So, I ended up creating a Powered by the Apocalypse game that wasn’t Jurassic World. The long story short of it is that, after playing After School Curse Club, I took a look at the mechanics of the game and realized how similar to Powered by the Apocalypse it was.
Eventually, the idea struck me to more or less take the base premise of the game and remake it into a full-fledged RPG. The end result is Yurei World. After expanding the base game into a standard PtbA game (as well as add a system to just make generic moves), I ended up deciding to add Playbooks. Originally, I didn’t consider it and just had it be the standard “pick one stat that gets +2, then pick another that gets +1”, but I soon felt as though I could give the game a bit of personality and customization by adding the Playbooks.
I only completed three, though I feel as though three is just what I need to test this out.
- Detective Stone is, as his name implies, a stone-cold detective whose solution is to punch things. He was recruited to investigate a strange case involving ghosts, though he doesn’t seem to believe in them.
- Yamada is a retired man who has begun to live the last of his days (about 9 sessions) but will devote his life to imparting words of wisdom onto people.
- Hanako is a miko who was told of a strange case. Realizing that ghosts are at play, she knows she has to solve it as per her heavenly duties, but is confined to the shrine and so must resort to hiring Detective Stone and his interpreter Yamada to help her out.
This is to be a simple plot for the purposes of testing, so I’ll say that Detective Stone and Yamada are hired to check out a house that has clockwork built right into the walls by an old man. However, he died long ago and some say his ghost haunts the house. As for the engine, I’ll use the Tiny Universal engine.
[Q: Do the two know each other? A: 5, No, but…]
Yamada has seen Stone before, though only once, when he seemed determined to solve the death of one of Yamada’s neighbours… only for Stone to realize they died peacefully in their sleep. Stone, however, doesn’t know Yamada and, as far as he knows, is just someone who stumbled upon the house.
“Um… You might wanna clear away, old man. I’m headin’ in there and cleaning up house.” Stone says.
“I’ll have you know that I’m also needed here…” Yamada says.
“What? This is an old house! What purpose do you have with it?” Stone says.
“I was hired to investigate the place. The money’s going towards my family.” Yamada says.
“Funny, I was hired to check this place out…” Stone mutters.
One of the problems I had with a PtbA game was that the moves are rather limiting, so my fix was to introduce Generic Moves, which are low risk moves that use whatever stat is relevant, though in hindsight, I should have used Understand.
[Investigation Move: 10]
He concludes that the person who hired him also hired back up, so he complies and the two enter the house. Scene ends.
[Scene Roll: Not matching]
The two enter the main hall and there are tell tale signs that it’s empty, if not abandoned. At this point, I’m gonna break out the Location Crafter to better help me with navigating the house, using the example of Christoff Manor to fill in this mansion.
[Roll: 3, 4, 6]
So while the two don’t notice anything out of the ordinary, Stone sees a piece of crime scene tape and picks it up. This is the move I wanted to use earlier, but didn’t think of it until now. Understand is your basic move in asking the GM what’s going on.
[Understand Roll: 13]
With a success like that, his questions are “what happened here?” and “how long ago did this happen?” to which the answers are as follows:
Stone slowly remembered a cold case that he read five or so years ago about a kindly old man. He was murdered in his home, but no one else was in the house except for him. Because there weren’t any tell-tale signs of it being either an accident or a suicide, yet no obvious perp with a motive who could have feasibly broke in and murdered him, the case was abandoned and people just… stopped talking about it.
“Looks like we have a mystery on our hands…” Stone says. He goes off upstairs with Yamada in tow.
[Roll: 2, 1, 3]
They get to the bedroom where they find blood stains on the bed. Stone knows this is where the man was killed, though he asks why no one bothered to change the bed. Yamada replies, saying how people tend not to butt into other people’s business, hence why people shrugged off this event and they move on.
Also, I’m doing scene rolls, but only noting them if they lead to a twist, since they’re often a 16.62% chance with the twist system I employed for this engine.
[Roll: 3, 4, 1]
The next room is a mouldy bedroom. The encounter is broken floorboards, but I’m going to ask if they see them.
No, they don’t, and they don’t notice until after one of them falls through the boards. I can see Stone taking the bullet here, so he goes in… and breaks through the boards. He needs to make a Spirit Check (in lieu of an actual physical stat) to not get hurt.
[Spirit Roll: 12]
He holds onto the stable floor boards and carries himself up.
“Jesus! This place is trying to kill us!” Stone shouts.
“No. This place is just old. Come, we’ll eventually find our purpose here.” Yamada says.
The two are asked to make a Find Move, which is translated directly from After School Curse Club’s Find mechanic, where it’s used to locate a Talisman (along with other things), albeit without the DC being based around where you are and more on “did you investigate recently?”
[Find Check from both of them: 7 (Yamada) & 11 (Stone)]
The two of them find pieces of a Shinto cross buried underneath the now broken floorboards. At which point…
[Project Check: 7]
A spirit of a temple priestess comes in. Project is a move where people can use their Spirit stat to essentially be in two places at once, to communicate with people without needing to be physically there. The funny thing is that this is a move anyone can use.
The two recognize the priestess as the woman who hired them. She explains that the man who died now haunts the house and that to find peace, they are to make his murderer come to peace as well. She can’t stay for long, as her projection is weak, not helped by the fact that she’s in a house filled with not just technology (a bane to spirits due to the iron and other metallic alloys) and the fact that there’s the presence of a Yurei.
Before she can explain who or what a Yurei is, she disappears, leaving Yamada to tell Stone that Yurei in Japanese means ghost. The scene ends there.
[Roll: 2, 3, 6]
As the two exit, wondering about where the Yurei possibly could be, they hear noise coming from the kitchen and rush off, only to find a scared teenager. Instantly, the two remember him as Paul, a vlogger who had spent some time touring Japan, much to the chagrin of both the elderly and police, as his antics cause a lot of noise complaints.
Stone notices Paul is shaky…
[Find Check: 6]
“Okay, one, what are you doing here, and two, can you stop being tweaky and tell us what’s going on?” Stone asks.
“L-like, there’s a clock out to kill me!” Paul says.
“… A clock. Like, an actual clock.” Stone rolls his eyes.
[Understand Check: 11]
Yamada asks if there’s anything Yurei-related to the clock and why Paul is here. His answers are as follows.
“Shame on you for disrespecting the dead. My grandson watches you. You’re planning on sleeping here, right?” He asks.
“Yeah… But that clock…”
“I think you mean a Tsukumogami.” As Yamada says that, both Paul and Stone look puzzled. “An old Japanese legend. When an item becomes a hundred years old, they acquire a spirit and become alive.”
“Okay, enough with this. Ghosts? Toys that come to life?” Stone asks.
“Well, there’s those Amiibos that are toys-to-life-”
“Zip it, punk!” Stone yells at Paul, “I have a hard time believing all this crap!”
“Then what do you call that vision we had of our client?” Yamada asks.
“Special effects! This is all a publicity stunt. I just know it. Well, I want no part of it.” As he walks away, Yamada speaks up.
“To give up on giving closure to a long unsolved case is akin to giving up on a book.” Yamada, despite being frail in age to the point where disease will claim him, offers sage advice to Stone. In reality, he’s using a Move that’s unique to his Playbook called Tend, which is a risky move where you can give a +1 to someone provided they do Moves in relation to the advice. In his case, it would be solving the Yurei mystery.
[Tend Check: 12]
Stone stops, sighs, then turns around.
“Very well… But you’re gonna pull your weight!” He points to Paul. “Or else I’ll arrest you for trespassing!”
“A-alright! Fine! I’ll join!” Paul says. The scene ends with them departing from the kitchen.
[Roll: 6, 2, 4]
So… this is where I hit a bit of a stumbling block, as the Location I landed on is “Random”. It’s brief though, as I figure out what to do.
[Q: What does the place look like? A: 2 & 45, Adventurously Heavy]
They discover an old attic full of memorabilia dating back hundreds of years. The only thing that doesn’t look ancient is a discarded shotgun. Stone tells the others to back off as he investigates this.
[Understand Check: 9]
So… I can’t really lie to myself, as the 7-9 result is “You may only ask one question, but the Yurei Master can either tell the truth or lie.”, so I’ll leave it to Tiny Universal to answer it.
[Q: Was this shotgun recently used? A: 9, Yes, but…]
It is broken and can’t be used again. Instantly Stone turns to Paul and asks him if he used the shotgun. Since I don’t know myself, I’ll leave it to fate.
[A: 7, Yes, but…]
“Y-yeah, but only as a bat. There weren’t any bullets… and now I think it’s broken…” Paul says. Yamada, meanwhile, looks through the collection and realizes something. Most of these are based around Yurei in some way, shape, or form, such as a collection of broken, used up Talisman.
[Project Check: 9]
The priestess appears once more and tells the group that he was a Yurei hunter. She explains that Yurei are ghosts with unfinished business and that in order to resolve them peacefully and permanently, they must resolve that unfinished business. Yamada asks her about the clock and she confirms that it is indeed a Yokai that the Yurei hunter tried to summon before he was murdered. The reason she chose now to resolve this is because of Paul effectively woke up the Yurei and his Yokai.
She disappears with this in mind, leaving Paul and Stone to be at odds with each other. Even though he doesn’t believe in Yurei, the fact that Paul is to blame for this current event. And so he fights him using his unique Move.
[Fight Check: 6]
Funny enough, Paul knows boxing and easily curbstomps Stone. Paul then takes out a camera.
“Hey there Paullers, It’s me, Paulove25. I just beat the shit out of a cop dude, hashtag F da poliiiice! Yo, check it. I’m sleeping over at this old dude’s house and his ghost is haunting the place. Also, I’m being hunted down by Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast, hashtag Disney gonna sue. Check this out, though!” He pulls the camera over to the Yurei gear. “Great stuff, right? I don’t know what half this stuff is. Can you guys tell me in the comments? If you do, you’re entered for a giveaway for some sweet, sweet, clock carcass once I beat it up like I beat up the cop. Remember to like, comment, and subscribe for more! Paulove forever!” He stopped the recording and uploaded the video on YouTube.
This is his unique move, called “Tell Me What You Think”, where he uses the power of his audience to get facts.
[Insight Check: 8]
After a while, he gets two vital pieces of information. One is that the gear are expensive pieces of jewellery that can set him for life, and the other is that it is used to force Yurei to manifest and eventually banish them. Wanting to make a quick buck, Paul snags the items and stuffs it into his bag. Yamada notices that the items look similar to the Talisman he and Stone found, though he says nothing. Yamada helps up Stone and the three head off.
[Roll: 6, 4, 4]
Okay, I decided to forgo the rolling a location and instead have the team check out the library next to see if they can find anything about the old man.
[Q: Is there an obligatory “pull the book and the bookcase opens” switch? A: 12]
Yes, and the heroes find it rather easily. However, since I rolled doubles… Random event time!
[Event in question: 4 & 5, Physical event changes the goal]
The group end up on the other side and they see a plethora of clockwork creatures, all of them living within the walls of the house. Many of them have tiny arms and legs, looking like a pocket watch with a single, cyclopean eye.
None of them know what these things are and Paul accurately sums up their reactions with a single, loud scream. The Monodrones notice them.
[Q: Do they regard them as intruders? A: 5 & 5]
Yes, and they have an event.
[Event in Question: 6 & 1. Item Appears]
The leader of the Monodrones appears: The Yokai that murdered the old man. The trio get ready to fight back and this is where the Fray from Ursa Minor comes to play, so as to simulate the fight without having to go into actual initiative or translating systems.
We take 4d6, then add the Actor’s Potency (in this case, 2d6 for the Fight skill), then subtract the Target’s Potency (the CR for the Monodrones + the Yokai). Since the Monodrones are 1/8th, or 0.125, I’ll make it 2.
[Fray Roll: 23]
Critical success! For good measure, Paul kicks the Monodrone leader.
“YEAH! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” He gives another stomp onto the mechanical clock before he picked it up. The two look at him funny before he shrugs. “Gotta give the fans what they want.”
“So, now all that’s left is the Yurei…” Stone mutters.
[Q: Is killing the Yokai enough to make him move on? Disadvantage because it can’t be that easy. A: 8]
Yes, but the Yurei appears and asks them all if they have what it takes to be Ghost Hunters like he was. The three all conclude in their own way that, yes, they would become Ghost Hunters. Stone realizes that, although this is all new to him, if this can shut down cold cases like this one, he’d be all for it. Yamada wants to make the last of his days worth it to at least someone, and Paul wants to freshen up his channel with something cool.
The Yurei nods and with the miko’s word that she’ll keep an eye on the four, he departs to the afterlife. With that, each member gains an Enlightenment. This is the Level Up mechanic of the game. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll pick the generic Enlightenment which adds a +1 to all their signature Moves.
And that was it. The test managed to come out as a success for me and I think this could make a pretty good campaign or at least something for me to return to every now and then. For now, though, I’ll leave this into your hands so you can see for yourself what I have made.
Enjoy, and Bon Voyage, Gamers.