPC) to activate the magic for a scene. If your opponent has a suitable magical power to use in defence, they can also activate it for an SP, and then any conflicts between them become normal rolls. Non-magical PCs can also spend an SP to use any suitable specialisation as a defence against magic, but non-magical NPCs are out of luck.

    To allow for a freer flow of SPs to support this, PCs can have a couple of Vulnerabilites (daylight, cold iron, not being able to walk on hallowed ground, etc.) or Compulsions (must drink blood, cannot lie, etc.) and get a Survival Point each time one causes any problems.

  2. andrewkenrick says:

    I like the sound of the second one a great deal – it seems a subtle but effective way of making the powers special. I’d love to see it written up!

    I remember Kiss of the Maker well – a great body horror game. I don’t suppose you still have that list of mutations (plus the rules for using them) anywhere do you? It’d make for a great post/download!

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