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Esoteric Enterprises - Player Book
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Esoteric Enterprises - Player Book

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Picture the adventuring party of most old-school games. A band of thugs, occultists, criminals, weirdos and outcasts who, rather than settle into normal society, risk everything exploring the dark, dangerous places of the world. Perhaps they will become rich and powerful, perhaps they die unceremoniously.

Keep this same adventuring party, and picture their equivallent in the modern day. A world with police, the internet, chain stores... The same band of thugs, occultists, criminals, weirdos and outcasts drift into the underworlds of organised crime and the esoteric.

This, then, is the premise of Esoteric Enterprises: the occult exists in a dangerous black market, where organised criminals traffic in magical grimoires and relics alongside narcotics and weapons. Hidden from the public eye, various gangs, cults and covens struggle for influence and resources in the dark tunnels beneath every city. And beneath that, stranger things lurk; inhuman creatures turn their cold gaze on the mortals who intrude on their subterranean realm.


Welcome to the Occult Underworld

This book details all the rules you'll need to play games as an occult or criminal gang in the undercity. They're based on the standard framework seen in most old-school games, adapted to work in a modern-day urban fantasy setting. 

Character creation is quick and streamlined. Classes available to PCs include Mercenaries (the fighty ones), Criminals (the skillful ones), Bodyguards (close protection experts who are really hard to kill), Explorers (urban exploration enthusiasts, who focus on survival and mobility), Doctors (unethical medical scientists capable of achieving strange results through their experiments), Occultists (magic users who use the familiar model of spellbooks and memorization slots), Mystics (Magic users who are granted spells by praying hard and hoping) and Spooks (a catch-all class for all the various non-human characters, that allow you to build a custom monster from various modular powers).

Hitpoints are split into Flesh (for injuries that cause lasting damage) and Grit (for hits that can be easilly shrugged off), with grit acting as ablative HP that protect the far more vulnerable flesh. With this in place (and a few tweaks to handle gunfights), combat becomes a desperate and lethal affair, where surprise and positioning will end a fight with brutal efficiency. 

Sub-systems are included for aquiring lasting wounds (such as ruined limbs or horrible scars), for criminal contacts, for dealing with computers, for medical experiments, for indulging in narcotics, and so on.

Equipment and spells are totally overhauled to suit an urban fantasy setting.

Although XP is gained for loot, treasure and other ill-gotten gains, character wealth is abstracted into a simple 'resource level' that determines the character's quality of life and what they can afford. Since gaining XP requires gaining wealth, higher level characters are assumed to be rich, without needing to track each purchase.

Magic is rendered a risky enterprise. So long as a PC magician is careful and only casts familiar spells memorized in their proper slots, nothing bad will happen. However, magicians have the choice to improvise and experiment magically, which carries the risk of magical fallout, ranging from the benign to the near-apocalyptic. And, of course, when a mystic wants to cast a spell, they have no garuntee of success and must instead hope that the being they worship decides to grant their requests rather than interfering in some less helpful way.

The Spook class, meanwhile, has no access to spells. Instead, each spook has their basic origin (such as being undead, an artificial construct, an altered human and so on) which grants appropriate strengths and flaws. At each level, the spook gains a new monstrous power; an always-on supernatural ability that reflects the spooks weird nature.

Finally, the back of the book has a set of guidelines for how to play different archetypes in the system, and then a number of optional random tables to generate PC backgrounds on the fly.

Please note that this is book one of two: the GM's book is still being written and will contain things like monster stats, how to deal with police attention and so on. Until it's released, I'll be putting the important bits on my blog as they get written.

 
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May 30th, 2018
This is a well-written product and excellent value for $5. Although this is 'just' the Player's Guide and the GM's handbook is yet to come, the Player's Guide is chock full of weird goodness and is all you need to play the game using other OSR modules [...]
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Product Information
Author(s)
Pages
89
File Size:
18.47 MB
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Original electronic
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File Last Updated:
May 24, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on May 24, 2018.
Publisher Info
Dying Stylishly Games
Publisher Average Rating