Demon collection OSR

EDIT: SMALL TOWN GOTHIC is officially out on itch!!! And I’ve released a demon compendium so you have some fresh monsters for the American setting! There’s some more information about both further down the thread!

Hi all!

I wanted to write a one-page game (referee side not included) where players make pacts with demons to cast spells. Is this down anyone’s alley?

Here are some random mechanics:

  • The rolls on this sheet are all player-side, including defending against attacks or spells.
  • STR is the attack bonus for melee attacks and the defense bonus for ranged attacks. The opposite is true for DEX.
  • Damage and hit-points are static, and they scale up linearly.

Initially I wrote this to use only 1d6 to make it more accessible, but I felt like d20 has better margins of error. Either/or seem fine to play, since only the referee has to know the precise chances of success.


It seems pretty interesting (and in the direction of something I was writing). I’d definitely try it, but I think that a couple of examples for daemons and spells might be extremely useful (I can’t really figure how they work from reading the rules).

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Looks like a nice minimalist system for playing Shin Megami Tensei-inspired games!

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I was absolutely going to include a list/generator of demons and spells in the referee’s booklet! I figure it’s good to conceal huge amounts of information from the player so they have to rely on what the referee tells them.

Is there anything else that would be useful or interesting to include? I was going to include some dungeon rules (time management, torches, wandering monsters) but I wonder if that’s what people expect or want from a demon game.

I’m glad it gets the job done!! :smiley: I’ve never played SMT but I’ve always loved the premise, and thought that demon collection would be a great basis for a religious horror game.

Really cool concept. I might try to mash this together with Yokai Hunter’s Society - seems like a great fit.

Great job on the layout for the sheet by the way. Simple and organized. :+1:


Yokai Hunter’s Society looks like a fun game! :slight_smile:

Also thank you! It was my first time making a real character/rules sheet, so I tried to have fun with it.

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I like the static damage based on stat level. It’s a nice simplification. I agree about the D20. I’d run it with the bigger die unless I only had access to a D6.

The name and the theme make me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer mixed with American Gothic. Which is not a bad combo.

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What kind of content are y’all interested in reading? My first thought was to make a list of demons and spells, but that feels less helpful than an on-the-spot demon generator.

I am planning on making a referee-focused backside of the character sheet I posted above, and then maybe a booklet of all the rules including town generation, spells & demons (examples and tables), and so on. Ideally, anything for immediate reference will be on the sheet while things useful for long-term planning are in the booklet.

Finally, are y’all more interested in seeing a full-fledged module, or tools to make on-the-spot games?

I’d like both. A generator is useful, but a couple of full-fledged examples would probably help to make it clear about how the game works.

This kind of light ruleset seems perfect for on-the-spot games, so I’d suggest to embrace the spirit and go for the tools.

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Making monsters too random might make it hard to ID and negotiate with them. Like if I run into a siren, I have a general idea of what it might want and why I might want to recruit it (even if there are procedures for mixing those up a little). If I run into a three headed baboon with insect wings and falcon claws that can reverse gravity, I don’t have much to go off of and don’t know the stakes of the negotiation.

Of course, you might prefer the latter still and there’s plenty of value in it, and there’s definitely still stuff that can be randomized even if you’re keeping the possibilities a little bounded.

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Thanks y’all for pointing this out! I’ll include a compilation classical demons and mythological creatures whose intentions and behavior are well-known and predictable, along with a generator to produce more grotesque creatures for fun. Would y’all prefer a small list or a generator on the referee’s side of the sheet, if either? Right now, I have the following for the referee:

  • Time management while in town
  • Prices of meals, motel rooms, flashlights, batteries, (weapons?)
  • Short dungeon procedure (time management, wandering encounters, employing followers)
  • Reaction rolls, morale checks, and referee rolling for NPCs

Which leaves one third of a reference sheet left. I suppose I’m designing this backwards, by assuming what’s needed for play instead of actually playing and designing a reference sheet from my own experience. But, what do you all want to see?

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I am very, very excited to share the finished project!!!

Introducing SMALL TOWN GOTHIC, a tabletop game where you hunt and/or collect demons! It’s a lightweight system inspired by the likes of Knave and PBTA.

  • Negotiate with demons so they don’t kill you!
  • Or, make pacts with them to summon them in battle!
  • A unified system for wandering monsters, reaction rolls, and morale checks! Players are encouraged to constantly lower the stakes and avoid dice rolls, to come up with creative solutions instead.
  • Featuring the dungeon as a hostile territorial spirit–not just a living ecosystem!
  • Players must take part-time jobs to get by! They can also accept missions to hunt demons…
  • Dice pool combat, inspired by pre-Gygaxian D&D!


I’ve also made a DEMON COMPENDIUM, which has ~60 original or reinterpreted demons meant to belong in the American religious imagination. It’s a little more heavy content-wise than the game itself, but I made some cool layouts! :smiley: Each page has 6 demons, which makes it easy to use the book as a d66 table if you wanted to!


Can’t wait to play it! I’ll tell you how it goes.

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I hope you have fun! :smiley: