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Imp of the Perverse (Playtest)

Imp of the Perverse (Playtest)

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A new game of psychological horror and monster-hunting in Jacksonian Gothic America.

Inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe, this game centers on the struggle to overcome harmful impulses by hunting down those who have fully given into theirs and turned into literal monsters.

You will face horrors that stir your Imp to offer you more and more of their own perverse power. Can you resist that temptation to regain your humanity?

Or will you embrace it, and become a monster yourself? 

This is a free download containing the "Beta" playtest materials for this game:

  • 74-page illustrated rulebook PDF covering all of the rules, context and advice, safety tools and historical material
  • Print-ready PDFs of all playsheets (making protagonists, individual protagonist sheets, rules references and monster record sheets)
  • 20-page playtest Chapter "Master of the Yard," containing 6 pre-generated protagonists, a monster and its Web, and guidance for getting playing immediately in a 1834 Baltimore that contains a gruesome newcomer 

About The Game

Imp of the Perverse is set in a Gothic Jacksonian America of the 1830s-40s where monsters are real. One player takes on the role of the Editor, who creates monsters and sets the stage for the rest of the players, who take on period-appropriate protagonists, to fight against the horrors that stalk the night. These protagonists have an Imp of the Perverse on their own shoulders, impelling them to commit terrible deeds. Only by fighting those who have given in to their own Imps, and literally transformed into creatures of the night, can they gain redemption and reject their Imp - but the struggle itself continually tempts them to embrace their perversity and become damned themselves.

This world contains a Shroud between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Imps come from beyond the Shroud, and they actively want to drag their afflicted back across. Hence, whenever a monster appears, all those with Imps on their shoulders can feel it, like a pressure wave of perversity sweeping over them. Every Chapter starts with the protagonists actively aware that something is wrong and a monster is near; gameplay is about discovering the specific nature of the creature, exploring how the horror it brings to the world resonates with your perversity, and then confronting the creature to end the threat it poses. 

The Struggle

The core mechanic of the game is a simple d6-based system that represents the tension between perversity and humanity. While the odds are in perversity's favor, it is certainly possible for a character to fight for regaining their full humanity, and end their story free of their Imp.

The World

This is a world, much like our own, but with this key difference: human passion can pierce a hole in the Shroud between the living and the dead, and invite in the terrible things that we (still) remember as monsters. This is the world that contains The House of Usher, that once saw the Masque of the Red Death, that averted its eyes from the Conqueror Worm. This world contains monsters, yes, and today we have many names for them. But then, they were simply the expressions of souls over-full to bursting.

Imp of the Perverse is set during the decades of the Jacksonian Era of American history, which happens to coincide with the majority of the creative life of Edgar Allan Poe: the 1830s and 1840s.

In addition to being thematically resonate to the inspiration for the game, this period was a really interesting and dynamic time! The method for making protagonists, through a question-and-answer survey, embeds them in social, familier and professional circles of the time. You do not need to know a lot about history to play, but the text does provide an overview and some specific details that you can use in play to contextualize your game.

Game Features:

  • Designed for an Editor, responsible for making a monster that deserves to be brought down, and 1-4 players, each playing a protagonist with an Imp of the Perverse on their shoulder
  • Each Chapter of play takes 1-3 sessions of 2-3 hours to play from beginning to end, and then players can drop in and out between Chapters
  • Protagonist creation through a question-and-answer survey system that embeds them in the time and with connections to the monster, setting the stage for play that gets to the point and gives protagonists reasons to care about the world around them
  • Monster creation system that establishes a reprehensible creature, puts them in a Web of potential allies and victims, and structures how they will escalate their powers and reach during play
  • Simple d6-based mechanics that tempt the players to embrace their protagonists perversities without forcing them in one way or another
  • Opportunities for players to take over the Editor role in long-term play
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File Size:
6.14 MB
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File Last Updated:
January 23, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on October 10, 2018.