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