Monday, June 14, 2010

Willow & Tara: Kult

Going to the vaults today!
It's the start of a new term here so I am crazy busy. I had some other posts ready, but this one was all good to go.  Plus I have been talking about Anime and Supers for so long I missed my favorite topic; Horror gaming.

So without further ado, one of the premier horror games of the 90's and into the 2000s.  Kult.

Kult, Death is Only the Beginning

Kult is a very interesting game. I had heard about it from the WitchCraft RPG list and decided to check it out. I found a copy of 1st Edition on eBay and really liked it. It was not a game I played much, but freely stole ideas from. Kult is a very different kind of world from WitchCraft, World of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu or even Ravenloft. It is almost “Dark City” in it’s feel and tone. Sort of gothic-noir-splatterpunk, something I noticed that the new World of Darkness seems to have adopted and the eventual evolution of Chill. The pervasive dread in the game is more Call of Cthulhu, while the world on the surface looks much like WitchCraft. It also has a tone (to me) similar to Warlock, Black Spiral. The two *could* be set in the same world, with some tweaking, but that might be more than I want to do.

In the end I found that WitchCraft was more enjoyable, but I keep my copy of Kult handy, just in case.


Conversions between Kult and other systems are not too bad. Kult has 8 abilities, 4 physical, 4 mental, that range from 2-20. There are two ways to generate abilities, one (the D&D method) is roll a 2d10 for each (ì=11). The other (the WitchCraft method) is to parse out 100 points to the 8 abilities (ì=12.5). For a d20 conversion the best bet is to match up the Abilities and -2 to get a d20/D&D (ì=10.5) score.
For Unisystem conversion I take a modification of my D20 to Unisystem conversion.
To generate a Unisystem value from a Kult one, divide the Kult Ability by 2 and minus 4.
BTW: To generate a Unisystem value from d20 I divide the d20 score by 2 and minus 3 (or -2 depending on the game’s power level) I find this works a little better than just dividing by 3.

The abilities match up like this.

Kult Unisystem d20/D&D
Strength Strength Strength
Agility Dexterity Dexterity
Constitution Constitution Constitution
Comeliness Attractiveness Quality *
Education Intelligence Intelligence
Ego Willpower Wisdom
Perception Perception Perception Skill
Charisma Charisma Quality Charisma

*These conversions are covered by Qualities in Unisystem. Since these scores run both positive and negative a slightly different conversion is needed. Figure either quality can run from -5 to +5 for normal humans, but use -3 to +3 as a more realistic range. So add 6 to the Unisystem Quality/Drawback to generate the Kult ability. So a character with a -5 Charisma has a Kult ability score of 1.

Both Kult and Classic Unisystem have a set of similar Secondary Attributes that are derived from the Primary Abilities. Convert the Primary Attibutes/Abilites and then generate the Secondary ones anew from these numbers. This is the best way to handle Essence.

Kult also offers a couple of extra quirks. Dark Secrets are similar to WitchCraft’s character concept. The difference is basically that concepts define what you are, Dark Secrets define what made you the way you are today. Subtle, but in these two worlds it is a big difference. Dark Secrets can be ported over to WitchCraft as is for added (darker) variety without much trouble. The archetypes for either game would work well in the other game.

The other is Mental Balance, Kult’s quasi-equivalent to CoC’s Insanity or Mythos score. Since mental balance is the ration of Advantages to Disadvantages, Unisystem characters will always be on the positive side. To convert I am thinking that Kult to Unisystem characters will have to have a Quality called “Positive Mental Balance” or a Drawback called “Negative Mental Balance”. No points should be converted, gained or loss from these.

Willow and Tara in Kult

(Special thanks to Ronnie Bradley for helping put these together and notes from his Willow & Tara based Kult game.)

Ron’s Notes:
As anyone who has casually glanced at the GM’s section of the Kult rulebook will be aware, the world according to Kult is very different from the world according to the Buffyverse. So how do you make the two worlds collide? I offer these thoughts.

The theory that there are a multitude of Heavens and Hells within the Buffyverse can easily be explained by the idea that man’s grasp of the reality is crippled by it’s own inability to grasp the concept of one complete city. Each “dimension” is in fact merely a part of Metropolis, with it’s own rituals and doors, rather than separate entities. The ending of Buffy season 5, in fact, could be easily seen as the Key dropping the illusion completely, as any player of Kult would be hard pressed to find a better single image of Metropolis than the building that suddenly has an infestation of demons in it when the illusion shatters.

The reason for Demons who are good becomes more obvious. With the disappearance of the Demiurge, there really is no proper side of “good” as we understand the term, or “evil” for that matter. There are only the Archons and Death Angels with their own agenda, vendettas and characteristical quirks. In this regard, it easy to consider that a monster, even one in demonic form, might be a “good guy”, even in the sense of wishing to help mankind break some of the shackles. GM’s should always remember that the black and white has gone, only the grey remains, and those who wish to take advantage of that grey.

The Bete-noir of course is another reason for some demons being good guys. Any demon seen on the show who is “good” (I am thinking of Lorne in “Angel” Or Whistler) could easily be a Bete-noir who has allied him or herself to the powers of good, or to aid mankind at least.

A note on Purgatory. This place has become a virtual hell for all and sundry as they suffer for their own sins. Angel most certainly went to Purgatory as opposed to Hell, although to the layman there wouldn’t be much difference aesthetically, so it was an easy mistake to make. The bigger question becomes, who did release him? Was it an Archon or Death Angel? Or was it a lesser being with it’s own agenda? Maybe that which set him free hoped he would fight for the powers of good, as he did. Or maybe they had Angelus in mind. Either way, he was freed. I bring Angel up to give you an example of how the world of Buffy must be augmented to deal with the Kult backstory, which must take precedence.

As for the First? I leave that open to individual GM’s as to who or what it was in the end. There are plenty of ideas that would fit the First so rather than tie down the creative brain I will let GM’s in their own campaigns set their own agendas.

I will now deal with the specifics of Willow and Tara in their Kult guises.
(Note: Hey, me again.  I tweaked Ron's stats to better reflect my versions of the girls. These stats are from early on in the Dragon and the Phoenix time-line.)

Willow Rosenberg

STR: 11 Load Capacity: 11/33/6/10
AGL: 12 Movement: 6/36
EGO: 16 No. of Actions: 2
CON: 18 Initiative Bonus: +0
PER: 17 Damage Bonus: +1
EDU: 18 Endurance: 120
CHA: 15 Mod. To Ego Throw: +3
COM: 17 Mental Balance: -15

Damage Capacity:
5 Scratches = 1 light wound
4 Light wounds= 1 serious wound
3 Serious wounds = 1 fatal wound


Forbidden Knowledge
Guilty of Crime
Occult Experience
Supernatural Experience


Magical Intuition 20
Math Talent 10
Mechanically Inclined 5
Influential Friends 15


Black Sheep 5
Dependent 15
Magic Addiction 10
Mortal Enemy (The First) 15
Nightmares 5
Guilt 5
Rival (Amy) 10

Basic Skills

Climb 7
Dodge 11
Hide 8
Read/write native language 18
Search 15
Sneak 12
Swim 14
Throwing 8
Unarmed Combat 16

Projectile weapons
Bows 6
Handguns 8
Heavy Weapons 4
Machineguns/Automatic Weapons 1
Rifles & Crossbows 6

Melee & Throwing weapons
Axes 10
Daggers 8
Impact Weapons 11
Pole Arms 8
Swords 8
Throwing Weapons 5
Whips and Chains 8

Accounting 19
Alternative Medicine 12
Astrology 12
Computers 24
Cosmology 16
Cryptography 21
Electronics 20
First Aid 14
Info Retrieval 25
Lore: Dreamworlds 10
Lore: Metropolis 10
Meditation 16
Numerology 20
Occultism 18
Security Systems 22
Written Report 16

Acting 14
Instruction 18
Seduction 12

Forensics 14

Academic Skills

Natural Science 16
Spec: Computer Science 25


All five basic lores at 25*

Black sheep really covers her moving towards the Wiccan faith and acceptance of her Lesbianism. This would certainly upset her father, which is why the disadvantage is included. Note that this is a disadvantage as it causes lack of family interaction and is not a statement of guilt on the part of Willow.

Influential Friends refers to the Watchers Council and Giles contacts.

Dependent is Tara, which is why the score is at it’s highest.

Nightmares refer to Killing Rack and her treatment of Tara and her friends whilst under the influence of dark magic. Her Guilt is related to that.

Tara Maclay

STR: 12 Load Capacity: 12/36/6/120
AGL: 10 Movement: 5/30
EGO: 15 No. of Actions: 2
CON: 18 Initiative Bonus: +0
PER: 15 Damage Bonus: +1
EDU: 16 Endurance: 120
CHA: 14 Mod. To Ego Throw: +0
COM: 18 Mental Balance: +35

Damage Capacity:
5 Scratches = 1 light wound
4 Light wounds= 1 serious wound
3 Serious wounds = 1 fatal wound


Family Secret
Occult Experience
Supernatural Experience
Victim of Crime


Code of Honor 5
Empathy 15
Faith 5
Forgiving 5
Influential Friends 15
Motherliness 5
Magical Intuition 20


Anxiety 5
Black Sheep 5
Dependent 15
Nightmares 5


Basic Skills

Climb 7
Dodge 12
Hide 9
Read/write native language 17
Search 12
Sneak 10
Swim 14
Throwing 8
Unarmed Combat 6

Projectile Weapons
Bows 4
Handguns 2
Heavy Weapons 2
Machineguns/Automatic Weapons 1
Rifles & Crossbows 3

Melee & Throwing Weapons
Axes 7
Daggers 5
Impact Weapons 8
Swords 5
Throwing Weapons 4


Dancing 15


Alternative Medicine 15
Astrology 16
Cooking 18
Creative Writing 12
Erotica 16
First Aid 19
Herbalism 20
Lore: Dreamworlds 14
Lore: Metropolis 12
Meditation 19
Occultism 16
Parapsychology 14


Diplomacy 12
Etiquette 18
Fortune Telling 20
Riding 15
Seduction 10
Singing 20


Counseling 22
Drive Vehicle 14

Academic Skills

Humanities Scholar 14
Spec: Classical History 16


Five basic Lores at 25*


Black sheep refers more to how the Maclay family view and treat her as opposed to how she feels about herself.

Dependent is Willow, hence the High score.

Nightmares are of Willow’s abuse of her and her family’s abuse. This is also where her Victim of Crime secret comes from.

*Willow and Tara are two of the most powerful witches in my game. So they get the
benefit of the doubt in being very powerful.

One word on the two co-operating to create a spell or device together. Either of them can be the High Priest and the other adds their entire Ego score to the other. Further there is no “tune in” time required to focus themselves unless one of them is injured or out of sorts. This does make them powerful when they cast together but they always were. One other thing, any Endurance loss is automatically split evenly between them.


Siskoid said...

Purely from the outside, Kult seemed something like a darker In Nomine. Any link?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

My favorite link is

Kult is much darker than In Nomine and less focused on Angels vs. Demons.

Anonymous said...

You really need to check out the Jail of Night cross between OWOD & Kult. Its in the down load section of

Ronnie_ASA said...

I'd forgotten i had done work on Willow/Tara for Kult, thanks for the acknowledgement. You have certainly surpassed my work with the number of conversions you ahve done. fantastic work :)

wardy-la said...

Good stuff!
Kult was a fantastic game, as you say, very dark. I ran it for years and have often been tempted to dig it out again and return to our old campaign.