The Curse of the House of Rookwood (Kickstarter)

The Curse of the House of Rookwood is a unique gothic horror RPG from Nerdy Pup Games. All the players are members of the Rookwood family; a family gifted with supernatural abilities and cursed by those same abilities.

Games can be played as one-off story arcs, or as a multi-generational legacy campaign. By creating this sort of timeline break between arcs, it becomes very easy for players to come and go, and prevent the oft-lamented situation of one person can’t come and another brought their date to game night.

Because players are all members of a family (or at least the family’s household) character creation is best done as a group. Similarly, most of the resources and advancements in the game are given to the family, not specific individual players. In fact, those same resources, in the form of Legacy Points, can actually be reduced for future generations as a result of gameplay.

Beyond the specific horror story that the Chronicler is guiding players through, each character has their own metaphorical Skeletons in the closet. These Skeletons act as a way to guide the actions of each family member, as well as a way to replenish individually spent trait dice, as Characters work to resolve their own inner demons. Skeletons are chosen during character creation and may or may not be known to other players. Some elements may need to be revealed but can be privately communicated via the Chronicler rather than openly to everyone. The example used is that if Player 1 stole their uncle’s watch to pay off a gambling debt, then the uncle would eventually need to know their watch is missing. At the end of a story arc, unresolved Skeletons may have an impact on future generations, including their collective Legacy Points.

As horror can be a disturbing genre, and everybody has different comfort levels, the game recommends the use of an X card to communicate an element in the game that should immediately be dropped and replaced. It also recommends the use of the less common O card, that can be similarly used to encourage gameplay elements players may want to see more of, and that can also act as a subtle way to silently check that a player is ok if they look uncomfortable. Think of them as personal Red and Green lights for the narrative.

All the listed stretch goals are scenarios and additional game options, so they can easily be given every pledge level. Regular pledge levels start at only $15 for a PDF of the final game, which is also provided with all pledge levels, and $25 gets a physical hardcover copy, and $95 gets four copies of everything for your group.

Above that $200 and $250 allows the backer to participate in the creation of a new Curse or a new Monster, respectively, and $500 will get you a game run by one of the designers.

There is one other pledge level that I want to point out, they have a “Hardship Digital” pledge for only $8, that is intended for those people who may not otherwise be able to afford to pledge. It’s presented on an honour system, and I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate seeing this. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is nothing I respect more than a company who does what they can to give back to the community.

Nerdy Pup Games does not have any sort of real track record to evaluate, and I am slightly concerned that post-campaign cost changes may present an issue, given the price points. That being said, the price points are also low enough that even if this project goes horribly horribly wrong (and I have zero reason to suspect it will) burned backers wouldn’t be out much, so I’m not really concerned at all.

All told this looks like a fascinating game, with a very unique approach. If you like gothic horror and have been looking for something new to try, this might be what you are looking for.

You can back The Curse of the House of Rookwood RPG on Kickstarter until Dec 8, 2019.

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