Class Notes: More Cool Bits

-March 6th, 2013

Last week I wrote about how much fun you can have using a college campus as a modern game setting. It offers tons of roleplay hooks and it sets the stage as a compilation of all those exciting things you daydreamed about happening in class when you were supposed to be taking notes. If you missed the post, go back and give it a read. I’ll wait.

Okay, last week we talked about setting, this week let’s talk antagonists–in particular, let’s talk horror. Of course you GMs know that any setting can be customized to suit any purpose, but we’re all about the supernatural antagonists in Degrees of Horror. (Hopefully the name gave it away.) Those of you who are familiar with Pinebox have probably already experienced out-of-control science, ghosts, cultists, shamans, and more. We’ve kept that same variety in this game, so whether you’re into voodoo curses, undead stalkers, science gone wrong, demonic monsters, or menacing spirits you’ll find something to keep you awake at night. 

Speaking of antagonists, one development during the writing of Degrees of Horror was the publication of the Horror Companion. We tried to keep overlap between Degrees of Horror and the Horror Companion (and for that matter the Savage Worlds rule book) to a minimum. Why include vampire or zombie stats when you’ve already got ’em? The overlap that exists does so because we’ve put our own spin on the creature.

In particular, for ghosts and demons we took a mix-and-match approach that offers a base Monstrous Ability followed by a grab bag of additional abilities.*  That gives you tremendous flexibility in creating ghosts or demons with a variety of appearances and abilities. Of course, you might not have the time or desire to make your own creature. That’s why we also included a number of ready-made ghosts or demons that you can drop into your game as-is.

Since ghost-hunting is a significant part of the Pinebox mythos, we also include rules on conducting a ghost-hunting, seances, and dealing with spirit possessions. Let that sink in for a moment.

We devoted a section to spirit possessions and exorcisms.

Picture this: You and your friends arrive at the office of a degree adviser whom you think was sent a cursed yearbook. The adviser acts strangely and you see that you were too late– the yearbook is open on his desk! While you keep the conversation going and distract him, your friend edges close enough to “lay on hands” and cast out the evil spirit. The adviser shudders and collapses into unconsciousness. Your friend looks exhausted, but your step forward to help turns into a stumble. A suffocating pressure squeezes against your thoughts…

As in any horror game, your group sets the tone. We wrote Degrees of Horror so that you can make it an exercise in butt-kicking monster slaying, a terrifying gauntlet of survival, or somewhere in between. 

That’s it for this week. I hope you’re getting ideas for your own Degrees of Horror campaign. As always, please let me know if you have questions or if there’s something you want me to cover in an upcoming Class Notes. I’m always looking for new ideas. Thanks!


* I’ve mentioned this before but it always bears repeating. Just because Ed and I wrote it doesn’t mean that it’ll end up in the finished version. Sometimes things have to get cut for space reasons. I could see our build-a-monster sections being sacrificed to the elder page-count gods. If something gets cut for space reasons (as opposed to boneheaded mechanics) then we’ll probably put it in a future supplement or just make it available online.

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