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 Forbidden Knowledge
~ A new Runesword spell skill ~
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Occult Spells  |  FK Triggers  |  Writing an Occult Text

New: Forbidden Knowledge v.1 is ready for your testing and comments!
[Below is a working document that details the specs on a new Runesword spell skill I'm developing. If you have any questions, comments, or would like to offer assistance please email me at heeznow@msn.com. Thanks, and return often to see how things progress.]

Forbidden Knowledge Overview


The Forbidden Knowledge spell skill is an attempt to recreate in Runesword game mechanics the secret, occult research that is a common theme in Lovecraftian horror fiction. The story's protagonist either accidentally discovers/unleashes occult forces/monstrosities in the course of otherwise "innocent" research or is a pawn in another's evil scheme to do the same. The basic formula here involves the character discovering a book/scroll/inscription from which they learn some power, conjuration or information. They then use that power for their own ends, but often at a terrible price. For example, the first of a series of sacrificial spells I'm developing, "Transfer Resistance", enables the caster to steal a creature's soul and "bond" it to an armor item, giving the item the same magical and physical resistances as the victim. This power not only kills the victim, but also drains the caster to the brink of death while driving him/her closer to insanity.

One important element of Forbidden Knowledge is the role of the character as researcher. Unlike the traditional RS spell skills, where new powers are assigned automatically when points are spent on the skill, FK powers must be researched within the occult resources encountered. A text/inscription, when read, copies a new spell into the skill trigger. This way, the player is alway searching for new texts and Creators have the freedom to make their own spells available to be learned. While I wrestled with the notion of automatically gaining spells as the skill level is raised, I have decided to leave that up to individual Creators. Not all characters will have gained the inital spell skill from the same text and therefore there is certainly room for variations of the post-raiseSkill sub-trigger. The initial spell skill I wrote did not include automatically gained spells, but on re-working the triggers a bit I decided to add a few existing spells that I thought fit with Occult tone such as Finger of Death and Frenzied Mortis.

Another element of this is that it is open-ended. Each resource encountered must include a trigger that copies itself into the character examining it. The powers/spells available in the resource are then available in the future to the character. For example, Joe Blow Whatley discovers a fragment of the Necronomicon buried deep in his former mentor's crypt. This fragment may or may not contain the same information encountered previously. The Fragment item contains an Post-Examine trigger that searches the PC for the Forbidden Knowledge skill trigger. It would then search within that for the spell trigger. If this particular spell has already been learned, the character has just discovered a copy of a previously read text. No big deal. If they have not, the trigger decides whether to offer the character the basic spell skill, or if that is in fact present the spell itself is learned. This property of Forbidden Knowledge allows different Tome authors to create their own dark and unholy sources of Occult knowledge just as Lovecraft and so many of his circle have done. It also creates a dynamically evolving skill, which I believe offers more game play/game design potential that the static skills represented by LunaSpell et. al. In theory, one could even present the party with a scap of a Dark Book which in and of itself does nothing but present information, but would offer a complete description of a spell/power given the existence of another resource present in the skill trigger ("My God, given this latest discovery the Ponape Scriptures now make sense!").


Development notes

  • 11/4 - Posted a generic Occult Text item along with step-by-step guide to using it. Reorganized FK material for easier surfing.

  • 10/17 - I've posted a v1.1, if you will, in the form of a complete, example Occult text encounter as well as adding a couple of completed individual spell triggers. These are all posted on the message board, but I want to keep this site as a complete, one-stop shopping resource for all things dark and scary in Tome making. ;)

  • 10/15 - It's been a while sine I posted an update here, but things are still moving. I have finished the basic Forbidden Knowledge skill and have made much progress with the Transfer Resistance spell. There is some slight debugging to be done, but I am expecting to be able to move on soon.


    (Later that night) - Well, for better or worse, I seem to to have finished the first phase of implementing my idea. Now comes more thorough testing and creating more spells and the books that contain them. I've scrapped the idea of choosing which spell to research upon raising the skill level. For now, I want to see how things work in the context of a tome. Maybe there could be another version of the Forbidden Knowledge skill that would exact a lesser price in exchange for the ability to direct the spell development. As it stands, when the character reads a text containing a Dark Secret (my new name for FK spells) they automatically receive the spell. I'm thinking that the game balancing feature of loosing ones sanity for these ultra-powerfull spells offers a lot of role-playing value as it is.

  • 7/26/01 - Well, so far I've got the bare bones specs written (see above) and am working on the first spell - Transfer Resistance. After some patient help from Shodan (see the Message Board) I've got the spell functioning. Unfortunately there seems to be a bug in the actual resistance transfer. A long time ago I verified the Resistance Type indexes with Dan & Adam on the message board, but the information was either an accidental mistake or I just remembered it wrong. Most likely the latter. I still have some bugs to work out here, but the basics of take a creature, drain is HP and suffer the consequences works.


    If there is anyone out there who actually plays paper and pencil horror games (esp. Call of Cthulhu) and would like to give me quick descriptions of spells and/or game mechanics that they feel would fit into this Forbidden Knowledge skill please feel free to email me. Thanks in advance.


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