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Just finished running my first Kult: Divinity Lost session using the QuickStart rules and I’m glad to report that it went really well. What follows are some of my impressions and I must apologize in advance for the big "wall of text". ;)

Although I've had run a lot of PtbA games before our group included only one other player that had played some Dungeon World. We were also joined by two others with some experience in playing games like D&D 5E and Call of Cthulhu and an infrequent player of RPGs.

I've followed the K:DL team suggestion for a shorter story-arc and decided on a common Dark Secret for all the PCs. After some wondering I prescribed that they were all Guilty of a Crime that happened some years ago. Being that that their crime had been in response to an insane act (with unexpected catastrophic consequences to the people that surrounded them) for a time I wondered if Victim of a Crime would be more appropriate but I came to settle on the former. In that sense I tried to establish that their crime was more of an unconscious act but also one that let the characters feeling remorse for years while remembering it in a faulty manner.

After detailing a part of their common experience regarding their Dark Secret we dived headlong into the character creation process. I noticed that the player that would be playing the Artist picked a second Dark Secret (Pact with Dark Forces) and that the group selected their Advantages/Disadvantages quite quickly with the help of printouts of the Archetypes. Most of the players used the available lists for their Looks although the player that would be playing the Detective used its illustration as a reference for his character. After some cursory explanation of the Attributes (and how they relate to the player moves) the players distributed the stats easily while we talked about their characters concepts.

We also established that the story would take place in modern-day Lisbon and that the characters not only remembered their collective participation in the gruesome crime but also were connected through some of the relationships listed on their archetypes. The players also easily created the other three additional Relations and wrote down their gear (just their names really as we didn’t write down any stats for weapons or armor).

At the very beginning of the session something curious happened: as we were establishing the first scene of the Seeker he rolled for his Stalker disadvantage, got a -9 and then I gained 3 hold that I could spend to make a move for his pursuers. The Detective player then mentioned that his character also had the same Disadvantage and proceeded to roll for it because the move mentioned that it is triggered “At the start of the first session”. He got a -9 and I gained 3 hold over him. Then the Artist player looked up his Curse Disadvantage, noticed the timing of its trigger, rolled for it and got another -9.

As I used glass counters to remind me of how much hold I had over the characters in little time there was a pile of glass counters in front of me! Now that I think of it I guess I should had only let them roll at the beginning of their own scenes to not distract us from the fiction at hand but it is true that it created some thrilling expectations on all the players.

We proceeded on playing, cutting from scene to scene while focusing on each character and their daily lives. I resorted to Disadvantages like the Seeker and the Detective’s Stalker, the Avenger’s Schizophrenia and the Artist’s Curse to inject some of the surreality and graphic horror of the setting into their lives and I have to say that the players were well into it. In a sense it all progressed like an informal conversation in which we’ve added details to what was happening in quite a laid-back manner. In fact the players were more eager to add details to the story that extended to other characters, NPCs or even the setting that in other campaigns we’ve played before.

That dynamic slowed down a bit when the Seeker tried to use the internet to look up details concerning a tourist couple he suspected were sent by his pursuers to spy on him and thus I considered it was an appropriate trigger for the Investigate move. While trying to answer the move’s questions I had some difficulty adjudicating them given the specific way the move was triggered. It left me wondering if triggering the Investigate move was the indeed the best option.

Following a schizophrenic episode by the Avenger there was also a violent altercation between him and a taxi driver that resulted in triggering the Engage In Combat move. The Avenger rolled a 15+ and knocked the man out senseless with a kick that pushed the car’s door against the him. In an kind of intuitive way I described what amounted to the Subdued harm move even without checking out the specific rules. The Avenger’s player was surprised by the violent outcome but was also really pleased by it as he was trying to roleplay the barely contained rage of his character.

In retrospect I guess there were some moments in the fiction that could have triggered the Keep It Together move, as we tried to hit some thrilling story beats, but at the time it didn’t seem appropriate. As a consequence we didn’t really interacted with the Stability mechanics of which I was really curious.

As any good starting introductory Kult story, I guess, there was a violent crime to be investigated and our Detective proceeded to check out the crime scene using the CSI move. I then realized that I had described a lot of clues (strange trail blood prints on the floor that lead to a solid wall, no sign of the victim’s body…) even before the move was rolled for and he got a 10-14. As the Detective only got to ask one question he opted to ask “Who might know more about the crime?” as he thought it would be the “smarter” choice given all the information already given. Besides pointing him in the direction of a certain specialist I also declared that she was a member of the police force was that was currently enjoying a bad reputation. I don’t know if it was a bit too much for a success with complications, both answering only one question and giving it a cost, but it seemed like a good lead to have further interactions with the character.

As one player had to leave we didn’t end it in any kind of cliffhanger or something equally ominous. We started checking for any increase/decrease of relationships and experience gain and there weren’t any. It was at that moment that I realized that we hadn’t choose any dramatic hooks for the characters. Maybe it was because of that or the fact that it was a really introductory session but it isn’t the first time that it happened while playing a game using this kind of an evolution mechanism.

Either way it was a great session and the players are eager to play the game again and really thrilled to discover more of the setting. Although I only managed to do some light-prep for this session now I have a lot of hooks that I can use to better develop threats or even establish some milestones.

For this session I’ve created a crude Reference Sheet (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/iithsn2nof4w1v4/AACjgPtc2uEvI_gG9vMH9jOoa/KULT-DL%20GM%20Reference.pdf?dl=0) with the Agenda, Principles and GM Moves. I hope you find it helpful.

For the next session I think I’ll create a another reference sheet with the Player Moves, Stability and Harm rules. Maybe it will help our group triggering more of the player moves and the rest of the mechanics.

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The "work in progress" version of the quickstart rules of the new edition of Kult was made available some days ago. :)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ekz7nm6tdk2ivlr/KDL%20QSR%20Alpha%200_1.pdf?dl=1

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The Pornographer: An archetype for Kult RPG

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Kult RPG: Character Sheet (3rd Edition)

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A pair of Desktop Wallpapers for the fans!

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