#rpgaday2015 days 20-21 – favourite horror RPG & favourite RPG setting

I get myself back on schedule and immediately miss a day. I’m doing well at this. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure this fits both days 20 and 21, so maybe I’m not doing too badly.

Orpheus wins this pretty much hands down. I play and have played a lot of modern horror games – it tends to be my genre of choice. I have every core book in the nWoD catalogue, and several more that fit the genre besides, but Orpheus is still my favourite. Maybe because it was my first tabletop game.

In Orpheus, you’re playing in the Old World of Darkness setting but without any of the Old World of Darkness setting. I know that’s confusing, but bear with me. It’s a world where supernatural gribblies can come out of the night, tear you to pieces, and leave again with no one being the wiser and only your grisly corpse left to be found in the morning – that’s the World of Darkness. The thing about Orpheus is that they’ve proven ghosts exist, so anything else is just a ghostly manifestation – there aren’t werewolves, just jacked-up violent ghosts.

The game is a limited-run self-enclosed game set after the end of Wraith: the Oblivion. In the oWoD metaplot, a spirit-nuke got set off in the Underworld causing a spiritual maelstrom to arise cutting off the Underworld from the real world – this is what’s caused the vast increase in ghosts in the material world which has brought ghosts to the notice of the Orpheus Group and their scientists. In this way, it’s both part of the setting and completely separate from it.

You get to play either a Projector (someone living who can leave their body to enter Twilight as a ghost) or a Spirit (someone who’s already dead and still hanging around). There are two types of each with their relative advantages and disadvantages. The supernatural powers of the game are all restricted to the ghostly, so projectors can only use their powers if they’re not in their bodies. In that sense, it might make sense to only have dead characters, but the dead are limited in their own right (they’re dead for a start, which makes ID a problem if it’s checked) including the fact that their Vitality (power points) recharge slowly compared to the living projectors – it’s far more efficient to have the living skimmer recharge Vitality while in his body and pass it to the ghosts than it is to just have ghosts wait to accumulate more. It’s also costly for a ghost to manifest themselves fully in the material realm – while they can linger in Twilight indefinitely, interacting with the material costs Vitality.

Throughout the limited series, the game’s own metaplot arises and new types of ghosts and powers emerge as you uncover the hidden truths of the setting. It’s a game I love and I’d love to play/run more often (one of my perpetual side projects is considering updates to setting based on modern tech levels). Orpheus is the entire reason I backed the recent Wraith: the Oblivion 20th Anniversary Kickstarter – there was a stretch goal of updated Orpheus content that I really wanted.

Go look into Orpheus – you can get it on DriveThruRPG and the PoD softcover I’ve got is currently holding up better than my ancient hardcover is (damn those flimsy oWoD spines).

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