Review: The Haunting of Creedmore Asylum [Cypher System]

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Retail Price: $3.99 for the a digital copy at DriveThruRPG 

Designer: Tom Robinson

Year Released: 2016

Pages: 24 pages

Genre: Gothic Horror

System: Cypher System

Requires: Cypher System Rulebook/ Revised Cypher System Rulebook

With Halloween just around the corner, now is the time that people are likely scouring the internet in hopes of coming up with a good seasonally appropriate one-shot. Well for this time of year there are few things as iconic as a good romp through a haunted building. I submit for your approval The Haunting of Creedmore Asylum. 

Overview(Spoiler Free): 

The Haunting of Creedmore Asylum is a self-contained horror adventure intended for a group of up to six players, of I’m guessing tier 1. The estimated completion time for this adventure is three to four hours, which I can say from personal experience is an accurate estimate. At its most basic this adventure is a crawl through a haunted “house” tainted by the echoes of horror, madness, and tragedy. The adventure takes a bit of an all roads lead to Rome approach, while there are some event that need to should happen before then end the adventure, the characters are largely let loose to free roam the asylum taking in its mysteries and horrors as they go. Speaking of horrors, the adventure makes good use of the shock and madness rules found in the Cypher System Rulebook, with slight tweaks. Each encounter with a creature, horrifying experience, or strange phenomenon is preceded by a shock level for the encounter. The end result is a real sense that the characters are being slowly, or not so slowly, being driven mad by their experiences. 

Image by Anja

Aside from the adventure itself, The Haunting of Creedmore Asylum includes a number of useful items for running it. There are 10 creepy new creatures presented in the Encounters section. Some of these creatures are unique to the adventure, but most could easily be adapted to any horror setting. For anyone that likes player handouts, this adventure has you covered with a letter that connects one of the characters to the “quest giver” NPC and a telegram that has cryptic information that makes more sense as the scenario progresses. The Appendix section provides a floor plan map of Creedmore Asylum. This is followed by the Characters section that contains 14 suggested adventure appropriate characters. These are not completed characters but are instead more like prompts including character names, descriptors, types, foci, and a brief info blurbs. Finally, the last five pages of the document contain 39 new cyphers and 1 new artifact. These pages are formatted such that these can be printed out and easily cut into cards. An interesting point is that despite this being an adventure indented for the generic Cypher System, the original cyphers presented are all designated as being either “anoetic”(counts as 1 cypher) or “occultic”(counts as 2 cyphers). This is a variant of the cypher carrying capacity rules that appears in Numenera and The Strange. However, I think that putting this additional limit on the power available to the characters helps add to the tension.

Would I Recommend This Book?

Image by Free-Photos

This is a fun horror based one-shot that I would definitely recommend to anyone that needs something short and shocking. That said, there are two minor points that hold it that I would like to draw attention to. First, the adventure doesn’t make it clear what tier(s) it is intended for. Second, the use of anoetic and occultic cyphers, seems reasonable, but it would have been nice if the terms were defined in the text. These points aside, it is a great self contained adventure. For me one of the best parts of this was the ending. It is delightfully horrific, but be advised if you want to weave The Haunting of Creedmore Asylum into a larger horror campaign then sadly you likely need cut out the ending.

In short, if you are looking for some Halloween chills to share with your table give The Haunting of Creedmore Asylum a try.

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