Over the weekend I met again with Ghastly Affair’s contributing editor Wendy Rosalsky, and her husband Stan (who played the the first Libertine PC). After assuring ourselves that certain unnamable abominations remained imprisoned in the dark vaults under Chateau Rosalsky, we started really hammering out the shape of the proposed Second Edition of Ghastly Affair. Here are some things we discussed.
The most significant change to the game we are considering is in character creation. Rather than just having character Classes, we might make the default method of character creation involve choosing any five Special Abilities, and two Weaknesses. The current character Classes would still exist, but as suggested packages of Special Abilities and Weaknesses. Everyone PC would gain Levels using the same basic Advancement Table – but certain Special Abilities (such as “Use Incantation”) might increase the XP cost to attain 2nd Level (and/or have Basic Ability requirements). In other words, Player Characters would be built using the same method of mixing and matching Special Abilities and Weaknesses that the game already uses to create NPC Adversaries. You would still be able to play a classic Libertine or True Innocent if you want (and the rules will encourage it), but you can also play an equally flavorful character of your own design. This system needs to be thoroughly play-tested of course, and may prove to be too unbalanced. But I think the possibilities are good.
Our plan is to reorganize the game so that “Ghastly Affair Second Edition, Volume I” will be the complete basic system in one book. It will be focused, like the current edition, on the historical period between 1765 and 1820. “Ghastly Affair Second Edition, Volume II” should follow shortly thereafter, and expand the game into other historical eras (The “Gothic Age” of 13th century, the Edwardian Era, the Groovy 60s & 70s, etc.).
The base measure of distance in the revised game will probably be the 5-foot (or 1.5 meter) Pace, which is the distance an average person walks in 1 second. Therefore, the base Speed of a character would be raised from the current 9 to 10, corresponding to a rate of 50 feet in one ten-second Round. (This dovetails perfectly with modern games where the movement rate is 30 feet in a six-second Round.) Other units of distance employed for combat and magic would be “Hand-to-Hand” (25 feet / 7.5 meters), “Nearby” (50 feet/ 15.25 meters), “Musket Range” (300 feet / 100 yards / 91.5 meters), and “Visual Range” (self-explanatory).
In line with raising the base Speed to 10, the average Basic Ability rating of PCs would also be raised to 10. Therefore, each PC Ability would be determined by either taking 10, or rolling 3d6 and taking the result. The basic resolution system of Ghastly Affair is going to remain “roll under modified Ability on a d20”. However, I think we might also formally institute the concept of “success at cost”. Roll exactly your modified Ability, and you can chose to either fail, or succeed in a way that means you cannot do whatever you were doing again that day. You dance well and catch the eye of the Duke, but sprain your ankle in the process. You make the shot, but your trigger finger gets hurt. Etc.
We want to fully integrate LARP (Live Action Role Playing) and miniatures rules into the base game. LARPing is a natural fit for Ghastly Affair as a game of Gothic Romance set in an era (in)famous for its sumptuous fashion. I was previously opposed to including miniatures in Ghastly Affair, as I felt the “gods-eye view” creates a calm detachment that works against the immersion necessary for credible horror. I still feel that combat, especially in a horror game, is more thrilling with the slight disorientation created by “theater of the mind”. However, miniatures or tokens have great utility when running dances, balls, and salons in large rooms – keeping track of who can see each other and credibly interact can be difficult otherwise.
So, that’s the “State of the Sausage” this week. More updates to come!