Investigative Horror RPG Homebrew, Part 4: The Hollowing Curse

Standard diseases in most roleplaying games are often quickly detected and easily cured with low-level spells. Pathfinder Unchained disease rules as well as the Horror Adventures disease rules can be useful for making more dangerous diseases. The following is an example of a disease that is more challenging and is especially suitable for investigative horror roleplaying games.

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Gurdjieff and Games, Part 3: Where Games Can Go Wrong

To understand, according to Mr. Gurdjieff, where games can go wrong, besides the previously mentioned depriving of children of time to play games or depriving oneself of work-rest balance, one must understand where humans can go wrong (and have gone wrong).

The same problems experienced in life are the same problems experienced in games, only on a smaller scale. This difference in scale can be used to one’s advantage—one can use games to learn about oneself and others to understand the basic problems of humanity in a limited and relatively safe environment. Some of these problems are detailed here in brief.

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Reading Gurdjieff: A Sense of Proportion

It is important when approaching Beelzebub’s Tales to adopt certain exegetical principles. For the sake of productive interpretation, it is useful to assume: 1) that Mr. Gurdjieff’s writings were composed from a higher reason than our own, and therefore, 2) every detail in the text has meaning; and so 3) because of its near-infinite meaning, we cannot know everything about the text, but 4) we can still draw practical teaching from it despite the limits of our own understanding; and 5) that the author can satisfactorily explain himself from his own writings.

In addition to these recommended exegetical principles, having a sense of proportion of the many ideas of the text in relation to each other and to the whole is also important—in other words, not distorting significant ideas into insignificant ones, and vice versa.

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Homebrewing an Investigative Horror RPG, Part 3: Advice

original photo credit: Martin Schmieder, Stuttgart

Recently, I read an excerpt from a new horror supplement for the most well-known roleplaying game in the world—you know the game. The excerpt was advice to players and game masters on how to play or run a horror roleplaying game, or any roleplaying game for that matter. I won’t rehash the advice—it can be found all over the internet. For players and game masters alike, it was bad advice. And rather than rehash why the advice was bad—as has already been pointed out by so many others—I’ll just offer the advice I follow when I run horror or other genres of roleplaying games.

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Gurdjieff and Games, Part 2: Children’s Games and Fun Fair Games

Salem, MA Carnival Games. Credit: Toby McGuire

A survey of Mr. Gurdjieff’s writings revealed that games are mentioned many times: in ‘games’ played by the Greeks and Romans, in the English ‘sport’, in children’s games, in games played at French fairs, in games specified by name, including baccarat, roulette, snip-snap-snorum, chess, wrestling, and billiards.

Here we look briefly at what Mr. Gurdjieff wrote about children’s games and fair games, and their value in relation to the Work.

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Reading Gurdjieff: On Literature

Aside from what was written about journalism in his introduction to Meetings with Remarkable Men (see p. 14-28), Mr. Gurdjieff writes more broadly, through the character of an unnamed intelligent elderly Persian, about the subject of literature. I’ve gathered only some brief notes here from the material. I do recommend reading the book for yourself; there is a PDF version at the Gurdjieff Work Library. I have also added a personal note after the notes.

Purpose of Literature

  • Contemporary civilization is an empty and abortive interval for the process of perfecting humanity. Contemporary civilization serves no purpose but the pursuit of pleasure and is only dimly aware, if at all, that in the past, its purpose was self-perfection. Self-perfection is not the same as the contemporary idea of self-improvement, but that is another subject.
  • In respect to the development of the mind, one of the chief means is literature. This may surprise some who—although they purport to be familiar with Gurdjieff—believe that literature is useless for any development. Continue reading

Reading Gurdjieff: On Journalism

In the process of gathering what Mr. Gurdjieff wrote about journalism and journalists, I’ve put together some brief notes from Meetings with Remarkable Men p. 18-28 on just what he wrote on the subject:

  • Journalism is a fundamental evil that exerts a poisonous influence on mutual relations among people today and offers nothing whatsoever to the development of the mind.
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Coral Palace of the Marid—Published!

GPH2: Coral Palace of the Marid is now available on DM’s Guild!

Finally, after five years, I’ve completed and published the sequel to GPH1: Alabaster Palace of the Dao. This new adventure is the second in a series of short adventures or heists that take place in a genie palace, this time, in the coral-covered basilica of the pelagic marid.

I created the series of four adventures to test for myself and my group how D&D 5e plays at mid to high levels (11-15). The long delay between publishing this next adventure was because the adventures were created and run in a theater-of-the-mind mode, with flowcharts instead of maps and scant written details.

Two down, two to go! On to GPH3: The Marble Palace of the Djinni!

Palace Map

Page 14: Palace Map

Pages 3-4: Table of Contents and Introduction

Pages 3-4: Table of Contents and Introduction

Homebrewing an Investigative Horror RPG, Part 2


original photo credit: Martin Schmieder, Stuttgart

Aside from the system, for the setting of this investigative horror RPG, I use an alternate Earth history as the basis of past events, peoples, and locations that lead up to a different present. Robert W. Chambers used this technique in his collected short stories, The King In Yellow, to produce a subtly unsettling effect on the reader. Alternate history also serves as protection for the lazy gamemaster from history buffs.

The alternate pivotal moments of history in this setting include the following:

  • Scandinavian explorers successfully settled the northeastern parts of North America in the 10th century.
  • The Yellowstone Cauldera erupted in the 15th century, plunging the world into a little ice age, delaying further European exploration, expansion, and the so-called “Enlightenment” by centuries.

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