Vox Populi Forum
Massachusetts Bay Company
In 1693, Cotton Mather published “Wonders of the Invisible World,” in which he contended that witchcraft and demons were real; further these covens threaten mankind. He was mocked and celebrated. Decide for yourself, perhaps, but the darkness of the primeval forests of Colonial America teem with the strange and creepy. The whole of ancient world civilizations remain mysterious and strike deals with forces undeniably evil. Venture forth, if you dare, consecrated and empowered by God and his earthly bankers to uncover the sources of these dark satanic forces and to slay them indiscriminately.
The campaign starts in 1705, before the United States was formed or even suggested. The group of players will be based in Boston, taking passage often to purge evil upon the seas and ashore in the four corners of the world. This is a time of European dominance and prejudice, expect little to be whitewashed, but each Referee must temper his play to the sensibility of his players. The goal is not to offend nor truly recreate, but each player should embrace this much different era, one with a stilted set of values. Yes, we save the harlot’s soul by burning her. Lord be praised (with malice to none but dripping with arrogance). This is just a fantasy rpg, so lighten up; it’s not like what we do is real or criminal, sheeze. Enjoy with a heavy slathering of bombast or if you enjoy flit into parody.
The game is a study of religious zeal and shameless opportunists joined together when confronted by the supernatural, something none of the player characters will understand nor ever control. Unless his character seeks the occult, forsaking his vows of fellowship and embracing the very sin he once slaughtered. Or, each character might drop from play foiled by the Simple Lie that the devil is a hoax; the player character might then become convinced that science will explain everything, and the goals of the party are false. Demonic phenomenon is folly?!? Tell that to the blood-stained demigods at each climax.
The only true way to find the demonic is to trust your senses, because evil insults these gifts. A mixture of fantasy and piracy, the goal is to create a horror version of Crimson Cutlass. In that game, the supernatural exists as only misunderstanding fostering utter terror. Here, in Demon Hunters 1705, as the name implies, the players will be experiencing more than hyper imagined foes. Werewolf, Vampire, Banshee, Mermaid, Siren, Gryphon, Dragon, Succubus, Hobgoblin, Fae…the Demons, Devils, Feeding Horrors, Ghosts, Goblins, Slug Gods, Raw Evil, Tainted Mortals, Spirits, Zombies of the free-style horror game, Where Fools Dare to Tread, have been specialized and adapted to event driven combat.
Is this Farce to the Characters?
The characters need not all be dour. Certainly, the game lends itself to parody. The event narratives will read stilted, melodrama for effect. As modern readers all of this can seem a tad puerile in and out of character. The only way to prove otherwise may be killing a laggard. Yet, I don’t think humor detracts from setting a mood. Sure, play the whole of Demon Hunters 1705 as silly fun. Protect the trollops and keep pumping the arm to raise tankards of ale. In contrast, none of this was written to mock honest theological zealotry. I hate demons, even if I’m not sure any exist (anymore). In 1705, supernatural evidence was admissible in court. People were hung as witches. Perhaps rightly so, I wasn’t there.
Keep telling yourself, it’s only a game.
This is free-style, not free-form. The players do not control everything, every action, every part of their evolving story. You begin as one of six archetypes.
First select your priorities and consider these three questions posed:
A. I, Protect the Innocent: Is self sacrifice necessary for the greater good?
B. I, Slay Demons: Does the end justify the means?
C. I, Stay Alive (to Fight Another Day): Must we keep from becoming evil ourselves?
Order these three objectives. e.g. is your character’s priority ABC or BCA?
Here’s the result:
ABC – Paladin, Swagger Mystic
ACB – Lawman, Swagger Marksman
BAC – Zealot, Swagger Brawler
BCA – Pragmatist, Swagger Duelist
CAB – Observer, Swagger Retainers
CBA – Profiteer, Swagger Rogue
There are no Traits, like other free-style games. There are no application of Trait to absorb a wound or start with the Catbird Seat advantage. These tactical benefits could occur when the players acquire Divine Weaponry. The introduction of these special objects happens within the tables and as prizes presented by the Referee to his own taste. I tend to be Monty Hall and give away the store to see the nifty stuff in action.
All six Tact will have positive and negative influences in the combat tables. Certain characters, like Pragmatists and Observers might flee more often. While Zealots and Lawmen tend to deliver wounds to friend and enemy alike, provided there’s a higher chance for injury upon the demonic. Paladins and Profiteers often share common tactics even if their end goals vary.
There are two lists of gear which enter play. The first is rather practical and the second is strangely acquired. Choose and protect your equipment wisely. This is not just the ordinary gear of camping. That nonsense, like a sleeping bag, is there by presumption. The character’s hat, on the other hand, has a more flamboyant role often to play.
The most basic of accessories might prove vital to play. However, each has a dulling effect on the character’s commitment, as will be seen. The most devout would enter play barely clad and clawing his path to righteousness, a medieval Ranter scarring his back with a knotted cord. We can all agree that would be foolish beyond all sensible actions of a gentleman. The other players might offload some of their gear onto such wretched hirelings, except accoutrement items of gear have a habit of coming and going through play; a character will become anxious as he travels without the familiar.
Each player may outfit his character with any and all of these twenty items of kit and apparel. Any could be expended or lost along the journey. Can they be replaced? Perhaps, if the Ref allows, but often the items are not as easily purchased in any port of call. Try to find a proper English Bowler Hat in eighteenth century Bangkok (a hundred and fifty years before it was popularized by James Lock & Co. of St James’s). I digress.
To generalize, each character’s foot wears-in a comfortable shape in his boot sole, agreed? A scarf might be seen as lucky or having emotional attachment. The sword is balanced to the user, the firearm’s sight and recoil is practiced, etc.
The players will start with these items and may replenish them each adventure’s start in Boston. However, especially when the climax is entered, only the Major Tarot flips of combat will dictate what is lost and what is found. All these, especially the Instrumental weapons of the adventure, will be described in the combat events. A broken rapier would be substituted with a rusty naval cutlass (implied), but the Advantage is only obtained by starting with and retaining your own trust blade. No quibbling; this is how the story unfolds.
Okay, this is a rather fancy way of introducing an equipment list into free-style play. People like their stuff; it’s undeniable. Each Referee is welcome to expand the list used each adventure or change some of the common usage. I dislike the “Plus One Winkie” nature of most rpgs, but feel free to style the gear to your players expectations. Ween them off of die roll modifiers as you desire.
Accoutrement (01): Garish Hat – Shields the eyes, adds a command presence for others to locate, something to wring and fumble between one’s hands when scolded, an easy sign of respect to doff. Sops up sweat in tropical climes. The choice to substitute wig is allowed and serves the same function in game terms.
Accoutrement (02): Rose Colored Spectacles – The best way to see the horrible, as well as stare directly at an eclipse.
Accoutrement (03): Silk Kerchief – To blow one’s nose or proffer to a lady in distress.
Accoutrement (04): Portable Writer’s Desk – the briefcase of ye olden times, containing journal, quills, inkpots, etc. to record the leger of what’s owed.
Accoutrement (05): Bandana Sash-Scarf – A delightfully bright belt useful as a makeshift rope, prisoner bind or even hold up one’s breeches.
Accoutrement (06): Whip – A cruel instrument to cower. Will it act in THX® machismo fashion? That remains to be seen (by dice rolls).
Accoutrement (07): Snuffbox – An indulgence and practical method of substituting an unpleasant smell for a soothing one. Monsters insult the senses, so there’s that.
Accoutrement (08): Beeswax – A sloppy habit to chew, useful to nervously squeeze in stressful times, and also a quick method to plug the ears when facing creatures that insult sound or charm seductively with voice.
Accoutrement (09): Pouch Peppercorns – Allows one to consume fell-flesh with ease; may also be snorted to cause one to sneeze out a foul sprite inhaled. Improves taste, granted.
Accoutrement (10): Sturdy Boots – Broken-in to one’s comfort and capable of delivering a resounding kick to the genitals of man or beast.
Accoutrement (11): Leather Gloves – Good for a throttle, makes handing a hot stone possible, keeps one fingers from touching poisonous nettles; need more be said. Proper etiquette would not allow flesh to flesh contact during a handshake deal.
Accoutrement (12): Fur Trimmed Cloak – Wards away the chill; in romantic era covers a puddle for a lady’s step or dashingly distracts an assailant.
Accoutrement (13): Silver Flask Rum – An elixir to calm the nerves or cleanse a wound. Both?
Accoutrement (14): Trusty Rapier – The sure sign of a gentleman, even if it has never tasted human blood. Demon, quite the many times; goes without saying. may be concealed in a cane, free of charge. Yet for period play, the sidearm was still widely flaunted as many townsfolk now wear ceremonial dull swords. Fools!
Accoutrement (15): Keen Knife – Easy to conceal in boot or sleeve, handled to fight Florentine or hurled with precision. Assuredly, whetstone in a pocket of the scabbard.
Accoutrement (16): Brace of Pistols – More than one; we’ll dispense with the difficulty of keeping them loaded and dry. In story element fashion, the weapons are always primed and discharge, until the events say otherwise.
Accoutrement (17): Blunderbuss – A larger barrel weapon which fires quite similar to a shotgun. Played Doom, ever? Shall I repeat, a shotgun!
Accoutrement (18): Garrote – A wire spool of steel, to throttle or ensnare the limbs of something ungodly. An assassin’s device for sure. Never illegal to carry wire, even in places that refuse to admit armed patrons.
Accoutrement (19): Pocket Watch – Invented in the 1500s, this luxury does report the time of day, yet inside of course holds a cameo or painted icon of someone beloved. Synchronization of timepieces did not occur, coincidentally until the 1850s Crimean War. Go figure?
Accoutrement (20): Purse Coins – A ready method of bribing or ransoming but only among civilized men. Those familiar with Cutlass know how handy it is to have, use and fill again your purse. All payments seem to be a quantity of purse, not a token from within. Hand over your purse, take this purse as payment, see to the matter (toss of purse).
Note: These are numbered to keep them from being confused with Swaggering. Since some could change from play session to play session, the numbers can be used generically even as the object adjusts for story element, color and affectation. Much of usage is left to each player ingenuity and Referee’s permission. Norms will be established among the group.
Johnny Come Lately
Since creating a character of a free-style fashion is supposed to be super easy and quick, the Accoutrement may be delivered en mass. Each character can start with all twenty. That may not be desired but have at it. Also, if a player arrives late, without a character, he’s a spoiled twit. Rather than making the whole group wait as he outfits his Accoutrement, that character begins with a random D8 objects of equally random gear. Be punctual next time, please.
The weird stuff that helps slay the monster specifically this day. Each Referee is encouraged to expand his list used in play. Each adventure, ideally, has a unique list. That way the players are not always carping about why they need to re-find say Instrument (29), when they have a perfectly good shop at home and never used the object during the last time they played. Google Friday the Thirteenth, the series for further understanding of how unique these items truly are. It’s not just tea, Billy?!?
Instrument (21): Mint Gum – Too good to share, helps distract from the effects of demons that Insult Smell or Taste. Will it plug a hole in a ship? That’s up to the Ref.
Instrument (22): Irishman’s Rabbit Foot – A totem, easily held or added to a pistol butt, which comforts.
Instrument (23): Nun’s Gold Cross – A precious object, worn about the throat, which symbolizes faith.
Instrument (24): Voodoo Doll – Strange object, seemingly harmless, yet comforting when a pin is used to act-out frustration toward another party member.
Instrument (25): Scrimshaw Whale’s Tooth – The pattern seems to have new small details every time it is examined in detail.
Instrument (26): Cake Talc – A desiccant for dry hands and to eliminate swamp ass in tropical environs.
Instrument (27): Rude Fetish – Not shown in mixed company or among gentle folk, the object’s origin is a mystery.
Instrument (28): Cocaine Powder – Howdy, that can give one a lift of energy.
Instrument (29): Parcel from Ceylon – Contains orange pekoe tea, porcelain cup, strainer, tiny copper kettle; a gift for a daughter from a man abroad.
Instrument (30): Ceramic Jar of Royal Jelly – Disgusting to many, this is mother nature’s method of changing drones into queen bees.
Instrument (31): Tartan Kilt – Not that you’re playing a Scot, but the material was worn by a warrior of an age past.
Instrument (32): Swiss Poleax – Heavy crushing weapon which may be the exact thing needed to slash, say, a dragon’s hide.
Instrument (33): Spaniard’s Helm – Bonnet of metal to protect the head. This one even fits down over your man’s hat and scarf and whatever else he dons.
Instrument (34): Saxon Buckler – Not just any shield, but one that works on the outside of a fist to allow the hand to grasp another object.
Instrument (35): Savage Tomahawk – Primitive hacking weapon with unusual pigments and a pedigree that includes scalping.
Instrument (36): Canine Companion – Wild dog friend which takes a liking to the player character. No dog shall be harmed in these productions, so the adopted pet is lost as it runs from whatever terror is presently being faced when it decides to bolt.
Instrument (37): Smelling Salts – Strong ammonia vapors to wake those who would lollygag or fall from cudgel.
Instrument (38): Blessed Missionary Oil – Thin but powerful, just the thing for scalding unnatural things.
Instrument (39): Tincture Mercury – Doc says it can cure everything except the inevitable madness from consumption.
Instrument (40): Narcotic Analgesic – A topical salve, not to be smoked or internally ingested. Perhaps just a nip during liberty from the vessel.
I wish I could play in this -- Fredrick Rourk (posted: 5/7/2020)