One of the best horror RPGs ever is coming back, after a 20-year absence. Chill 3rd Edition puts players in the roles of international agents fighting against supernatural forces of darkness — forces that have had the upper hand for too long.
The first edition of Chill was published by a small company called Pacesetter in the 1980s. It was then picked up by Mayfair and released as a second edition. I played this edition a ton in high school, and it became one of my favorite RPGs. Mayfair stopped publishing it in 1993, however, and it's languished ever since. Sometimes I'll see a bundle of every single Chill supplement at a con for like $200 and be sorely tempted.
The people at Growling Door Games are fans of Chill, too, and some idle musing eventually led to them licensing Chill and creating this new 3rd Edition. The Kickstarter for the project is already a success.
This edition moves the timeline of the game forward. The Societas Argenti Viae Eternitata (SAVE) was crippled by an attack on their Dublin archives more than 20 years ago. Since then, SAVE agents have been forced underground, infiltrated by the forces of the unknown, and with no one to help them when the lights go out. A new leader has emerged, however, with a vision for a decentralized SAVE that can shine some light into the dark corners of the world.
The rules for 3rd Edition largely mirror the original percentile system. Some rolls are binary pass/fail, some have degrees of success. Rolling doubles always amplifies your result, so if you fail and roll doubles, it's a botch, and if you succeed and roll doubles, it's a colossal success.
They've added a token system that lets players flip a token from the light side to the dark side to attain a bonus or achieve something very difficult (or avoid a terrible fate). But the GM can then flip dark side tokens over to the light side to activate the abilities of certain creatures and villains. This kind of point exchange system is something I've grown to love in RPGs, so I'm really excited to see it in Chill. One of the stretch goals for the game is a boxed set with custom tokens.
Growling Door shared with us this exclusive preview from Chill 3rd Edition that describes the history of SAVE's new leader, Hayat Nejem:
In 2012, messages began filing through old (and now largely disused) communication channels. The missives included a manifesto explaining how to fight a larger, better-equipped enemy, as well as reports on new Unknown creatures and activity hubs. The messages, which originated in the Middle East, were signed "Hayat Nejem" and supported by Mahfuz El-Hasham, a grizzled SAVE leader from Damascus. The messages were obviously written with zeal and vision and carried a return address, but no reply was required.
Perhaps the openhanded gesture, which made no demands, cut through some of the distrust that plagued offices. Maybe the timing was simply right, as the fate of Boston was now well known throughout SAVE. No doubt the sponsorship of the legendary El-Hasham carried weight. Whatever the contributing factors, several offices cautiously replied and asked for more information. Hayat was willing to answer any tactical questions, including those that came down to the specifics of local organization, without demanding anything in return. Acknowledging that they needed help, several offices implemented the new strategies even if others remained distrustful of any advice. Nejem became known among SAVE offices as a source for reliable leadership in desperate times.
Hayat Nejem is a soldier, SAVE envoy and leader. She hails from a military family in Syria. Her father, both grandfathers, several uncles, and three of her brothers served in Hafez al-Assad's army. Life was not easy; al-Assad was ever wary of betrayal from those close to him. Prominent military families were held up to close scrutiny, constantly testing their loyalty and dedication to Syria's leader. As a result, Hayat grew up in an atmosphere of distrust and paranoia.
Hayat never met al-Assad in person — as a daughter, her family would not put her forward — but she saw him at public gatherings intended to honor the self-styled president. On these occasions, Hayat saw terrible shadows writhe around him, caressing him as one might a lover. Once, when she was five, she told her mother what she had seen and was struck in response. Hayat never spoke of it again, but couldn't shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong with the man that ruled her country.
Hayat's feelings of disquiet intensified under the second al-Assad, though not because of any knowledge of the Unknown. Alerted by her vision, she became increasingly aware of the mundane violence perpetrated by al-Assad against his people — the intimidation, disappearances, and torture. Surely this was no way for a leader to behave against his own people, and yet her family kept singing al-Assad's praises. Her uncle was the exception, the one member of her family who seemed to share Hayat's concerns.
In 2010, Hayat's uncle separated from al-Assad's forces along with several other military leaders and founded the Syrian Free Army. Hayat was eighteen at the time. She wanted to join but her uncle forbade it, citing that she was too young and (more importantly) a woman. She ignored him and joined anyway, effectively cutting off all ties with her parents and siblings.
Hayat was not the strongest combatant in the Syrian Free Army, but she was determined and courageous, often volunteering for missions no one else dared touch. More importantly, she had intuitive tactical insight. Even without training, Hayat instinctively knew how to discern the enemy's weak spots and how best to approach. More than anything else, this talent drew attention from the Free Army's leadership and earned Hayat's commander several victories.
Over time, Hayat's missions grew increasingly strange. It even became a joke among the other soldiers that fighting alongside Hayat was a sure way to run into inexplicable communication black-outs, red-eyed dogs, wrinkled men seemingly too old to even be alive, and other strange occurrences. Hayat didn't know it at the time, but she was sensitive to the Unknown — she always had been. She attributed the strangeness to coincidence. The feeling of wrongness she experienced when looking at al-Assad was simply the first sign, and she was drawn to fight it wherever it was. Someone else noticed, however, changing her life forever.
In 2011, Hayat was recruited by El-Hasham, the de-facto leader of SAVE in the Fertile Crescent. Hayat's recruitment did not go smoothly. She had no interest in fighting unnamed shadows while an actual war was going on. El-Hasham, however, appealed to Hayat's inner fire. The drive she felt, he argued, extended far beyond fighting mortal wars. She was called by Allah to fight the great darkness itself. When that did not persuade her, he pointed out that SAVE could be a valuable ally in bringing down al-Assad; Hayat reluctantly agreed. El-Hasham, happy to sign another promising name, continued on his business and let other envoys train the newcomer, as was standard practice for SAVE's Middle Eastern branch. Hayat, however, was not a standard recruit. She quickly grew frustrated with SAVE and its seeming inability to compromise and capitalize on smaller opportunities. After six months she barged into El-Hasham's office and threatened to leave if he did not listen to her ideas. The result was the manifesto that would lead SAVE in a new direction.
Three years has passed and Hayat still fights. Somewhere in the frenzy of SAVE rebuilding, she found herself called upon to lead and stepped up to the task. She doesn't consider herself to be a leader, but she does the job that is asked of her. A good soldier goes where she is needed; and if Hayat is needed at the forefront then that is where she will be. She continues to fight for the Syrian Free Army, often mingling her military and SAVE resources to accomplish daunting tasks.
Hayat has come to understand her visions better, and she realizes the shadows she saw aroung al-Assad were manifestations of the Unknown. What she doesn't know is whether the dictator corrupted by the Unknown, or did his own evil draw it like blood draws sharks? She suspects the latter; more Unknown creatures have been drawn to Syria as the situation gets progressively worse. She believes that they are no more than parasites going where prey is plentiful, but she has no way of proving her theory yet, and so rarely mentions it.
Hayat remains determined in her struggle for light and freedom, though sometimes guilt threatens to overwhelm her. It doesn't help that she feels every moment spent fighting al-Assad detracts from her fight against the Unknown, and vice versa. Nevertheless she remains determined to do her duty, even if it kills her.