It’s ostensibly the world outside your window, only things lurk in the shadows. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
In this case, the things in the shadows are agents of the Ruinous Powers, godlike beings that want all of humanity to be their slaves. The Powers reside in the Void and cannot affect the world directly; only people who know their touch can draw on their power. Cultists and people who read the wrong ancient text and now want power do that a lot.
The people who try to fight against the corruption of the world often end up doing it too. Gaze into the Void, and the Void gazes also. Just don’t cast into the Void, because the universe resolves type mismatch errors with violent efficiency.
Hidden in the shadows, some organisations fight against the powers of Ruin. Who knows, if you live long enough and your body and soul avoid the burning brand of corruption, you may join one of these groups.
Four Ruinous Powers lurk in the Void. They each have a burning desire, focused on our world. Should any Power get its way, the world would be unrecognisable.
Nobody knows what the Ruinous Powers actually are. Aliens that dwell in a different set of physical dimensions? Actual gods? Creatures of magic? Extelligences from up the universal stack? Does it really matter? No.
Some groups band together, using occult secrets to fight back against the darkness, each with their own means of staving off corruption.
These groups will be detailed further in future installments.
Choose your character’s role: what they did before drawing the attention of the Ruinous Powers. Banker, Cop, Criminal, Engineer, Executive, Journalist, Labourer, Manager, Scientist, Technician
Choose your character’s drive: what they want to achieve now they know the truth. Atone for past sins, Comprehend the truth, Fix something, Investigate the weird, Protect humanity, Prove your innocence, Save the world, Uncover Mysteries, Understand new truths
Assign triggers: each starts at 1, then distribute 5 points between them. No trigger can start higher than 4.
Determine stress and trauma: 5 each, plus 3 points to divide between the two.
Record defence and corruption: both start at 0.
Gear: you have clothing and possessions appropriate to your role. Choose two notable items among them. For each, pick one:
The touch of the Ruinous Powers manifests in a number of fashions. Some humans know this power without understanding any more of the darkness in the world, manifesting a psychic talent.
To create a psychic character:
All characters have triggers, defence, stress, trauma, and corruption.
|Carnage||The need to tear down and destroy people, things, and institutions; fear of physical weakness|
|Disorder||The need to change the world, regardless of the consequence of that change; fear of being powerless|
|Obsession||The need for perfection that is just out of reach, to take the next step and find more; fear of failure|
|Survival||The need to live forever, regardless of disease or infirmity or mutation; fear of death.|
Some situations require you to halve the value of a die or trait. If this would result in a fraction, always round up.
Some characters start play with a psychic discipline, or can gain one through Dark Gifts. Note down which you possess.
Characters grow in power and importance as play progresses.
Avoiding the attention of the Ruinous Powers is difficult, but not impossible. When you would gain an advance in a trigger that you do not wish to increase, you can instead trade it for two advances in another trigger.
During play, characters are thrust into dangerous and weird situations, in which they’ll need to do stuff.
What you can do:
If what you are doing has consequences for success and failure, roll a number of ten-sided dice. The GM will tell you which trigger to use.
You can help someone else out. Describe how you’re doing it, and roll. If you succeed, give them +1d.
Count the number of dice that roll equal or under your trigger.
|None||Things go wrong. The GM will tell you how it gets worse, inflicting a complication or harm. Mark an advance against this trigger.|
|One||You barely succeed. The GM inflicts a complication or harm. Mark an advance against this trigger.|
|Two||You got this. Well done.|
|Three or more||You make this look good. The GM tells you some extra benefit of your success.|
Deal with a fight exactly as you would doing anything else. In a fight, every action has consequences. The outcome table looks different.
|None||Your opponent deals harm.|
|One||You and your opponent both deal harm.|
|Two||You deal harm|
|Three or more||You deal harm, and increase your defence by 1 the next time you take harm.|
Opponents can forego dealing harm to instead inflict a consequence (see antagonist descriptions).
Significant threats, such as Ruinspawn or Princes of Ruin often have multiple attacks, e.g. “Bladed whip 3h and Mental blast 4h”.
When you succeed at an action that deals harm, or when you take harm, roll the appropriate number of dice, indicated by xh. Harm dice are six-sided (d6).
Assign harm dice as follows:
When assigning dice, you are trying to reduce a character’s stress and trauma to zero. If you can’t do that, reduce the value appropriately:
If trauma is reduced to 0, the character is out. When a character is out, taking any further harm kills them. An out character must get medical attention within the hour or will die.
Billy (S5/T6) ends up on the wrong side of a shotgun, which does 3h (Gun, Big). The GM rolls 6, 3, 4. She assigns the 3 and the 4 to stress, reducing it to 0. The remaining die goes to trauma, reducing it to 0 as well. Billy is out, which you’d expect for someone hit with a shotgun.
If the attacker instead assigned the 6 to stress, he’d have had only dealt 4 points out trauma (picking the higher die of 3 and 4), leaving Billy in the fight.
Characters regain half their stress at the end of the scene, and the remainder after they have a chance to sleep or otherwise chill out for at least eight hours.
If a character has more than half their trauma remaining, they recover one point after each day that they have a chance to sleep or otherwise chill out for at least eight hours.
If a character has less than or equal to half their trauma remaining, they recover one point after each week of medical care, or two weeks of bed rest. They don’t regain stress until they have more than half their trauma remaining
Billy is at trauma 0, but his companions call an ambulance and the paramedics give him treatment. In hospital, is bed-ridden until he heals to more than half his trauma. This takes four weeks—though it would be eight, if one of his companions had stabilised him and he had tried to heal up at home.
Released after the four weeks, it takes another two days to recover the remaining two points.
You come to the attention of the Ruinous Powers each time one of your triggers advances to 6 or above. When that happens:
Garnering attention from different Ruinous Powers can prove… problematic.
Gain a mutation when:
Become a Ruinspawn when:
Become a Prince of Ruin when:
A Ruinspawn is an impossible creature, seemingly made entirely of the mutations granted by the Ruinous Powers. A character who becomes Ruinspawn is a simple-minded monster under the total control of the GM. The player should make a new character.
A Prince of Ruin is one of the avatars of the Ruinous Powers on Earth, immensely powerful but entirely cognisant of their actions. The GM takes control of the character; odds are they will show up at some future time.
Corruption is the touch of the Ruinous Powers on a character. When corruption hits 10, the character becomes a Ruinspawn.
Characters can lose one point of corruption when three or more dice are successful on an action. This replaces the extra benefit of the roll.
A character’s minimum corruption is equal to the number of triggers at 6 or more, plus one for each psychic discipline.
The attention of the Ruinous Powers causes the energy of the Void to flow through the human body—something that was never meant to happen. Bones crack and flesh warps as a result, creating hideous mutations.
In addition to those caused by raising triggers, a character can choose to accept a mutation instead of gaining corruption. Doing so means the character instead loses three points of corruption, as long as doing so does not take the character below their minimum corruption.
In a situation where a mutation would benefit a roll, add +1d.
A character who gains a fourth mutation instead becomes a Ruinspawn.
Mutations may include:
Many mutations can be covered by loose clothing, theatrical make-up, or other ingenuity. Should one be revealed, dealing with normal people would be a major complication.
Gain 1 corruption when you use a Dark Gift. Most effects are instant: spend the corruption to get the effect.
Play to find out what happens as the characters investigate the hidden world and slowly fall to the Ruinous Powers.
When it comes to rolling dice, only call for a roll when the outcome is uncertain and both success and failure advance the story. A dice roll always changes the situation in a dramatic way, for good or for ill.
When it comes to the world, ask questions of the players and use their answers to your advantage.
When a character attracts the attention of the Ruinous Powers or uses a Dark Gift, things get creepy and weird. The related Power influences the rest of the scene in supernatural ways.
Roll or choose on the tables below:
Antagonists with Dark Gifts can activate one in exchange for not dealing harm to one character.
Stress: 10, Trauma: 6
Defence: Plain clothes 0 or Stab vest 1 or Body Armour 2
Harm: Pistol 2h or Shotgun 3h
Consequences: Call for backup, Make an arrest, Plant evidence
Stress: 7, Trauma: 6
Defence: Robes 0
Harm: Knife 2h or SMG 3h or Shotgun 2h
Dark Gifts: 0-1
Consequences: Attempt a sacrifice, Raise the alarm, Use dark magic
Stress: 6 Trauma: 7
Defence: Leathers 0
Harm: Chain 2h or Knife 2h or Pistol 2h
Consequences: Blackmail and extortion, Call for backup, Target bystanders
Stress: 8, Trauma: 5
Defence: Clothes 0
Harm: Fist 1h or Pistol 2h
Consequences: Destroy reputation, Eviction, Invent charges
Stress: 9, Trauma: 7
Defence: Body armour 2
Harm: Assault rifle 3h or Shotgun 2h or Sniper rifle 3h
Consequences: Collateral damage, Sniper team, Tear gas
When these creatures have more than one attack and deal harm, pick one victim for each attack.
Stress: 12, Trauma: 10
Defence: Amorphous 4 (0/+1h vs fire) or Bony protrusions 3 or Scaly hide 2 Harm: Acid spit 3h and/or Razor claws 2h and/or Lashing tentacles 2h
Dark Gifts: 2-4
Consequences: Entangled in tentacles, Petrifying gaze, Shocked into madness
Stress: 25, Trauma: 20
Defence: Black-iron armour 4
Harm: Giant axe 5h and Immolating gaze 3h and Lash of torment 4h
Dark Gifts: 3 Carnage, 1 other
Consequences: Challenged to a duel, Marked as prey, Summon warriors (hand weapon 2h, defence 2)
Stress: 30, Trauma: 15
Defence: Spatial warp 3
Harm: Arcane blast 3h and Nightmare blade 4h and Warping gaze 2h
Dark Gifts: 3 Disorder, 1 other
Consequences: Confronted by dark secrets, Granted heart’s desire, Trapped in impossible geometry
Stress: 22 Trauma: 23
Defence: Studded body 3
Harm: Bladed whip 3h and Mental blast 4h and Vicious claws 3h
Dark Gifts: 3 Obsession, 1 other
Consequences: Consumed by obsession, Favoured plaything, Mutation
Stress: 15 Trauma: 30
Defence: Pustulant flesh 4
Harm: Acidic bile 3h and Cancerous touch 3h and Venomous cloud 2h
Dark Gifts: 3 Survival, 1 other
Consequences: Cannibal hunger, Patient zero, Wasting disease
This is all Stew Wilson’s fault really.
Loosely based on Lasers & Feelings and Star Force by J. Harper. He’s cool. Give him money.
Any resemblance of setting elements to those of popular miniature wargames is purely coincidental, honest guv.