Thursday, August 02, 2007


Published in 1990 by Stellar Games, Nightlife bills itself as ‘The Role Playing Game of Urban Horror’ on the cover and as Splatterpunk inside.

The cover depicts an eighties-new wave vampire holding a scantily clad woman on the tracks of a graffiti covered underground station, whilst werewolves crawl out of the tunnel and from under the platform.

The internal art is sketchy but fits the subject matter well.

In style, the game is best described as Vampire: the Masquerade’s crude and noisy older brother.

PCs are one of several supernatural races, collectively known as the Kin. Normal humans are termed the Herd. There are also several factions; The Commune who try to keep things low key and stop the actions of the other three groups - The Complex, The Morningstar Corporation and Red Moonrise from getting the Herd worked up enough to start monster hunting again.

The default setting of Night Life is NYC in the nineties but with a very eighties/early nineties look and feel. The book includes a necessarily brief overview of the city including groups and places of interest.

Character creation

First step, as usual is to roll my character’s ability scores. These are rolled on 4d10, then modified by the type of Kin I decide to make my character.

Strength – 20
Dexterity – 29
Fitness – 13
Intellect – 24
Will – 13
Perception – 16
Attractiveness – 17
Luck – 18

The monster types in Nightlife are closer to their mythological counterparts than those in White Wolf's games. I decide to keep things basic and make a Vampyre. This modifies the rolled abilities to the levels below, which lets me calculate Survival points and Base Hand to Hand damage. Race also determines my character's beginning edges and flaws.

Strength – 40
Dexterity – 34
Fitness – 18
Intellect – 24
Will – 13
Perception – 16
Attractiveness – 22
Luck – 18

Survival points – 36
Base HtH – 8

Beginning edges: Drain (blood), Mesmerise
Flaws: Environmental harm (Sunlight, immersion in running water) Substance vulnerability (Garlic, Wood, Fire, Holy relics), Repulsion (Holy relics, Garlic), Diet restriction (human or animal blood), Infection (chance to create new vampyres if humanity is lower than 50), Special (must sleep for 8 hours a day on a bed of consecrated earth from the cemetery in which they were buried)

Supernatural abilities are called Edges; some are common to all Kin, also, each race of Kin have a bundle that are inherent to that race. All characters have the potential to use any of the Edges allowed for their race, but the first time that they do so, they must pay the acquisition cost in Maximum humanity. Improving Edges also seems to cost max humanity at a ratio of points lost to points gained. E.g. to raise the Claws edge by 5 costs 1 max humanity.

As a vampyre, my character has the potential to use Animal control, Bat form, Infection, Mesmerise, Mist form, Rat form and Wolf form. He can also use any of the common Edges which are: Armor, Aura sight, Claws, Danger sense, Drain, Event Manipulation, Locate Human, Mental mapping, Nocturnal vision, Photogenics, Send dream, Speed, Time sense and Weather control.

Most are pretty self-explanatory, though Event Manipulation is interesting. It allows a ret-con of recent events, or the arranging of future events to suit. The cost and difficulty is based on the timescale, direction and number of people affected, but not the nature of the event itself.

Photogenics allows the character to be photographed – by default Kin don’t show up on film.

Since these can be picked up during play by spending Max humanity, I’m not bothering to select any extras for now, so my character’s humanity is 50.

Next we pick skills. Characters get 20 rolls of 1d10 to allocate between skills. All the points from a roll must go to the same skill. Skills start at a base level of their related attribute, and a skill level of 20 is assumed to be competent – rolls aren’t needed for mundane uses of the skill.

8, 4, 7, 6, 10, 3, 8, 9, 2, 6, 4, 5, 4, 9, 4, 4, 8, 6, 10, 2

A nice set of rolls.

My guy’s fairly strong and dexterous, and pretty bright. Everything else is a bit rubbish.

I decide that he was a college student who got distracted from his studies, fell in with a bad crowd and ended up a Vampyre.

After going over the skill list and adding my rolls to the skills I want, my character has the following skills.

Streetfighting - 40
Business (criminal) - 30
Pharmacology - 63
Science (Chemistry) - 42
Science (Biology) - 43
Scavenging - 34
City Knowledge (New York) - 32
Computer operation (Int) – 33

And we’re done. Not being too sure what to call him, I get the name Dominic Savage from a random generator, and decide that in a desperate attempt to sound cooler than he is, Dominic introduces himself as D Savage.

Next should be another Fantasy Heartbreaker called Legend Quest, but a brief glance through it shows that it's rather bland and generic and unlikely to be of great interest. Therefore, next are The End, Ars Magica 4th edition and Kult 1st edition.

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