I made a free RPG for telling stories like Stranger Things

It's called Abnormal Things and you can download it here:
http://orioncanning.blogspot.com/2017/06/abnormal-things.html

The basic premise is you are all people living in a small town and a creature is abducting people you care about, so you have to work together to try to stop it. It's kind of high stakes in that it's fairly likely that bad things will happen to people in the game. The game is GMless and on the rules light and freeform end of things, but the conflict is pushed along by a solid mechanic that builds up tension as it ramps towards a conclusion. You take turns playing as the horror, doing your best to creep each other out. I've playtested it a bunch and I think it does a really good job of doing the Stranger Things thing. Check it out, it's free. And please share and let me know what you think.

I hope people who like the game check out the original game it's based on, Abnormal by Avery Alder. Most of the rules are directly borrowed from Abnormal, so Avery deserves most of the credit for allowing me to use their game. https://www.patreon.com/posts/abnormal-619932

Comments

  • Coolness! Will have to check it out.
  • This sounds very interesting! Will look into it, as well.
  • Will have to check it out.
    Will look into it
    If you end up playing it I hope you have fun, and I'd love to hear how it goes. Thanks!

  • edited June 2017
    Our Slovenian seaside village, at the beginning of tourist season, ended up devoured overnight by huge, bloodsucking, multicolored moths - actually a manifestation of the ghosts of abused children. Scary.

    It was a good one-shot game. I've tried a lot of games aiming for this kind of horror film-ish structure, including a couple incarnations of Geiger Counter, but this was better than most of them. Although, to be fair, the three of us were a really well-oiled group, having already played Okult (still my favorite), Archipelago (with a very similar small-town horror setup) and a full Everway-hack campaign together over the last year, amongst other things. Compared with Lovecraftesque (also quite similar), that there was a chance of triumphing over the threat - no matter how slim - motivated us to run headfirst into disaster. We'll never look at a butterfly the same.
    That sounds like an awesome and creepy game, makes me think of the moth-man, and stories with flesh eating bugs that are usually afraid of light. Were the moths attracted to lights? That's even more scary, if you have to be careful not to let them see your flashlight.

    All the games I've played have taken places in America, albeit often strange and remote places in America. I'm curious where you're from and how a Slovenian town might differ from an American one. It's always good to hear from people playing a game I made so thanks a lot for talking about it!
    The game felt oddly constrained by the fact that we never rolled a "1", so we were stuck with the first manifestation, which I had defined as "beautiful" and "insectile", of course expecting more manifestations to appear (I was wrong). So, in the first scene, the unusually large butterflies only acted as a distraction, catching the witness's attention while the first victim vanished. But then, as we were stuck with that one manifestation, we kept adding details to the weird moths, until it felt like they were the horror itself. Of course they weren't, or not exactly - when my village priest character went face the horror armed with shotgun and flashlight, and failed miserably, the current horror player managed to find a suitably horrifying source for the insects.

    As the first scene was set early in the morning, on a rocky beach in early June, the moths appeared to be diurnal (they were later shown to be active both day and night). I can't remember them having any special attraction or repulsion for lights, but in their early appearances the witness tended to be conveniently dazzled by sunlight, making everything eerie and oddly beautiful. Later the moths acquired more of a physical presence as disgusting, silk-producing, blood-sucking insects nesting in human corpses.

    We are all from Italy (I live with my girlfriend in a satellite town of Florence, though I grew up further north, and the game was played at our place; our friend we played it with is also from around here). America to us is this place we might have briefly visited as tourists, but we mostly know from films and TV, so that setting a horror game in America felt like a despicable cliché - it made sense to us to pick a European setting. We agreed on a Scenic, Religious and Not Industrious town and somebody suggested a coastal area with cliffs. We quickly considered Sicily, Southern England and several other places: we were thinking of some really minor touristic spot... Slovenia (specifically its coast, a very short stretch from the Italian to the Croatian border) gelled as a location because one of us had had a crazy travel experience in North-eastern Italy very close to the Slovene border (scariest backwater place she's been, she said), another had been on holiday to Croatia and remembered beautiful scenery from that trip and, finally, I started talking about how a lot of vampire folklore comes from Istria. It was both close to home and slightly removed. With inspiration from a quick Wikipedia search, we created a wholly fictional village, with its cliffs, beach, old church, new church, single inn doubling as a restaurant and café and - taken almost straight from Wikipedia - abandoned hospital for children with pulmonary diseases, closed about 1950.
  • Our Slovenian seaside village...
    Thanks for the full reply, that's extremely interesting. It makes me happy to know someone is playing the game all the way in Italy and see how the different perspective can lend to new and interesting settings and stories. The game can definitely take a lot of different directions depending on how you roll. I'm glad you were able to make only having 1 manifestation work.

    I think maybe I can make it more clear by putting it on the cards, but you are actually meant to be able to choose to do the actions on stage one or two instead of rolling the dice as a horror player. It's in a small part of the rules at the end of the section on the Horror turn, "Awaken and Spread both introduce a new type of action that the Horror player may elect to do instead of rolling the die and taking a regular turn." It's often overlooked but usually when I point it out people are more interested in rolling anyways.

    I think I will add that bit to the cards though, so thank you for the feedback and helping me improve the game!

  • edited July 2017

    I think maybe I can make it more clear by putting it on the cards, but you are actually meant to be able to choose to do the actions on stage one or two instead of rolling the dice as a horror player. It's in a small part of the rules at the end of the section on the Horror turn, "Awaken and Spread both introduce a new type of action that the Horror player may elect to do instead of rolling the die and taking a regular turn." It's often overlooked but usually when I point it out people are more interested in rolling anyways.
    Woah! Yeah, we totally overlooked that... Wait, I overlooked that, as I was the one reading, translating and explaining the rules. I can see how that would have made our game better... If you roll every single time, the focus is on "take these random constraints and roll with them", impro-like. That you can choose to awaken or spread instead of rolling gives players much more directorial power.

    Also, if it's instead of rolling... then you don't place any fragments on that turn? You don't advance the countdown? That changes a lot. I totally chose to face the horror when having only a 50% chance of success (2 fragments on Stage 4, 1 character previously rescued from the horror, 0 preparedness) because we knew the game was ending next turn anyway (there were 6 fragments total). Last ditch attempt on a coin flip. Are you saying we could have chosen to, say, keep awakening new manifestations, not place any more fragments and keep playing until we felt prepared enough to face the horror?
  • You still place a fragment on the stage of the action you choose. Also Stage 2 must be unlocked by rolling before you can choose to do it. So... maybe I need to make that clear too. In theory you can place the fragments in a way that makes it easier to win, if you want. Of course that also means you could try to place them in a way that makes it harder to win too, in the right circumstance.

    In your situation it would have been just as bad to place it on stage 1 or 2 cause you would still get 7 fragments total. Also technically you weren't playing it wrong because choosing the stage 1 or 2 actions is optional. But yeah, if you had chosen to do so earlier, things might have gone differently.
  • Oh, that makes sense. Thank you for explaining again. I will probably play again eventually. :-)
Sign In or Register to comment.