View Full Version : Original System Tomes & Tentacles

Shackled Slayer
2018-02-22, 05:33 PM
A re-skin of lazers & feelings by john Harper and one-seven designs [link at bottom of this paragraph] to fit into a supernatural investigative setting, and specifically the cthulhu mythos. Think "call of cthulhu" but reduced down to a near-purely narrative driven arrangement. Additional mechanics have been added to facilitate the setting's more sinister elements.

The players take on the roles of hired investigators in a small agency who are sucked into the supernatural and weird happenings of strange forces. Character creation is as follows:

Step 1: choose the basics of your character, their name, upbringing, personality and drives.

Step 2: choose a style, the first half of what determines what you are considered an expert of. The choices are; hot-shot, cautious, insane, sexy, scholarly, crafty, tech-savvy, cultured, worldly or stoic.

Step 3: choose a role from; private eye, librarian, politician, doctor, cultist, hit-man, escort, engineer or gambler. This is the other half of what determines what you are an expert in.

Step 4: choose a number from 2 to 5. Whenever you do something risky you will roll a number of D6 (max 4) and based on what kind of roll it is you will use the results to determine whether or not you succeed. You always roll at least 1 die, +1D6 if your an expert, +1D6 if you are prepared, and +1D6 if somebody is helping (somebody who helps makes the same type of roll as the roll they are attempting to help with, adding the D6 on a success). A tomes roll is when you try to roll under your number (representing logic, precise action, technology) and a tentacles roll means you are trying to get results over your number (actions of passion, impulse, intuition or brute force). If a result matches your number you get eldritch insights, and may ask the GM any one question (within reason) and they must answer honestly. Examples include "is this action possible?" "what does that person really want from us?" or "is my character's sanity going to whither away if i read this blasphemous tome?". You then re-roll that die until you either succeed or fail.

Step 5: select one bonus for your character; a scrap of eldritch arcana, a lesser eldritch artifact, a series of protective and helpful magic tattoos (detect supernatural entities, a sigil that helps find hidden things, a once a day barrier, etc.), greatly increased funds, extensive knowledge on magic and the supernatural, or a high powered contact who owes you a favor.

Step 6: as a group all players choose a name for the detective agency as well as two strengths and one weakness for the building
Strengths; sturdy, spacious, well stocked, medical facilities, investigative facilities (forensic lab, interrogation room, etc.), an old arcane library, backup generators & resources
Weaknesses; shabby, built on a ley-line intersection, cramped, no storage, no utilities except electric, cursed &/or haunted, on a jehovah's witness propaganda route.

All players start with a room in the agency and cot there, roughly $300, a concealable fire-arm, plastic zip ties, a cell phone (if period appropriate), a car or similar method of transportation, a pocket knife and anything else your character would likely carry on them (good luck charm, makeup, purse, etc.)

Insanity: a measure of a character's mental instability as they are exposed to more and more unsettling/incomprehensible horrors. Every 10 points is a rank, and a character is lost if they reach 5 ranks of insanity. Each rank also affects a character's behavior, gradually they begin to hallucinate, hear voices, lose sleep and gain insight into the elder god's designs. After rank 2, a character is always considdered an expert or prepared for casting eldritch magic. How much insanity a character gains and when is up to the GM, although 2 to 3 points is the norm, while an entire rank can be gained by witnessing an elder god directly. Insanity can be reduced through relaxation, therapy, or by self medicating the horror away with alcohol or drugs.

Using a D20 the GM rolls on the following table to determine a player's scrap of arcana if they took one. The character doesn't know until they research the scrap.

1. The ritual to summon an elder god (takes up to 10 hours to perform)
2. "Yithian bargain" by sacrificing something(s) of universal value worth at least $10,000 (total) the caster gains a living gun that can fire enrgy which harms otherwise impervious creatures. This does not include elder gods.
3. "Wish for revelation" you become an expert in a single highly specific subject and gain an insanity point. If you drop below your resultant insanity score you lose the information gained by this spell and it's related expertise. Each casting doubles the insanity points gained.
4. "The audient void" you send target creature into a vast void outside of time and space, with a 5% chance to send yourself instead
5. A diagram of the handsigns of power: voor (designation), kiskje (locking/unlocking), katje (deflect harm), & ye elder sign [detailed here http://lovecraft.ru/texts/necro/wilson_eng/ofsigns.html ]
6. Instructions on summoning a hunting horror
7. "Screaming of the spheres" target drops to the ground in paralyzing pain as they are assaulted by impossible sounds and visions. Both you and the target gain 2 insanity points.
8. "Travel" you open 5 gates, each leading to another world or dimension
9. "Reveal the hidden" you project beams of black light from your eyes which allows you to see hidden text, mechanisms, or creatures, as well as the true nature of things disguised or veiled by such influences. Looking at something that would cause you to gain insanity causes you to gain twice as much.
10. the GM selects the spell for you themselves
11. Instructions to summon a shoggoth
12. "Invoke the star sign" you summon a manifestation of the current dominant constellation, which will fight for you for 10 minutes before disappearing.
13. You summon 4 "daughters of the black goat", beautiful women who will fulfill your every carnal desire for 2D6 days, at the end of wgich they will tear you apart unless you have the favor of Shub-niggurath, in which case they simply disappear
14. "Viewing screen" you imbue asome kind of eyewear with eldritch energy, which allows you to view madening things without gaining insanity points.
15. "The mist" you summon an obscuring fog that conceals things farther than 5 feet away, but it dispells the illusions of elder things in disguise and attracts unnatural creatures. The fog lasts 1D6 days.
16. "Last visions" you see the last 60 seconds of a dead bodies' life, gaining 1 insanity point
17. "Legacy" you inscribe an object with knowledge, memories or madness
18. "Take my madness" you give target creatures all of your insanity, reducing your insanity score to 1 point. They may attempt to resist.
19. Instructions on how to summon a shantak mount
20. "Discern favor" you learn which elder being does and does not favor you, as well as what elder god/being most aligns with your goals and values. You gain 5 insanity points, and may choose to become a cultist of an elder being who favors you, replacing your current role.

How effective a weapon is, how many hits something takes before falling, and the like are all arbitrarily determined by the GM. the system is more concerned however with story telling than it is with combat scenarios.