Gothic Horror

The Fantasy Trip is a great fantasy roleplaying game that was created way back in the late 1970s, but it lacks elements of horror other gothic themes.

The optional house rules below help fix that, with a way to add horror elements in a rules-lite way.

Evil From the Abyss…

In game terms, evil can have lasting or even permanent effects on characters. Constant exposure to real evil, being the victim of evil acts, and especially committing those very acts can affect the characters personality, abilities–and body. Evil corrupts anything around it, in a growing cycle of more and more corruption.

To quantify these effects, the concept of “corruption points” is introduced. All characters start with 0 corruption points. This is not a new attribute, but more of a running total. Any time a character is exposed to real evil, or commits an evil act, he must make a saving roll of 3 dice vs. IQ. Each event or act also has a saving roll modifier as well. If he fails, he gains an appropriate number of corruption points. For suggestions on evil acts and their corruption point worth, as well as the IQ modifier to the saving roll, see the table below:

Corruption Table

Act or Event Saving Roll IQ Modifier Corruption Points
Witnessing an act of extreme brutality or torture. 0 1
Failing a fright check when dealing with the supernatural or evil. 0 1
Seeing an undead creature for the first time. 0 1
Encountering a demon for the first time. -1 1
Having your mind controlled or dreams invaded. -1 1
Defiling a holy site. -1 1
Breaking a holy vow. -1 1
Being the victim of extreme brutality or torture. -2 2
Making an alliance or pact with a demon. -3 3
Betrayal of a family member or close friend. -2 2
Committing an act of extreme brutality or torture. -3 3
Committing cold-blooded murder. -4 4
Committing large-scale murder or genocide. -8 8

The effects of corruption are permanent, and cumulative. As the character accumulates corruption points, the effects of the evil will begin to be seen on the character and affect those around him.

When a character reaches five corruption points, the effects of the evil will begin to show. Dogs or other animals may become skittish or refuse to be around him. Maybe other people will feel cold, or uncomfortable in his presence.

At ten corruption points, the character becomes obviously affected by the evil that has taken root. Maybe his eyes reflect a red light, he starts to mutter to himself in a dark tongue that hurts others ears–something that really shows that the person has become affected by evil.

It is at this point that physical effects also start to appear. At the GM’s discretion, a character may receive a +1 bonus to one attribute to show the strength that the evil is providing him. He also may gain some ability or knowledge that also is tied to that evil. Unfortunately, the character must also suffer an even worse penalty, a -2 to another attribute. This could be a -2 to DX rolls in daylight, or in the presence of justifiably good characters or holy places. Another could be a -2 to ST due to a weakness in an arm or leg. The character should also gain a -1 on all reaction rolls.

At 15 corruption points or more, the character is now either completely insane or obviously an evil monster. The character would now start to show their corruption in their physical appearance as well as mental state. The character should now gain some form of major insanity, as well as -2 to all reaction rolls.

The GM and player should work out the roleplaying effects at each level, and try to tie them to the events or actions that gained the corruption points. The more the effects are tied to the storyline itself, the better.

Dread

In addition, many places can also retain the evil that has taken place there. This could be a particularly cruel murder, a place where ritual human sacrifice has taken place or where a demon has been summoned. The residual evil–the dread–these places have shows itself in the physical environment.

The effects of dread can be shown in game terms by giving the location a rating from 1 to 6, with 6 being the highest. A place haunted by a ghost may have a dread rating of only 1, but the scene of human sacrifice for a demon summoning would definitely have a 6. All light sources in the area have their range reduced by 1 MH for each dread rating point, and all to hit rolls, saving rolls against fear and attempts to repel undead are also reduced by 1 for each dread point.

And do not forget to play up the fear. The dread, the corruption of others–these all add to the players being forced to make saving rolls for fear checks.

To incorporate fear checks along with dread, when a character encounters a frightening situation or enters an area of dread, have the player roll 3 dice vs. IQ, modifying as above for dread rating. If the character fails, use the following table to determine the effects:

Fear Check Failure Table

3-4: Loss of initiative. Recover normally.
5-6: Stunned for 1d seconds.
7-10: Stunned for 2d seconds.
11-14: Run in fear.
15-16: Faint for 1d minutes.
17-18: Develop phobia. Roll another 3/IQ to avoid losing 1 point of IQ.

Curses

In TFT, curses are caused by the Curse spell. They are pretty effective over time, but they are also pretty bland. A much more effective way to implement curses in TFT is to identify levels of curses, then have varying effects for each. Anyone can also lay a curse on someone, not just wizards. Curses are extremely emotional actions, with extreme risks to the one laying the curse–and not to be done lightly.

To use curses in TFT terms, there are two kinds: minor and major curses. Minor curses are noticeable to a character, but not catastrophic. Dogs may bark or become disruptive in the character’s presence, or flowers may wilt. The exact effects depend on the curse. Dice rolls are affected just as if a Curse spell had been cast on the subject with a ST of 4 or less (-1 or -2 to all rolls). The character will also receive a -1 on all reaction rolls if it suspected or known if the are cursed.

Major curses are far worse, and definitely make life difficult for the victim. As with minor curses, major curses show their effects in the world around the victim. They also show effects on the victim himself–maybe in a mark that cannot be concealed, a feeling of dread that follows the him, or some form of physical flaw that is obvious to anyone. Dice rolls are affected as with minor curses well, but with greater roll modifiers (3 or more). The character also receives a definite -2 on ALL reaction rolls, whether the curse is known or not.

When someone attempts to lay a curse on someone else, the curse must be clearly identified and spelled out. This includes both the effects of the Curse spell cast by a wizard, or by a “normal” curse cast by a non-wizard. The caster then rolls 3 dice vs. DX, applying the modifiers listed below. The caster may also choose to accept up to 4 additional corruption points to aid in the laying of the curse. Each point of corruption accepted modifies the roll by +1.

If the roll is made, the curse takes effect. All corruption points take effect regardless of whether the curse is successful or not.

Curse Modifiers

Curse if justified: 0
Curse is unjustified: -4
Curse is particularly suited to the crime: +2
Curse is minor: 0
Cure is major: -2

Breaking a curse is also very difficult. The victim of a Curse spell can have it removed by having a Remove Thrown Spell or Remove Curse (see below) cast successfully on him. Other curses generally require some form of satisfaction made to the caster of the curse, a Wish, or the Remove Curse spell cast on them.

Spells & Magic Items

There is a direct tie between dark or evil magics and the effects of corruption. While most spells, like any weapon, can be used for good or bad, a few spells really earn corruption points when they are cast.

Some spells, like the Summon Demon or Death spells, obviously corrupt the caster. Others such as Blind, Fear and Shapeshift can have corrupting effects, too. When a spell is cast that has a corruption point listed, the caster must make a saving roll of 3 dice vs. IQ. If the caster fails, he gains the corruption points listed.

Another influence of evil on magic is that on magic items. Items like the Hand of Glory, Rings of Control or Zombie Ring would obviously cause some form of corruption from their evil nature–both to those who made them and those who would use them. People who use evil-natured magic items must make a saving roll against IQ each day they are used or gain 1 point of corruption. Wizards who create those same magic items must also make a saving roll when the item is created or gain 2 points of corruption.

Again–these rules are optional. Use them or ignore them as you see fit.