Tabletop Game / Anathema
is a tabletop RPG by End Transmission Games. From their DriveThruRPG page:
"In this roleplaying game for two to six players, you play a Shroud. Once human, you are now an angel of death tasked with the culling of millions of human lives. To do so, you will use the powers of war, pestilence, famine, misfortune, atrophy, and despair at your fingertips to kill men, women, and children indiscriminately. This horrible act is nothing less than necessary, to decrease the surplus population of Earth in order to save the entire human race from extinction.
How can you kill millions of people to serve The Balance while clinging to the tatters of your humanity?"
This task is given to you by a mysterious force, known as "the Balance", which was also responsible for turning you into a shroud. The human being that birthed a shroud is called a husk. New shrouds have very few memories of their life and some may have none at all. A large part of the game stems from players finding (or not finding) ways to cope with the horrible things they have to do while holding on to (or letting go of) what remains of their humanity, as well as discovering their past and why The Balance chose them.
Well, that and stunning amounts of murder...
Shrouds are divided into three broad categories (The Violent, The Lost, and The Kindly), based on what they were like in life. These categories determine how a player gains and loses will, their motivations, and the way in which they are most likely to rebel against The Balance. Shrouds also wield a number of powers to help them carry out their grim task. These powers are divided into the dominions of war, misfortune, atrophy, famine, pestilence, and despair. A shroud's primary dominion is determined by how they died, but players are not limited to that dominion alone. So, you have a wide variety of powers at your disposal and the one you're best at is whichever one is the most similar to what killed your husk, meaning that you get to spend your unlife making people suffer the same way that you did.
Oh, but it gets better! Players have a finite amount of will and quite a few ways to lose it. When you run out of it, you suffer utter annihilation.
This game provides examples of:
- A God I Am Not: Despite its powers, The Balance is not God and there is no established presence of divinity in the game universe.
- Achilles' Heel: Shrouds can't be killed by any human weapons, can fly as fast as a commercial jet, move through walls, become invisible, and have magic powers, but they can be killed by other shrouds and will be utterly destroyed if their will drops to 0.
- Ambition Is Evil: The Violent gain will from being exceptionally good at what they do and may approach their task with a disturbing level of gusto.
- Asshole Victim: Excluding The Kindly, shrouds get to pick a preferred type of victim. They're probably this.
- Black and Gray Morality: Either meet a daily murder quota or let the Earth and all of humanity die a slow, horrible death.
- Blank Slate: The Lost. All that they know about their husks is that they were average people.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": You don't have "hit points", you have "anathema".
- Came Back Strong: Shrouds are much stronger and faster than they were in life.
- Came Back Wrong
- Cast from Hit Points: Dominion spells
- Crapsack World
- Determinator: The Balance and shrouds. In fact, if a player stops being this, other shrouds will annihilate them.
- Driven to Suicide: Shrouds with the Despair dominion can decrease a target's will. If a human's will drops to 0, they become suicidal.
- If a shroud's primary dominion is Despair then it means that their husk committed suicide.
- Everyone Has Standards: All shrouds have a type of person that they're particularly adverse to killing. Doing so causes them to lose will.
- Flight: All shrouds have the ability to fly.
- Full-Body Disguise: Shrouds can disguise themselves as humans, but it's difficult and being touched by a human destroys the effect.
- Ghostly Chill: Often the only indicator that a shroud is near.
- Good Wings, Evil Wings: All shrouds have wings. What they look like is up to the player.
- The Grim Reaper: Players have to murder humans in order to continue existing and to ensure that the world doesn't become catastrophically overpopulated. Players can also choose to have their shroud superficially resemble a grim reaper.
- High Turnover Rate: If your character is upset or horrified at being turned into a shroud, at least they probably won't be one for very long...
- Identity Amnesia: All shrouds to an extent, but The Lost have this the worst.
- Infant Immortality: Completely averted.
- Intangibility: Shrouds are incorporeal unless they choose not to be.
- Invisibility: Shrouds can make themselves invisible whenever they feel like it.
- Ironic Hell: The game is this for Kindly shrouds.
- Jumped at the Call: The Violent. Individual ones may not particularly enjoy what they do, but they sure get the job done.
- Mercy Kill: Players can attempt to limit themselves to this as much as possible.
- Technically, all of the murders are this, since the only other option is to let the world be rendered uninhabitable.
- Necromancer: Shrouds don't naturally occur. The Balance creates them out of dead humans.
- Nice Guy: The husks of Kindly shrouds were dedicated to helping others.
- Person of Mass Destruction: The player, if they want to keep existing. This trope especially applies to players who specialize in the War dominion.
- Plague Master: Shrouds with the Pestilence dominion.
- Punch-Clock Villain: The Balance doesn't enjoy what it does and neither do most shrouds.
- Rabble Rouser: One of the war dominion powers allows you to cause people in a given area to riot. It can affect up to ten square miles.
- Rapid Aging: The effect of Atropy dominion powers.
- Refusal of the Call: The Kindly and the Lost have to do this to some extent.
- Sanity Meter: Will represents your will to live.
- Seekers: All shrouds, but The Lost are primarily motivated by trying to learn about their past life.
- Serial-Killer Killer: Refuse to do your job and The Balance will send other shrouds to destroy you.
- True Neutral: The Balance creates shrouds and makes them kill strictly out of necessity. It makes no claims to be either good or evil and is entirely impersonal.
- Undeath Always Ends: Depending on what kind of shroud you play as, certain actions will decrease your shroud's will to live. When will hits 0, the character is annihilated.
- Walking Disaster Area: Shrouds with the Misfortune dominion.
- Walking Wasteland: Players with the Famine dominion can pollute water sources, destroy nearby food and drink, and make people become fatally dehydrated.