The Island of the Dead. (Scenario Review).

The Island of the dead

This scenario is written by Robin Liljenberg. The man behind the rules of the new edition of KULT. And the one that started the whole project from the first place and had the idea to update KULT into the PBTA-system. And if you don’t want any spoilers I can say this. The scenario is great. And just like all the scenarios in Taroticum and Other Tales it really stands out and is different.

To cut a long story short. This is survival horror on a jungle island. Think Lord of the Flies, Lost, The Green Inferno and Deliverance merged into one story.

The players are traveling across the Indian Ocean and their plane crashes. They wash up on the shores of a strange island that seems to be evil in itself. Here horrors from the characters past comes to life and they have to fight nature, servants of the Death Angel Golab to find a way to escape. The scenario comes with four premade characters but there is a short guide how to create new characters if you want to make your own.

Survival is the core theme of the scenario and equipment is scarce. To simulate this the scenario comes with equipment cards that the players need to keep track of. Here a flashlight can be a vital thing, a first aid kit can save you from death and a cup of coffee can help you recover stability. The player can also find a map over the island and have to decide among themselves decide where to go and what to do. In some ways it feels like an OSR scenario but there are scenes that are made for the premade characters that gives the story a far more personal touch which I really like.

Equipment cardsThere are several of these Equipment Cards included in the scenario. 

While the characters explore the island they have a chance of uncover more and more aspects of its backstory. They may come upon the natives that are a cult in service of Golab, find an old research station where clues are left in an old journal. Find out that there is another Cult on the island that brought the plan down but the coolest scene is when you learn about how the Archons and Death Angels have fought over this place. An old skeleton of a Lictor and his brutal sword (which is not just to take) gives you an insight that something larger is at play.

The scenario is easy to understand and easy to play but it still feels epic. There are a lot of NPCs and creatures that are well developed and that are memorable and characteristic. I hope to see a full campaign penned by Robin Liljenberg for KULT: Divinity Lost. Just by reading this it is clear that he is as excellent in creating a good atmosphere, a cool plot as he is designing rules.

It is said that this scenario might be played during one evening, but I think it could be played for several sessions. There are much to explore and do on the Island of the Dead and I get the urge to fill the map with more locations, survivors and clues to the mystery.

I highly recommend it, and it is nice to explore KULT: Divinity Lost away from the urban environment.

Map Island of the DeadThere are a lot of room on the island for a GM to include new places and enemies. And it would probably be possible to run this one shot as a full campaign. 

Rules for using the KULT Tarot Deck

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You can now Download the rules for using the KULT: Divinity Lost tarot deck here.

Even if you don’t have the tarot deck I still suggest checking it out because it is a great resource for the Gamemaster.

Each card contains people, locations, situations, items and much more that can be used when shaping a campaign or scenario for KULT: Divinity Lost or any other horror RPG for that matter. There is just an abundance of material like a great table of random results.

Borderland

This is the description of 1 of the 68 cards. Each with a clear theme and connected to the illusion and our road to Awakening. 

It is impressive how much sense the cards make when you study them. Now I have only started to use them but each card suit is itself a journey. Take for example the Suit of Skulls that is described like this:

This suit represents Death as a breakthrough to the other side, as well as the mortal destruction that binds us to our flesh. It is strongly connected to both Metropolis and the Archons, as well as to Inferno and the Death Angels.

One one end, Card 1 you have Metropolis. On the other end, Card 9 you have Inferno. Both path of the machinery that governs and binds the souls of mankind after death. The middle card, that balance the suit is Card 5 and represents Transition from Life to Death. So just by studying the suit you can see the different ways the soul may wander. And the steps that goes out from Card 5 both up and down are steps towards Metropolis or Inferno. Very, very nicely done. I am extremely impressed by the level of detail and can only applaud the creator Petter Nallo for this.  All five suits have this beautiful balance.

Besides the cards there is a system how to do a Tarot Reading and I can clearly show that you easily can create your own, far more complex, especially if you are experienced in using Tarot cards. It is worth noting though that the KULT tarot is different from the normal tarot, it is not just that the motifs are different.

Now, lets just talk a little bit about the card art by Axel Torvenius because it is glorious! It is steeped in the occult and I really wish that they would have used more of his art for the core book. But I can see that it would diverge to much from the established style.

TarotJust a few of the amazing cards in the Tarot by the talented Axel Torvenius. 

The Tarot Cards could have been a simple prop but this is a truly impressive product both when it comes to design and art. It is a must when you play the scenario Taroticum and as a Gamemaster they can be the key to your subconscious. I truly appreciate the level of spiritual depth KULT: Divinity Lost offers.

 

 

Statistics of Rolling Dice

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On the Facebook group Kult RPG Fans, member Mattias Westermark made some statistics for the outcome of dice roll in the new KULT: Divinity Lost system. All rolls are made with 2D10.

Modification to roll -2
failure – 55 %
success with complications – 35 %
complete success – 10 %

Modification to roll -1
failure – 45 %
success with complications – 40 %
complete success – 15 %

Modification to roll 0
failure – 36 %
success with complications – 43 %
complete success – 21 %

Modification to roll +1
failure – 28 %
success with complications – 44 %
complete success – 28 %

Modification to roll +2
failure – 21 %
success with complications – 43 %
complete success – 36 %

Modification to roll +3
failure – 15 %
success with complications – 40 %
complete success – 45 %

Modification to roll +4
failure – 10 %
success with complications – 35 %
complete success – 55 %

Exploring Dark Worlds with Atrium Carceri

If you want to explore the vastness of Metropolis, the chambers of Inferno, the desolated realms of the Underworld my recommendation is that you listen to Atrium Carceri. Dark Ambient music that reaches true spiritual depths.

The genius behind the music, that takes your soul on journey, is Simon Heath. From the excellent interview that can be found here we learn that he has an insight in the world of KULT: Divinity Lost and gnosticism in general.

– The ancient city, where humanity once ruled as gods before being banished to our reality. This mirage will sometimes break down in single individuals, and the interference usually takes the shape of themes from my early material; trauma, schizophrenia, psychosis and depression.

These dark hymns are perfect to get you and your players in the right state of mind and breathes KULT. Below is a small sample from his upcoming album. The art is a depiction of Metropolis if you ask me.

La Cena, Playthrough and Review

lacena

This weekend I played La Cena, a scenario for KULT: Divinity Lost written by Jacqueline Bryk. It is part of Taroticum and Other Tales.

First of all I have to say that this is a different scenario to play. It is not the “standard” KULT story and it is something you will have to wrap your head around. Because, basically this is a scenario that is all about dialogue and acting than any other scenario I’ve played. I would say that it borders on being a LARP. The main scene is a dinner where we see how a family completely breaks down. And when we played it was glorious.

But, first. Let me tell you what it is about: Set in a steaming hot Miami in 1967 a family gets the unexpected news that the oldest son, Eduardo, is joining them from Cuba. The family had a great trauma when they fled from Cuba but Eduardo chose to stay and fight in the revolution. So there is a lot of broken relations there. And that is not the only thing that is messed up in the Cruz family. There is so many secrets, so much hidden pain, so much resentment there bubbling under the surface. And Eduardo will burst that bubble.

Now, Eduardo is not the one you think he is. The real Eduardo is dead. The “Thing” that wears his shape is a creature born out of dreams. He returns to his family pretending to be Eduardo.

The scenario is tight. Just a few scenes: The picking up of Eduardo at the airport. The arrival to the home of the Cruz family. And the Dinner which is the central scene. And here are some more things that I am not that used to see in RPGs:

Each scene has a suggestion of music that should be played in the background to set the tone.

Eduardo is a NPC. But there are 7 player characters in the scenario. Seven characters are far more than I would recommend in a KULT: Divinity Lost scenario. And since they are all tied to the family and the dinner you can’t really leave them out. So then they becomes NPC’s.

The Dinner is the central scene and it has seven courses. Each tied to a deadly sin. Now the courses are important to the story. They move the dinner along and each character as well as Eduardo has a description of a thing that the character is recommended to do in that segment of the scene. It is not like the characters are given lines, but they are getting suggestions how to act against each other.

And this works really well. In fact, it is what keeps the scenario together and creates the drama. All the players agreed that it was extremely helpful. It was not like they were scripted, they were just pushed in different directions.

The session I had was with 6 players and myself. I let one of the twins be an NPC. Two players were completely new to KULT: Divintity Lost. I had set a table just like a dining table and to make conversations easier I had dinner placements with the characters names. These could be folded up like a name sign so that they were easy to read. I had made playlists with the suggested music as well as a playlist with some dark ambient music. I did not have a full dinner but I had some snacks that the players could eat at different times. I also allowed all the players to have their character sheets in front of them so they could read their cues. I also had a little bell that I rang when a new course was carried in.

It became a really good session. There was almost no rolls. Only drama, family trauma and an intense and feeling of unease as Eduardo grew in power. But during that dinner the family somehow came together. And that weakened the creature. After the last course. I stood up as Eduardo. Threw my napkin on the plate. Said to Rafael, the father, “Your son is dead” and then described how he just faded away. The family sat there in silence.

It was all very powerful. Strong emotions and some bleed.

The scenario demands its players. If the players don’t act it all fall apart. And I would say that you want to have as many of the roles filled as possible. I think it could work well on a convention if you can get the privacy. The whole style feels just very unique when it comes to setting (the 60s is not really what you think about when you think about KULT), subject matter, story techniques and act structure. I also really liked the themes in this scenario: Family Strife, Claustrophobia and Assimilation as well as the guides how to use them. That and the tips for the Gamemaster made my job easier.

The scenario could have had a bit more love when it comes to art. It has a chapter heading which is really nice. But that is it. At least one of the small images within a frame would have been appreciated.

I highly recommend the scenario. It can be played very subtle when it comes to the supernatural. And it was just nice with a story that did not involve nepharites or lictors. This was a broken family living in a lie and having to face the truth. All us playing it had a really good time and we got to touch upon really dark themes. Dice rolls weren’t really needed at all.

So if you make the space and time for it. You get several players that likes roleplaying La Cena will be an experience that stays with you for a long, long time!