Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Let’s Study series focusing on Curse the Darkness from Play Attention Games, Inc. and written by Matthew McFarland.
For those who have been following this particular game’s Let’s Study series, you already know that the game doesn’t follow the standard pattern of RPGs. Death is common, and the choices follow the player as opposed to the character.
Scenario creation is also something that doesn’t follow the normal trend. For one thing, it relies on the group to decide the length, setting and goal of the scenario rather than leaving all these decisions to the GM.
Story length is important because it determines how many sections of Wick is necessary to fill before they can make the essential choice. One shots require only a single section of Wick, while longer games might require 5, 10 or even 20 sections of Wick.
For setting, the book offers three time periods to work with, all centered on the events of His takeover. These periods are pre-apocalypse, mid-apocalypse and post-apocalypse. Each of these affects the alert threshhold’s tolerance for people entering the Between and how They react to the presence of humans. The alert threshold is determined by a card draw, so it changes depending on the game.
The rest of the scenario is then put together by having the group answer five questions:
Where are you?
What just happened?
How are you following the rules?
How are you breaking the rules?
What is the goal?
These determine the parameters of the scenario. Most of the time the answers come easily, but I suspect that it falls to the GM to actively encourage dialogue to come up with a scenario that the group is happy with.
Character creation is a simple process. First off, the player distributes 10 points among Focus, Humanity, Stability and Stamina. These attributes have a minimum score of 1 and a maximum of 5. Each attribute starts at 0. Openers start off with a Humanity Score of -1.
The scores determine the number of cards you have to work with for each of the Attributes, and a reserve of cards once the Active Card is spent.
After this, the character then chooses one Scope, with Openers automatically choosing “Opener” as a scope and may choose another. The players may designate more Scopes but there’s no advantage to doing so, as designating them in play nets Memory Points.
That’s it. Character Creation is quick, and perhaps rightfully so as characters tend to be taken out during Removal Challenges.
Given the nature of the game and the stories that told, the system is surprisingly streamlined. So far, Curse the Darkness seems to be tailored towards very focused games with relatively high attrition rates.