In Nomine hack

  • 14 Replies
In Nomine hack
« on: July 30, 2012, 05:14:58 PM »
I went looking for a hack for In Nomine, and all I found was this. It looks nice enough, but I'd like to play with something that doesn't just take In Nomine's material whole-cloth, and doesn't just use AW's 2d6 system as-is. (The 111 and 666 intervention mechanics from In Nomine are non-negotiable for me and my players.) I already have an embarrassing amount of notes for how I might approach this, but here are some highlights to give a sense of where I'm headed:

1) Replacing AW's 2d6 system with a 3d6 system, which means a miss is 9-, a mixed success is 10-13, and a hit is 14+. (I picked these ranges because the odds of landing in the mixed success zone or the hit zone are within a few percentage points of the odds from the original system. ) A 111 roll represents the Blessed Trinity or the unity of Body, Mind, and Soul, and is thus a victory for the forces of Heaven. A 666 roll represents … well, take a guess.

2) Characters will have a playbook based on their Superior (Archangel or Demon Prince) matched with a cover sheet based on their angelic Choir or demonic Band. Each Choir/Band has a starting move in the form of its resonance, and can choose from a short list of other starting moves or Songs (which are basically spells). Ofanim, for instance, get to pick between a bonus to maneuvering with vehicles, and any of the Songs of Motion.

3) Rather than (or in addition to?) boosting stuff through XP, you gain Favor by furthering your Superior's Word (kind of like getting XP for fulfilling your Alignment in Dungeon World). If you want something that can only come from a Superior, like a Song or Attunement, you have to spend a certain amount of Favor to get it. Each Superior's playbook has all the original Choir and Servitor attunements from the book, but only a selection of Songs thematically relevant to that Superior (and an option to get Songs from the playbooks of allied Superiors, at an additional cost in Favor).

4) A lot of the stuff that requires consulting a 6-item table in In Nomine is getting collapsed into the full success/partial success system here. For instance, rather than dealing with 6 different degrees of how well you sense emotions as an Elohite, on a partial success, you get to ask 1 of 3 questions about a target's emotional state; on a full success, you get to ask all 3 questions.

5) I'm having a harder time figuring out how I want to deal with Forces, Characteristics, and modifiers. I could just ditch Characteristics altogether, basing rolls on your Forces in one of three areas (Corporeal for physical moves, Ethereal for intellectual and technical moves, and Celestial for social and emotional moves), but since Forces are always at least 1 in each area, that makes it tricky to assign negative modifiers to any stat.

Alternatively, I could just use the Characteristics from the original game, and say that Characteristics in each area just need to sum up to the Forces of that area: If you have 3 Corporeal Forces, for instance, you can have +3 Strength and +0 Agility, or +4 Strength and -1 Agility, and so on. That kind of gets screwy, however, when you get to discussing 18-Force celestials who should basically be maxed out in all stats. Whatever the case, I want to keep in mind that a +3 in Apocalypse World (2d6) is roughly equivalent to a +4.5 in this system (3d6), so modifiers shouldn't really get above 4 or 5 unless you're talking about the biggest badasses of Heaven and Hell.

I'm looking forward to any feedback you folks might have. I'm very new to AW and its variants, so I'm open to hearing obvious criticisms I might have missed. Thanks in advance.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2012, 01:35:47 AM »
I don't feel qualified to comment on the mechanics; I have never seen In Nomine, except as GURPS In Nomine, and never played it.

But the premise and flavour of In Nomine (from what I read in the GURPS edition) certainly seems a good fit for the Apocalypse World system, so I am looking forward to seeing this hack progress.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2012, 01:40:18 AM »
Thanks for replying. I'll be back to update on progress. Right now my big question is what the basic moves should be, as that seems to be the defining factor in what kind of stories you encourage everyone to tell. Beyond that, I'm generally leaning toward simplifying stuff, making it look more like Apocalypse World (and Monsterhearts) and less like In Nomine in terms of the amount of info on every page. We'll see how that goes over with my multi-year In Nomine group.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2012, 08:26:20 AM »
Really interested in this. Love In N but haven't played in many years. An AW hack is a great idea as it really suits the choirs / bands into playbooks and could link pretty readily to the magic.

For moves just think about what the characters will often try to do when you play In N, and spice it up to make it interesting.

I agree with the three dice, but wonder if 2d6 rolls vs success and the other d6 somehow improves the affect more like the original wouldn't be more interesting. Think of it like rolling hit and damage in DW at the same time.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2012, 04:01:41 PM »
I agree with the three dice, but wonder if 2d6 rolls vs success and the other d6 somehow improves the affect more like the original wouldn't be more interesting. Think of it like rolling hit and damage in DW at the same time.

Thanks for the feedback! I've been wondering whether there's some way to just do it as 2d6+d6 to keep the original spread from Apocalypse World and also preserve the "check digit" from In Nomine, but I'm having a hard time coming up with something that isn't overly complicated. The way I imagine it, there would be a lot of moves where that third die's result would be irrelevant, especially as AW already has a built-in "partial successes" that tend to give players more of a hand in interpretation. The nice thing about sticking with a base of 2d6, however, is that you keep other numbers in the game pretty low and manageable; +2 is a pretty big modifier on 2d6, but not as impressive on 3d6...



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Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2012, 04:38:31 PM »
You could keep the core role as 2d6, then add this as a core rule of the game:

- If you roll a natural 2, roll another die.  If it comes up 1, you've rolled the Holy Trinity.  That means...
- If you roll a natural 12, roll another die. If it comes up 6, you've rolled the Number of the Beast. That means...

Regarding the stats & the basic moves; yeah, that's pretty much designing the core of the game right there.  I'd caution against taking the stats directly from In Nomine, unless you think they really do describe and evoke the types of characters you want.  That's even more true with the core resolution mechanics in the original game.

I remember reading the original (well, original US version) In Nomine book, and loving the fictional description of the game.  But the rules, specifically the resolution mechanics, didn't seem like they'd actually generate that kind of story.  The basic moves are your opportunity to make mechanics that will generate those kinds of stories.

Final thought:  Dissonance definitely feels like a Harm-style track.  Maybe with its own move.  When you generate dissonance, roll +Dissonance. Y'know, like the Harm move.  And suffering Dissonance seems like both a hard GM move, and a possible 7-9 result on a basic move like when you sing one of your songs[/b].

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2012, 12:58:17 AM »
Hm, maybe I'll try that "roll 2d6, add 1d6 as needed" approach and see how it feels. My initial reaction was that it might not be quite as exciting as rolling 111/666 all at once, but then again, everybody goes "ohhhhh" at the table already when anybody rolls a 665, so it might even add to the tension. And in a group of angels, you're really pulling for that 111 when you roll a natural 2...

I think I agree with you, too, about the rules of the original In Nomine (and GURPS, for that matter) not always encouraging you to play the game it looks like it wants you to play. The combat system is a lot more streamlined and less detail-oriented than a lot of its other action-movie-oriented contemporaries, but it still feels built for people who want to keep track of a bunch of stats. I'm kind of excited to run it with only 4-5 stats (rather than 6 characteristics plus 3 realms of Forces, any of which might be added to one another and to other stuff in a variety of arcane contexts and combinations).

Also, I was definitely thinking about a roll+dissonance mechanic very much like you describe, so that's reassuring to hear bounced back at me. I think players would flip if there were a chance of earning dissonance for just randomly screwing up a song – for angels in particular, it should really feel like choosing to do something that takes you one step closer to Falling – but I'm delighted to make it scarier and less forgiving in related ways. Dissonance is supposed to be "unnerving" in the original rules, but this has no mechanical weight until it's converted to discord; plenty of ways to exploit that for a dedicated dissonance move's 7-9 or 6-.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2012, 09:46:43 AM »
Okay, I'm going to move a conversation over from the Blood and Guts forum, where I threw out this move for consideration:

Attack Someone
When you attack someone capable of fighting back, roll+hard. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7-9, choose 2. Unless otherwise noted, they can make a move in response.
  • Deal harm.
  • Gain some advantage over them or deal some disadvantage to them.
  • If you deal harm, increase harm by 1.
  • If they attack in response, reduce harm by 1.
  • Give them the option to ignore harm or a disadvantage (their choice) if they take cover, back down, or otherwise forgo fighting back.

I feel like it's a bit too fiddly, and there's some false choice in there. To me, it looks like my simple violence move except the initial choice offered to the enemy (allow your maneuver, submit to your demands, or suffer harm) has been put into the choices, which means that just allowing your enemy a way out weakens your leverage for coercing them to actually take that way out. And then +1 harm can't be chosen unless deal harm is chosen, but the choices are presented as if they have no prerequisites (also, Daniel will criticize you for this if I don't). It feels less user-friendly to me, but then again I'm not one of your players, so...

As for weakening your leverage by allowing a way out, that was actually quite intentional: A major element of this setting is that it is usually problematic to cause injury to humans (either because it causes celestial "disturbance" that other angels/demons can hear, or because some angels/demons are forbidden from injuring humans by their very nature).

I wanted to make a move that would (a) represent some chance (or risk) to harm your opponent AND (b) represent a conscious choice on your part to avoid doing harm at the expense of some other advantage, as "not doing harm" is often its own reward. That conscious choice may be the difference between an angel falling and not falling. And note that you can choose NOT to do harm with this move, so even on a 7-9, you could choose "deal a disadvantage" and "give them the option to ignore that disadvantage."

If there is a better way to do that, though, I am definitely open to suggestions.

As for the whole "prerequisite" logic of it, one of my players complained about this, so you're certainly not the only one to point it out. I thought it was pretty clear that anything starting with "if" could only be chosen under certain conditions, but I'm going to have to at least rephrase it, if not rework it substantially.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2012, 03:55:01 PM »
As for weakening your leverage by allowing a way out, that was actually quite intentional ...

Ah. Cool! I was not considering factors outside the move itself, so that's pretty interesting. I think that points to something unique going on in your setting, and a feature you should definitely stick with and highlight.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2013, 08:30:28 PM »
After months of not posting, it's probably already obvious that I abandoned this hack (for personal reasons I won't bore you with). I took a ton of notes before I had to quit, though, and I still hear occasional murmurs online of people wanting to hack AW for In Nomine, so I figured I'd post some of what I ended up with here in case someone stumbles upon it and feels like using it themselves later.

I never settled on how to handle playbooks, but I fiddled with two approaches. I have a ton of notes on this (including fully written out playbooks for individual Choirs and Superiors), but this post is going to be long enough as it is; message me directly if you actually ever want details.

Approach #1: Separate playbook for Choir/Band and Superior. Players pick two playbooks at character creation to combine them. The advantage is that it allowed for more text, allowing you to translate the resonances more directly from the original setting. The disadvantage was that it was cumbersome to have two playbooks.

Approach #2: Each playbook represented one Superior's Word from In Nomine. Every playbook had every Choir's resonance, dissonance, and Choir attunement listed on it. Rather than trying to translate resonances directly, I basically just made resonances into expansions of the basic moves. (Seraph resonance: "When you read someone and ask whether they're telling the truth," you get extra info, and know The Truth on a 12+. Balseraph resonance: "When you manipulate someone into believing your version of the truth," etc.) It meant more text on your playbook that didn't ever actually apply to you, but fewer playbooks for you to fumble with in total (and it's never bad to have a reminder of what your buddies can do).

I went with the standard Apocalypse World stats, albeit slightly renamed (Hard, Cool, Sharp, Smooth, Strange). I was never entirely happy with my altered basic moves, but here are some peripheral moves that might be helpful to anyone trying to hack In Nomine themselves.

Wake from Trauma: When you attempt to wake from trauma, roll+cool. On a 10+, you wake up feeling pretty with it. On a 7-9, you wake up feeling pretty disoriented; take -1 forward. On a miss, you stay in trauma. You can't attempt this move until you've been in trauma for a few days (say, 1 per decade that you've been on Earth duty), and you can only try the move daily. Change those to "weeks" and "weekly" in Limbo.

Listen to the Symphony: When you listen to the music of the Symphony, roll+strange. (Gain an additional +1 for a loud disturbance, +2 for a deafening disturbance.) On a 10+, you can sense echoes of disturbances and get a general idea of what caused them, plus a strong sense of where and when they happened. On a 7-9, you just get a vague sense of where and when. On a miss, you can still vaguely sense if something happened, but you definitely look like the weirdo who walks down the street listening for outer space transmissions.

Identify an Artifact: When you spot something you suspect is an artifact, roll+strange. On a 10+, you recognize it as an artifact, and have an idea of its general function. On a 7-9, you recognize it as an artifact, but damned if you know what it does.

Assume Another Form: When you wish to shed your vessel and to switch to another vessel or assume celestial form, roll+strange. On a 10+, you do it and cause a loud disturbance. On a 7-9, you do it, but must either exhaust your essence or cause a deafening disturbance instead of a loud one. ["Exhausting essence" was kind of like the "reload" tag on AW weapons, but more confusing than it needed to be.]

Suffer Dissonance: When you do something against your celestial nature, add 1 to your dissonance countdown and roll+dissonance. On a 7-9, take -1 forward. On a 10+, take -1 forward and choose 1:
• Go Outcast or Fall. (Not an option for Malakim or demons.)
• Gain 1 discord of the GM's choice (if you have any left to gain).

When your dissonance countdown reaches 12:00, if you're an angel, you Fall, then erase all dissonance. If you're a demon, every time you suffer dissonance, you gain 1 discord (even if it means coming up with new ones) and you suffer all the effects of the above list.

Convert Dissonance to Discord: Anytime you're not in the middle of suffering dissonance, you may convert dissonance to discord. If your dissonance countdown is at 9:00 or below, you may erase all dissonance and gain 1 discord. If your dissonance counter is above 9:00, you may exchange dissonance for discord on a 1 for 1 basis until you get down to 9:00.

Invoke a Superior: When you attempt to invoke your Superior, roll+favor. (+1 for highly favored, +0 for favored, -1 for unfavored, and -4 for a Superior you don't serve.) On a 10+, your Superior arrives and you lose favor. On a 7-9, your superior knows you tried to get in touch, but has better things to do. On a miss, either your Superior doesn't bother to show up, or your Superior shows up and decides servitors who need too much handholding must be taught a lesson.

Accept Redemption: If you are a demon being granted redemption from an Archangel, roll+dissonance. On a 10+, you become an angel of the opposing Choir, losing all your old dissonance, attunements, and rites. On a 7-9, you also lose some memories, or lose -2 to your old resonance stat but gain +1 to your new resonance stat. On a failure, you don't make it.

I went through and turned every Choir and Servitor attunement into the game into a move. Some make the transition more easily than others. Here are a few examples, but feel free to message me if you feel like seeing more.

Dominic's "Vassal of Judgment" distinction: When you stare down a mundane NPC or a PC with cool 0 or less, they immediately confess their crimes.

Kyriotate of Trade: When you resonate to possess a host, treat a 6- roll as a 7-9 roll.

Ofanite of War: At the start of a fight, you may choose to make a move before any opponent gets to act.

Rather than porting over the entire In Nomine skill list (which is sort of a strangely slapdash collection of skills of varying levels of utility), I made some extremely general "skill moves" that PCs could elect to take at character creation or when they take an advancement. You could technically pick any skill when you advance, but I meant for them to be matched up with particular superiors (e.g., technical skills listed on the Lightning playbook). Here are a few examples.

Technical skills: When you fiddle with one kind of mundane technology (pick one, like cars, personal computers, security systems, or _____________), roll+sharp. On a 10+, you do as much as you can with whatever tools and time you've got. On a 7-9, the GM also picks one:
• Your sloppy work causes a ruckus or leaves it noticeably fiddled with.
• It takes way longer than expected.
• You need to get or do something else before you can finish.
On a miss, the GM could pick all three, but you probably broke the damn thing beyond repair.

Fighting: When you use your preferred weapon or fighting technique (pick one, like firearms, swords, wrestling, or _____________), you can choose to do +1 or -1 harm on a successful hit.

Driving: When you pull off stunts behind the wheel, roll+cool. On a 10+, choose 3; on a 7-9, choose 2:
• You cause little damage.
• You (or your passengers, or your ride) suffer little damage.
• You make good time and/or outrun any pursuers.

That's enough of that. Feel free to message me if you're working on an AW/IN hack and want to talk shop. I had fun working on this and would be happy to help out someone looking to do it their own way.

EDIT to add: Oh yeah, the reason these moves are all using 2d6 numerical ranges rather than 3d6 (as my original post suggested) is that I changed my mind on that part way through. Someone on a forum suggested that if you want to keep In Nomine's "111" and "666" rolls, just have a custom move: "When you roll a 1-1 or a 6-6, roll another d6. On a 1-1-1, it's a divine intervention; on a 6-6-6, it's a demonic intervention." Never got to playtest it, but I like the idea, at least.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 08:35:55 PM by JasonT »

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2013, 09:12:51 PM »
Sorry to hear life got in the way, but thanks for posting these ideas. Hopefully someone will have a chance to pick this up and keep running with it.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2013, 12:04:17 AM »
Despite publicly abandoning this project, I had some ideas I really wanted to get on paper still, so I went ahead and made a sample playbook just for the heck of it. It's smaller in scope than what I originally intended, and ugly as homemade sin, but it was fun to try some stuff out.

So, that stuff I tried out:

1. As suggested above, everybody chooses a Superior page (playbook interior) and a Choir/Band page (playbook front cover). They're a bit cramped, but I think they work okay.

2. Also as suggested above, everybody has access to roughly the same half-page of resource options on the back cover, with only about 10 songs and the only really relevant aspects of roles, among a few other things. Again, cramped, and terribly pared down from what's available in In Nomine, but enough to keep you busy for a while of play (and hopefully not so much that it's way more daunting than the typical hack's playbook).

3. A different experience system, based on things you do that make your Superior happy with you, with a greater emphasis on politicking. I don't think what's in this draft would work perfectly – you should probably advance more slowly and have risk of losing favor, not just gaining it – but you get the idea.

4. The new resolution mechanic strongly encourages spending and bidding Essence over relying on the dice. I was inspired by the blood bidding mechanics of Undying here. I wanted to keep some use of dice, though, even if the odds are against you without spending Essence; I felt like In Nomine wouldn't be In Nomine without the constant hope/fear for "111" and "666" rolls. (Edit to add...) It occurs to me in retrospect that it's not really safe to rely on Essence this much unless it's much easier to get Essence back in play. I'm already ignoring the original game's "only once a day" rule for rites, but it's probably also worth it to throw in some more easily achievable rites, perhaps inspired by the original game's Invocation Modifiers (e.g., for Janus: "steal something small" or "get someone to diverge from routine").

5. Where I really start going off the rails: No stats, and only 3 basic moves. I was inspired by the very few basic moves of Ghost Lines here. (And I meant to put in a similar move to "impose your will" that relies on hierarchies between Choirs/Bands and distinctions, but I forgot. Maybe later.) I've been fiddling with a variant that uses just 3 stats corresponding to the 3 basic moves (Corporeal, Ethereal, Celestial), but I don't yet feel like you gain much from including stats at all. "What you're like" comes so much from your Choir/Band, and "what you can do" comes so much from your attunements and resources, which are still pretty great in number (as I tried to preserve my favorite things about original In Nomine character creation and setting details). Compared to these customization options, it didn't feel like minor differences in body/mind/soul numerical figures did much besides complicate the dice mechanics. That said, getting to gradually boost stats (and thus rely more on dice than on Essence) does make it easier to feel like your character is growing more powerful over time, and many players are really into that, so maybe I'll fiddle a bit more if I have time.

And, of course, I have playtested not a damn bit of this, so who knows if any of it would actually be fun.

I'm not sure of whether I'll return to this anytime soon – I have other projects in front of me that I kind of need to deal with first – but it sounded like at least a few people were interested in hearing about this, so I figured I'd share what I've been fiddling with. Commentary/critique is welcome as always, of course.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 12:18:12 AM by JasonT »

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2013, 07:42:16 PM »
And here's a slightly modified take, now with 3 stats (Corporeal, Ethereal, Celestial), among a few other tweaks. Still unsure whether stats actually make it better. Will let you know if I get a chance to try playing with anything like this.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2016, 12:43:04 AM »
Heya!  Any news on this thread?  I'd love to see all of the notes you've written.  I've had some ideas along these lines, and didn't want to re-invent the wheel.  I agree, 18-Force celestials would be a real beast.  Message me when you have a moment.

Re: In Nomine hack
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2016, 09:20:46 AM »
Hey, thanks for messaging! I backed off from doing a full-on redesign for a couple reasons, but I'm still fiddling with a shorter, World-of-Dungeons-style mini-hack. (Urban Shadows is scratching more or less the same itch for my group that the longer hack would have, and I'm personally finding it more fun to do more mini-hacks of a variety of games than fewer big conversions.)

I should probably take some time to make my notes readable to someone other than myself so I can post them here!