Thursday, 13 September 2018

Rats in the Walls

I recently bought a copy of the Rats in the Walls RPG on RPGNow. Rats in the Walls is a rules-lite horror roleplaying game by Livres de l’Ours. A company I have not heard of before. The author is listed as Kobayashi.

The blurb notes that it is a game of cosmic horror inspired by Lovecraft but not using the Mythos. I have read a lot of Lovecraft but I am not actually a big fan of using the Mythos in a horror game because it is quite apocalyptic. The horror games I have run in the past used the Mayfair version of the Chill game and were more noir than horror.

What prompted me to buy the rules was the price and the evocative cover art. In the book, the author gets right to the point. There is a single page bullet point introduction and by the second page, you are right into character creation. The writing is very sparse, with few examples and not a lot of extended explanation. But the rules are simple enough that it is really not necessary.

Characters have Attributes and Secondary Attributes. The attributes are Brawn, Dexterity, Violence, Wits, and Willpower. You pick a profession and reputation to get a unique advantage and then gear. Done. Very simple.  Weapon categories are very broad, One-handed, Two-handed and bigger.

Players state what their action will be and make an attribute roll (2d6 + Attribute). A score of 8 or higher is a success.  Easy actions get a +2 and hard actions a -2. Actions in combat like an attack or made using the violence attribute. Based on the level of success the GM or player picks the consequences.

There is a quick list to cover some other situations, chases, social, vehicle combat and range in combat. There is a page on Sanity rules. The sanity rules in Rats in the Walls are not as onerous as those in Call of Cthulhu. You lose Sanity when experiencing the supernatural. When your sanity reaches 0 you can faint, do something stupid or gain a scar. Once the chosen effect occurs you get back 1-6 sanity.  It is possible to permanently lose sanity but that appears to only be possible if you and crazy enough to cast spells.

There is a fair amount of time taken explaining Sorcery rules. Spells are a Will roll, if unsuccessful you likely pass out, even succeeding you are likely to lose sanity.

The rules are very simple but they work for my style of play. When I run contemporary or horror games they tend to be about investigation rather than combat. The art appears to suggest a contemporary setting. The only setting actually mentioned in the rules is a Medieval one - which would be interesting. The rules really allow for any time period.

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