Shadow Theory by Amechra
IntroductionOriginal SA post
You know, I've been meaning to review something, so you know what?
Shadow Theory posted:
On November 18th, 2010, the unthinkable happened. The wall between the two worlds melted away, allowing the corrosive, alien essence of the Otherworld to bleed into our reality, corrupting and warping everything it touched. Humans became monsters within seconds of exposure, and began to seek the flesh of their former acquaintances. Not out of a need for sustenance, but out of an overwhelming desire for raw materials to fuel their own transformation. Indescribable entities from the Otherworld seeped through the shadows, complicating the already horrific event. The embodiment of nightmares crawled from beneath beds and devoured children. Gibbering death crept out of closets and alleyways, from the backseats of cars and from within the walls. Unable and unwilling to accept or understand what was happening, human society collapsed in a single, fateful night.
Those who managed to survive did so not through strength or charm, or even skill or intellect, but through sheer luck and random circumstances. These survivors found themselves alone and desperate in a world filled with malice and hostility, populated by sinister beings that lurk hungrily in the dark. The only things that protect these rare few are their resourcefulness, their strength of will, and light. As the sun rose on that blood-soaked dawn, the entities retreated to the shadowy corners of the now-desolate cities.
They fear the light.
And now, more than ever, we fear the dark.
Welcome to Shadow Theory, a fan-made d20 Modern supplement that is still (sadly) only half finished. However, the creator has passed on to doing other things, and so...
I feel justified in posting about this.
It's basically what you get when you mix Silent Hill, I am Legend, and some Lovecraft into a big ol' blender, with some spellcasting added in! (Spellcasting is very, very dangerous, but it's the only way to actually kill the monsters.)
Oh, did I mention? Monsters in here don't die. And the more powerful monsters can appear anywhere you aren't looking, as long as it is in the dark.
This'll be fun.
Back to the "Scary" StuffOriginal SA post Back to the "Scary" Stuff
Alright, at the beginning of the PDF, there are a pair of sections that basically just explain what this whole thing is about. There really isn't anything exceptionally good or bad in this bit, and it's all kinda boring in the long run.
But after that, we have Sanity rules! Yay! Which, if anyone here has ever cracked open the Unearthed Arcana sourcebook for D&D 3.5, is pretty much a carbon copy of the system in there!
For those of you who have not seen said system, it is very simple.
You have 3 sanity related stats: your Starting Sanity (just 5 times your Wisdom score. Not modifier, thank God.), your Current Sanity (self explanatory), and your Maximum Sanity (which is 99-the ranks you have in Forbidden Lore.)
One note (skipping ahead to skills), Forbidden Lore doesn't cost you skill points and isn't capped by levels; it just increases each time you learn some kind of crazy mythos knowledge (only way to do that rules-wise is reading certain types of books.)
On a side note, there was an editing mistake on this page where later it refers to the Maximum Sanity formula as 99-your Forbidden Lore MODIFIER, which would be bad.
Alright, there are 5 main ways to lose Sanity, only three of which actually get any full rules in this version, iirc:
Learning THE TRUTH!
: Basically, if you learn where the fuck all those monsters are coming from, and why all those zombies are getting up,
you go even more crazy.
Reading Forbidden Tomes!
: Basically, you flip through the pages of the Necronomicon (or whatever) and have a
of learning spells, your Maximum Sanity goes down (you get a rank of Forbidden Lore), AND each tome deals sanity damage to you. This gets increasingly stupid as we get to...
: Let's see... you learn spells, and that lowers your sanity, and then you cast the spells and that drains sanity as well. That does not seem to be very conducive to wanting to play someone capable of, you know, actually doing stuff like sealing places off and killing the monsters permanently. Imagine a system that involved you casting spells by dealing damage to yourself, where trying to learn new spells involved permanently lowering the number of hit points you have. Yeah.
Encountering the Unimaginable
: Pretty much the standard "you meet mythos monster, and then take Sanity damage."
Sever Shock! Yay!
: You lose sanity for stuff like people dying, treachery, and 'anything else the DM feels is sufficiently severe enough.'
Alright, so how much Sanity damage are we talking when we take it? Alright, whenever you encounter anything that would cause you to lose Sanity, you roll a Sanity check, which is a d100, roll under your current Sanity. If you succeed, it doesn't completely negate the sanity damage you would take; instead, you take the lesser indicated amount (which could actually be 0!). Whenever you see 0/1d4 or something, that first number is the amount of Sanity damage you lose if you succeed, the second being what you take if you fail.
A nice little rule is that you can't lose more sanity in a day from a single type of enemy or other kind of encounter than the maximum possible damage from seeing one. Of course, this resets over night, so... Oh, and this rule doesn't apply to spellcasting. Fun.
Now! Losing Sanity is bad. If you lose more Sanity than 1/2 your Wisdom score in one check, you go temporarily insane! Which involves the DM rolling on a table to see what they roll to see how long you stay crazy; a d100 table with 2 possible results . It would have been easier to just say "roll a d10; on a 9 or 10, roll 1d4x10 hours, otherwise, 1d4x10 minutes.
During that time, you pretty much have to go with whatever crazy the DM tells you you get, which, depending on the DM, could be really, really bad; suggested insanities include stuff like curling up into a fetal position babbling.
For up to 40 hours, that is what your character is required to do. Oh, and the DM can fiat end the insanity at any time.
However, that's not the worst! If you lose more than 20% of your Current Sanity in less than one in-game hour, you go NPC-style insane for 1d6 months.
Oh, and a new way to get Forbidden Lore ranks! Yep, the first time you go crazy, you get 2 ranks for free, and you get an additional rank each time you go crazy!
Why didn't he realize that this is a bad system, that will lead to bad things if you have a spellcaster?
And to cap it all off, if you hit -10, you actually become one of the monsters. FUN!
Seriously, someone who happened to get a low Wisdom score is screwed (I'm pretty sure chargen is 4d6, drop lowest in d20 Modern); seriously, though, your Wisdom score is actually more important than any other ability score in this system, considering how hard it is to regain sanity (the amount which you recover is capped by five times your current Wisdom Score.)
If you have a Wisdom of 8 (either through ability damage or crappy rolls), you are useless whenever you would suffer 4 points of Sanity damage, AND your Maximum Sanity gets lower.
Up next! The hoops you have to jump through to regain Sanity!