Of Dark Pacts and Death Spirals.

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Of Dark Pacts and Death Spirals.
« on: June 17, 2010, 05:35:04 AM »
Me and Jeff were talking about these ideas we had for a kind of Death Spiral for both WH40K and Bulwark.

The last bits from the WH40K thread:

Orly: I don't see the "madness meter" as a player Move, or even so much as a parallel Harm meter but as a micro-Front. So that the custom moves, countdown clock and description are all compressed into one thing. While the player is getting a few extra moves, it should be constantly providing opportunities for the MC to make hard moves and advance the fiction.

What I like about it is that each PC becomes a Front in their own right. Both to themselves and to the other PCs. Mechanically it's all out in the open but it's more hidden in the fiction. I think it could create the right kind of tension with the group.

Then Jeff said: That would also be an excellent way to run a "dark pact", I think. Make a custom move for the threat (the demon the character strikes a deal with) that provides advantages to the player in exchange for advancing the front, and allow the front to tick forward descriptively as well (like the character does something wicked and evil).

I wanna talk about this mirco-Front dark pact thing more, but I'm pretty exhausted at the moment.

Questions, comments and concerns are invited!

Ima grok it some more first.

Re: Of Dark Pacts and Death Spirals.
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2010, 05:41:05 AM »
Yeah, I'm gonna go review the info on threats and fronts that I have (from the Development Blog) and think about incorporating it into this context some more as well.

Re: Of Dark Pacts and Death Spirals.
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2010, 09:51:28 AM »
Well, to start with I could see a few different corruption paths being centered around: 1) Studying forbidden lore. 2) Employing psychic powers. 3) Dealing with demons. 4) Using (excessive) violence (possibly excluding self defense).

These may have a low threshold, but the idea is that when you get into these things, no matter the reason, you've already started down a dangerous path. The moves opening up would of course be most useful against threats in that realm. Embracing your bloodlust makes you more dangerous in battle, delving into forbidden lore makes you more prepared to deal with hostile sorcerers, and so on.

At least in a Dark Heresy-themed setting.

Re: Of Dark Pacts and Death Spirals.
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2010, 02:36:52 PM »
Okay, so after reviewing how fronts, threats, and injuries work, I had some ideas that I've yet to consolidate into anything workable, but here they are in case anybody else can build on them better than I can.

Even though we're discussing a 'micro front' based on one character, I think it can be assigned a particular agenda/dark future (i.e. "You go irrevocably insane" or "you are hopelessly lost to Chaos/the dark Fae/the Dark side/whatever). The stakes would all be questions about what will happen to the afflicted person and his relationships ("Will Pitr allow his family to die in order to gain forbidden knowledge?" or "Will the other player characters still trust Gaunt in a crunch?"). I can see affliction threats for specific aspects of the death spiral, and NPC threats for any NPCs actively tempting/corrupting/driving crazy the PC, complete with custom moves to resist their effects.

So far, so good.

Now, as mentioned above, what gets me is tracking the descent, especially in a way that encourages death spiral-ness. Right now I'm thinking of a sort of hybrid of an injury clock and a front clock (works prescriptively and descriptively, 12 o'clock is 'removed from play as a PC', sanity/morality/what have you damage treated like harm that advances the clock). When you take death spiral 'harm', you mark off the clock or mark off a debility (things like phobias or dark auras or such that impair your traits).

What I think is lacking above is sufficient temptation to push the envelope, to be tempted mechanically as well as fictionally. So I was thinking that maybe your insanity or corruption or what not works kind of like Hx. It goes up and down based on fictional circumstances, and it grants you special abilities (insight into things man was not meant to know, dark powers, bloodthirsty rage, et cetera), but when you use it, if you succeed it goes up (or maybe you choose between it going up or some other negative consequence). And maybe every time it goes up to +4, you reset to +1 and go up a tick on the clock (and some especially horrible things would force you to go up a tick if you fail a willpower test or something like that).

Like I said, this is in no way coherent yet, does it sound at all interesting?



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Re: Of Dark Pacts and Death Spirals.
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2010, 11:49:23 PM »
I thought a lot about hacking vis a vis my playing AW with new people over the weekend and I've been reading the Rules (For Reals) on the trip home.

I don't think that Bulwark needs a 'Dark Pact' mechanic explicitly. It's covered by the custom moves. I still think that what it amounts to is a kind of Front (Countdown clock, cast, custom moves) where the basic scarcity is your soul. Doing it as a strata works too (like you outlined, Jeff) or some combination thereof.

Would look like

Dark Pact (name)

Strata (1-5 or countdown)
Score: (-3/+3)
Gained moves:

Re: Of Dark Pacts and Death Spirals.
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 05:57:58 PM »
Yep, that's probably the way to go.

Check out the parasite/infection stuff for Hatchet City in the book (p.148).