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What system would you use to emulate Stephen King


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Hey everyone. So for, Halloween, me and my friends are playing a game based on the Stephen King universe of works. we're going for something where the characters start out baseline humans and maybe awaken a few special abilities along the way. The age range of the characters would vary. Personally, I want to play a kid because I think King's best stories are coming of age tales, but the other player may want an older one. So any suggestions for emulating King's works in game?

The GM, who is a huge King fan and begged to run it after I made the suggestion, mentioned Fate because he likes it and thinks a story-focused game would be best. I agree, but feel that Fate gives too much power to the players and horror, I think, needs a firm GM hand. Of course, I'm more than happy to be shown wrong.
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Tales from the Loop.

You all play kids; there’s weirdness in the world; you investigate. The scene structure is such that you are required to have “investigating weirdness” scenes alternate with the “slice of life” scenes. So you can investigate the government coverup on your BMX bike, and then go home and listen to your mom and stepdad yell at each other while you console your little sister.


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Well, if we're specifically emulating Stephen King, what system gives me massive temporary skill bonuses every time I inhale a dumptruck full of cocaine?

More seriously, Tales from the Loop seems very much aimed at emulating Stranger Things' whole thing of taking King's 50's Maine nostalgia, transplanting it into the 80s, and adding a blend of 80s VHS horror. I haven't played the system myself so can't personally attest to it but reaction seems to have been very positive. It is, however, specifically aimed and built around playing kids in the 80s and has a pretty specific mythology attached (particle accelerator experiments cause dimensional shenanigans and otherworldly beings to start manifesting in the nearby town). I don't know to what degree any of that is hackable into other story types.

For a more generalized experience, I always recommend The Chronicles of Darkness. I know when people hear that they think I mean Vampire: the Whatever, but the CofD corebook is a horror toolkit game designed specifically to accommodate a broad spectrum of horror subgenres - you can do haunted houses and ghost stories, slasher movies, investigations a la Call of Cthulhu or Twin Peaks, monster stories, etc. The base rules give you what you need to create normal human PCs and there are optional systems in place for minor psychic/occult talents in case one of the PCs goes all Carrie or Firestarter. There's also a flexible freeform system in the book for building your own unique horror monster. The Innocents supplement adds rules for child PCs.


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The "Victim" rules from Palladium Books Beyond the Supernatural 1e, do very ordinary people quite well.

Call of Cthulhu has solid mechanics for playing normal people, and King has written Lovecraftian fiction. You can also use CoC to run non-Mythos games. i have done that frequently.


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Call of Cthulhu or GURPS Horror.

One thing that's significant about King's fiction is that gunfights tend to consist of:

"She shoots and misses. He shoots and misses. He shoots and misses. She shoots and misses. She shoots and scores a kill." It's very bland and deadly, deliberately, especially if guns are involved. Even in stuff like the Gunslinger stories. And it often involves realistic details.

So GURPS makes sense. But Call of Cthulhu is a bit simpler and also has a lot of the same feel.

I'd definitely avoid Fate except for something like Insomnia or certain parts of It that are metaphysical.


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Back in the day i've done this with Hero (Champions) cause you can build everything... but it was a lot of work. I've also done it with the original TORG rules using the Orrush rules but with a lighter touch that worked fairly well. These days I'd probably use Fate.


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I'd go with Fear Itself which uses the Gumshoe system. It's specifically designed for "normal" people and would work well for stories like The Shining, "Big Driver," "A Good Marriage," or even It (both kid and adult parts). It's not really focused on combat, and, in fact, only one character in the group can have any appreciable combat skills. It's more focused on finding things out.
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