Review: Okult

A lot of horror stories begin with the protagonists returning to their hometown and end by them confronting the terrible secret lurking there. Think of Stephen King’s IT or the recent movie The World’s End. Wilhelm Person’s storygame Okult uses that very same premise.

Each player in this GM-less storygame plays an adult who has returned to his hometown after many years of being away. Over the course of one game the player characters meet, reminisce about their teenage years (in the form of flashbacks), and slowly uncover the secret of their hometown.

The 36-paged rulebook shines because of Wilhelm Person’s awesome writing and the terrific photos it uses to set the mood of the game. And it’s a joy to read through the extensive game play examples.

What sets Okult apart from most other games I’ve reviewed in the past is that it can be played without a GM, has almost no rules, and uses no dice. It’s a storygame by heart, where the players have full control over the story. The rules give some guidelines how to create your hometown, how to escalate the story towards an exciting and terrifying climax, and how to frame scenes and flashbacks.

Especially if you are new to storygames I recommend giving Okult a look. What I really like about the game is the premise and the great and unpretentious writing. The game is available as Pay-What-You-Want on RPGNow.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

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