Expandmenu Shrunk

  • Dead Media – A Sourcebook for In Dark Alleys

    Now Available!

    They’re waiting for you in dark, dusty places, in places where people have been killed, or where people will be killed.

    Waiting for you to put the needle to the groove in the slowly revolving wax cylinder.

    Waiting for you to push down the tray holding the videocassette and press the large square play button.

    Waiting for you to insert a coin and turn the handle that makes images flip by so quickly they appear to move.

    Waiting for you to slide the hand-painted slide into the wood and metal box.

    Waiting for you to don the 3D glasses from the cardstock pocket and turn the brittle page.

    Waiting for you to “press any button to start” on the boxy controller.

    Waiting for you to pull the ring emerging from the back of the doll, to keep pulling until the line goes taut, and then let go.

    Waiting for you to tip the pen and watch the pin-up-girl’s dress slowly float off her body, revealing what is underneath.

    They’re waiting for you to make the mistake that will likely be your last.

    Dead Media is the third sourcebook for In Dark Alleys, the game of psychological and cosmological horror. The book details eight obsolete media items, each with dangerous supernatural properties, and the scars they have left on this world. Each is a danger to any person who encounters them, but tracing these items back to their origins will bring players one step closer to understanding the secrets of In Dark Alleys.

    Warning: Contains mature subject matter.

    138 pages – softcover – 8.5″x11″

    Printed Version: $12.95 – Greyscale Interior – Fulfillment by Lulu

    PDF: $4.95 – Full Color Interior – Fulfillment by DriveThruRPG

    Anyone who buys a printed copy of the book can get the pdf here.

  • The Man Burns

    the_man_burns_front_cover_900wThe Man Burns is the first sourcebook for Seeker the role playing game. The Man Burns describes the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert and all the dangers, adventures, mysteries and weirdness that seekers may encounter there. The Man Burns features in depth information about Burning Man, suitable for use with any RPG, a full color interior and 69 photographs of Burning Man.

    Anyone who buys the printed version can download the PDF for free here.

     Printed Version: $39.95 – Fulfillment by Lulu*

     PDF: $4.95 – Fullfillment by DriveThruRPG

    *Look for Lulu coupons here.

  • What is “Dark”?

    Vajra settings are often described, by Vajra’s creators, players and reviewers, as “dark.” In fact, Vajra’s official mission statement says that we specialize in “creating unique, nuanced, compelling, darkly fascinating settings in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres.

    However, there is no agreed-upon definition of “dark” in this context. Some people use dark to mean evil, unenlightened or cruel. It is troubling that dark is used in such a carelessly negative manner, especially given the fact that this negativity is often conflated with dark skin color. Given this, using dark as a synonym for “bad” seems, at the very least, to be in poor taste.

    I don’t believe there are “correct” definitions of words, so I won’t speak to what dark “actually means” but I can speak to what dark means to me.

    Dark, to me, means cool and calm. It is a respite from the heat and bright lights of the day. When one seeks shelter, it is in dark places. Dark is when we sleep and dream.

    During the day is when we go to our day jobs, do what someone else wants us to. The dark of night is when we do the things we want to do and spend time with the people we want to be with. Dark means entertainment, recreation, passion. Dark is the fun and chaos of a party, a night club, a movie theater, a thrilling dark ride at an amusement park or a lover’s bed.

    While the light of day makes everything roughly the same level of pale brightness, dark allows for strong contrasts. The yellow flicker of candlelight, the colored glow of neon lights, green characters glowing on a CRT monitor: in the light of day all these would be hard to distinguish from everything else, but at night they shine out like beacons. Similarly, horrible things sometimes happen in the dark, but they are contrasted with by the wonderful, amazing things that happen there.

    In the light, we are highly visible and we put on an act for the benefit of those who may be watching us, we conform to what society expects of us. In the dark, we are free from society’s watchful eye and so we can be honest with ourselves, find the freedom to be our true selves. In societies that are repressive or authoritarian, the dark is where people meet to hide their actions from those societies.

    The light is safe, known, boring. The dark represents the unknown. We don’t know what’s out there in the dark. Just because the dark may contain unknown dangers doesn’t mean we should avoid it. To penetrate the dark, to learn its hidden secrets, is the reason we explore. Perhaps we explore the darkness of caves or sewers or ancient forests or outer space. Perhaps we explore subcultures on the dark fringes of our society. Perhaps we explore the unplumbed thoughts, feelings and desires of our own dark sides. In any case, such explorations may be dangerous, but we can also discover beautiful and amazing things.

    Dark is neither good nor bad. It can be dangerous. Terrible things can happen there. It can also be relaxing, freeing, passionate, beautiful, honest, heroic. The dark is a time to indulge in sex, parties, music, dancing, drugs, crime, storytelling, good food, riots, revolution, exploration, rest and dreams. There are no guarantees of safety, but for the brave the dark is always worth exploring. And that’s what I mean when I say Vajra strives to create settings that are “dark.”

    Brian St.Claire-King, Creative Director, Vajra Enterprises

  • In Vajra Worlds Everyone Gets to be a Badass

    The worlds of Vajra Enterprises are designed to be dark, dangerous, scary, full of secrets, often unpleasant and often unfair. And all the worlds of Vajra Enterprises have been designed to try to make it so that everyone gets to be a badass. We’ve tried to make it explicit that poor people, people of color, women, kids, disabled people, immigrants, homosexual, bisexual and transsexual people all get to be badasses in our settings.* We’ve tried to do this by being mindful of the character creation options we offer, the examples we use and how we describe the sources of power and skill in our settings.

    Badass can mean being able to beat people up or kill people. Badass can also mean being an amazing thief, hacker, diplomat, con artist, inventor, athlete, seductor/seductress or strategist. It could mean that the character has occult knowledge, cool gear, social connections or interesting powers.

    A Vajra character is still vulnerable to all manner of injuries and mishaps. The character may be at the bottom of the social ladder. The character might be repressed, discriminated against, underestimated. The character might not be confident in his or her own badassery. The character might have suffered, might still be suffering, from whatever it took to become a badass (being a badass never comes easy). None of these things, however, make the character any less of a badass.

    Being a badass means that the character has some ability that, if used at the right time and the right place, will completely fuck up the bad guys’ day, no matter how powerful the bad guys think they are. And maybe, if he or she is lucky, the character might fuck up a bad guy in a way that makes the world a better place.

    Why are we so insistent that everyone gets to be a badass? Many reasons, but one is to match reality. If you look at the true badasses of history, the ones who disrupted the status quo, struck fear into the heats of the bad guys and made the world a better place, they didn’t come from an elite (like the kind most action movies seem to draw their heroes from), they came from all of us.

    And if we ever make a setting where some group doesn’t get to be a badass, we want you to call us on it so we can fix that.

    *Do I need to mention that straight white dudes get to be badasses? My first thought is that I don’t, since that’s the default-assumption of every major fictional setting. On the other hand I know some straight white dudes can be ridiculously touchy about this sort of thing so I’ll go ahead and say it: straight white dudes get to be badass.

  • What makes a good Vajra setting?

    It is dangerous

    Danger makes things exciting: makes people have to be careful and pay attention to what they do. There has to be a wide-reaching danger of characters dying or something just as bad happening to them.

    It takes place in a unique society…

    The culture, beliefs, history, laws, technology, etc. should be something that hasn’t been thoroughly explored in other games. This could mean a relatively explored bit of real history, an alternate history, or a future where society has changed in interesting ways.

    …or, takes place in our world, but with big unique secrets.

    If it does take place in a well-known world (e.g. the modern world), it should take place in a world that has quite a lot going on behind the scenes: conspiracies, subcultures, a secret history, and lots of unusual places and situations to explore.

    It has a unique aesthetic

    It shouldn’t just be different, it has to also FEEL different, in a way we can access via art, music, graphic design, etc. Technically, there’s very little difference between “underwater city” and “art deco underwater city” but the latter is much more fun to explore, even if only in our imaginations.

    People can have interesting abilities

    Having powers is fun. It doesn’t matter if the powers are mystical, magical, technological, the result of extreme training, etc. so long as some characters can have the ability to do cool stuff that not everyone can do. The more different powers that characters could have, the better.

    There are plenty of mysteries

    There have to be plenty of things for characters to discover, otherwise there is no point in them exploring.

    There are plenty of grey areas

    There shouldn’t always be a clear division between good and evil. It’s more interesting if there are people/organizations/causes that are ethically neutral, or might seem “good” or “evil” at first glance but end up being otherwise.

    There is no universally benevolent government

    If there was a government one could dependably go to for help, one could just do that when things get tough, which kind of blunts the danger part. There should either be no government, or an evil government, or a corrupt/dysfunctional government, or a government that refuses to believe in the things the PCs deal with, or a government that regards the PCs as a threat.

    There have to be underdog heroes

    There has to be the possibility for the people who everyone discounts, because they think those people are worthless or boring or powerless or low-class, to be the people who actually make a difference in the world (just like in real life).

    There has to be hope

    If there’s no hope that things can get better, there’s little motivation to do anything. Therefor, there should not only be a way the world can get better, but a way that the heroes can be instrumental in making that happen. The hope doesn’t have to be blatant; it can be as little as a faint glimmering in the darkness.

  • This is a Dark Ride 2nd Edition

    In the world of In Dark Alleys, pleasant façades hide terrible secrets, and there is no more pleasant façade than that of the happiest amusement park in the world. Hiding behind the smiling faces, cotton candy, princesses, rides and fantastic décor, there are creatures that hunt us, people who experiment on us, powers-that-be who watch us, and alien worlds waiting to swallow us up.

    This is a Dark Ride is a sourcebook detailing the world’s most famous amusement park as it exists in the In Dark Alleys setting. Included is in-depth info on the mundane park, various supernatural entities, NPCs and groups, guidelines for creating a park employee character and a complete adventure.

    The second edition contains 9 pages of additional material, including a description of the Deserted City’s own amusement park, and an easier-to-read layout.

    Anyone who buys the printed book, or who owns the first edition, can download the pdf for free here.

     Printed Version: $17.50 – Fulfillment by Lulu*

     PDF: $3.95 – Fullfillment by DriveThruRPG

    *Look for Lulu coupons here.

  • Occupying Force: A DramaSystem Series Pitch

    Occupying Forces Cover SmallOccupying Force (free PDF) is a series pitch for Robin D. Laws’ DramaSystem.

    In Occupying Force, players play American soldiers and their allies in Hell. Hell has recently been liberated by the American government and the soldiers and their allies are trying to bring capitalism and democracy to Hell while fighting off insurgents.

    Occupying Force was created for the RPGgeek DramaSystem contest.