****UPDATED*** I had thoughts in the shower to try and reduce what little crunchiness there was and so here we are with some more details and a revised version. ***UPDATED***
So I was dipping around yesterday and created a 3 page RPG based on the comic Abbott. Here are the rules and a PDF of the rules/ character worksheet.
Abattoir is a rules light role playing game is set in the 1960’s and 1970s in cities and areas with high minority populations. Some examples include Chicago, Detroit, South Central Los Angeles, Indian reservations and Louisiana and the like. Anywhere you find a group or class that is underrepresented and ignored or treated bad by authorities then you have found the setting.
Abbottoir draws on Lovecraftian themes and is loosely based on the world of the Comic Abbott.
Abattoir has a specific focus on narrative. Below is all the information you need in order to play.
What you need:
1 X 12 sided die per player/ GM (note you can be flexible on this and change to a D10 or D8 if you find things too difficult for your players)
1 X Character sheet per player
Articulation (ART) – the character’s ability to communicate and physically interact with the world. If a player were to attempt to convince, or argue with someone, seduce, act covertly or attack someone they would roll against this stat
Intellect (INT) – the character’s ability to reason, deduce and make sense of the world. If a player has to solve a puzzle, connect some evidence, use a piece of technology, face their own mental instability or attempt to translate a text they would roll against this stat.
Heart (HRT) – The character’s ability to persevere mentally and physically against adverse conditions. This stat directly contributes to a player’s physical survivability, but is also used when a player must make a test of endurance.
Umbra – A currency that represents the character’s ability to sense, interact and influence the darkness and its forms. Players with an Umbra value higher than their INT suffer from prolonged exposure to the Darkness. They exhibit signs of PTSD, mental illness and a strange otherworldly connection. A player may not have more Umbra than 2X their INT or they lose their ability to reconcile the normal and paranormal world and suffer a mental breakdown.
Light – A currency that serves as both experience and a tool to alter the world. Light may be spent to improve rolls and reduce Umbra at a 1 to 1 rate.
Health Points – Health points are a representation of a characters ability to withstand physical harm. A player has health equal to ((2*HRT)+INT+ART)
A character with stats of 6INT, 5ART, 4HRT would have health points equal to 19
Creating a character:
Each player begins with 4 in each of their primary Core attributes and 16 Light. They may spend light point equivalent to the next rank in the attribute. If a player wanted to raise a stat from 4->5 that would cost 5, or from 5->7 that would cost 13. They may also sell an attribute for the next lower value. Going from 5->4 would gain them 4 light.
Any Light left over remains in the light pool
All players begin with 3 Umbra
Players should then choose a trait word for each ART and INT to describe the nature of their character and then choose a challenge word to describe a weakness each character has in each attribute. These words are roleplay guides.
Josephine is an older woman living alone in rural Georgia. She expresses herself in the world through a “gruff” manner, but has a weakness for things that bring her “nostalgia.” Her ART words are “gruff” and “nostalgia”
Nate is a young homeless man living in L.A. He is a quick study and expressed this through his hobbies. He is often called “skilled.” Nate also has fears from living a life on the streets and has trauma issues that make him afraid of “intimacy.” His INT words are “skilled” and “intimacy.”
The players should then fill out the rest of the sheet as they see fit to describe their character. The object of power may be any item consistent with that player’s character; like a detective with a revolver or handyman with a flashlight. That is their weapon against the darkness
PLAYING THE GAME
A turn is however long it takes for every player and the GM to take one action. Outside of combat turns are more flexible and the GM will decide on how long a turn is. During combat a turn is between 2 and 10 seconds.
Light and Umbra:
The GM awards light when players role play according to their challenges or for creativity. 1 point is the average award, with 3 points being for some extreme act of heroism or phenomenal role play that leaves people speechless. Points should be awarded whenever the group completes a plot point. Players are also awarded 1 Light for surviving an encounter with the Darkness and 3 for actually defeating it.
Umbra is gained and lost by touching the forces of darkness, it also their attunement to the supernatural world. A player with no or little Umbra will have a hard time investigating, detecting and confronting the darkness via ability checks. Players gain 1 Umbra for every turn spent in the actual company of a being or force of Darkness. They also gain 1 Umbra for every 2 points of damage the Darkness inflicts.
The game is narrative in nature and dice rolling should only be done if the GM thinks there is a chance of failure. To succeed the player must roll equal to or lower than their related attribute. For opposed rolls the GM will determine the stats of the NPC and roll a die to determine the success of that party. If both parties succeed or fail the GM will determine a partial success or failure state based on who beat their roll by how much. A player may reduce the result of their roll by spending a Light point. When dealing with the Darkness outside of combat players reduce their roll value by 1 for every point of Umbra over their lowest core attribute.
Josephine heard a noise coming from the shed behind her house. Inside she finds the torn body of a small child. As she looks around the GM asks her to roll against her INT to detect the Darkness. She rolls a 5, and then uses a light point to reduce the roll by 1 to a 4 so it matches her INT. Her Umbra is 3 and INT is her lowest core attribute so she gets no bonus. The GM tells her that she realizes the shed has suddenly gone very cold.
Attacking and defending in combat against other humans and “real world” critters is done with the attacker rolling ART and the defender rolling HRT. A successful attack does damage equal to their ART plus the amount they beat their roll by. The defender reduces that damage on a success by the amount they beat the HRT roll.
Nate has gotten in a fight with a local gang member and strikes out using his switchblade. He rolls against his ART of 5, getting a 3; he decide to spend 1 light to make the roll a 2, for a total of 8 damage. The gang member rolls against his HRT of 6 and gets a 4. The gang member twists away from the attack, reducing that damage to 6.
In combat against the forces of Darkness the attack roll is whatever the player’s highest core attribute is vs the HRT of the creature or force and is resolved as above with the exception that players may spend Umbra. They may spend 1 Umbra to reduce the HP damage they take from the Darkness by 1. The Darkness always uses ART for its attack role.
Nate and Josephine have met in El Paso and are pursuing the same group of beings that have been killing children who live on the street. They enter a warehouse near the border and find themselves confronted by a creature made from the limbs ripped from children of all ages. It cries out in an unknown tongue and attacks Nate with one of its many bone clawed arms. The GM rolls a 5 against the creatures ART of 6; for a total of 10 damage. Nate rolls defense and beats his HRT by 1 point. He spends 2 Umbra to reduce the damage to 8. He is seriously wounded and won’t survive many more hits. At the end of the round he is awarded new Umbra. 1 for being in the presence of the creature and 4 for the damage he took. He takes his turn by attacking. He now has 6 Umbra total and so gains a 2 point reduction to his attack roll. Nate rolls a 4, which becomes a 2. He then spends 1 light to make it a 1. He deals 11 Damage to the Umbra, his switchblade shining in the darkness like a torch…
NPCS AND THE DARKNESS
HUMAN NPCS – A standard Human NPC has attribute values equal to 4,5,5 assigned as desired by the GM and 15 HP. An exceptional character has attribute values of 6,6,5, assigned as desired and HP of 20.
DARKNESS – Creatures and forces of the darkness have a variety of values depending on narrative need. The GM can adjust to taste any values to fit narrative need. The appearance of Darkness related creatures should be the stuff of pure horror.
Tiny – 3,4,5 attribute scores assigned as desired and 10 HP
Small – 5,6,6 attribute scores assigned as desired and 15 HP
Medium – 6,6,7 attribute scores assigned as desired and 20 HP
Large – 7,8,8 attribute scores assigned as desired and 50 HP
Enormous – 9,9,9 attribute scores assigned as desired and 75 HP
Tiny is the size of a rodent or cat, enormous is the size of large mammal like an elephant.
TELLING A STORY AND FACING CONSEQUENCES
Story telling in Abbottoir is that of horror, and of people facing odds and creatures that will most likely kill them. There are no real happy endings, only people discovering that the world has two faces; both of which seek to prey upon the vulnerable. When you craft your story for a session you will want to keep in mind that combat is deadly. There are no healers, no special med kits; a wounded character stays wounded until they heal naturally; typically 1 point per day. A player who has no Health Points will die within 3 turns if they are not rescued. Facing off against the Darkness should not be done lightly; it will most likely mean death for some or all of the players. That should be the norm, not the exception. The real victories in Abbottoir aren’t over darkness, but our own fears and weaknesses.