[Let’s study: Curse the Darkness] System Part 2: Removal Challenges

Posted: March 21, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Let's Study
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Removal Challenges are the most dramatic sequences in Curse the Darkness because the stakes are at their higest. As the name implies, a Removal Challenge is a situation where a player character is at risk of being taken out of the game via death, capture or worse.

Removal Challenges don’t have to happen immediately upon having 3 cards in the Card Bank. As long as the Card Bank is full the GM essentially has the option to initiate  them whenever it seems appropriate to the story.

Removal Challenges are divided into 4 stages: Action Assignment, Suit Assignment, Condition Assignment and Resolution. Let’s take a look at each step in turn.

Action Assignment

At this point the GM narrates what is happening and highlights the situation as a Removal Challenge. The GM is also to determine which of the players are involved in the Removal challenge.

It is entirely possible for the Removal Challenge to only affect a small group of Player Characters, such as in the case of having other characters being elsewhere at the time that the Removal Challenge occuring.

Players declare their actions in response to the situation. Once the players have declared their action, the GM then decides if the action is an example of Lighting a candle or Cursing the Darkness.

As explained in the prior article. Lighting a candle is active, decisive and confrontational, while cursing the darkness is often about hiding, and avoiding the opponent.

Suit Assignment

At this point the GM then deals five cards from her deck, and  combines them from any cards gained through Between Points. The GM then selects four cards, one of each suit (if possible) and places them face down on the GM slots of the Suit Assignment sheet.

Players then pick one card of each suit and place them face up on the top four slots of the Suit Assignment sheet. These cards can come from their Active Cards or their Card Banks. The Highest Card of each suit determines who owns the suit and can assign it to a Condition in the following phase.

Once all the cards are in place, the GM turns over her cards and compares the results.

Condition Assignment

Removal Challenges have four possible conditions, based on whether or not the character Succeeds on his intended action, and whether the character leaves play:

  • Succeed/Remain
  • Succeed/Leave
  • Fail/Remain
  • Fail/Leave

Each of these is assigned a suit.

The Owner of the higest card on the sheet (GM or Player) determines which condition that suit represents for this Challenge. The owner of the next-highest card determines that suit and so on until all four are assigned. Ties go to the players.

Winning cards are moved to the condition assignment sheet for reference.


At this point, the players form a Resolution Deck. This is done by each player giving the GM two cards from their Card Banks or Active Cards.

The GM then takes the cards and adds them to the aces from the Player’s Decks. At this point the GM and Players may spend resources in the form of Between Points (for the GM) to add to and Memory Points (from the Players) to subtract from the suits of their choice from this deck.

Once this is done  the GM shuffles the Resolution Deck and each player takes one card. If a character has a Scope relevant to the action that they are performing, then the player may draw a second card after everyone has drawn one.

The Cards drawn are then compared to the Condition Assignment Sheet’s cards for reference. This determines what happens to the player characters.

After this resolution, we double check what action the characters took. Removal Challenges in which a character lit a candle can affect Between Points and gain Wick in the process.


As you can pretty much tell, dying happens a lot in Curse the Darkness. Players are the ones in control here, and their characters live terribly short lives struggling against Him.

Tomorrow we move on to Part 3, where we take a look at some of the mechanics that were mentioned here, but haven’t been explained: Memory and Between Points, as well as what Wick is and what it does.


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