Product Review – tremulus


Author: Sean Preston
PublisherReality Blurs
Page Count: 279
Available Formats: PDF and print
Cost: PDF – $15,  Softcover – $30  Hardcover -$45

tremulus, yes spelled without a capital T, is a game of Lovecraftian horror that places the characters in the midst of a mystery. Better yet, a situation where evil lurks, doom awaits and death or madness are the easy ways out!

I currently own the PDF and have owned the softcover book in the past. The presentation is awesome in all formats. The physical quality of the softcover is top notch. My book was a solid off-set printing that was durable and appeared to hold up to reading, use and storage without any measurable issues.

The art work is thematically appropriate for the genre and presented in black and white with a “fuzzy” look that stimulates the reader’s mind in an appropriate way.

Mechanically, the game is very straight forward! It is a Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) game. Those familiar with PbtA will find the game mechanically similar with the exception of the mechanics for constructing your story framework which does vary from PbtA to PbtA game.

The core of the PbtA mechanical engine is simple. There are two truths in every PbtA game. First, the players roll all the dice, the Keeper rolls none! Second, when rolls are required the player rolls 2d6 and invokes what’s called a move. The move is the premise of the intended roll. For example, in tremulus, players who are actively searching for clues will invoke the move of “Poke Around”. In doing so the results of the 2d6 roll is modified by a particular stat and the result is compared to the move results. Results will be either <6, 7-9, or 10+. Each result range will give the player options on how THEY want the results to play out in the fiction. A 6 or less is essentially a failure. A 7-9 is a partial succes but there will be a cost associated with that partial success. A 10+ is a success and character does what they intended to do!

These two truths are the crux of all PbtA games and tremulus is no different. They keep the players and their characters firmly rooted and invested in the fiction.

Where tremulus differs, aside from theme, is the framework construction mechanics. Sean has developed a fast way to create frameworks which are the structure that the Keeper uses to run the game. The premise is simple, the group answers a few questions which gives the Keeper a resulting three letter ALPHA code which allows him/her to then quickly piece together the remainder of the framework in short order.

– Very easy to read; presented in a very engaging way.
– Mechanically simple rules that focus heavily on fiction immersion.
– Fast and easy story framework construction for Keepers.
– Lots of tips and tricks imbedded directly into the text.
– Super flexible!

– Horror themed, but not expressly Mythos based. May be an issue for some players and Keepers.
– Sean is very articulate in his writing style and occasionally uses odd word choices, like particularize. While grammatically it is correct, it does seems to read weirdly.

tremulous is well written and evocative of the theme it is written to convey. The game is player immersive as are all PbtA games, but it shines in the area of horror, the weird, impending doom, and perpetual tension. The story framework is flexible enough to be place in any time period and location. Although, as written, it is placed in the 1920s in America. It could just as easily be placed in 1950s Serbia or 2016 Japan. The book is so well written that reading it was super enjoyable and I read the book in the matter of a few hours over the course of three days.

I don’t highly recommend much, but as a fan of horror and Mythos based games, I am highly recommended tremulus!

~ Modoc

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