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This is Extracausal; a role-playing game about creating and uncovering a dense web of the paranatural, the occult, conspiracies, and of things far beyond it all. This is a game of encountering that which is extracausal. Imagine the Magnus Institute, the Federal Bureau of Control, Southern Reach. All groups that are involved with forces far greater than they could ever imagine, filled with individuals who piece together clues and secrets in the hopes of knowing the unknowable.

Extracausal features an easy to pick up dice engine, and simple character and world creation. Play as characters in far over their head as they race to uncover the truths about the strange, vast, dangerous, unknown forces of the extracausal. Create secrets and narrative elements that you later change, warp, shift, to form an emergent narrative web. Embrace twists and sudden reveals as you link together disparate elements into a larger, sprawling story.

Will you reach a shaking revelation? Or will reality be eclipsed by strange darkness? Play to find out. 

All you need to play is a handful of six-sided dice, a few ten-sided dice, something to keep notes with, and a handful of friends. 

Extracausal is in active development and feedback will help shape future versions of the game. If you play or read Extracausal please leave your feedback! Some of the first planned major additions are expanded Setting Elements to help you more easily support the themes, tone, and narrative of the game, and expanding on character creation. 

This work is based on Trophy, product of Jesse Ross and Hedgemaze Press, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Trophy is adapted from Cthulhu Dark with permission of Graham Walmsley. Trophy is also based on Blades in the Dark, product of One Seven Design, developed and authored by John Harper, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Trophy™ is a trademark of Hedgemaze Press. The Rooted in Trophy Logo is © Hedgemaze Press, and is used with permission.

Extracausal is now the recipient of the prestigious Sandy Pug Games Award for "Cosmic Horror But Better". Huge thanks to Erik for the nomination

Purchase

Buy Now$10.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $10 USD. You will get access to the following files:

Extracausal Final Pages 3 MB
Extracausal Final Spreads 3 MB
Extracausal Character Sheet 23 kB
Extracausal Character Keeper - Blank 491 kB

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Extracausal Community Copies

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Development log

Comments

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Extracausal is a lush, intense, Trophy-system game about interacting with a vast and interconnected occult. Its art is bleak and atmospheric, and it takes notes from the I-can't-honestly-say-yet-whether-it's-mainstream-or-a-cult-classic game Control---but it might just as easily work as a lighter conversion for something like Unknown Armies or Delta Green.

Extracausal is 29 pages, and it's got a fair bit of text, so for a short game it's going to feel hefty. However, it's also self-contained, so you don't need a copy of Trophy to play. 

You *do* need to have played/run other trpgs before, since it assumes you've already got a strong grasp of the fundamentals, and this might potentially wall out some people who would otherwise be interested in the SCP vibe of the game.

Mechanics-wise, Extracausal is well-tuned for suspense and horror. You generate a pool of dice by invoking elements of your character, and certain elements when invoked complicate a scene. Getting dice from injuries makes those injuries relevant to the scene. Getting dice from the supernatural makes it more likely to intrude and overshadow you. It's neat and atmospheric, and leans just to the storytelling side of being gamey and crunchy.

One thing not really featured in Extracausal is sample mysteries, monsters, agencies, etc, so you may want to bring your own mythos to the table if you're not confident in your ability to freestyle a gigantic conspiracy during the first session.

Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes X-Files, or any of the other media I've mentioned so far, and who wants a story-first game of suspense and occult horror. If you're looking for the same, but crunchy, this is probably not your jam. And if you're looking for a prepackaged setting, this doesn't provide that. Otherwise, I absolutely encourage you to check it out.

Minor Issues:

-Apcoalypsis and Tenebrae being able to be set back feels like it bleeds out some of the tension from the game. At the same time, the vagueness of when to advance those tracks makes the escalation of tension feel a little arbitrary. Maybe tying them to choices at the end of modules might help? "If you did W, gain Apocalypsis and lose X", "if you did Y, gain Tenebrae and gain Z."

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Wow! Thanks for the review and comments! I'm definitely working on making the game more approachable to people new to role playing games, and those updates are also going to be accompanied by a set of example settings (hopefully available sometime toward the end of summer). 

You've also inspired me to take another pass at Apocalypsis and Tenebrae, which honestly yeah, could use a little more heft/instruction/guidance with how to use them. 

Seriously, thanks again for taking the time to comment!

No worries! And I really dig Apocalypsis and Tenebrae as mechanical concepts.

Just purchased this game and have read through it. I'm not sure I'm sold on the collaborative mystery aspect, partly because it seems like it would require a lot of suspension of OOC knowledge. However I won't knock it til I try it.

What I will knock is the lack of conceptual footholds provided. Giving lists of vague names with a few adjectives might as well be giving nothing; the table entries were too little for me to build off of or visualize, and there's really no other "meat" to this game. The rules seem clean enough, on the simple side but that's fine. But if you opt for a simple ruleset you need the game's tone, themes, etc. to carry it. I don't feel like that's happening here. 


I understand wanting to leave things broad so players can do what they want with the system, but at a certain point you need to commit to some things for us so there's somewhere for us to build from.

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Hey thanks for commenting, I really appreciate the feedback! I hope you get a chance to try the game to see how the collaborative aspects of the mysteries unfold, it's very different from more traditional games, and sort of uses different "muscles" so to speak, but it can be a lot of fun (some other great examples to check out include Balikbayan and Sleepaway). 

On the subject of not enough meat, I wanted to try and strike a balance between leaving things open for players to iterate and create, while still giving some level of example foundation. Though, perhaps that foundation relies too much on being comfortable with the aesthetic touchstones (not that that may be your case I'm just speculating!)

I ideally want to provide enough tools for anyone to be able to create in this space.  Some specifics that I am working on for the next update include, a greater variety of tables, further play-examples, and better explanations of the narrative conventions referred to in the text. I'm a little hesitant to add more detail to the backgrounds/artifacts tables as examples, as I find part of the fun is discovering the meaning of the aspects through active play (and in practice, both as a player and facilitator that's been the case so far). But still, are there more specific tools you would find particularly helpful? All feedback is important in shaping the game, so again, I really appreciate yours!

this is a neat game, and as someone who adores the genre this is meant 2 portray, it got me very very excited!!

in terms of feedback, i do think its worth saying that some descriptions of the more narrative portions of the game can be a little vague? it was easy for me to figure out what "bring into play / emerge in the current scene" means for example, and i'm very familiar with the concept of framing and playing out scenes, but someone less accustomed to ttrpg conventions might find themselves a little bewildered and unsure of how to go about play?

that said, this looks very fun and i fully intend to play it in the future :O!!

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Hey thanks for the feedback I super appreciate it! And I do agree with that analysis, my initial focus wasn't necessarily on "ease of play", especially for those less familiar with narrative conventions. There are some upcoming additions and updates I'm working on that hopefully address that issue (as well as general accessibility improvements).

If/when you get a chance to play it let me know how it goes! There's been a little playtesting here and there, but I would love to see how a game where I am not actually directly involved in goes!

Spooky and interesting, and really clear concise rules that clearly push the narrative forward. Great approach to 'canon' and narrative twists.