View Full Version : DM Help Death and 'Dark Secrets' - would appreciate some feedback.

2016-09-28, 07:27 PM
Hi everyone,
while struggling with making death meaningful while keeping a consistent story, I ended up creating a setting where death is impossible. It's essentially a curse, each time you die you must face your inner fears and demons. If you fail, you're permanently scarred (have a body part replaced by a shadowy contour, strange mutations, perhaps even a massive change like becoming amphibious) and if you succeed you get to keep your body intact. Both scenarios destroy your mind, reducing your Sanity. Have it reach 0 and you become an undead creature, while your soul is trapped forever in the sky. the undead creature always comes back. Eventually.

I feel like it is going to make for an interesting setting, as this applies to everyone, not just the PCs. Killing a person is much more meaningful now, even the thug that you one-shot killed can come back and have his revenge. To play around with that I'll give the players a special incantation that will forever destroy a soul... at a price. Once a day.

Now, that's all sound and neat, but for the 'inner demons' I wanted to make the whole scene meaningful and fun, instead of 'Roll a WIS save. DC 20. Nice.' so I'll be borrowing the Dark Secrets from Kult - you pick one at character creation, it's a defining feature of your character. Then we can have meaningful scenes while rolling to save your body. Or you can fail on purpose, enjoying the strange occult power.

Now, I'd love to hear what kinds of secrets you guys can come up with. I don't want to just copy the whole chapter whole cloth and some of them are more suitable for the game in question, instead of being as general as I'd like them to be. When it comes to the setting it's post-apocalyptic modern, so almost anything goes. You can be as creepy as you want.

So, what do you think?

EDIT: I figured some examples may make it clearer, the Kult rule book gives things like 'Victim of a Crime', 'Result of Medical Experiments' or 'Possessed and Haunted', but it doesn't give any precise examples.

2016-09-29, 06:59 AM
I love the principle of dark secrets and I've used it a lot as well as a player or DM. It's a great source of drama, tension or emotional and thrilling moments.

I've got a lot under my sleeves, but there're some that have made memorable moments in the game (not necessarily the same way you project to use, but always full of potentiel) :

- I got pregnant as a teenager and my parents make me give up my child to adoption : another player in a bitlit like game. There was some tension with NPCs who learned the secret, push some intrigues and love triangle (when the father came up, without any memory of her, when she was in couple with someone else) and develop some special moment (when her daughter, being grown up because of some demon stuff, face her and ask her Why)....

- I've been beaten up by my mother and she tried to brainwash me at a church because of the "unholy power" I develop" : Same bitlit game, another player. It has consequences on the relationship with the said-mother, but mostly, it came out when she was captured by some psycho priest, leading to a lot of flash back, self-realisation and chat with her darker and inner self. It push her to make hard choices, to face her flaws,and live with it.

- I'm self-destructive : Same game, me that time. It didn't push my character on his final arc, mostly because it developed slowy in that game and my character was only touching the bottom of his rollercoaster and the end of the campaign and was only starting to face his errors and the consequences. By the way, really fun to play. You don't need a sadistic DM to get in big troubles.

- I've built my own cage and have regrets on my choice : Ok, very generic said like that. More data : WoD game, character being a former burglar, got caught. I made a deal with the police : liberty under strict control, working on security systems. Married, 2 kids. But always feeling off, like losing his life in emptiness. I loved my wife, but not that much. And there was that girl, professional burglar, whom I fought with on some cases. The character had serious problem due to the campaign, causing him and others players to be wanted by the FBI for really bad stuff. During the campaign, he had to abandon wife and children (even with the flat marriage, they mattered a lot forhim), he met again the burglar woman, she didn't believe him about the monsters lurking in the dark and took him for a psycho-murderer. And in the hand, when he manage to enter the Hellmouth with a nuclear bomb with the other and they had separately the devil trying to tempt them with some reward so they don't blow up the Hell, he had to face his choices, all of it, viewing the woman he loves so much just about to kill herself, being able to stop them, with the phone the devil gave him... Well, it was a real piece of game !

- I'm wanted for a crime I didn't do, but my body did : another bitlit game. The character was a witch with a possession power. But when she was in someone else, a nemesys from a past life manage sometimes to use hers. Add a lot of drama to deal with her mother and half-sister (the killed one was her step-father), a tension at each use of her power. When there were moments with dreams, past life was a great subject to use. And it push her to consider complicated concundrum differently when she knew all the truth behind it.

And for a game of Kult, my character has a great dark secret, I even barely knew. The DM makes us fill a sheet with a dark secret, but also with "biggest regret", "what makes you feeling guilty", "your strength", "your worst fear", "people you care the most", "people who would prefer you to never be in their lifes",... In it, he did use some things into making some other dark secret.
I was a Yougoslav former mercenary and I had done some horrible things during baltic war. From what I wrote, Jelenko (I) hooked up with a nice girl, Mila, and she got pregnant. He should have stop his dirty work of mercenary, but didn't. Between a ruff childhood and the things he did in wars, he started to become violent. When he hit Mila for the first time, she left with the child. He regrets it, but think it's for the best.
During the game, the characters ended up in some kind of near-death event and were in purgatory. There, the soul is put naked and we started to see things that were instead of things we prefered them to be. In some moment when my character has to face his inner demons, he understood that things where slightly different. Mila stayed after the first hit. and the second... and so on... until the day when their child, 5 or 6 years old, jump up in the middle of the fight, holding daddy's gun and saying to stop beating mummy. Jelenko hit his kid, hard, and left. He was his worst nightmare, he was he own father. And he may have killed his own child. So he made up a different past, far from his country, far from his life... Or maybe it was just visions of his fears... What was real, and what was desillusion? Well, that was heavy.
A big intense session !!

(On the same game, other characters had the same mechanic, like some coward diplomat who quit because he didn't want to participate some weapons trafic, who face the fact that he may have done these trafic and had to resign when discover.... or something like that.)

Anyway, your setting sounds interesting. It involved a lot of repercussions on the world though, you need to deal with a lot of stuff. But I think that it can make great games and your players will have memorable moments. :smallsmile: