Blackmarked is a low fantasy tabletop RPG designed to create grim, unforgiving stories about adventurers in a sword-and-sorcery world. Played with a set of traditional roleplaying dice and a Game Master, Blackmarked aims to create a high-lethality game that solves the issues I have with other sword-and-sorcery games like Dungeons and Dragons. The key design decisions of Blackmarked include the following:
- Blackmarked does not have a traditional HP system, and instead features a system where characters gain Wounds as they get hit. Every Wound incurs a save vs. death, which gets harder the more Wounds you have. This more closely mirrors how real-life combat plays out, and encourages players to fight smart, and to fight defensively.
- Characters in Blackmarked accrue Strain over time, which decreases their capabilities all-around the more they press on. To reduce this Strain, characters must get a good Rest. The quality of a Rest is determined by where it takes place, and is also boosted by indulging a character’s Vice prior to sleeping. This makes Rests more interesting, and more of an RP moment, than D&D’s “we take a nap then keep adventuring”.
- Magic is extremely rare, hated by most of the citizenry, and powered by expending time of one’s own lifespan, encouraging magic-users to only use spellcasting when absolutely necessary, and thus, keeping spellcasters from stealing the show.
- Common elements of roleplaying games that I have often found overly-granular, such as encumbrance, experience points, and faction repuation, have been simplified and homogenized into skill checks, more closely integrating them with the rest of the game’s systems.
An entire adventure called The Missing Girl, complete with pre-generated characters, can be found here.
//Nightmare At Beachwood Manor
Nightmare at Beachwood Manor is a hidden-antagonist card game for four players in which players are teenagers who are trapped in a haunted mansion, and one is secretly possessed by the murderous ghost of the former owner. The game focuses on card management, as the item cards serve as health, actions to be taken, and represent the progress of time towards morning. The Possessed player must try to turn the group against itself, while the others must band together and try to survive until morning.
Nightmare At Beachwood Manor was developed using Google Docs, OpenOffice Calc, and CardMaker, and playtested with my local game group.