blur: a system for abyssal fog

Following my post befogged: dangers of the fog, I’ve been putting together and throwing out designs to make a befogged torchbearer game work the way I want. Lot’s of churn, kind of the opposite of writer’s block.

I couldn’t find a way to make what I wanted using the standard toolbox for Torchbearer:

  • The fog is dangerous.
  • People fear entering it because those who do, never come out again.
  • Because the fog changes people, makes them dependent on the fog, makes them better in the fog, makes them into fog.
  • And the longer you’re exposed to the fog, the more it changes you.
  • But you can protect yourself from exposure with gear and other resources.

I want to avoid fog exposure piling more conditions on player characters. I’d rather it lure them into the fog again and again and ultimately undo them. What’s worked best is the core die system from Cthulhu Dark, particularly because it is easy to introduce into Torchbearer’s dice pool system.

Here’s my current working draft. Should get to playtest this soon.

This obviously leans heavily on Torchbearer, Cthulhu Dark, as well as borrowing from Jared Sorensen’s Decrepitude.

blur

Your Blur shows how far you’ve been changed by the fog. It starts at 1.

  1. Fogbound Normal for a fog dweller
  2. Fog-blurred Minor instances of déjà vu grant +1D help testing in Fog
  3. Fog-infected Roll one die and add the result to your Blur degree to determine your infection. +1Ob Circles in Town as folk avoid the fog-infected.
  4. Fog-eater Gain a new fog-conditioning in order: fog-iron, -calm, -courage, -endurance, -tough, -balm. Also access to fog-fresh and -ghoul. +1 Lifestyle in Town as folk refuse fog-eaters (along with +1Ob Circles from being fog-infected).
  5. Fog-shade You are partially intangible. Only results of 5 or 6 count as successful Attacks or Feints in a fight. Not welcome in Town.
  6. Fog Total ontological dislocation: Retire character.

blur roll

When you are exposed to the fog, make a Blur roll by rolling a d6. If you roll higher than your Blur, add 1 to your Blur and the GM will describe how you changed hitting your new degree of Blur.

While in the fog, if you’re Blur 2 or higher, you may add your Blur die to any test. If your Blur die rolls higher than any other die, make a Blur roll.  

If your Blur ever reaches 6, you become one with the fog and are never seen again.

accumulating changes

The longer you spend in the fog, the more it changes you. If the result of a Blur roll is not higher than Blur, you may still be changed. The GM will describe how you changed based on your roll result.

  • A Blur roll of 1 or 2 has no effect, unless you’re Blur 1.
  • If you’re Blur 3 or higher, then a Blur roll of 3 means the GM rolls another infection.
  • If you’re Blur 4 or higher, then a Blur roll of 4 means you gain the next fog-conditioning in order.

removing changes

You can decrease your Blur score by leaving the fog. At the start of each phase out of the fog, roll a die. If you roll lower than your Blur score, reduce it by 1 to a minimum of 1 and remove all changes related to that degree of Blur.

When you spend winter in town, your Blur resets to 1 and you lose all changes.

exposure

If you have protection, then you’re not exposed; e.g. plague doctor mask, scavenged mushroom mask, leathers, greased skin, magical amulet, prayer. Other things may disperse the fog’s effect: windy weather, fog-resonant bells, etc. Likewise, you don’t need to be ‘exposed’ to count as being in fog. If losing your protection would mean you were exposed to the fog, then you’re in the fog.

fog-infected

+1Ob Circles in Town as folk avoid the fog-infected.

Roll one die and add the result to your Blur degree. This will generate a number from 4 to 11. The first time you roll, you may choose which of the two infections you want. However, the next infection must be from the opposite category. The following time, you must take the infection from the other category, and so on.

If you ever roll and must take the same infection, remove it instead. Remove any ongoing effects (uncross Fresh, reset Might), but retain any changes already made (i.e. wise mark, sickness).

Roll result
Primary infectionAlternate infection
4Burned eyes while in fog, full light blinds you. Count as if in dim light.Bestial hunger double rations to recover from hungry thirsty.
5Eyes aglow while in fog, dim light counts a full light.Long fingers -1Ob Scavenging in fog.
6Haggard cross out the Fresh condition.Booming your voice reverberates and projects loudly, no matter how you try whisper. Can clear fog around you for one test per phase if vocal continuously.
7Webbed nostrils can recover from hungry thirsty by breathing fog. Make a Blur roll too.Scarred mark a wise as if you had just used: I Am Wise to help pass a test, I Am Wise in a failed test, Deeper Understanding, or Of Course!
8Malodorous exude fog through breath and skin, you always count as in fog. Others nearby will too unless you wear protection.Fog lung +1Ob to Health/stealth tests, except recovery.
9Predatory aura -1Ob Pathfinder or Hunter while in fog.Mucous skin can test to recover from exhausted out of camp by removing all gear in fog. Make a Blur roll too.
10Consumption start each session with Sick condition.Feeble reduce Might by 1 while in fog (minimum 2).
11Rock-ribbed +1 Might while in fog (maximum 4).Shakes free test when in camp in fog, not recovery.

Remove all infections if Blur reduces below 3. Any changes these infections have already made to the character are retained (i.e. wise mark, sickness). Ongoing effects are removed (uncross Fresh, reset Might).

fog-eater

+1 Lifestyle in Town as folk refuse and avoid fog-eaters (along with +1Ob Circles from being fog-infected).

If you’re Blur 4 or higher, then you can gain fog-fresh if you leave a camp in the fog cleared all conditions. Fog-fresh grants +1D for all tests in fog. Likewise, if you die in the fog when you’re Blur 4 or higher, then you may ignore all penalties for dead while in fog and while your Blur remains 4 or higher.

When you hit Blur 4 or roll otherwise roll 4 on a Blur roll, you gain new fog-conditioning. You accumulate fog-conditioning in the following order, starting with fog-iron:

  • fog-iron ignore penalties for hungry while in fog
  • fog-calm ignore penalties for angry while in fog
  • fog-courage ignore penalties for afraid while in fog
  • fog-endurance ignore penalties for exhausted while in fog
  • fog-tough ignore penalties for injured while in fog
  • fog-balm ignore penalties for sick while in fog

The Grind still works as normal. Fog-conditioning can only blunt the pain; the character will still suffer conditions. For example, if your character is hungry and thirsty on the fourth turn, even if they are fog-iron, they will still take the exhausted condition.

Remove all fog-conditioning if Blur drops below 4.

fog-shade

Not welcome in Town. If discovered by the Watch, immediately end town phase for all players as they are run out.


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2 thoughts on “blur: a system for abyssal fog

  1. This is pretty cool. It makes me wonder about best practices for extending penalties with new condition tracks in TB.

    That’s basically what you’re doing – making a new Condition track. And that seems like a pretty cool idea I never thought of.

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