Scary Shit Mechanics in Old School Games – part 1


My thoughts on Fear & Sanity mechanics in Old School Games. From my OSR blog.

Originally posted on Nerd-O-Mancer of Dork:

Medieval trepanation to let the evil mists out

This post has been living on my hard drive as a draft since March 1, collecting dust. Since RPGPundit made a post about sanity mechanics in Old School Games yesterday, I’d like to add my thoughts on the topic, while it’s hot.


Ever since we started playing Call of Cthulhu my players fear one thing more than bodily harm: Sanity loss.

Indeed, more of our former Call of Cthulhu Investigators now reside in Asylums around the globe, than in graveyards.

Should you want something similar in your Old School Game of choice, there’s no built in mechanic for this. Some more recent versions of the game offers solutions though, and it’s my intention to comment some of them here. I’m sure there’s more variants, but these are the ones that I own.

So without much further ado, here’s my OSG list of “Scary Shit…

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Drawing S:t Hexen

S:t Hexen going on

S:t Hexen going on

2014-05-11 22.20.52 HDR

Dark fantasy town in progress

Coffee, good drawing book from Tiger and some thin pens from Japan.

This started out as S:t Hexen, a small creepy town in Nexus Mundi, but darn, it’s getting out of hand! I think this will be the main town in the area, and S:t Hexen will be much smaller.

This town is situated on a group of islands forming a delta in a large river. I was inspired by an old map of medieval Cork.


S:t Hexen – a creepy little town

Arriving at S:t Hexen…

As I’m working on the final touches for our next game – Ravenloft using the OpenQuest 2 rules engine, I’ve also started sketching on the next project:

The creepy town of S:t Hexen, in the southwestern parts of Caligari.

The world is Nexus Mundi, which in turn are my hack on The World Between of Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque fame.

Yesterday evening was spent in the bed with a fresh Moleskine notebook and my trusty Muji 0.5 pen, jotting down ideas and concepts – lo tek style.

I’ve also decided to try out the Fantastic Heroes & Witchery OSR rule set for that game. In my opinion, the most Fantasy Horror-y game of the OSR bunch.

I will post notes and stuff here along the way…

“You can always check in, but you can never leave…” – Grumble Crackpötz, Inn Keeper & Purveyor of Fine Meats

“Aaaaaaagh…” – Herr Doppelstöcker, Travelling merchant, last seen at the “Halber Mensch” Tavern (now missing)

Book tip: The Last Wish

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

I was looking for some dark fantasy reference pictures for my games, when I stumbled on “The Witcher” games, which in turn lead to the books behind those games (no, I don’t play computer games anymore).

It turns out that they were written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and that in Poland, it’s basic knowledge for fantasy fans to have read them.

A little hard to get, but some of them are translated to English, and The Last Wish is the first one.

It’s more of a collection of shorter stories than a proper novel, depicting the adventures of Geralt of Rivia, who’s a Witcher – a Monster Hunter, trained since childhood in the art of Monster Slaying. Geralt is a master of battle, stealth and sorcery. Cool concept. A little like “Supernatural”- fantasy style.

I don’t know if it’s the translation, but I think the language is so-so. A little too obvious at times and a tad adolescent with all sexy wenches drooling over our hero, but cool stories nevertheless.

Despite these flaws it’s a helluva lot better than many of the mass-produced fantasy books you find in the bookstores. You can tell the author has played some RPGs in his life…

Read if you want a different flavored fantasy story, or for inspiration for your darker fantasy games, not because it’s great literature, but because it kicks a**…!