Friday, September 13, 2013

Sneak Preview: The Accursed Player's Guide

So I'm going to come right out and say it: If the Player's Guide is any indication, then Melior Via has made the game I wanted to write, but never trusted myself to design.

From their press release:

The Curse is Imminent

New Savage Worlds setting launches on Kickstarter on Friday, September 13th.
Melior Via, LLC, publishers of the critically acclaimed Hope Preparatory School game setting are preparing to launch a crowd funding campaign for the creation of a new RPG setting. Accursed is a dark fantasy world, where the players take on the roles of classic movie monsters. They struggle to free the land of Morden from the dark influences of the Witches. The Accursed draw their power from their curses, while struggling against it to preserve their souls. Recognizing that the game is named Accursed, it became apparent that the project had to launch on Friday the 13th.

About the setting:

In Accursed, Hammer Horror films meet Hellboy, and Solomon Kane meets Castlevania. The game world allows players to take on the roles of characters with transformative curses, cast by the Witches of the Grand Coven. They are Dhampir (Half-vampire charming rogues), Golems (living creatures crafted from unliving materials, similar to Frankenstein’s monster), Vargr (werewolves), Mummies, Mongrels (humans with bestial limbs and other body parts grafted onto their bodies), and Revenants (the living dead). The Accursed must not only fight evil from without; each character’s Witchmark defines his curse and changes over time.

About the Creators:

Ross Watson, Jason Marker, and John Dunn have designed role-playing games for many properties, including Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Shadowrun, Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay, Robotech, and Malifaux: Through the Breach. They have decades of experience working in the gaming industry and are very excited about bringing a new twist on dark fantasy RPGs to life. The three members of the core team are bringing their combined creativity, experience, and passion to the project.
Accursed website:
Kickstarter Preview:

Melior Via, LLC website:

Now, that sounds all well and good, but you can say anything on a press release...but they sent me a copy of the playtest draft of the Player's Guide and I've spent a few days with it. First off, the book is very pretty. Here's the cover:

Not bad.

Accursed is powered by Savage Worlds, which is pretty high on my list of games, as you all know. Now, monster hunting/fighting games are nothing new in Savage Worlds. This art, for instance, gives a little bit of a Rippers vibe. However, not a lot of Savage Worlds games are placing the PCs in the roles of, essentially, monsters. The Accursed are all Witchmarked, which has a different effect on the PC depending on the witch that marked him:
  • Dhampirs are half-vampires who suffer from some of the flaws of vampires but are more nimble and graceful, and even have an Edge they can take that gives them a boost based off of their blood feeding.
  • Golems are men who have been transformed into constructs, with all the pros and cons that entails.
  • Mongrels are twisted beast men who have had animal parts bound to their bodies.
  • Mummies are the loooong dead, who have risen at the beckoning of the witches, forcing them into unlife.
  • Revenants are angry, driven walking dead like The Crow.
  • Vargrs are the setting's own werewolves.
So, yeah, Solomon Kane meets Castlevania, as you play men turned into monsters who are fighting monsters. While the book introduces new setting rules, powers (to go along with powers sets for Alchemy and Witchcraft), where the setting REALLY sings is in the WitchMark, which is what turned the poor guy into an Accursed and is the source of his power. So far, so good, right? One of the Wowza moments for me is that the Accursed can accept or defy their witchmarks, which has a deep impact on them...they can either accept their fate and gain more power at the expense of their soul, or they can embrace their humanity but forsake their power. This level of complication is added very simply, with corresponding bonuses and penalties based off of each level of acceptance or refusal. So, yeah, you can choose to become completely mortal...but you still have dangerous and powerful enemies and you are giving up your power while still waging a war!

A couple of years back, I was envisioning a Castlevania-esque setting that I thought Savage Worlds would be well suited for, but Accursed hits a lot of the beats I wanted to see in my own setting. The Kickstarter should be live by the time you read this, but I'll be back (probably this weekend) to play around with character creation a little bit and look at the Accursed character types a bit closer...but as it stands, I'm more excited about this than I have been a new setting or game for a while, and I cannot WAIT to see what is going to be in the full book.