Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Savage Worlds of Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom

Last time, I went a little bit into vampire hunting in video games with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  I always thought that victorian style monster hunting would be an awesome idea for an RPG.  Well, Pinnacle Entertainment, the guys who created Savage Worlds, have the answer to that with Rippers.  Try to imagine the movie Van Helsing, except that it didn't horribly suck, and you have a good idea of what Rippers is like.

The game's story includes many classic horror characters, including Dr. Jekyll, Dr. Frankenstein, and the Invisible Man, for starters.  The formation of the monster hunting organization, known as Rippers, began when occultist John Dee and a colleague of his began experimenting with the corpse of a werewolf that Mr. Dee killed while it was attacking him.  They discovered that by using techniques such as organ transplants and tissue grafting, a subject could gain the powers of the supernatural creature that "donated" the organs.  It made men strong enough to fight the monsters that plagued them and gave rise to the organization.  The first victory for Rippers was when Abraham Van Helsing, a protege under Dee, aided in defeating Dracula.

But power came at a horrific price.  Mr. Dee, who had took up the pseudonym Dr. Jack in order to stage his own death, had many rippen-transferre procedures.  He started to suffer from what was called "Ripping Psychosis," as the monstrous implants started turning him mad.  The numerous transplanted organs also did harm to his body and he was constantly facing death from organ failure.  In order to keep himself alive, he had to have new organs constantly replaced, which meant he needed corpses, fresh corpses.  In London, he found a hearty staple of prostitutes.  Since prostitutes were not held in high regard, he thought very few people would miss a dead whore from time to time.  So it was this killing spree in London that gave Dr. Jack the nickname he was most famous for: Jack the Ripper.

With madness deteriorating his mind, Dr. Jack decided that the Rippers he once fostered were now his enemies.  He conversed with witches and sorcerers, enlisted mad scientists, and dealt with demons to form his own alliance of terror, known as the Cabal.  Van Helsing discovered this and now leads the Rippers in a secret war in the dark hours to rid the threat of the Cabal forever.

This really is a great campaign, and one of my favorites from Pinnacle.  The setting is great and it includes systems for ripping psychosis, status (monster hunters still have to play a part in gentlemen society), and maintaining a Ripper lodge (Courting sponsors for your lodge is a must, as this shadowy war costs money).  It hearkens back to the classic horror stories and brings a moral dilemma to the player characters:  Do they risk death to keep themselves pure, or do they use Ripper technology to fight the monsters and risk something far worse?

The core book for Rippers is available in print.  You can order it at your local game and hobby store.  All the supplements and adventures are strictly in .pdf format.  I recommend going to DriveThru RPG to download all the materials you need.

If you're looking for something more modern in your horror campaign, check out 12 to Midnight.  They have a horror campaign centered around the fictional town of Pinebox, Texas, where all sorts of strange and evil phenomena occur.  Pinebox, Texas is any paranormal investigator's dream come true.  Trust me, these guys have horror market cornered in Savage Worlds.

Don't think I forgot about those who like something more Lovecraftian in their horror games.  I'm a big fan of Lovecraft's stories and general mythos, so how could I not recommend checking out the Reality Blurs website?  Their game, Realms of Cthulhu, seems perfect for anyone interested in risking their sanity to fight against the minions of the Elder Gods.  I haven't picked this one up, yet (Don't have the money, right now), but it does look very promising.  It's available in .pdf and print versions, as well.

So there you have it, plenty of ways to kick off a terror filled Savage Worlds campaign.  The beast is on the prowl.  Let the hunt begin.

Kaiser out

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