Varsovian
 member, 1545 posts
Wed 17 Nov 2021
at 22:35
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
Okay, guys, let me pick your brains, if you don't mind.

Let's say I'd like to run a horror game about covertly-operating investigators of the supernatural. I don't want to tie it to any specific setting, but to do something of my own (because I'd like to be able to use all the horror influences I like, from Lovecraft to vampires, WoD-style spirit dimensions and maybe even a bit of Kult). So... any advice on what system would fit it?

When it comes to setting-agnostic games, I own GURPS, Savage World and Cypher. GURPS is good, but complex. Savage World is simple, but seems to be built toward cinematic action. Cypher is cool, but weird (pool-based stats, a bit limiting character creation).

Would you use any of these? If not, what system would you recommend for a game like that?
deadtotheworld22
 member, 170 posts
Wed 17 Nov 2021
at 22:40
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
I can't speak for the three that you mentioned, but one potential approach (given you mentioned it in the original post) might be to use WoD and just not stick to a specific Supernatural template - I've done some experiments with mixing and matching different abilities, and because all the different NWOD systems are largely based on the same core principle (pay X weird energy cost to trigger power Y), they're relatively easy to adapt to whatever you want your canon to be.
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 185 posts
Wed 17 Nov 2021
at 22:54
Horror investigators - what system to choose?


FATE Core and Fate Accelerated (FAE) are my go-to systems when trying stuff like this.

The Fate mechanics of Challenges, Contests, and Conflicts work just as well outside of a combat oriented setting.  It could be a social conflict, or a research-based challenge.  A contest using occult ceremonies, etc.

Once you grok the system, Fate fits pretty much any type of tale.
evileeyore
 member, 588 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Wed 17 Nov 2021
at 23:02
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
As you can see by my UI titles, I'm always up for GURPS.  If you've got GURPS players, GURPS can be simple, it all depends on how much gritty realism you want to dial in (and what Character Point level you're setting the game at, "more points = more options").
NowhereMan
 member, 458 posts
Wed 17 Nov 2021
at 23:11
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
GURPS is a great go-to for stuff like this, but covertly-operating investigators of the supernatural is what Delta Green is for. Sure, it's tied to the Cthulhu Mythos, but it shouldn't be too difficult to strip that out.
phoenix9lives
 member, 1074 posts
 GENE POLICE!  YOU!
 GET OUTTA THE POOL!
Wed 17 Nov 2021
at 23:12
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
Off hand, I can think of two systems where I have played in exactly the kind of game you are referencing.
CHILL is an older system, but it covers anything from Victorian/Gothic Horror to modern supernatural slasher.  It can be a bit crunchy, but how can you go wrong with a game that has an adventure module hosted by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark?
Palladium's Beyond the Supernatural could also be a good choice.  It is also crunchy, but quite versatile, with rules for playing average people and kids.
Another one I have heard of, but never played, it the Call of Cthulu, and its various iterations.  That adds a Sanity stat that can be depleted as the character goes on investigations.  Be advised, however, most of the horrors the characters encounter, they are lucky if they survive.
liblarva
 member, 730 posts
Wed 17 Nov 2021
at 23:49
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition is the latest and greatest version of the game. Itís more average Janes and Joes getting caught up in horror investigations...and going mad as a result.

Cthulhu Dark is an ultralight version of the same premise, though itís not about fighting the monsters. Thereís also Tiny Cthulhu, which runs off the Tiny d6 system.

Delta Green is a spin off of Call of Cthulhu that focuses on government agents investigating various horrors. Lots of fighting and gun play. Their ďsanity lossĒ is more about losing connection with loved ones, other civilians, and the normal world.

Monster of the Week is a PbtA game with the same rough premise, though itís basically the Supernatural TV show as an RPG.

You could adapt Alien for this premise. Itís all there. Youíd just need to swap the setting from soace trucker future to whatever setting you had in mind.

Others Iím aware of but havenít played include: Chill, Cryptworld, Fear Itself, GORE, Stories from the Grave, and Unknown Armies. These are either horror specific or premise similar games. They might be worth checking out.

Either way, thereís three great resources for running horror you should look into. The Fate Horror Toolkit. GURPS Horror. Stay Alive!

This message was last edited by the user at 23:50, Wed 17 Nov.

Jobe00
 member, 332 posts
 Role-Playing
 Game Mechanic
Wed 17 Nov 2021
at 23:55
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
Savage Worlds Adventure Edition. The flagship setting for the game is Deadlands: The Weird West Which is Old West horror. The East Texas University is dealing with supernatural while in college.
Lluis
 member, 6 posts
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 12:51
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
Maybe Dark Conspiracy could also help you, though I don't know if it is still available...
Varsovian
 member, 1546 posts
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 23:17
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
Thank you for your input! Here are some thoughts:

1. I'm considering using NWOD, true. Although the system is closely tied with the whole setting in my mind... But it's true, it would fit - both the main NWOD rules and Hunter: the Vigil. Hmmmm.

2. FATE - eh, not really. I just don't like this system. Too... narrativist, I think.

3. Delta Green is awesome, but it has the same problem as NWOD. The system and the setting are really one thing in my head... plus, the system is quite deadly (on purpose). The same goes for Call of Cthulhu - which I own and like. I'm just not sure if it's right for what I have in mind...

4. Savage Worlds is another system I'm considering. But isn't it too cinematic for a horror game, with the PCs being deliberately favoured by the rules?
Jobe00
 member, 333 posts
 Role-Playing
 Game Mechanic
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 23:20
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
On Savage Worlds, it depends on what Setting Rules you go with. If you don't use the 4 Wound Cap rule (and Deadlands does not), then one lucky damage roll can end a character quick.
Mad Mick
 member, 1017 posts
 GURPS beyond measure,
 outlander
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 23:52
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
GURPS Horror and GURPS Mysteries have a lot of material you can poach for your campaign. Thereís some good stuff in GURPS Infinite Worlds: Worlds of Horror that could be helpful, too. Thereís also the GURPS World of Darkness books for 3E that could give you some more ideas.
Silverlock
 member, 131 posts
Mon 22 Nov 2021
at 01:19
Horror investigators - what system to choose?
In reply to liblarva (msg # 7):

The Pulp Cthulhu rules provide a faster, smoother system that allows the players to modify a die roll (within limitations) that gives a better ride than the regular Cthulhu rules, 7th edition.   Less paperwork and math for the GM, too.  Pulp's not as deadly as regular CoC either, the players can invest more in characters they know are tougher to kill.  You can make the game more or less cinematic, or more realist/fatalist, just depends on how you want to run it.  I like Savage Worlds too, but the math and my ability to recall who had what bennies, at my age, that's tough.