A monster and a drug for Esoteric Enterprises

The Consumer

The Consumer is “something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It’s covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth… no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote.” (William Gibson)

When the Consumer points its universal control at you, save against machines or roll a d12 and suffer one of the next effects.

Roll 1d12

  1. Make a new character, randomize it as much as possible. Your actual character no longer exists. But you keep your identity and equipment. Those who didn’t witness your transmogrification will never really believe that you are who you claim to be.
  2. “Every thought that advances through the greased tunnels of my brain carries with it its own hungry negation.” (Michael Gira). Mechanically, swap Intelligence and Wisdom. Also, lose your next action.
  3. Reverse your stats (3 becomes 18, 4 becomes 17, &c. 1 or 2 become 18, though.)
  4. You are teleported to a previous location, (randomly?) determined by your referee.
  5. Your sex is randomly changed. Re-roll your Charisma and Constitution to further represent the change.
  6. Roll a die: An odd result means you lose a permanente point of Grit; an even result means you lose a permanent point of Flesh.
  7. All further saves against machines you make, are rolled at -1.
  8. You are turned off. All your rolls for the rest of the day are made with a penalization of -1 or -2 (your referee will tell you which each time).
  9. You remain motionless, like a paused VHS tape, for 1d4 rounds.
  10. When you make an attack, roll twice and use the worse result; if you fail the attack, it was simply because you glitched back a few steps and attacked the air.
  11. Roll 1d16* and compare your result with Shocking Wounds (p. 45).
  12. Your memory is erased, replaced by a centipede’s. Your referee will explain this to you.

*Roll 1d8 and 1d6. If the d6 gives an even result, add 8 to the result on the d8.

All other stats are not important, come up with something, it can be a fat man who trolls people via Twitter or perhaps and old lady with cats.

Black Coca

Sold in every corner and every Walmart in the city, when this product by the Black Coke Company is inhaled, you acquire the spook power Creature of the Night (p. 64) for the next 8 hours. After the effect ends, make a save against poison or lose 1 permanent point of Flesh and suffer 1d4 Flesh damage from your new total.

Undead creatures who inhale black coca acquire the power permanently and are immune to Flesh poisoning.

This blog entry was sponsored by The Incubus Club. This blog entry was not sponsored by Esoteric Enterprises but you should get it anyway because it’s goddamn good!

2 body horror tables for Esoteric Enterprises and LotFP

Esoteric Enterprises and the OSR Weapons Race meet at last! These tables are for the new Emmy Allen‘s game, which is fantastic, but they have LotFP conversion notes, because it’s still my game of choice, and ever shall be, world without end, amen.*

I also made a playlist for my campaign: The Incubus Club. I will add some more songs, but it’s pretty much complete now.

Table 1. Things that happen when you imbibe a potion made with genetically modified teeth (or the new white Coca-Cola, limited edition)

  1. Teeth armour. An incalculable amount of teeth and molars sprout from your entire body, giving you a base AC of 16 (18 in LotFP). Each time an enemy gets a natural 20 when attacking you, some teeth fall and the AC reduces two points, until everyone falls and returns to base AC of 10 (12 in LotFP).
  2. Head teeth. Sharp teeth and fangs sprout from your head, your hair falls; you can make a headbutt attack that deals d6 damage.
  3. Teeth for eyes. Your eyes have teeth, now you have The Stare. When you Stare your enemy, she must save versus Stunning (Paralysis in LotFP) or she loses her shit and her next turn, full of dread and anxiety.
  4. Teeth guts. Your stomach develops its own teeth, altering your digestive system. You save vs Poison at +2.
  5. Fanged hand-palm. A mouth full of sharp teeth appears in the palm of your hand, it talks non-stop in a strange language; if you are an Occultist (Magic-User in LotFP), you have an extra slot for a spell of any level you can cast. Other classes only get annoyed at its constant chatter.
  6. Shark teeth. You have a huge smile, and your bite causes d10 damage but you lose a handful of teeth and you can’t bite again until they grow back in d4 days. The lost teeth remain embedded on his flesh dealing additional d4 damage each round until he saves vs Stunning (Paralysis in LotFP) and the teeth fall.

Drawbacks: You suffer terrible body aches everyday; each morning make a save vs Stunning (Paralysis in LotFP), modified by your Constitution, and repeat it each 8 hours during abstract, overland time, or each 6 turns during exploration time. If this roll is failed, all your next rolls are at -1; a second failed roll during the same day increased the penalty to -2; a third failure during increases the penalty to -3 until you sleep, and no further saves are made.

Table 2. What happens when you watch the movie La Fin Absolue du Monde

  1. Spirit of violence. Save versus Magic or a feeling of great violence will take over you; you will start attacking everyone present until everyone is dead, you are dead, or 10 rounds pass.
  2. Cigarette burns. You are burning from the inside, as if countless cigarettes were searing your from within, leaving 4d6 blisters and burn marks, each causing you 1 point of damage. If you suffer 10 or more damage, your charisma decreases to the next lower modifier, if you are already at -3, just lower a point (in LotFP, a Charisma of 2 or less, is -4). If you suffer 24 damage, save vs Poison; if you succeed, you are horribly scorched and must live wrapped in gauze and bandages; if you fail, “you’re dead and the corpse is burnt to oblivion. Nothing but ashes or gunk is left behind.” (EE. p. 46)
  3. Heavenly memories. You remember your true origin, all your memories until the game started were false. You’re an angel. Recovering this memory makes you spread your wings, tearing your flesh. But so much time has passed since your fall, and of your beautiful wings only bones and membranes remain. You are a fallen angel. At this moment you gain a monstrous power and another every 3 levels, up to a total of three. The options are (in LotFP, use what’s in brackets): Breathe Fire (d6 damage), Creature of the Night (+1 to Skills and Damage, +2 to d20 Rolls, in darkness; in sunllight, the values are negative), Darkvision (see well in darkness), Extinguish (turn simple lights off), Flame (create simple flames), Huge Size (+1 HP per HD), Immune to Fire, Inhuman Beauty (+1 to Reaction and Charisma rolls), Magical Prodigy (can cast spells from scrolls, or gain an extra spell slot if already a caster), Silent (Stealth always succeeds).
  4. Obsession. You become obsessed with the movie and want to see it every day. If you don’t see it once every 24 hours, the following happens: Bodyguard, perception in 1-in-6; Criminal (and Specialist in LotFP), skills at -1; Doctor, medicine in 1-in-6; Explorer, stealth in 1-in-6; Mercenary (and Fighter in LotFP), attack bonus as if you were zero-level; Mystic and Occultist (and Cleric, Magic-User and Elf in LotFP), save vs magic when you cast a spell or it doesn’t work; Spook, lose one of his monstrous powers. (Dwarf and Halfling make all their saves at -1 in LotFP).
  5. Suicidal thoughts. You hate yourself and you want to die. Save versus Magic three times every day (morning, noon and night). If you fail two saves in a row, you commit suicide in a gruesome manner. You must roleplay this.
  6. I don’t want to watch! Something takes control of your hand and makes you gouge your own eye. All your rolls based on sight are done at -1. Your hand becomes black as if charred, then rests on your chest and refuses to move ever again. You can no longer use shields or two-handed weapons.

No movies on LotFP? So there’s no chance your players ever watch this wonderful movie, or any other, in your LotFP campaign? Then make it a symphony or a spell or something.

*Tanslation: Because fuck you that’s why.

Emmy Allen’s Esoteric Enterprises, a first approach

Note: This is not as much a review as it is an abstract of my first impressions after having read the entire game, and some recollections of the original blog entries. Also, I’m writing directly on English, not in Spanish and then translating. I thought it was important to mention it.

Esoteric Enterprises (EE) is the brand new offering by Emmy Allen (of The Gardens of Ynn, The Stygian Library, and Wolf-Packs & Winter Snow fame), and none of the hottest titles out there right now (seriously, go get it!)

EE is a game about “the underworlds of organised crime and the esoteric”; setting-wise, it’s similar to some World of Darkness universes, to wit, Orpheus and Hunter the Vigil (as Emmy states on the introduction,) but also Unknown Armies. This means it’s a game set in the modern day world, but also that the world, although similar to ours, it’s not exactly the same; in the game world there are monsters, magick, and weird things, like some Lovecraftian creatures, a few Changeling the Dreaming things, but most taken from D&D, everything with a dark twist, of course.

System-wise, being part of the Old-School Renaissance, it’s obviously based, at least to some extent, both on Moldvay’s Basic and Cook’s & Marsh’s Expert sets, and also Lamentations of the Flame Princess, to the extent that EE includes LotFP’s streamlined Skill System, with its own set of skills (Charm, Contacts, Forensics, Technology, Vandalism, and several more).

As for its original systems, EE contains a great deal of wounds management: each type caused by bullets and explosives, knives and claws, hammers and punches, fire and acid, electricity and cold weather, poison and diseases. Each type containing their own effects, all horrible and painful (this game is not for the faint of heart: here, some examples: “You’ve been squashed into a pulpy mess, so there’s really barely anything left to bury or reanimate,” “Your organs are shutting down one by one. You’re a Dead Man Walking. Plus, you spend the next round vomiting everywhere, and lose your chance to act”… yes, this is a game where characters die, and easily, unless they are smart).

The are rules for ageing, attribute loss, breaking equipment, cave-ins, escaping bonds, being left alone in the dark, hacking, shape-shifting, drugs, torture, mental damage and a bunch more things. It’s very complete as well as flexible for the referee to implement ad hoc rules when he need resolving something not covered by the book.

Cash & Downtime covers what the characters do in their free time between adventures, and how they spend their gold… I mean, their dollars. There are also systems to manage medical experiments, monsters as player characters (called spooks), spellcasting, running heists, and a great deal of gamemastering information.

One of its best features are the chapters called Rolling up the undercity and Rolling up the occult underworld, which allows you to create the underworld with just a bunch of dice rolls, including locations, tunnels, cults (like the worshippers of Amanita Muscaria, don’t you love it!?), factions and more. Much more.

There are many things I left out, but in conclusion I can say that Esoteric Enterprises is an excellent game and setting, full of ideas. You can run it as body-horror drama, supernatural noir, dark fantasy or urban grimdark. With it, you can run a campaign based on The X-Files, The Invisibles, Neonomicon, Hellblazer, Hellraiser, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys, Tokyo Gore Police, and some Cronenberg nightmares.

“Are you sure there aren’t any flaws?”

Well, there are a few typos, but nothing too annoying.

“Anything else?”

Well. It’s illustrated with photographs, which are kind of ugly. Remember that cyberpunk game which used photos instead or drawings, and how weird it looked? Well, here happens the same. I would have prefered public domain illustrations, like other of Emmy Allen’s works, but this is not something to hold against the game, let’s be honest and remember that indie games rely heavily on stock art, but you can’t find many modern day stock artwork, so it’s photos.

I have to tell you, though, that despise the pictures, you should try it, it’s a great game and when you are on the table, it’s the emergent story what counts, not the book’s illustrations. Oh! And I made some random tables.

Ugly picture, right?