SAVE is On Your Side

In the Things sourcebook for Chill 2nd Edition, an in-character preface by Rev. Samual D. Farthings concludes with, “Remember, if all else fails, God and SAVE are on your side.” That line, I think, crystallizes what Chill is about for me. 

Horror games aren’t exactly thin on the ground these days. They weren’t as common in the 80s when Pacesetter released the first edition of Chill, and they were gaining ground in 1990 when Mayfair released the second edition, but they’re everywhere now. You can play doomed investigators in Trail of Cthulhu or Call of Cthulhu. You can play members of the occult underground in Unknown Armies. You can play monsters of many different stripes in the World of Darkness. And, of course, licensed settings like Supernatural give you the chance to jump into the worlds of your favorite horror properties. (Feel free to comment and tell me about your favorite horror game, I just listed a few here.)

So as we’re redesigning Chill for our third edition, we’re looking for something to hang the game on. It has the be the setting, because the system, while it’s getting cleaner all the time, is just a game system, and that’s never going to be what gets someone to pick up a game. And that setting means SAVE. 

In the 2nd Edition, SAVE was having some problems. It was reeling from the loss of the archives in Dublin and unprecedented levels of envoy loss (10% of their membership a year, and while recruitment was keeping pace, that’s still a horrific amount of loss). As we’re designing the 3rd edition and thinking about how SAVE has evolved, we have to consider advances in technology. We have to think about how SAVE is still a functional entity, if it was losing so many people. And we have to think about how it operates day to day. I’ve draw parallels between monster hunters and revolutionary (or even terrorist) cells before, not to disparage SAVE’s motives, of course, but because that’s how they have to function. SAVE is smaller than the enemy. It doesn’t have access to information or resources in the amounts it needs. But SAVE soldiers on.

Why? Because they’re on your side. They’re on our side. The good reverend mentions God, but the Chill setting isn’t an explicitly Christian or even theistic one. SAVE envoys do what they do for a variety of reasons, but at the end of the day, they do it because the thought of not doing is too horrible to contemplate. They do it because someone has to. They do it because they can. They do it because they’re people, and they are unwilling to abandon others to the Unknown. 

Being a SAVE envoy is largely thankless, it’s highly dangerous, and it often ends in horror and death. And the envoys open those activation letters and go out into the dark anyway, because they’re on your side. 

That’s a decent hook, I think. 



  1. Indeed. In a “heroic” horror game of any kind, I think it’s important to focus on the humanistic element – in my humble opinion, where “Supernatural” (the TV series) went wrong is when they confirmed that Western monotheism was essentially the world’s real cosmology. Before, it was just lone human hunters standing against the darkness, doing what needed to be done. Then the whole “war between Heaven and Hell” overshadowed that small, brave struggle. One of the best parts about The Unknown in CHILL is that it IS “unknown”. Monsters are real, but where do they come from? Why are they here? We don’t know, and that doesn’t really matter: they ARE real, so heroes like SAVE need to fight them.

  2. jdmcdonnell · · Reply

    No. no. no.

    SAVE is trying to get you killed. Think about it. They’re a secret society that contacts characters who have had a brush with the unknown and then do nothing but send them off after more creatures from the unknown until eventually they don’t come back. I suspect that at the very top of whole organization sits a Deceiver who is intentionally trying to weed out of humanity those who might believe the unknown exists while at the same time trying to weed out those creatures from the unknown who are too wild for it to control.

    Losing 10% in a year? That might sound terrible in the newsletter but for the actual SAVE it’s a banner year. Break out the champagne, confetti and party horns, bonuses all around!!!!

    (Or at least, that’s how I would play it if I were still playing CHILL. Maybe you should start with a beneficent SAVE and then midway through your releases introduce another secret organization called HELP which is trying to reveal the truth behind SAVE. And also hide the fact that it is run by a Zombie Master).

  3. Like the idea of a smaller SAVE with links to companies with some funding from places like bio-research, tech etc.

  4. I’m just hearing that you have acquired Chill, and are working on releasing a 3rd Edition! That’s pretty exciting. I still have all my older Chill books, and would love to revive some of my stories ideas I never finished out. I like the idea of SAVE funding itself through all kinds of desperate and sometimes shady ways. I could see some SAVE cells partnering with organized crime, and others funded by CIA black-money (untraceable and without oversight). I mean, if you are saving the world from an unnatural and horrible end, then who wouldn’t you accept help from…or seek help from to win that fight. Obviously not all SAVE cells would be funded in this way, but part of the fun of the evolved SAVE is the idea that there are SAVE lone-wolves and SAVE-cells operating essentially independently, after losing contact with the core of the group. But the fight continues! (See, I’m already writing my campaign for your new 3rd Edition). LOL.

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