Saturday, September 2, 2023

Remembering Nightbane RPG


     I happened to come across my old Palladium Books Nightbane book from back in the day.  Guess it was during the early to mid 90's, that I was an avid buyer/player of all things Palladium.  When Nightbane came out (was originally Nightspawn but Mcfarlane....)

Never heard of Nightbane? Here's a snippet from Wiki:     "On March 6, 2000, at 6:02 am, the world was shrouded in unnatural darkness caused by an extra dimensional race of demonic beings known as the Nightlords. Thousands of people suddenly transformed into monsters, but when the darkness left, they returned to human form. These shape-changers, called the Nightbane, have the ability to change to their monstrous form.

Players create and play Nightbanes, Guardians or even Vampires in order to battle the Nightlords and hopefully defeat them. Characters take on normal human form (called "The Facade") until they want to transform into their horrific monstrous form. The Nightbanes are organized into various underground factions all battling the Nightlords in their own way."

   I jumped at the change to play/run it.  Unfortunately, due to scheduling (many of us were in college and working full time jobs, circa 95 or so) I only managed to get one player for my Nightbane Campaign. 

     However, we both had a blast!! Not having a ton of prep time, I set the campaign in a city I was very familiary with: Memphis, Tennessee.  Plenty of opportunities for things to happen.  I made a few tweaks to Memphis, for one, I turned Mud Island (in real life a park/museum) into a maximum-security prison wherein Nightbane, and other troublesome folks (troublesome for the corrupt authorities and their masters the Nightlords) were kept in extreme lockdown.  

     The player was a nightbane, had randomly rolled up all kinds of cool crazy features, Nightbane characters are like supernatural mutants. that can take normal human form.  The player was trying to make contact with the local underground movement, the leaders had been taken out in a raid recently and were either killed or locked up.  The remaining underground members were laying very low.  Using local real-life bars, night clubs and even some local politicians in the campaign was loads of fun.  I also had Palladium's Beyond the Supernatural RPG.

     Palladium's books are mostly directly compatible with each other, this was before the OGL was a thing and Palladium's Megaversal system was a big appeal for GMs like me that loved to mix and match settings and things.  The player, learned (via a weird bookstore owner, based on a real person) about the local museum (also real) getting a rare tome of arcane knowledge.  Having the player's character sneak (break) into the museum, that we both had been to many times, to acquire the magical tome was loads of fun.  When the character had to run for their lives through the local park (now with supernatural elements lurking behind the old trees) it had a really authentic feel to it. 
     Another tool I used to help with my prep time, was comic books.  I had been reading Dr. Strange from Marvel, and my player was not familiar with the Sorcerer Supreme, thus I was able to pull in interesting characters, names, and refer to arcana that was pulled right out of the Dr. Strange comics. This was way before any Marvel movies came out so, my stack of comics was fertile ground to loot from.  As a GM use what you have available to make the most of your time and your campaign.  I had an issue of the Werewolf by Night comic that I pulled from as well. 

     Another thing I used to good effect in the campaign, was that it was hard to sometimes tell the good guys from the bad guys.  My player, even though he was a Nightbane, would default to D&D mode and assume all the "monsters" he encountered were villains, this led to some misdirection and at one point he even took out a leading member of the very Underground he was trying to join.  The rest of the campaign was spent with the player's character trying to undo the damage he had accidentally done and undermine the corrupt politicians that were working for the Nightlords.  He eventually restored the Underground to an even bigger role than it had been, and they were able to stage a breakout at the Mud Island (renamed Blud Island) Penitentiary.  That was the close of the Campaign.  Loads of fun! 

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