Kult for Gumshoe

As anyone tried porting the infamous 'Kult: Beyond the Veil' to either NBA or the Esoterrorists (see http://www.amazon.com/Kult-Beyond-Veil-Roleplaying-Game/dp/0971860513).

The biggest obstacle is the 'dipole' Mental Balance from Kult, where interesting things can happen game-wise to characters who are either insane, or too sane.

I thinking that you would implement a Stability Range from 0-30. Most 'Sleepers', the majority of humanity who are unaware that their reality is a cruel hoax, would be between 10 and twenty.

The Transcendent Awakened would be 20+. Infuriatingly serene, and incapable of speaking in other than koans, they have seen through the Illusion, and, at least for short periods, they can ignore\dissipate its effects.

The Abased would be


  • Interesting idea!
    I actually can't think of a reason not to set standard stability at 0 to better depict the yin/yang relationship of mental balance in cult - I don't know the English game term, since I played Kult in German, but I always considered it siginificant that it was called "balance" in Kult, signifying that a the normal value for a functioning human mind is actually in the middle, around 0, and that having an especially high positive mental balance is also a type of insanity for all means and purposes.
    If you set standard Mental Balance at 0, you would probably have to reduce the general build points by 6 or 8, because players don't need to invest into it in the beginning. It might also make sense to allow players with especially high or low Balance scores to spend Balance points for pseudo-magical "special effects" associated with their mental state.

    However, it's been a long time since I played Kult, so I'm not sure if I'm remembering everything correctly ...
  • A similarity between Fear Itself and Kult has been noted previously (before the forum moved, I think). I think it was agreed that just about everything in Kult would be very easy to convert to Gumshoe. Except for Mental Balance. And for some reason, the subject was stepped around, rather than talked about :P

    That doesn't mean that I haven't thought about it every now and then. Random thoughts will follow:

    I wonder if you could get away with with just replacing Stability with Mental Balance, and changing the scale from Kults d20 to Gumshoes d6?
    At -25, a character in Kult can't go through a medical examination without the doctor noticing that something is odd. At -6, a character in Esoterrorists/Fear Itself would get a mental illness.
    At -50, a character in Kult can't go through a session with a psychiatrist without being labeled insane. At -12, a Gumshoe character is permanently insane.

    So I guess this looks like a good starting point: 25 points of MB in Kult is 6 points of MB in Gumshoe.
    In other words, you Awaken at +/-500 i Kult, in Gumshoe it would be +/-120.

    That was easier than expected, so lets make things harder.

    Having MB that can go up and down, into negative and/or positive, makes spending a whole lot of different compared to other abilites. Actually, it messes things up. Quite alot.
    Also, with MB starting at 0, you're sort of doomed in a horror situation. Kult had you roll Ego (in the Swedish edition) but the outcome affected MB.

    Probably the easiest way to solve this is to retain Stability and make Mental Balance an ability of its own (that starts a 0) in the same way that Trail of Cthulhu added Sanity.
    Or maybe split MB into two abilities; Dark Path and Light Path? Of which you can ovbiously only have one.

    Finally, a few comments on Advantages and Disadvantages (or whatever they are called in non-Swedish editions).
    There's none of that in Gumshoe. But in Kult it's woven into Mental Balance. Can it be done without? Or should it be added?
    Having them work along the line of Drives, Sources of Stability, Pillars of Sanity, or such, might work...

    On sick leave, and not medically cleared to write. I take no responsibility for anything written in this post :P
  • Kult was a really good game, I still have mine from back in the early 90's, along with the few sourcebooks and scenarios the did for it.

    I bought the French version of Black Madonna to translate to English as it looks an interesting campaign but I never got around to it. I may have to dig them out and try again.

    I am not sure if Kult can be played without Mental Balance but I think there was a World of Darkness conversion to Kult going around a few years ago, that might be easier to convert over or at least use some ideas from it.

    One of the scenarios I had was the characters had to get lower mental balance in order to infiltrate a gang of Jackels, the lower the balance the more they acted like them, all drooling and hunched over etc, the players bodies would change, finger nails growing, teeth sharpen.

    All I can think of at the moment is by using a negative and positive Stability to govern Mental Balance.
  • edited September 2014
    Let's have some thread necromancy.
    I'm currently playtesting some Kult, and while I'm not really allowed to talk about it, I'll add this:

    We are playing without MB, and I haven't missed it so far. Theoretically, this could change as we get deeper into the Kultiverse and more extreme situations appear. Then again, maybe not. I've always had a tendency to forget about MB when I GM, so I don't think I'll miss it, even if it does make a lot of sense in the Jackal example above...

    Anyway, re-reading the posts above, the following (rough sketch of an) idea for Gumshoe Mental Balance appeared:

    Mental Balance is a General ability that starts at 0. It can go as high as +10, or as low as -10.
    It can't be bought with Build Points, though Advantages and Disadvantages can add or subtract 1 or 2 points at character creation.
    If a character must make a Stability test due to a Kultesque experience while having negative Stability, and the absolute value of Stability is greater than the absolute value of Mental Balance, the characters Mental Balance will change in addition to any Stability loss.
    If the Stability test is failed, Mental Balance goes down 1 point. If the Stability test is passed, Mental Balance goes up 1 point. Only one such change is possible in any one scene.

    Did that make any sense? Lets try an example or four. A character suffers a Kultesque experience:
    Example 1: Mental Balance is -3, Stability is -2. MB can not change.
    Example 2: Mental Balance is -3, Stability is -4. MB can change.
    Example 3: Mental Balance is +3, Stability is -2. MB can not change.
    Example 4: Mental Balance is +3, Stability is -4. MB can change.

    In other words: If your MB is close to 0, it's quite likelly to change if your Stability dips into negative. However, once your MB starts reaching either extreme, the chances of a change are smaller, and a lot riskier.

    Like I said, it's a rough sketch, that most likelly works best for negative MB.
    Might need to take a look at the various changes that happen as your MB goes into the extremes as well...
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