Pawn - Horror RPG with Card Game GM Mechanic

Started by tbrminsanity, July 15, 2016, 10:38:13 PM

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  • Pawn: Player Character (generally term used by the forces of Good and Evil to describe creatures with Free Will)
  • Avatar: Gamemaster
  • Story: A game session, or single instance when a group of players play Pawn

Pawn is a horror based RPG game with no predefined campaign settings.  It also is unique in that it includes the use of to Avatars (ie GMs) where most game just have one.  The core concept behind Pawn is that the forces of Good and Evil have been fighting a war for all eternity.  Neither side can win because the forces of Good and Evil always act in predictable manners.  Then Good created Eden, an alternate reality where Good souls could be filtered, refined, and utilised to boost the forces of Good to the point that Good would win over Evil.  Evil found out about Eden and introduced Sin, corrupting Eden and everything inside.  This created Free Will and sparked Armageddon.
You are a Human living in a world where people aren't even aware that Armageddon is waging all around them.  Your actions have dire consequences though in the battle  between Good and Evil.  Never before was the end of the world neigh.

Have fun, play games!


This idea stuck in my mind after you brought it up on Tuesday. I think it's an interesting concept, and has me brainstorming other ways to use a similar framework in games. Can you expand a bit more on the details? I assume one Avatar is the Avatar of Good, while the other is the Avatar of Evil. I suppose that means they're fighting, but do they have win conditions or at least goals they are trying to achieve? Do the players swear allegiance to one side or the other at different points in the game? How do the Avatars influence the players to try to get them working for Good/Evil, or is it just a fight over who gets to tell the story?


The Story Card Mechanic
Each Story of Pawn is played out with Story Cards.  Both the Avatar of Good, and the Avatar of Evil have their own deck of cards they build (much like a magic card deck) prior to the Story Session.  For the Pawns, each Story is no different than any other Horror based RPG on the market.  The stakes are high, your character is likely going to die a horrible, gruesome death, and those that survive are just happy to be alive.

The Story
Each game of Pawn follows three distinct phases:

  • Player Introductions: This is where each of the Pawns will introduce their character, what their goals and aspirations are, and how they are connected to the other Pawns.  It is at this time that the Avatars will place, face down, their initial Story Card.  Once all the Pawns have been introduced, the Avatars will turn over their Story Cards, and the Pawns choose where they want the story to start.
  • Story Time: During this phase the Avatar who has his Story Card chosen will start the RPG session.  He will tell the tail of what is happening around the Pawn, and will be trying to get the Pawns to trigger additional cards from their deck.  As trigger words are spoken any Avatar can play a Story Card to steal control of the Story and continue the story.  The goal is to have enough Story Cards played that a Resolution Card can be played.
  • Resolution: When allowed, an Avatar may play their Resolution Card which will stop the Story Session.  The Avatar has the privilege of finishing off the Story, and handing out any rewards to any surviving Pawns.

Story Cards
The idea of Story Cards works very similar to the Story Cards in the game Once Upon A Time.  Each Story Card contains:

  • Name: This is the main Story concept that must be used as the focus of the Story as long as the card is in play.  If the Avatar goes off focus, the opposing Avatar may ask the Pawns if he/she can play a new Story Card and take control of the Story.
  • Trigger: This is the key word or idea that will allow the Avatar to play this card and take control of the Story.  Example: A player has a Story Card with the name Sword, and the trigger word "sharp".  As the Story is progressing a Pawn says, "I pick up the knife and check how sharp it is."  At this time the Avatar plays the sword card, and says, "its as sharp as a sword."
  • Story Points: This is a number in the top left corner of each Story Card.  It ranges from 0-10.  This card can not be played until that many Story Cards are in play.
  • Card Type: Indicated by a coloured frame around the card and a unique icon in the top right corner of the card (for people that are colour blind), this represents the six core emotions (and the emotion that this card is intended to invoke).  The six types are Green (Love), Yellow (Fear), Orange (Joy), Red (Rage), Purple (Pride/hubris), Blue (Sadness).  Story Cards are going to be built with Good or Evil in mind, and as such Good cards will mostly (but not exclusively) be made up of Green, Yellow, and Orange, while Evil cards will mostly (but not exclusively) be made up of Red, Purple, and Blue cards.
  • Action: While not on every card, some cards will have in game effects, such as a monster to fight, an ordeal to overcome, or an item that can be picked up.  This will be detailed in the Action section of the Story Card.
  • Prerequisites: At the bottom of some Story Cards will be conditions that restrict what types of Story Cards that can be played next.  Most Green cards will prevent Red cards from being played, most Blue cards will prevent Orange cards from being played, and most Yellow cards will prevent purple cards from being played.
  • Image: Every Story Card will have an image on the card to make it easier to display what the Card is intended to represent.

Resolution Cards
Resolution cards are Story Cards that stop the Story and start the Resolution phase.  They will have a White (Good) or Black (Evil) border and the symbol for either Good or Evil.  The names for the Good Resolution Cards will be based on the 7 great virtues, while the names for the Evil Resolution Cards will be based on the 7 deadly sins.

Pawns hold no allegiance to any Avatar (much like a PC holds no allegiance to any GM during a game session), but the Avatar needs the Pawns to progress the Story so they can eventually play their Resolution.  The main driver of the Story is the Avatars trying to get the Pawns to say the appropriate trigger words to progress the Story to the point where they can play their Resolution Card.  It is my goal to have Stories last between 1-2 hours in length. 
Have fun, play games!



I need card ideas for the following, all ideas should take on the persona of one of the 7 deadly sins, or 7 heavenly virtues:

  • Location settings
  • Items
  • Weapons
  • Spells the Avatars would cast on the Pawns
  • Spells the Pawns could use
  • NPCs
  • Demons/Angels that the Pawns will fight
  • Sin-spawn/Virtue-spawn - Creatures of myth that a Pawn can be turned into if they have enough Sin/Virtue
  • Events
Have fun, play games!


Thomas, is this the sort of thing you're looking for:

envy:  claws
gluttony:  jaws
greed:  net
lust:  whip
pride:  sword
sloth:  gun / bomb
wrath:  mace

charity:  bare hands
faith:  sword
fortitude:  axe
hope: bow
justice:  hammer
patience:  boomerang
temperance: lariat / bola

What exactly are your 7 virtues?


7 Sins:

  • Vice
  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Greed
  • Sloth
  • Wrath
  • Envy
  • Pride

7 Virtues:

  • Virtue
  • Chastity
  • Temperance
  • Charity
  • Diligence
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Humility
Have fun, play games!


Have fun, play games!