Thursday, December 13, 2012

Roll Your Own Life (14) - Yes, this is a Kult

Last time I did a little nostalgia piece I was talking about the old World of Darkness and how we all got very into playing Vampire and Mage, and then I had a bit of a falling out with White Wolf, mostly due to the way my wife and I were treated by the nasty minority in The Camarilla.

The cover for KULT 1st Edition
I did, however, still really like the characters and the setting that we'd formed for the game, and I wanted to continue the story of the tabletop game, but on a smaller scale. The multiple games in the same setting was too demanding considering I was supposed to be doing college work, so I reeled it back to the basics - just one game running at once, just a handful of players. But what I needed was a new system to play dark urban occult fantasy with. And, as usually happens with my game buying, there was one game sitting on the shelves that intrigued me with its striking cover - Kult.

I don't know what it was about Kult, but there was something scary about it. The cover was cool, but it seemed a little sinister too. Maybe that's what drew me to it, that strange scared fascination you have to see something that you're not really sure you want to see. Like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. When I was a kid, that film came out and it was legendary. The stories of how people were fainting during it, it was something that was almost too scary to watch, but you were fascinated enough to almost dare yourself to try.

Kult was the same for me. Its inspiration from Hellraiser was obvious, but I gave in, bought the rule book, and was hooked. Not in a "tear your soul apart" way, but just in the way that it was crafted. I set to converting the characters from the Mage game and soon we were back in action.

The cover for KULT 2nd Edition
Just awesome and wacky.
Kult allowed us to do some really weird things in game. One of the characters was killed - not even a player character, just a reliable NPC, and one of the PCs vowed to bring him back by using a host of powerful and available spells from Kult to make the character pregnant, to put the dead character's spirit back in the unborn baby, and to travel back in time to leave the child with foster parents so the character could still be alive today. Of course, he was radically different when they returned. He wasn't a vampire anymore for starters.

It was very cool, and the way that The Metropolis worked, the city behind the illusion of reality, would be something I would always remember in future projects.

When second edition Kult came out with its awesome typography and design, I was shown a whole new world of how rulebooks could be presented. They didn't need to be plain or basic, they could play with the conventions of typography and layout, experiment with the way that the game could be published, and laugh in the face of mundanity. The two supplements for magic were so bizarre in their layout that some pages were almost unreadable, but that just made it cooler. And the Judas Grail adventure was so bonkers, I don't think the players got very far with it. Love that game.
Layout design for the Purgatory supplement
courtesy of

The following versions of the game just didn't have the same scary coolness or wacky graphic design as that or the first edition, and for now Kult seems to have faded into obscurity.

However, it was at this time that weird things were happening outside of the game.

I'd set up a comic publishing company, Autocratik Press (also known as Autocratik For The Masses) with the backing of the Prince's Trust, and my attention to games and games writing had taken a back seat while I created a different world of my own. The world of my comic, Missing.

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