What is curse the darkness?
curse the darkness is a post-apocalyptic role-playing game focused on character development and personal choice. But let’s break that down a little.
It’s a role-playing game. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, welcome! Role-playing games (often called RPGs) are games in which the player takes the role of a particular character. They run the gamut from tabletop games (like curse the darkness, though far and away the most famous tabletop RPG is Dungeons and Dragons) to console games to MMORPGS, both of which are video games. Video games generally don’t focus on character development, or at least, if a player takes the time to invest his/her character with personality traits or a history, it doesn’t make a lot of difference to the game overall.
In most tabletop RPGs, though, a large part of the fun of the game comes from the portrayal and development of the character. I’m not going to go into a long discussion of character development and what it means for different RPGs, but in curse the darkness, development of a character has to do with how memorable a given character is. That is, when a character dies (and character death in curse the darkness is frequent), how much the player has developed that character can benefit all of the players.
But I’m kind of getting ahead of myself. Let’s hit the “post-apocalyptic” part.
In the setting of the game, the year is 2022. In 2012, a man with the ability to open shadows and call forth monsters appeared, destroyed Jerusalem, Washington D.C. and several other cities around the world, and demanded an end to religion, politics, economics, and all other ideology. He wanted the people of the world to take care of each other because that was what they should be doing, and promised death to anyone behaving otherwise. Naturally, the world’s population resisted, and over the next 10 years, much of the world’s people died, dragged off into the shadows by creatures from some heretofore unknown realm called the Between.
One bit left: personal choice. In any game of curse the darkness, the players and the characters are faced with what I refer to as the essential choice: Do you stand up and fight, risking your life to try and change the world, or do you quietly accept that this is the world is and you can’t change it? The adage is: “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness?” Is that true?
What system does this game use?
If you’re familiar with RPGs (and odds are you are, if you’re reading this), you might wonder what rules the game uses. Unlike a lot of RPGs, curse the darkness doesn’t use dice. The system uses cards, and curse the darkness requires three decks of standard playing cards (jokers included) to play. You can learn more about the system here and here. You can download a playtest packet for the game here.
Why is the name of the game in small text and in lowercase?
I always imagine the words “curse the darkness” to be whispered. The text choices represent that, and also that, in terms of the essential choice, cursing the darkness is, if not the easy way out, then the path of least resistance. That doesn’t make it the wrong choice, at least not always.
Isn’t militant destruction of ideology, in itself, ideological?
Why, yes, yes it is. The mysterious dictator in curse the darkness (referred to only as “Him” in the text) is an ideologue in the extreme, which makes him something of hypocrite.
When/where can I buy this game?
curse the darkness is currently in the writing/production phase. The plan is to have print copies available at GenCon, but we’re currently running a Kickstarter, which ends June 6th, so please go pledge!