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Help Wanted: Searching for the Right System for Twin Peaks-style Storytelling

   
Help Wanted: Searching for the Right System for Twin Peaks-style Storytelling

Hello Myth-weavers, I'll admit right off the bat that I've barely dipped my toe into the indie rpg gaming scene for two reasons: there's a billion products of varying qualities and its insanely hard to sift through the rough to find the diamonds and finding players is hard enough as is without pulling out some super indie title that while interesting is probably not going to get much interest.

HOWEVER, there's this idea that's been rattling around in my head and I'm searching for some system suggestions. This would be mainly for a play by post game. Free access to at least base rules for player's would be ideal as I've seen games on here live and die because only three people had access to the book and newbies weren't willing to shell out the money.

Alright, moving on to the idea.

I LOVE spooky mystery weird horror. I'm talking about Twin Peaks, I'm talking about Alan Wake, I'm talking about, for the younger folks, Gravity Falls (like on the horror but kind of the weird stuff in a small town vibe I really want to go for).

I've been listening to a few spooky podcasts like The Black Tapes, Archive 81, and Limetown.

I'm specifically aiming for the 'normal people in a weird small town and things get weird and creepy.' Would love people's thoughts on the system to use. I have a really strong interest in Dungeon World and its subgames, but haven't been able to find a hack that QUITE gets what I'm aiming for.

If you want people to be able to get in on the spooky action, I'd look at City of Mists. It's an investigative take on the Apocalypse World system, which is the same engine that powers Dungeon World. Questions and identities are at the core of the story and there are specific moves for gathering clues. The quick-start stuff is even available for free.

Looked it up. It's a bit too forward with its supernatural elements. Not quite what I'm looking for.

I know it's banging the party drum, but you could always go Fate Core. Fate's a powerful tool for telling any character-centric story, and Twin Peaks is nothing is not known for its unique characters. And all of Fate is online and free with its SRD.

I think Fate my be a little bit too meta and out there for my players. I really liked powered by the apocalypse because the character sheets really helped you know the limits of your character.

I mean you could always make characters for CoM that have three Logos and no Mythos if you don't want characters to start with supernatural talents, but.

My last suggestion for an investigative system is GUMSHOE. It was the first modern RPG to look at investigative stories and try to codify what makes them work, as opposed to political and combat-centered adventures. Fear Itself involves taking normal people and putting them in terrifying situations, but there's no reason they can't be looking into mind-bending scenarios instead. The downside, of course, is that GUMSHOE is not free, but it's simple and straightforward enough to learn easily.

The current version of Unknown Armies explicitly calls Limetown out as a source. Things getting weird and creepy is pretty much its specialty. Even if you don't like Adepts and Avatars, you can get a lot of mileage out of the weirdness department just using gutter magick, rituals, and supernatural identities.

On the downside, it isn't free, though the core mechanics of play are incredibly easy to teach, and it's built around a playstyle that requires proactive players (and characters).

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my first idea.
You can also look at Seeker the RPG, and Hoodoo Blues (both by Vajra Games).

Twin Peaks doesn't quite fit into any given genre. It's true the premise is a murder mystery and that there are supernatural elements, but being a sort of self-aware surrealistic soap opera is just as important to it.

Check out Primetime Adventures. It's less a RPG and more a series of loose guidelines for collaborative improv with a simple meta-currency/conflict resolution mechanic- you could plug most of the concepts into a meatier system, because by itself it's even more meta than FATE (it's meant to mimic the writing and structure of a tv show and uses a lot of related terminology). Take in mind it assumes you're going to work together with the players to set up the campaign








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