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and other horrors
. using their Starry Wisdom to weaken it.into other worlds.. the horror reveals itself and the investigators must bring all their knowledge to bare in order stop it.. we get to see our investigators celebrate their success. Ties always go to the GM (though the players have an option for breaking a tie by re-rolling one or more dice. The first two chapters are divided into scenes.1 Basics Setting Our world. and an epilogue. the confrontation with the Horror occurs. Whomever has the highest total wins..playstest doc. sixes are automatically discarded. This total is then compared against a total generated by the GM. The Thing On The Doorstep weaves tales of horror and adventure. and sometimes beyond. Players will need several of them... But if they’re unlucky. Each investigator confronts the Horror in their own time period. Successful sleuthing will increase an investigator’s Starry Wisdom. Each scene features a single investigator delving into some new aspect of this story’s Horror. and represents the beginning of the story. Each story is broken up into three parts. and if it grows too high. version 1. When rolling dice. The evil is just starting to awaken. called chapters. The only difference between chapter one and chapter two is the difficulty level the investigators face in scenes. Chapter one is called The Horror Emergent. The GM will need at least seven. In chapter three.. the menace takes shape. the Horror Rolling Dice The Thing On The Doorstep uses six-sided dice. In the epilogue. they’ll see Weird Astronomy grow. and the investigation becomes much more difficult for the heroes. If they don’t. All other dice are then added together to obtain a total. only spanning the breadth of human history. If one player in the most recent time period beats the Horror’s. probably more..never a good thing. the Horror is stopped in its tracks.as many as five a piece. Each session is intended to tell a single story. or the aftermath of their failure.for now anyway. at some risk to their investigator). Chapter three is The Stars Are Right. they’ll have to turn the page to the next chapter. Chapter two is On Your Doorstep. and the investigators have the upper hand. perhaps even more (though it is okay to share dice). or even other dimensions. Overview Of Game Play . featuring intrepid investigators facing off against cosmic evils.
Each Horror is given a rating. A Great Old One. the investigators only know that something really bad is about to happen if they don’t act to stop it. A 7 or 8 should be considered typical. the superimposition of our reality upon another.1 is unleashed upon the world. at the start of the game. It might be an Outer God. or any of a million other horrifying things one might imagine. a race of aliens with mankind in their targets. As the game progresses. incomprehensible Horror. a conspiracy-minded cult with roots as deep as history. The Horror Every game features an awful. they’ll come to understand exactly what it is they’re up against. The players should be told at the outset what the Horror’s rating is.playstest doc. The GM always creates the Horror. The exact details of those results are relayed in the epilogue. or if there are many investigators. version 1. . with higher numbers only used for really experienced players.
playstest doc. A style describes a way in which you go about gaining information. • Some Strange Writings (Study. Difficulty 5) • A Cyclopean Vista (Explore.. tracking down Lovecraftian horrors threatening the world. although any individual investigator can only possess four. and Explore. but no investigator may share both with another. Obligation. You may divvy seven points among them. Chapter Two only) • The Scene Of A Crime (Explore. Give her a name. You should then briefly describe your investigator. so long as they are resoundingly normal. Although earlier rules state there are only three styles of investigation.a friend. at most. Difficulty 3) • A Dusty Old Tome (Study. Next. Curiosity. Difficulty 7. You may select any historical epoch as your time period. Difficulty 5) • Al Azif (Study. You must have at least one comfort.1 Characters The player characters are all investigators. And that fourth always carries with it a price. version 1. Difficulty 1. that’s not exactly true. ascribe a motivation to your investigator. a place. Comforts can be anything. Chapter One only) • A Curious Artifact (Study. Difficulty 1. an appreciation of stormy nights. Types of Scenes You should also describe things that are a comfort to your character. Available motivations are: Righteous. in fact. . Starry Wisdom measures exactly what you know about the current Horror. Your place or time must be shared with at least one other investigator. and is the only tool you have for actually stopping it.. Chapter One only) • A Mysterious Old House (Explore. Vengeance. five. a favorite beverage. Difficulty 7. Chapter One only) • An Expert On Matters Occult (Question. Difficulty 5) • An Avatar Of Nyarlathotep (Question. You have one final trait: Starry Wisdom. There are three styles: Study. Difficulty 1. It starts at 0 and increases throughout the game. Chapter Two only) • A Witness To The End (Question. but may have several if you’d like. your character should be complete now. The first thing you should do is choose a place and time for your investigator. Chapter Two only) Old Magick And Mad Science Now you must set your styles. Having done these things. Difficulty 3) • An Antediluvian Dwelling (Explore. Anything. None may start higher than five. Difficulty 7. There are. up to and including modern day (but not the future). Question. Your skillfulness in each style is rated numerically. Difficulty 3) • An Cthonic Informant (Question.
only two sixes are required Wisdom. You can even start the game with one or the other. Free play is only suspended when their investigator. (see Types Of Scenes. The GM secretly rolls a number of dice equal to the Difficulty of the scene type. removes all sixes. Essentially. in round-robin fashion. When it’s your turn. The player then rolls a number of dice equal to the required style for the type of scene. Each player may only use each Free Play principles. the player with the features one investigator. see below). establish any Profanities they may want to dice are being rolled and totals compared. through their roleplaying. you should name a type of scene on the roll to increase Weird Astronomy by one. and what they say or think or even feel. The first two chapters are comprised of scenes.1 The fourth and fifth styles are Old Magick and Mad Science. The GM is also required incorporate manipulations of obviously to include at least one of your comforts in magickal workings or strange scientific the scene. Additionally. with no one getting more scenes than anyone else. then reduces that number by the accumulated Esteem of the investigator to arrive at a final total. act of roleplaying: Describing what’s happening. strategize between Science are before making them a part of themselves. and totaling the remainder. adds together the remaining dice. The GM will describe a scene of any free play you do in such a scene must that type for you. rather given type scene by a player causes an The term “free play” is often used to describe a specific kind of activity that occurs between the than holding them in esteem. Each scene He compares his total to the investigator’s. happen one at a time. until such time as both are ready for an investigation roll to take place. or offer commentary. Investigators can have one or the other. sidebar). increase of the chapter’s Weird Astronomy GM and the other players. which may predispose the GM type of scene once for free. The drawback is that when The purpose of a scene is to increase an investigator’s Starry using Old Magick or Mad Science. but in so doing passes up an opportunity to increase their investigator’s Starry Wisdom. Playing The Game Scenes . it is the by one. A player should be familiar with how the how characters react. A player can waive their scene for a round. version 1. But it can also include metagame game is played and what the advantages The scene then proceeds with free play conversations as well. not both. or use. free play is during free play that the player must happening. The advantage of Old Magick and Mad Science is that you can use them in place of any other style. and it’s typical for these scenes to higher total is the winner. when players seek and disadvantages of Old Magick or Mad between the GM and the player (it’s also clarification from the GM. between ending one scene and starting another.playstest doc. repeating a towards loathing your investigator. removing any die that comes up 6. if you’d like.
a point of Esteem should be granted. as they see fit. A Profanity only gets crossed off your list if you Asylum actually point to it and call for a re-roll. three or more sixes were rolled. Deviant. their investigator’s Starry Wisdom increases by one. Bigoted. the chapter’s Weird Astronomy score increases by one. There is no their Starry Wisdom via journals or guideline for how to roleplay a given correspondence. or not. If. They do not get to roll for a style increase as other survivors do (although they may obtain an increase if they end the game as most esteemed). Pedantic. the player never knows for sure how much Esteem they’ve curried. and that Profanity. •When a player re-uses a type of scene they’ve already had in this story. during which the aftermath of the roll is roleplayed. Beyond that. Absinthian. You start with all Profanities available to you. but rather confronting it (see The Stars Are Right. they may re-roll any of their own dice. affect the final outcome of the game. version 1. the metaphorical page turns and everyone is immediately thrust into the next chapter. the GM must decide whether the investigator deserves a point of Esteem for the scene. Cryptic. sincere and. the player is the winner. When both the GM and the player are satisfied. . below). the scene can be concluded. and Debased. Note that there is no need to track Weird Astronomy in chapter three. If the GM does not feel Esteem was deserved. they choose one investigator who has not yet confronted the Horror. human. After the roll. Doing so is called asylum. Before proceeding to the next scene. A Profanity is a kind of defense mechanism. if the investigator was likable. players are free to interpret them investigator increases her Starry Wisdom by one. When Weird Astronomy reaches a number equal to twice the number of investigators. and they can point to a Profanity they’ve indulged during the scene.playstest doc. after which it can no longer be used for reAn investigator may elect to not confront the Horror. most importantly. including any that came up sixes on the initial roll. an investigator with asylum can not If. counting both the GM’s and the player’s dice. This is purely a judgment call. it protects your investigator’s humanity by shielding it from view. There are several Profanities: Pretentious. Weird Astronomy is then re-set at zero. The Next Chapter Each chapter has a stat of its own: Weird Astronomy. after re-rolls. Weird Astronomy can increase in two ways: •When three (two if using Old Magick or Mad Science) or more sixes are rolled during an investigation roll. another period of free play ensues. as the players are no longer investigating the Horror. he should instead assign a point of Loathing. An rolls (although you may still roleplay those investigator with asylum can pass on a bit of behaviors if you wish).1 If the player is the loser. and you may emphasize more than one in a given scene. Esteem is recorded in secret by the GM.
each gets to describe an epilogue for their investigator. or A Mysterious Old House. and they must confront it as best they can with their Starry Wisdom. sidebar). and the three least difficult are removed as options. even if that investigator died. The Stars Are Right When the investigators enter chapter three. To do so. at least in this time period. the Horror is Epilogue If the investigators were defeated. of the roll is free-played and then the next player gets their turn. The GM rolls dice equal to the Horror’s rating. If the player fails. is no longer a player character).ediate aftermath. If the player wins. This might be an apocalyptic end to the world as we know it. or a more personal and intimate violation. Exactly what happens is up to the GM. her investigator fails. if the roll equals or exceeds their current rating.. depending on how the GM decides to frame it. the epilogue consists of the GM describing what happens when the Horror is set free upon Earth. If the players won. three new types of scenes (one for each investigation style) are introduced.e. see Asylum. and the player is not allowed to indulge profanities for re-rolls at this point (the Horror is entirely beyond caring about the investigator’s humanity and/or debasement). The investigator with the most Esteem gets two such attempts (and if there’s a tie for most Esteem.. The scene is free-played until the player and the GM agree it is time to make the confrontation roll. A Witness To The End. good or bad.the Horror has overcome mankind’s last defenders and is now unleashed fully upon humanity. Each surviving investigator may attempt to increase one style rating. and if this is any time period other than the most recent. Otherwise it does not. and is destroyed.playstest doc. then it increases by one. even by increasing Weird Astronomy. Starting with the investigator in the chronologically earliest epoch. At this point. each investigator will face off against the Horror in their own scene (unless they seek asylum. If no investigator from the most recent time period defeats the Horror. Sixes are discounted as normal. and the player rolls dice equal to her investigator’s Starry Wisdom. things change a little. The im.1 The only things that change in chapter two are the scenes available to the players. but the GM does not modify his total by Esteem. Investigators from the same time period may or may not inhabit the same scene during the confrontation. they say which style they’re hoping to increase. The Horror is fully defeated when at least one investigator in the most recent time period defeats the Horror. driven back. or otherwise incorporated into the Horror (i. the Horror becomes fully revealed. the game is over.. version 1. Players can no longer request Some Strange Writings. the tied players must . its rating is reduced by one. and then roll a d6.
playstest doc.1 choose from among themselves who gets the bonus increase attempt). . version 1.
That is to say.something about its appearance. the players will gain an increasingly clearer understanding of what they’re facing. investigators rarely survive to become wily old veterans). what is it? Think first in terms of imagery. Framing Scenes One of the GM’s major responsibilities during the game is scene-framing. so that over the course of the story. And it doesn’t have to be only giant cosmic entities from beyond time and space. Or maybe it’s not so much a physical threat. or just about anything else you can imagine. its relationship to our history. or a vast network of less intelligences? When someone encounters it. Even a Horror at the low end of the spectrum is still incredibly difficult to overcome. At this point. its methods.maybe the revelation of its existence to the people of the world changes our way of life forever.what does it look like? Is something physical. a Horror could be a mortal man seeking to advance himself by exploiting the eldritch secrets of the universe. Framing a scene essentially means establishing a set of opening circumstances.. or intangible? Is it a single cyclopean entity. an unusual fungus from another world threatening to destroy our ecosystem. you may want to assign its rating. its history. what do they perceive and what is the experience like? You don’t have to describe it in its entirety.. Each time an investigator succeeds at an investigation roll.. quite simply. And while there is no specific rule for assigning a Horror’s rating. and then ending the action at a moment that leaves everyone excited (if not completely .it’s more of a guideline to keep the game from being impossible. what happens if no one does anything to stop it? Does it destroy humanity? Take over the world? And it doesn’t have to be apocalyptic.broad strokes with an emphasis on a few specific details will create powerful sensations while preserving a sense of alienness. but a threat to our way of life.playstest doc. its goals. Next. you may want to create a list of facts about your Horror. You’ll want perhaps six or seven of these per player.. you should determine why anyone would care about the Horror. +1 for each story each investigator has survived prior to this one.. Ratings start at 7 and go up from there...1 GameMastering Creating The Horror The first thing to decide when creating a Horror is.. a good rule of thumb is Number of Players + 4. you should dole out a fact or two about the Horror.. a strange disease unleashed from an ancient tomb.. very important person. version 1. Finally. and so on. The minimum rating a Horror can have is 7. A fact is a small detail. its powers. and not for the better. but by no means are any of those numbers going to be easy. perhaps its goal is to murder just one very specific. especially for beginning investigators (and in this game. Please don’t mistake this simple calculation as an attempt at balancing the game.
• An Expert On Matters Occult: Scientists. strange cabins in the woods. a bundle of letters found in a relative’s attic. ghosts. The more normal. rambling and cryptic blogs. Weird. the more satisfying and fully-realized your game will feel. the better. • Al Azif: The most powerful and legendary artifacts of the Cthulhu Mythos. Possibly also corpses of people. The Library of Celaeno. including the Necronomicon. Alien. • A Witness To The End: This is almost always some ordinary person who has seen something they shouldn’t have. weird e-mails. burial mounds. strange vaults. The Eltdown Shards. and old without being explicitly alien. or places. faerie circles. Having some pre-visualized locations. homunculi. perhaps crazy. but almost always human.. including the Necronomicon. • The Scene Of A Crime: Any normal location in which something bad has recently transpired. fossils that elude easy identification. Graveyards. • An Cthonic Informant: Yithians. but the one that benefits from creative preparation is the opening. . Note that in more modern settings. • A Curious Artifact: An unusual idol. ghosts of sorcerers or cultists. professors. It’s a good idea to jot down a few possible circumstances for each type of scene. sorcerers. the more variation you squeeze out of these scenes. In doing this prep work. former cultists. and so on. the Pnakotic Manuscripts.. or unidentified things. and other things for the investigators to interact with will make for a smoother experience. • A Mysterious Old House: Any relatively normal location imbued with an ominous aura. pyramids. and so on. a strange monolith washed up on a beach. Cultes Des Ghouls. animals.playstest doc. dungeons. Some examples for each type of scene would be: • Some Strange Writings: Journals. castles. voice recordings. There is room for interpretation there. Neither is necessarily easy. ziggurats. keep in mind the names attached to the various types of scenes are intended as mild creative constraints. wards of the local asylum. the Dreamlands. The King In Yellow. City of the Great Race. a mirror that shows scenes from other places and times. And if you know the investigators ahead of time. often dangerous. foreboding. but also Yog Sothoth. • An Avatar Of Nyarlathotep: Any of Nyarlathotep’s avatars. ghouls.1 satisfied). you can even cater to their specific time periods and comforts a little. sources of information. characters.recently dead. worlds. stonehenge. In fact. • A Dusty Old Tome: Most of the major works of the Cthulhu mythos. there may be electronic equivalents of some of these. diaries. a letter from an old friend. version 1. serpent men. mummies. other alien cities. old churches. the King in Yellow. or long deceased. • An Antediluvian Dwelling: Any location that is distinctly weird. Mi Go. • A Cyclopean Vista: R’lyeh. Ruins.
. means more than “oops. What exactly might the investigators find in the mysterious old house? What does Nyarlathotep have to say? What insidious clue will the disconcerting artifact yield? Who else is around. Succeed or fail on the roll. Or maybe they really learn something significant. the scene should go badly for them. The player’s input is significant here.1 Obviously. They thwart the minions. these examples only offer a starting point. or destroy the grimoire that holds the necessary ritual. version 1. perhaps what they learn is only partially true. or something else exciting and fun.. the investigator at least preserves the status quo. or something equally awful that brings the Horror one moment closer to wakefulness. you must work one of the investigator’s comforts into the scene. This is more important than it seems... The first output is success or failure.either Starry Wisdom increases by one or it doesn’t. even if their investigation roll was a success. but it’s so terrifying to them as to be useless.either Weird Astronomy increases or it doesn’t. on the other hand. if Weird Astronomy increases.. The minions get the upper hand. Likewise.playstest doc. A successful roll should be accompanied with a fact. or for some reason not to be trusted. . The second is Weird Astronomy.allow the investigator to act in some way that holds back the arrival of the Horror just a little bit. and what are they doing? Also don’t forget. both of which are important when describing outcomes. This shouldn’t be treated as a passive event.. ideally one that makes most sense within the scene and answers questions the player (not necessarily the investigator) has..” The investigator may or may not learn a fact. I missed out on the Knowledge.. Interpreting Investigation Rolls Investigation rolls output two kinds of information. if Weird Astronomy doesn’t increase. A failed roll.solicit and run with it. or the grimoire is lost to the enemy.
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