irrationalRobot (irrationalrobot) wrote in seattle_rico,

Chill RPG and Chill: Black Morn Manor

Again, originally posted in my own blog. Since I originally wrote this, BGG came back up so I was able to provide a more exact version of my setup gripes.

As a kid, I thought that horror was the best genre for anything. Unfortunately, I was a bit of a chicken. This led to a lot of not-watching movies that were intended to scare you (I passed up on Cujo for the 7th time I saw War Games) but watching a lot of Zombie movies and being fascinated by all of the undead beasties in D&D (the coffer corpse from the Fiend Folio was my favorite, but the Lich was a close second).

I was also a comic book geek for a couple of years, and this interesting intersection led to me discovering something called "Chill" at the comic shop I frequented. Despite its publisher going out of business (Pacesetter games, which also published the inimitable Wabbit Wampage), it seems that a version of Chill is still in print! Oddly enough, Pacesetter's properties were picked up by Mayfair games.

This means a couple of interesting things.

  • First off, for the low low (?) price of $100, I can have a complete set of current generation Chill product from the above link. Not that I can afford this, but it is nice to know that it is a possibility. Well, not that I actually can afford a couple hours a week for roleplay, but... well shit. It is nice to know that someone could enjoy it.

  • Secondly, it means that the rest of the pacesetter line is in the hot little hands of Mayfair, which I can only assume is making bank on the Catan properties. This means that the cute little (poorly designed, shitty components, still kinda fun) Chill: Black Morn Manor game has an owner! I was worried that this little gem was just dead and buried forever.

Black Morn Manor (C:BMM) is a game that was described to me as "You just feel like it should be better," and I've got to agree. The concept is great- one player is a renfeld to a mysterious force in the creepy old house, and the other players are exploring trying to destroy the creepy monster. Occasionally, a character switches sides, back and forth. It really plays pretty well! OTOH, this game has the worst setup of any game I've ever played. Take, for example, the layout of the gameboard. Here is how I'd describe it:

The board is composed of 36 tiles in a 6 by 6 grid. Place the "Gate" tile in the lower left corner, and use other tiles (face down) to measure out where the "front door" tile goes in the opposite corner. Place all hero tokens on the "Gate" tile and the minion token on the "Crypt" tile.

Their description goes exactly like this , now that BGG is back up:

1. Spread out the board tiles on a hard surface (table),
and sort them into two stacks: Manor tiles and Grounds
tiles. Manor tiles have walls and doors; Grounds tiles
have neither. (See tile fronts.)
2. Find the Gate and the Crypt—both are Grounds tiles.
Place the Gate about 7" to the lower left of the table's
centre. The Property Lines should point upward and to the
3. Place any 6 tiles face down in a line to the right of the
Gate. Then, starting with the last tile on the right, place 5
more tiles in a line toward the top of the table. Place the
Crypt tile face up in the sixth place, with its Property Lines
pointing downward and to the left
4. Pick up all tiles except the Gate and Crypt, and shuffle
them back into their proper stacks. Then turn the stacks
face down. Diagram A shows how your board should

This is actually the easy part- you then have to have the minion randomly select a bad guy and pull all of the cards from the deck with corresponding numbers... it is a big damn mess. Many of these problems were resolved when Avalon Hill released the (shockingly similar) Betrayal at House on the Hill, but that game doesn't have the same "switching sides" mechanic and the layout of the board gets a little bit trickier with the different floors. Still, if C:BMM sounds interesting, Betrayal is a reasonable facsimile.

Since boardgamegeek isn't playing nice today (perhaps they should upgrade their servers), here is the Funagain games link to Black Morn Manor. When BGG comes back up, here is their link about the game. If I could just convince Mayfair to re-release this game with better quality components and simplified setup... you know what this screams for is computer-based setup and atmosphere...
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