This latest episode sees us return to our discussion of our favourite non-Lovecraftian horror role-playing games, with Matt sharing his unwholesome love of all things Kult. Admittedly, it would be difficult to make anything related to Kult wholesome.
Kult, for those who haven’t encountered it, is a Swedish RPG first translated into English in the early 1990s. The setting is one of the richest and strangest in horror gaming, taking in Gnostic Christianity, splatterpunk and a sense of oppressive gloom that could only have come from a Nordic clime. The game has been through a number of English-language editions and publishers, but is currently out of print. We can only assume that Lictors are responsible. Lictors are always responsible.
Kult can be a controversial game, largely because of its religious, violent and sexual elements, and be warned that our discussion reflects this. Admittedly we spend more time complaining about the layout of some of the supplements than we do about, say, eating babies, but the point still stands.
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It was quite amusing to me to read your comments about Kult, the background and the rules engine. I haven’t played the game since the early 90’s, I have to admit, but we did have some fun with it then.
Amusing trivia about the game editions: The 1st english edition was actually a translation of the 2nd swedish edition. (Or maybe it was re-written for the english version, which was then translated to swedish for the second swedish edition? The publication dates suggest that.) Anyway. One complaint that was leveraged in Sweden against the second edition is that it changed and elaborated the background to make it less dark and more game-able. Maybe that is where the idea of the Demiurge originally being human comes from, in the first ed the Demiurge was just gone.
I was active in the swedish convention scene at the time and ended up playing, play testing and running a bunch of Kult games written by the authors, Gunilla Jonsson and Michael Petersen. From what I remember most of them were rather rules light and had little combat. They were more mood pieces.
The rules system was lifted more or less straight from two of the authors earlier games, En Garde! (17th c. swashbucking rpg) and Skuggornas Mästare (‘Masters of Shadow’, a modern rather gonzo superheroes and ninjas rpg). The game system did not match that well with the Kult setting, which I think the authors rather quickly realised as well.
Thank you for that insight! It explains a lot about the disconnect we experienced when playing with the original mechanics. It’s surprising that they lasted as long as they did.
Hi! I know that I got here some years late, but maybe you can help me!
I’m trying to start again with this game after many many years, and I came to something that reeeaaally intrigued me about the rules…
Ok, so for every roll you must get a lower than your skill number in a d20. Cool. And if it’s a skill that you don’t have any skill points spent on it, or even is not in the character sheet, it counts as a skill at level 3*. Alright. So, lets say: my character is a ridiculously dexterous guy, like with an Dex ability of 20. But I have the Athletics skill at 5, ok, he may be out of shape, or something, right? But the book, at some point, says that if you don’t have the appropriate skill on the sheet, you roll for the respective ability. So, in some cases, it would be better to not have the appropriate skill and roll for that 20 instead of a 3 (?)
That option to roll for an ability doesn’t make much sense to me. In most cases it would be better to not spend any points on any skill and roll everytime for the abillity.
Other thing: you could have two very similar skills (something like “Athletics” and “Climbing”) with very different points, like 18 and 3. So you are like and olympian champion that can jump and sprint like a cat, but can’t climb a tree? Or am I missing something?
(*): The book says that that 3 base points rule applies to basic skills only. But sometimes I have a hard time deciding when something is a basic skill and when not. Why “Dance” is a Agility skill but “Bow and arrow” is a basic one? When something is considered “basic”?
Sorry if some words are not exactly like in the book or some sentences sound weird; English is not my native language :/
Do you have any clue about those things?