Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack

  • 10 Replies
Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« on: October 22, 2012, 03:59:10 PM »
I thought I'd make a hack that has the feel of the game series Silent Hill, the show Twin Peaks and the movies of Hitchcock, as well as a bunch of other stuff.

One of the big things in the game is that every player has three harm gauges (rather than clocks), one for physical harm, one for mental and one for getting tired- fatigue. I'm going for straight gauges like this > (x) () () () just because when you've got to manage three, you want simple stuff. Filling your physical kills you, your mental breaks you down and you loose the character, fatigue means you suck 'til you sleep.

I don't really know how to make a good pdf file, design wise, I mean I've got one made up with big font for the titles, smaller for the subtitles, bold on the moves when they're in a sentence, blah blah, but it's not right... so I'm just going to post what I've got into the thread for now. I don't know how often I'll update, but in a few weeks it'll be playable. Boom, lets go:
« Last Edit: October 22, 2012, 04:19:25 PM by Withers »

Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2012, 04:00:38 PM »

Welcome to Hushed Valley
Hushed Valley, a quiet rural town just off the road from where you're headed. The town is a tourist trap, a scenic resort, surrounded by high forested hills, with a pristine lake at it's heart. You need to stop for the night, and Cherryfield Hotel is the only place with rooms to spare. Its the busy season.

The Mother of All Wrong Turns
Doesn't it seem strange? How you got here. This was never where you were supposed to be. That last stretch of road was a lot longer than it should of been. On the surface the town appears to be what it claims, a cheery little place, maybe on the decline economically, a little old fashioned- but no, look again, it's falling apart. This is no place for visitors.

A Quick Guide to the Willow Shaded Town
The town was built along the edge of the forest, and though in time much of the trees were cleared to make way for farmland and housing, the town boasts vast woodland areas and still holds a tradition of allowing trees to grow wherever possible within the town, for both beauty and clean, country air.
The north of Hushed Valley is considered the "old town", quaint and wholesome, like a place from a simpler time; full of little trinket shops, parks, a golf course and the town's famous hiking trails. You'll never hear a police siren out here.
In contrast the south is bustling, modern- where the night life happens. The excitement never ends with such locales as King Casino, The Messenger nightclub and the delightful Blue Lion Circus. The bars even have nightly entertainment.
The lake connects the two halves via party yachts and ferries, though one can follow forest paths around. There is a small islet in the middle of the lake, known for it's serene atmosphere.

Layers of Filth
The town was founded by Samuel Humble, his wife loved the valley so for her he built a house. The town was founded by thieves. Hushed is not the place, but the people in it. Before the town the place was sacred. The standing stones and carvings are attractions now- or at least have signs in front of them. Getting to them can be… problematic. The town was founded by thieves and then they all died. Later foresters and fishers came to live here. Decent folk I bet. Naive. Then came farmers and then business of all kinds. The place had raw materials enough to fuel any venture in those days. The town grew with them, until it surrounded the lake. The population ledgers are full of holes. Numbers don't add up. During the Great Wars, it's isolated nature made it the perfect spot to build a prisoner of war camp. Many died behind the walls. None say why. Humble has no grave. Just a statue. The face is too worn. There was a fire. The hospital is built over another. The houses down town are all boarded up. An unknown plague. Missing people. Who checks the schools? The dogs don't bark. The town is lively and full of spirit, the kind of spirit towns just don't have any more. Thieves. The damp rises. The lake reaches out. There is a pumpkin growing contest every year. It's a friendly place. Nice. Cosy. Always has been.

Getting by in Hushed Valley
1. Look for the Tourist Information Centre right in the middle of town for a good start.
2. Be sure to eat at Mary's Cafe, try the soup of the day.
3. No one expects a tip, no matter the place, don't worry about it!
4. Lets hope you don't need it, but the hospital is on Sunderland Lane.
5. Warwick Park is beautiful at night, and has a good view of the lake.
6. Many locals are private people, don't stare or ask too many questions.
7. Please take the Derleth pleasure cruise across the lake!
8. Littering along the hiking trails is not tolerated.
9. Though a small town, it houses an amazing museum up on Siamese Street.
10. Don't pet the dogs.
11. The town can get a little misty, bring a flashlight.
12. Dress appropriately for the weather, we really don't want you going to the hospital!

There Are No Birds in the Trees
Did you notice?

The Quiet Observer, October 20th, 1902
Impressive Servies Protesting Weakness
Marching in serried lines to the music
of thirty bands, 10, 000 men, women
and youths are united this after-noon
in imposing brillianc; the religious
procession of which none have seen
before. This parade in the Holy Naame
while be led by Master Humble around
the edge of the Town, then through the
streets,, ending at the Lake to discourage
profanity in Men and bring prosperity to
the Town. Visitors are welcome t  join.

Journal Entry Seventy
Did you know there is a patron saint of soldiers? Got one in the cemetery. Lots of cemeteries here. I'm at the one next to Railroad Avenue. No train out of here though, you know that. Don't ask again. I went digging. Pink and soft still, they preserve the children somehow. They wrap them up, no coffin. Easy to get them out. The Patron says they're just sleeping. Just like the painting with the cherubs. He's gonna let me see it again after today. Just need a couple more sleepers. I have time before night comes. No one minds anymore. The ones that mind are sleeping too. My shovel is busy.

A Poem
Pieces of you
Pieces of me
Put them together
What do you see?
Things hiding inside
Come to the light
Born of our love
Spawn of your hate
Look at the world
we are bound to create

Hard Facts
a. You're not getting out of here any time soon. Roads will be blocked. The town will conspire against you.
b. No one lives here, not really. Figments, phantoms and others trapped, but thats about it. Most exist to push the outsiders along the path the town wants them to take.
c. This place is covered in mist. Sometimes though, it gets thicker. The Fog wants to trap you further. The Fog is subtle, but has an effect on the minds of those that wander within it for too long.
d. There are monsters in the fog. Things out of your nightmares, and others before you. They are pained, angry at their half-life and while a part of the town, they'd rather fucking kill you than offer purgatorial guidance.
e. Take what is offered. The town wants you to have it, and will make you use it.
f. Watch out for changes in the scenery. The town works on other levels than the one you understand. Sometimes you're here, sometimes you're in another kind of place, with new laws. How many Levels there are is forever unknown, maybe just two, real and unreal, or perhaps as many as the wavelengths of a radio, with degrees in-between.
g. You bring out the worst in an already tainted place. Even if you could kill everything you see, you've got to wonder if thats the best course of action.
h. You are here to learn something about yourself, your past, what you've done wrong. The place will still kill you if it gets the chance.
i. You're never safe, not anywhere. The rules are more complex than this list can provide.

Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2012, 04:04:17 PM »
Focus            As in clear-thinking, skilled, rational
Fight               As in aggressive, tough, violent
Flight            As in aware, fearful, reactive
Freakishness      As in sinister, strange, inhuman

Stats range from -1 to +3.
Starting stats: -1, 0, 1, 2. Max stat: +3.

[one less stat because doing stuff is kinda abstract in the town, and with lower stats over the course of the story, this forces players to roll, not having good stats is kind of a thing in this game]

Moves are what you do, that take effort, and have risk and possible reward. (I know you know that, just stay with me)

Keep a clear head (Focus)
When you need to keep a clear head or are forced to do so, roll+focus. One a 10+, you gain +1 forward. On a 7-9, you hesitate, back off or loose it for a moment before pressing on, choose 1:
   ?   You stare unblinking until an ally talks to you.
   ?   You fall to your knees, clutching your head.
   ?   You do not know if the next thing you see is real.
   ?   You receive a message from the apparent ghost of someone you know.
   ?   You drop something you own.
   ?   You expose someone else to danger.
   ?   You are exposed to immediate harm.
   ?   You attract the attention of a nearby monster.
   ?   You attract the attention of your demon.
   ?   You take 1 mental harm.
   ?   You lose your bearings and are separated from the group.
On a miss, you abandon your current action and the MC chooses 2, or makes a MC Move against you.

Make sense of the situation (Focus)
When you try to make sense of what is in front of you, roll+Focus. On a 10+, ask the MC 3 questions from the list below that your examination could answer. On a 7-9 ask 1. Take +1 forward when acting on answers.
   ?   What does ______ want?
   ?   How could ______ hurt me?
   ?   What is my best way in/way out/way past?
   ?   What should I be on the lookout for?
   ?   What is my biggest threat?
   ?   Was ______ here earlier?
   ?   Can I get by without physical harm?
   ?   Can I get by without mental trauma?
   ?   Is ______ safe to cross?
   ?   Is ______ natural?
On a miss, you are shaken by what you see. In the real world, that is the only negative, in the Fog and in other Levels, you take 1-mental harm.

Attempt to Jury-rig (Focus)
When you have to do something involving mechanisms, like hot-wiring a car or pushing through a puzzle rather than solving it, roll+focus. On a 10+ you succeed. On a 7-9 you succeed, but there are complications. On a miss you ruin your chance, breaking or short circuiting whatever you were attempting and take 1-physical harm in the process.

Go into the Fog (Focus)
When you go into the Fog, roll+focus. On a 10+, you enter the Fog and move steadily through it, choose 1:
   ?   You heal 1 point of mental or physical harm.
   ?   You can see important landmarks around of you.
   ?   Take +1 forward when you run for your life in the Fog.
   ?   Take +1 forward when you push yourself in the Fog.
   ?   Take +1 forward when you look for signs in the Fog.
   ?   Take +1 forward when you search the area in the Fog.
   ?   You know if any monsters are nearby.
   ?   You know your demon will not follow you, for now.
   ?   You can distinctly see your group members and keep them with you.
   ?   You know which direction will lead you to the thinner mists.
   ?   You know where you can find some useful gear.

On a 7-9, you move with trepidation, choose 1:
   ?   You see someone, or something, up ahead of you.
   ?   You are distracted by the presence of a lump, your next action must involve it.
   ?   An item you own breaks or goes missing.
   ?   Take -1 forward when you run for your life in the Fog.
   ?   Take -1 forward when you push yourself in the Fog.
   ?   Take -1 forward when you hide and hope in the Fog.
   ?   Take -1 forward when you follow the rules in the Fog.
   ?   Upon leaving the Fog you will be some distance from the group.
   ?   You loose sight of a group member. They are now some distance from the group.
   ?   You must make sense of the situation, whether you want to try or not.

On a miss, you stumble blindly, unable to see a foot in front of you. You take -1 when you act violently in the Fog and the MC may choose 2 from the above list, or make a MC move against you.

Open their heart (Focus)
When you try to find out about a person face to face, roll+Focus. On a 10+, ask the MC 3 questions from the list below that your intuition would allow. On a 7-9 ask 1. Take +1 forward when acting on answers.
   ?   Are they telling the truth?
   ?   Are they scared?
   ?   Are they angry?
   ?   What do they want from me?
   ?   How could I get them to ______?
   ?   Have they been here a long time?
   ?   Do they have hope of escape?
   ?   Have they seen the monsters?
   ?   Are they willing to fight monsters?
   ?   Are they as sane as I am?
   ?   Have they seen someone die recently?
   ?   Are they are old as they appear?
On a miss, you can't help but feel distrust towards the person. You cannot open their heart again for a day, and the MC is allowed to bend the truth when answering questions about them from now on.
This move can be used on other players, but it is the player who answers and they are under no obligation to tell the truth.

Push yourself (Fight)
When you are tired, hurt or weary, having gained a full gauge of fatigue, but must carry on, roll+fight. On a +10, you manage to work through it. Any lower, you must slow down, rest up or suffer -1 ongoing until you do.

Intimidate someone (Fight)
When you intimidate someone, roll+fight. On a +10, choose 2. On a a 7-9, choose 1:
   ?   They do what you want exactly, taking their time.
   ?   They try to do what you want quickly.
   ?   They try to do what you want quietly, without complaining.
   ?   You dominate them, you could kill them now without fear of them fighting back.
   ?   They're frightened of you, you gain +1 when trying to intimidate them again.
   ?   They don't hate you afterwards.
On a miss you have to back down and the person will have it in for you from now on.
This move can not be used on other players. Things which only appear human are not effected, though they might act like they are.

Act violently (Fight)
When you act violently, roll+fight. On a +10, you inflict harm on your opponent equal to your current weapon's harm rating and avoid any oncoming attack. On a 7-9, you deal damage to your opponent but expose yourself to attack. Violence will bring on fatigue that much quicker, after a lengthy battle the MC may grant combatants 1-fatigue. You also make noise that could attract more foes.
On a +10, in addition to your attack you may choose to:
   ?   Give it your all, dishing out an additional 1 harm, but taking 1-fatigue.
   ?   You do an an extra +1 harm, but expose yourself to attack.
   ?   Tackle your opponent, knocking them off balance, stopping them from making their next move and putting yourself directly in harms way. Take an additional 1 harm next time you are attacked.
   ?   Spread the damage across all possible opponents; such as a weapon of 3 harm across 3 monsters at 1 harm each.
   ?   Take away all fatigue.
On a miss, you stumble, aim poorly or are simply overpowered, you are attacked without impunity.

Defend someone (Fight)
When you act in the defence of another in combat or danger, roll+fight. On a 10+, hold 3.
On a 7-9, hold 1. So long as you stand in defence, when the person your defend is attacked you may spend a hold, to choose an option:
   ?   Redirect an attack upon the one you defend onto yourself.
   ?   Halve the attack's effect or damage.
   ?   Open up the attacker to an ally, giving that ally +1 forward against the attacker.
   ?   Draw the attacker to you instead, if you have already damaged it.

Avoid temptation (Fight)
When you must avoid committing a sin or repeating past mistakes, roll+fight. On a 10+ you move on and recover 1-mental harm. On a 7-9, you come close to your temptation whilst remaining composed or at least appearing relatively normal. On a miss you are compelled to act out your sin and will do so at the expense of more logical action.
Run for your life (Flight)
When you are being chased by something, roll+flight. On 10+, you gain enough distance to consider your options. On a 7-9, choose 1:
   ?   You maintain your pace and hope that is enough.
   ?   You gain distance, but you leave something behind.
   ?   You gain distance, but your escape didn't go unnoticed.
   ?   You gain distance, but you have to push yourself.
On a miss, your foe catches you.

Hide and hope (Flight)
when you try to hide and hope you are not found, roll+flight. On a 10+ you are completely hidden from sight, though some monsters might know you are in the area by their other senses, or though eldritch means. On 7-9, you are hidden, but must choose 1 complication:
   ?   You knock something over before you hide.
   ?   You have left footprints around where you are hiding.
   ?   You leave something you own away from your hiding place.
   ?   You are terrified and must try to ignore horror.
On a miss, you are spotted.

Search the area (Flight)
When you search for clues, scavenge for gear or look out for threats, roll+flight. On 10+ you find what you're looking for quickly. On 7-9,
you find the thing, if it is there at all, but it takes time. On a miss, you don't find anything.

Ignore horror (Flight)
When you try to ignore or rationalise what you have seen, roll+flight. On +10, your resolve is renewed and you remove 1-mental harm. On 7-9, you can't completely shrug off the burden, but it will do for now. On a miss, you inadvertently summon your demon, or if it is present, take 1-mental harm.

Pass torment onto another (Flight)
Once per session, during a conversation with an ally, you can try to pass your torment onto them by bringing up their own problems, injuries or weariness, when you do, roll+flight. On 10+ you can remove 1-physical, mental or fatigue harm and put it onto them. On 7-9, you can temporarily remove 1-physical, mental or fatigue harm and put it onto them, until morning. On a miss, your goading back-fires and they can put their troubles on to you if they wish, as if they had rolled 10+.

Manipulate someone (Freakishness)
When you try to convince someone to do something for you, either through bribery or more subtle means, roll+freakishness. On +10 you can nudge them towards what you need them to do, purely through talking to them. On a 7-9, they need some concrete reason to do a thing for you, and something they need, given to them. On a miss, they know something is up and no longer trust you.

Follow the rules (Freakishness)
When you try to follow the rules of a dark, malevolent Level in order to survive it, roll+freakishness and do something you think will work. These include drawing a well researched symbol of defence on the floor to protect yourself, jumping into a hole because you felt the town wanted you to, entering a code you saw on a wall into a locked gate, and many more besides. On a 10+, you manage to achieve what you wanted with relative safety, as if the town guided you from A to B. On a 7-9, you almost achieve what you wanted, but with a dangerous outcome. On a miss, no matter what the place looks like, things work as if you were in the real world, the symbol does nothing, you die when you hit the bottom of the hole and the codes bares no significance or something worse happens.

Look for signs (Freakishness)
When you look for signs and omens from the town itself, roll+Freakishness. On a 10+, ask the MC 3 questions from the list below. On a 7-9 ask 1. Take +1 forward when acting on answers.
   ?   What happened here recently?
   ?   What is about to happen?
   ?   What here is useful to me?
   ?   What here is not as it appears to be?
   ?   Should ______ be here?
   ?   How can I hurt ______?
   ?   Is this related to my psyche?
   ?   What does this represent?
   ?   Has the Level changed?
   ?   How soon is the Fog coming?
   ?   Where should I go next?
   ?   Who can't I trust here?
On a miss, you either gain 1-mental harm or must truthfully answer a question the town itself asks as the MC sees fit, often through use of creepy townsfolk, a sinister phone call or writing on the wall. The MC should keep a check on your misses when you look for signs, too many will result in the town bringing the hammer down on you, one way or another. Questions might include, but are not limited to:
   ?   What are you ashamed of?
   ?   What do you regret?
   ?   What secret do you keep from the others?
   ?   What do you fear?
   ?   Who do you hate?
   ?   Are you a strong person?
   ?   Who here is good?
   ?   Where do you think you are?
   ?   Who would you let die for you?
   ?   Who do you trust?
   ?   Where are you going?

Effect the Level of Existence (Freakishness)
When you try to switch from one Level to another, or just get back to reality, roll+freakishness. On a 10+, the town shifts to the desired level for your whole group, but every monster within it is alerted to your presence. If the town has shifted to the real, the Fog will be present upon entry, and you'll be right in the middle of it, having to roll to go into the Fog. On 7-9, you partially change the Level, causes things to meld together in revolting, anguished ways. Monsters may begin to fight amongst themselves, but they'll still come after you. On a miss, you remain where you are and gain 1-physical harm.

Invoke a Power (Freakishness)
Throughout Hushed Valley there are ancient idols, carved symbols, artefacts and tomes of lore. If you come across one, and the MC should tell you when something has an aura of infernal power, you can invoke whatever dark being wants to claw out after researching it or doing something equally relevant. Every Power is different, but there is always a price, be it health permanently taken or a grisly mission to undertake on behalf of your new master. To invoke a power, roll+freakishness.
On a 10+, you use whatever ability it grants successfully. On a 7-9, you use the ability, but there are complications, such as the town reacting to the power in an unforeseen way. On a miss, something uses the power, but it isn't you, and your actions are forfeit to the MC until daybreak.
Once someone has spent time with their object of power, they can ask them questions during any downtime, if they are away from the group, as you'd expect, they need not tell the truth.
After being invoked, getting rid of the object is difficult.


The Seal of Mahalat
Form: A tarnished silver emblem, baring the face of a beautiful woman.
Wants: To make others agree that humans are inherently evil.
Ability: Can further ignite fires and combust flammable materials.
Price: -1 mental health, permanently.

Book of Agony
Form: An ancient book, bound in bronze, with leather pages.
Wants: To make people suffer, in order to make them strong.
Ability: Acts as a weapon, near, 5 harm.
Price: Physical health can not be healed.

The Cherubs in the Garden of Humbleness
Form: A small renaissance painting that uses bright angelic figures to accent the darkness.
Wants: To collect everything that is beautiful and destroy that which is ugly.
Ability: Take +2 ongoing when manipulating someone.
Price: You can no longer avoid temptation.

Skeleton Key
Form: A key, any key.
Wants: To be able to move freely between Levels.
Ability: Can open any door, even if it has no apparent key hole.
Price: Take 1 from your lowest stat, put it into Freakishness.

The Ring of Alizer
Form: An eternally warm iron ring, embossed with strange markings.
Wants: To spread the mark to others.
Ability: Burn the Mark of Alizer into those you touch. They become monsters over the space of a week.
Price: You can no longer ignore horror.

Little Bones
Form: Tiny sparrow bones, tiny human skull.
Wants: To live a "normal" life, with a good mother and father.
Ability: Cripple electronic devices. Make lightbulbs give off light, without an active source of power.
Price: Little Bones can hurt you if she gets upset, even when she is not in direct control.

Defy Danger (Any)
When you defy danger by dodging out of the way you:
   ?   Avoid danger with your well timed action. (roll+Focus)
   ?   Avoid danger by staying calm. (roll+Focus)
   ?   Avoid danger with your gut instinct. (roll+Fight)
   ?   Avoid danger by using your strength. (roll+Fight)
   ?   Avoid danger by acting fast. (roll+Flight)
   ?   Avoid danger by acting cowardly (roll+Flight)
   ?   Avoid danger because that wasn't meant to be. (Freakishness)
   ?   Avoid danger by warping space. (Freakishness)
On a 10+, you get out of the way, the threat passes you by. On a 7-9, you don't quiet make it, the MC can give you a worse outcome, hard bargain or ugly choice. On a miss the worse outcome is inevitable.

Tend wounds (Nothing)
When you treat someone with a half full or less physical harm gauge, roll+nothing. On a 10+, reduce their harm by 1. On a 7-9, reduce their harm by 1 until the MC makes a move that says otherwise. On a miss, you can't help them, and you might have caused a problem for them later.

Rise Again
If you die, you will find yourself away from it all, floating in swirling mist. The shapeless entity of in the town will cut you a deal, for a price. If you agree to it's terms you return to life, if not, you're done. You are no longer human if you come back, and at times you won't look it either, usually in reflections or recordings. If you rise again, you can never leave the town.

[thats it for now, gaps need to be filled, some basic moves need to be added back in, just doing stuff is always okay too]

[you still with me? poor soul]

Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2012, 04:10:59 PM »
[I feel like this is all my best stuff, but fuck it, its free]

[there are no playbooks! Ah! you can just pick one when you take an advance, they're more for flavour than anything, some are better than others, and lastly, you don't get many over the course of a story]

Special Moves
Special moves can be bought with advances, they add flavour to a character and may help them survive.

Damaged Goods
When looking for signs, you never take mental damage on a miss, but must answer 2 questions, from an expanded list, including:
   ⁃   Why shouldn't you be loved?
   ⁃   What is wrong with you?
   ⁃   What past relationship causes you problems?
   ⁃   Why should you live?

Just a Cat
Once during the entire story, you can have a scratching behind a door, a rustling behind a bush or something similar turn out to be just a cat.

I'm Looking for my Daughter
When you search an area, roll+focus.

Know your Bloodstains
When you've made sense of a situation and are acting on the MC's answers, take +2 instead of +1.

By the Will of God
When you look for signs, roll+fight.

When you manipulate someone, you are still trusted on a miss and can try again sooner rather than later.

Judgement's Gaze
When you open their heart add the following questions:
   ⁃   Who have they hurt?
   ⁃   Have they ever committed a crime?
   ⁃   Could they kill in defence?
   ⁃   Do they work for someone?
   ⁃   Have they met ______?
   ⁃   Are they influenced by the town?
   ⁃   Where were they last?

Receiver of Guilt
Once per session, during a conversation with an ally, you can try to take on their burden, when you do, roll+fight. On 10+ you can take 1 mental or fatigue harm from them and place it upon yourself. On 7-9, you can temporarily take 1 mental or fatigue harm from them and place it upon yourself, until morning. On a miss, your sympathy back-fires and they receive 1 fatigue harm.

I am the Law
When you intimidate someone who fears the retribution of law enforcement, gain +1 forward against them.

All you need to open their heart is some personal thing they own, like a watch or pair of boots, they don't have to be near you.

Target Practise
+1 harm when you wield a gun.

+1 harm when you wield a bladed weapon.

Bloody Good Surgeon
When you tend wounds, roll+focus. On a miss, you can't help them, but you don't make it worse.

Like Gravity
When you pass torment onto another, roll+freakishness.

Foretold by Gyromancy
By performing some form of researched ritual during downtime, you can ask +1 question when you look for signs, even on a miss.

Tingle in the Spine
Whenever you see something in the distance, or hear something creep about, roll+focus. On a hit you can ask the MC questions. On a 10+, ask 3. On a 7-9, as 1:
   ⁃   What can I put between it and me?
   ⁃   How big is it?
   ⁃   How fast is it?
   ⁃   Is it vulnerable to anything?
   ⁃   Has it seen me?
   ⁃   Have I seen something like it before?
   ⁃   What would distract it?
   ⁃   Can it talk?
On a miss, it will head for your direction or appear to vanish, whatever is worse.

Only Child
When you do something in secret, without telling anyone in your group, you gain +1 forward.

Innocent Face
When you are the target of a human's aggressive or violent behaviour, roll+flight. On a 10+, they may not physically harm you.
On a 7-9, the attacker may choose 1:
   ⁃   Inflict no more than 1 physical harm.
   ⁃   Take something from you by force.
   ⁃   Humiliate you, giving you -1 forward with them until you even the score.
On a miss, they're not falling for it. This move is useless to you while you are
engaged in aggressive or violent behaviour of your own.

Right at Home
Once per session, you can "remember" a place or person. They now exist in some form. Every time this move is used the MC can move to harm you mentally.

Living Shadow
Name your escape route and roll+flight. On a 10+, you’re gone. On a 7-9, you can stay or go, but if you go it costs you -- either leave something behind or take something with you (MC’s call). On a miss you find yourself vulnerable.

From the Abyss Outward
You can see attempt to see through the eyes of your demon, roll+freakishness. On a 10+, you see the distorted vision of the demon, wherever it may be, for as long as you stay still. You cannot see with your own eyes while you do this. On a 7-9, you can see through it's eyes for a moment. The demon now knows where you are. On a miss, you are blinded for a moment and the demon knows where you are.

When you preach of the town's power to an audience, roll+freakishness. On a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1:
   ⁃   You put fear into their hearts.
   ⁃   You put them in a state of melancholy.
   ⁃   You make them angry at the town, driving them to vandalism.
   ⁃   You make them angry at the town, enough to attack monsters.
   ⁃   You make them brave enough to enter the Fog.
   ⁃   You successfully accuse someone with no allies of being on the town's side.
   ⁃   You make them believe they should be here.
On a miss, they turn on you. You might be able to escape, but you can't kill them all.

Play Dead
Once per session, you can appear dead when you have 1 physical health left. Be your foe human, monster or otherwise, you will be left for dead. This will only work once against a given thing.

Redemption in Death
When you take enough harm to die, you take whoever killed you with you. This may even include a group, if they were all acting with the intent to kill you. Describe what happens.

You sometimes catch sight of the ghost of a loved one. They ask you to do things for them, if you follow their request, gain +1 foreword when acting on their behalf. If not, you take -1 until you loose sight of them.

Broken Memory
Pick another player, whenever you would answer a question about your character, they do it for you. You gain +2 foreword whenever you are defending or aiding them.

Damn this Place
When you act against advice given by locals or the town itself, mark experience.

Just a Dream
Once during the entire story, you can make a session just a dream, and have the whole group awaken completely healed in one of the town's hotels. Experience and gear gained still count.

All in the Mind
Choose an inanimate object in sight, of any size, roll+focus, on a 10+ you alter 1 aspect of it from the list below. On a 7-9, you alter 1 aspect, but rather than the aspect you desired, it is changed to the one below it on the list:
   ⁃   Broken.
   ⁃   Fixed.
   ⁃   Closed.
   ⁃   Open.
   ⁃   Stationary.
   ⁃   Moving.
   ⁃   +1 harm, if it can be used as a weapon.
   ⁃   Range increased by 1 stage, if it can fire or be thrown.
   ⁃   Silent.
   ⁃   Loud, if it can be used as a weapon, if becomes Messy.
   ⁃   Fully loaded.
   ⁃   Empty.
   ⁃   Clean.
   ⁃   Covered.
   ⁃   Stable enough to hold my weight.
   ⁃   Electrified, or otherwise harmful to touch.
   ⁃   Valuable.
   ⁃   +1 armour, if it can be worn or held up.
   ⁃   Remove noticeable marks, like branding or signs of ownership.
   ⁃   Gone, but you don't know where to...
On a miss, the object remains unchanged or is destroyed, whatever is worse, and you take 1 mental harm.

Raised by Auntie
You can completely change your looks and name, one time only, at a relevant point, but you are still you.

Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar
When you keep a clear head, roll+fight. You get a partial success on 5-9.

Mark experience when you:
   ⁃   Overcome a monster; by killing it, trapping it or at times, just escaping it.
   ⁃   Find something that might help you escape the town.
   ⁃   Find out information about the town's origins.
   ⁃   Find out something dark or forgotten about yourself.
   ⁃   When you don't take the easy option.
   ⁃   When you put yourself in danger to save someone's life.

When you mark experience five times, take an advance and erase your experience marks.

Spend advances on this list, each one can only be taken once:
   ⁃   Raise a stat from -1 to 0
   ⁃   Raise a stat from 0 to +1
   ⁃   Raise a stat from +1 to +2
   ⁃   Raise a stat from +2 to +3
   ⁃   Increase physical gauge by 1
   ⁃   Increase physical gauge by 1
   ⁃   Increase mental gauge by 1
   ⁃   Increase mental gauge by 1
   ⁃   Increase fatigue gauge by 1
   ⁃   Increase fatigue gauge by 1
   ⁃   Get a new special move
   ⁃   Get a new special move
   ⁃   Get a new special move
   ⁃   Rework your stats so focus is the highest
   ⁃   Rework your stats so freakishness is the highest
   ⁃   Hold 2, you can spend this to completely empty your harm gauges
   ⁃   Hold 2, you can spend these to do a move as if you had a 10+ success
   ⁃   Advance one of your special moves, discuss with the MC
« Last Edit: October 22, 2012, 04:16:30 PM by Withers »

Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2012, 04:13:17 PM »
[none of what you are about to read makes sense or is of any mechanical value]

The Creatures of the Town

Pitiable things that shiver and wail in the dark
The town takes, and can take too much, leaving behind half-things and hollow echoes of life. Murmuring ghosts, warm masses of twitching flesh, even people, the kind with dark rimmed eyes, that run from any who spot them.

Lumps just want to be left alone. When you catch sight of one, they really are caught in the crossfire.

After a while lumps can be seen by the PCs in the real world, especially if they are ghosts. No one else can, or at least claim not to.

They exist to reveal despair. Whenever PC's think they're at the bottom, the MC should set a scene with a Lump in the background, crying out for mercy that will not come or whispering of certain doom.

+1 ongoing against 'em?
can't miss 'em in a fight?

Brutal things of meat and sinew that want to share their pain
Spawned from the depths of the town, from nightmares, echoes of the past and those souls who have become truly lost; they want nothing more than oblivion. They are twisted abominations, with just enough human features to make you wonder if they were ever like you.

Monsters are knee deep in the rules of other Levels, they can be both unnaturally strong and surprisingly fragile, both deadly stalkers and kept at bay by childish means. They are creatures of strange ways, can't move in the light, mustn't leave school grounds, must collect money, needs to close doors.

They are never found in the real world, their haunt is the Fog and the Levels. The ones in the fog are often misshapen grunts that take on zombie-like forms and move like them too, while the ones in other Levels reflect personal tragedies, fear and sin, perhaps from hundreds of years of human subconscious and are much more capable, perhaps with some narrow intelligence.

Monsters are infinitely numbered, always roaming the Fog- but in truth, they're most often found hovering at the edge of vision, rather than jumping out at the PCs. A group of monsters should be a set piece, a point of serious danger where choices are made and PCs come off worse for it.

[not sure whats going on stat wise, very simple: 4 HP, 2 harm, loud messy blind etc.]

Oppressive personifications of sin and punishment
You take your demon with you everywhere, only in Hushed Valley does it start to walk on it's own two feet. They are full of rage at their existence, for they are both made of your sins, and hold an innate desire to punish you for them.
Their appearance stems directly from a PC's mind, a memory, a fear, often mixed with the imagery they see about town.

Demons can be slain in combat, but they'll always come back… unless the sins they are made from are undone, absolved or moved on from. In essence, the demon will hunt their PC for almost the entire story, save for a final confrontation or a moment of clarity- where they dissipate into nothingness.

They usually cannot enter the real world, they rarely make an appearance in the Fog. They prefer indoor environments of the other Levels.

In theory every PC has a demon, but for shorter stories or narrative reasons, the MC may secretly select a player to be have the Mantle of Sin, and have one, powerful demon menace the group in their need to hunt down the PC.

[demons should be catered to the player, not sure how to help people make them because I've not made any myself, here goes...]

-1 ongoing against your demon? any demon?
no 10+ roll against 'em?

The Shovel Man
A hulking earthen creature that carries a shovel over it's broad shoulder and pulls a coffin along on a hefty chain.

Health Gauge   [_]  [_]  [_]  [_]  [_]  [_]  [_]  [_] { Got just one health to track… but it can all be hand waved
2 harm in a straight fight, 3 harm when PC is surprised, 4 harm in a Level relating to him/a special place { no idea

Master of Earth
The Shovel Man can sense vibrations through the earth. He cannot be snuck behind.
10+ rolls do not count when running for your life from The Shovel Man over natural ground, like park grass, forest floor, mud.
He remains unharmed by piercing weapons.
He is strong enough to break down walls.
He can heal himself by filling his wounds with grave soil.

Endless Pathways
The Shovel Man can twist and pull a Level around, making a road, corridor or stretch of forest loop back on itself. He can't move towards them as he does this.
Players must use the move push yourself to get out of the loop.

Imbalance of Water
The Shovel Man cannot pass across moving water.
He will act erratically around large bodies of water.
He will concentrate his aggression on whoever dares throw water at him.

Impulse: To show the finality of death.

The Beautific
A seven foot tall albino ballet dancer, with vicious razor blades for feet and hands.

Health Gauge   [_]  [_]  [_]  [_]  [_]  [_]  [_]  [_]
1 harm, near messy bleeding { roll+harm done repeatedly

Quick as Knives
The Beautific will always surprise when on the attack, but will not harm anyone during her first move.
She is too quick to be harmed by blunt hand weapons.
She can fit into spaces her size should not allow.
She can heal herself from serious injury by forming a cocoon around herself. After a week she reappears, fully healed.

All Too Human
The Beautific can mimic the voice of the last person to die in front of her, but can only say stock phrases that person may have used.

Monstrous Etiquette
The Beautific cannot open doors and will not try to break them down. She will however, knock.
She cannot enter a building through any means other than a open door.

Impulse: To teach the ugliness of vanity and envy.

Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2012, 04:17:36 PM »
The Master of Ceremonies
   ?   Make a world of psychological horror.
   ?   Make Hushed Valley seem uninviting and run down.
   ?   Make the Fog grim, dangerous and slow to traverse.
   ?   Make the Levels surreal, intense and alien.
   ?   Make the players' characters' lives a slow descent into Hell.
   ?   Reveal the dark side of the characters.
   ?   Play to find out what happens.

Always Say
   ?   What the principles demand.
   ?   What the rules demand.
   ?   What your preparation demands.
   ?   What honesty demands.

The Principles
   ?   Twist everything to suit surreal horror.
   ?   Address yourself to the characters, not the players.
   ?   Make your move, but misdirect.
   ?   Make your move, but never speak its name.
   ?   Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.
   ?   Respond with false hope and intermittent rewards.
   ?   Be unbiased when dealing with players' characters.
   ?   Think off-screen.
   ?   Sometimes, disclaim decision-making.

Your Moves
   ?   Separate them.
   ?   Capture someone.
   ?   Put someone in a spot.
   ?   Trade harm for harm.
   ?   Announce off-screen villainy.
   ?   Announce future threats.
   ?   Take away their gear.
   ?   Make them buy, or trade.
   ?   Activate their gear's downside.
   ?   Tell them the possible consequences and ask.
   ?   Offer then an opportunity, with cost.
   ?   Turn their move back on them.
   ?   Make a threat move.
   ?   After every move: "what do you do?"
   ?   Tempt them.
   ?   Pursue them.
   ?   Harm them mentally, towards breakdown or madness.
   ?   Summon their demon.
   ?   Create a puzzle they must solve.
   ?   Scare their character.
   ?   Trap them.
   ?   Force their hand.
   ?   Displace the nature of the world.
   ?   Make them enter a pitch black area.
   ?   Imply someone is evil.
   ?   Let the Fog roll in.
   ?   Change the Level.
   ?   Make the PCs black out, return them to the real world.
   ?   Change the shape of the world.

A Few More Things to Do
   ?   Make maps, they don't have to all match up.
   ?   Turn questions back on the asker or over the group as a whole.
   ?   Digress occasionally.
   ?   Elide the action sometimes, and zoom in on its details other times.
   ?   Go around the table.
   ?   Take breaks and take your time.
   ?   Set the mood with dim lighting, perhaps candlelight.

Arc Words
Arc words are mysterious words or phrases that are repeated throughout a story, unexplained until just the right moment or even left to the players to decide amongst themselves. They're just an idea, you don't have to make use of one, but they can be creepy if they turn up in unexpected places, or if they are said by someone who is otherwise harmless. Here are some to give you an idea:

Old habits die hard.   
We've met before, haven't we?
Take the leap.
Are you watching closely?
It is written.
The Angel is coming.
It grows.
The eyes of death are intoxicating.

Setting Expectations
Your characters don't have to be friends, but save for a few others that are likely half gone, they are the only real, wholly humans in town, and that alone draws them together.
They can manipulate each other.
They can become enemies in time, but should start out by working together, if only for the security.

You're not perfect, you've got secrets and sins, just like everyone else.

You're not special… as such. Two PCs can be similar, you're not the one and only, but narratively speaking, the group might be"chosen".
You could all just be nobodies, too.

The MC, well, he is kind of out to get the PCs, but he also wants them alive long enough to experience the place and all the nasty things that go on there. Demons can leave someone near dead, a falling death trap can suddenly stop. PCs should get closer to death more through their own foolishness and bad behaviour.

My Design Goals (so far)
The characters are weak.
The players will mess with each other, the moves are bent that way.
The players should be able to do creepy magic because… why not? Also it makes them feel corrupted, maybe?
Maybe only one player gets the "good ending" so there is a subtle fight to get that?

Names of People
Harry               Heather         Bates
James               Maria            Bedlam
Norman            Carrie            Townsend
Eddie               Clair            Poe
Jasper               Angela         Kaufmann
Vincent            Monica         Wolf
Daniel               Veronica         Gainbourg
Edgar               Laura            Breckenridge
Leon               Rose            Gillespie
Nicholas            Sophia            Price
Zachary            Ginger            Grimm
Michael            Rachel            Mitchell
Shane               Alice            Holden
Benjamin            Holly            Novak
William            Serenity         Islington
Saul               Hope            Hitchcock
Lee               Joan            Crane
Jonas               Emma            Snow
Andrew            Regan            Salem
Elliot               Sabrina         Torrance
Cullen               Zara            Mignola
Dennis            Carly            Cooper
Christian            Elizabeth         Ramsey
Henry               Valery            Lovecraft
Randolph            Matilda         Wake
Tomas               Gwendolyn      Orwell
John               Mira            Napier
Keane               Coraline          Pleasant
Marcus            Agatha         Turner
Edmund            Dorothy         Black
Cornelius            Agnis            O'Callaghan

[I did all this today after work. I may have brain problems.]

Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2012, 04:18:04 PM »
So, tell me what you think.

Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2012, 02:24:40 PM »
Day 2 is always the day when nothing happens.

Stuff I'm working on:

Monsters with stats and moves, pretty simple ones.

Making demon to player stuff make sense.

A map of the town (a possible map of a version of the town, the town changes)

Some bad art by me, of monsters and people.

Character sheet.

Putting Hx back in as Relationships or something.

Making up the Look lists.

I really like the special moves I've made, since they let the players run the narrative and just seem fun to me, I'd like some feedback on them...



Look. Choose one from each line:
Form: girl, boy, woman, man, androgynous
Eyes: bright, watchful, cold, piercing, moody, fascinating, haunted, twitchy, jaded, dark, emotional, blank
Face: striking, pallid, haggard, obscured, trustworthy, impassive, lost, nondescript, disfigured, proud, gentle, hard
Body: gaunt, slim, toned, muscular, compact, obese, concealed, willowy, frail, tall, stooped, scarred
Wear: tourist, casual, blue-collar, corporate, uniform, old fashioned, subcultural, scrounged, waterproof

« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 05:35:45 PM by Withers »

Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2012, 01:27:04 PM »
Alright, I'll come back when its more polished.



  • 59
Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2012, 02:11:31 AM »
Hi Withers,

  First off, I really like you're working with of a silent hill-esque AW hack. I've toyed with similar things myself, but it really looks like you've taken the task on full bore and in a neat way. I think this is an neat project that could turn into a really cool game.

  Now, with my being a fan established, here is my (admittedly totally amateur) constructive criticism:
  • The descriptions of Hushed Valley are very color evoking, but are a little disjoined in their organization - I'm not really sure how I would digest them if I was a player. This might just be because this is a first draft, but it was something I noticed.
  • The moves, they are too many. Again, very color evoking, but just unmanageably numerous. AW has only a few basic moves on purpose, and leaves the extras to character playbooks. This means, as a player, you don't have to eat the whole cow in one bite. I feel like it might be best to crop down the choices into fewer, more dynamic options, and parsing the advanced options into some concrete categories. Since you've decided to go without character types (something I would suggest reconsidering, but totally respect), this might be trickier, but there are ways. Something that I've heard Dungeon World does is give monsters special moves (i.e. goblins setting off traps, gelatinous cubes having people walk into them, etc). Maybe something like this could help streamline when certain moves come into play.
  • I think the nature of the health gauge and the detailed demon lists will create a more fight-y style of feel than this game seems to be aiming for. If that's your goal, then by all means go for it, but I feel like a game like this would really play best if the violence in it is short, sudden, devastating, and horrific. Drawn out, D&D-esque hit exchanges will not convey this.
  • For the MC stuff, again, there is just too much. I can really see Silent Hill's influence in your choice options here (which is cool!), but I would recommend cutting down on the quantity and honing in on the real juicy bits.
  • As I've mentioned, there's a lot of stuff here. I'm guessing that, like me, you probably come from a pretty traditional, D&D filled background when it comes to rpgs. One of the neat things that I've noticed about AW is it really facilitates collaborative gameplay and reactive creativity, by being an evocative and directed set of tools that players and MCs can work with, not a predetermined list of things for the MC to run the players through. To give an example of how to apply this with your work, I would recommend creating a "how to make demons" section over a monster-manual style list of demon after demon. Keep some demons for examples and color, but leave the nitty gritty bits to the people who play the game.

I hope some of that was helpful. Again, I really to like the idea and think this project has a lot of potential!

If your intersted, I would be down talk to you about my personal (and again amateur) experience of putting together PDFs of hacks and such (i.e. this or this).

Again, you've got some real neat ideas here. Thank you for sharing them with everyone!
Welcome to Jwokalypse World

Re: Hushed Valley: A surreal horror hack
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2012, 09:27:58 PM »
I'm interested in what you've got here but I needed to think about it for a while. I want to push you on some things because I think you're on to something, but you're not quite there yet.

So, okay, first of all, you give us some of the source material that's inspiring you. And you give us some flavour up front, with your run down of Hushed Valley facts, history, and background. Well, okay I like Silent Hill, and I like Twin Peaks, but---I'm not sure what they have in common. I mean, the trappings are there: small town, lurking supernatural horror. But the stories they tell are fundamentally different, right?

Silent Hill is survival horror, where you're waiting for the monster to jump out and chase you down. People are trapped in Silent Hill because the roads are blocked and there's magical mist. When violence happens, it's a demon or a ghost coming after you, and you can't hurt it; you can resist long enough to escape or temporarily pin the monsters down, but you can't take them on directly and you're very likely to be overwhelmed.

Twin Peaks is about the rotten shit that's festering under the sunny patina of everyday life. People can come and go, but if they're stuck, or if they keep coming back, it's because they're personally entangled in intimate, corrosive stuff and can't get away from it. When violence happens, it's between people, and it's personal: it's someone you know, and there's a grudge, or a crime, or something very human involved, even if it's being incited by woodland spirits.

So, my first thought is that you should pick one or the other, and focus on it. I mean, you also cited Hitchcock, and I don't even really know what to do with that, because I have even less of an idea what that means in this connection. Anyway, I'm seeing a LOT more Silent Hill than Twin Peaks or anything else, so I think maybe that's the angle that interests you more, is that right? Personally, I think a thing you should do is put more of the world building in the hands of the players at the table. But you should definitely have a direction for them to go.

One way this decision is going to impact your game is that these two sources suggest completely different styles of combat, and both are completely different from the D&D model or even the AW model of applying numerically-rated harm to a physical harm gauge.

In a Silent Hill styled game, you're rarely fighting mere mortals like yourself, right? You're fighting monsters. And there's not much point in applying harm to monsters, because you're not really going to bring them down. (Sometimes there's a swarming monster and you can pick off individual members of a swarm, but in that case you might as well treat the whole swarm as a monster anyway, since the danger of the swarm of little monsters is the same as the danger from one big nasty fellow.) And I would submit that you don't need to have monsters apply harm to the PCs, either; either the PCs manage to get away, or they're overwhelmed, but there's not really much middle ground. You might want to have conditions and status effects to account for injuries, but in general I think you could just have a fight move structured in such a way that you get away on a strong hit, and on a weak hit you get away but you leave something behind or take something (possibly an injury) with you.

In a Twin Peaks styled game, though, you're exclusively fighting mortals, never monsters. You can't physically hurt the supernatural beings in Twin Peaks. You're fighting their pawns and patsies, the mortals they've corrupted and tempted or otherwise manipulated. Okay, but in that case, you probably want something that looks more like real-world combat, which is pretty sloppy and unpredictable. Nobody in Twin Peaks is a jujutsu bad ass or anything. Again, you could probably just use conditions and status effects to account for injuries. You could probably run all combat with a stipulation that says, hey, when you are fighting hand to hand with someone, the MC arbitrates the outcome, generally by applying the moves "apply harm" or "trade harm for harm" (or injurious status effects, as the case may be). You might put some rules in place to emulate the way guns are used in stories like this (NOT the AW firearms rules). I have some thoughts about this, but they're probably for another thread.

The point I'm angling to make here is that you should focus on what kinds of stories you want to recreate, and you should look at EVERYTHING with a view to whether it contributes to the telling of those stories. I can see you've made some effort to do that, but you can go deeper: you should be asking, does this kind of game need health gauges and fight moves at all? Do you need any gauges, or stats? Maybe not! That kind of thing.

On the topic of stats. One thing you should have in mind here is, how often do you want characters to succeed at their rolls? An unmodified 2d6 roll gets a soft hit 15/36 of the time (41.7%), and a strong hit 6/36 of the time (16.7%). In other words, +0 gets you a hit 21/36 of the time (58.3%). That's better than even odds --- and that might be good enough for a horror game. Maybe you don't want the characters to have TOO good of a chance. If that's true, you might not want any stats at all. Rolls are generally unmodified, and have no guaranteed bonuses. You might make a +1 a rare commodity, so everything's chancy as hell. For comparison, +1 to the roll gets you a hit 26/36 of the time (72.2%), and +2 gets you a hit 30/36 of the time (83.3%). By the time you get to +2, you're equally likely to get a strong hit as a soft hit. AW has stats that go up to +3 or even +4, because it's about bad asses who roll the world up and smoke it. A horror game is a different kind of thing, right?

Why did you want to include a Freakishness stat? Why would the PCs be freaky in a game inspired by your source(s)? Isn't that something for the monsters?

I could go on and say some more specific things about the moves, but first I want to know whether this is the sort of feedback you're looking for. Is this helpful?