Come, brave adventurer, bring a stout heart and a strong sword arm as we dare to explore a place full of danger and pit-falls, perils and horrors, but one where the rewards, if your bravery succeeds, can be vast: Kickstarter.
By now crowdfunding is a well known concept, and many is the time we hear people declare “I wish I’d backed it on Kickstarter!” However, it can just as easily be a tale of woe. With no guarantee of even a fully funded project being a success, there are plenty of stories of undelivered promise to put pause to even the most determined backer. All that said, if you find a project you can believe in, put up by a publisher you can trust, Kickstarter is a way to not just buy a product at a great price, but to be part of making it a reality.
Blood and Doom is the first Kickstarter project for creators Dicetale Games, and the game itself is being produced in conjunction with Modiphius. With over a decade of experience producing some amazing products, it looks like they can deliver. But will the product be any good? This can often be a worry when buying blind, but luckily, in this case, there is a free, 500 page download available at Drive Thru RPG. This gives you absolutely everything you need to start playing.
Just because it’s free, is it any good? The system itself manages use a level based progression without it feeling arbitrary and forced. Its rules are light enough to allow a more free form game full of genuine player initiative and Games Master inspiration, but has enough rules to incorporate an interesting and flavourful combat system. Using a D10 dice pool – not dissimilar to World of Darkness – it’s quick to learn and easy to adapt to many situations, with the rules themselves offering creative and inspiring use of the basic system.
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But the main reason to look into this game is the world that has been created. It is beautifully detailed, with loving attention given to the cultures, land, and various factions. With a staggering amount of background material, it’s enough to get the creative juices of any Games Master flowing. But it’s not just well realised in print, the rules themselves are gorgeous, with some seriously impressive artwork, including a wonderfully detailed poster map of Athyr, the land this all takes place in. To top it all off, there are a few short tracks of original score to enjoy and get you in the mood.
With all of this great value being given away, is it worth backing this project? Despite the impressive amount of content available for free, the lowest pledge of €20 (about £18) delivers even more on top. Frankly, the soundtrack and digital stretch goals would probably justify that expense. If you move up to the first tier where you start getting physical items, €55 (or about £50), you’re paying for a book and a map, and a fair amount of downloadable content.
When you factor in postage costs on top, that’s going to need to be a pretty lovely book, even with the digital extras thrown in. However, as with so many things on Kickstarter, if you spend a little bit more money, you get a whole lot in return. There are screens, miniatures, card sets, and the obligatory deluxe, hard-slip case for the books all available at different tiers. If you have a regular gaming group, £30 to £40 each could net you something very special.
This year, with the release of the Dungeons and Dragons movie, it’s fair to say that Hasbro, who own it through Wizards of the Coast, are hoping to further extend their market share. This was made abundantly clear at the beginning of the year when the company apologised for their heavy handed changes to their Open Gaming Licence. Even now there is a bitter taste in the mouth of many fans, and it served as an excellent reminder that there are creative, wonderful worlds to explore. Kickstarter isn’t just about buying a game, it’s also for investing in things you believe in. If you like the idea of a grittier adventure world made by small but obviously dedicated team, this might be for you.
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It has to be stressed that nothing other than the digital downloads that are already freely available have been seen for review. However, there is a fantastic pedigree already at play, so it’s unlikely that this is a project that will deliver anything less than absolutely top quality components. Given the attention lavished on the system itself, this could be a world you and your gaming group will want to spend a whole lot of time in. So check it out on Drive Thru RPG and yes, back it on Kickstarter if you can. This one is a winner!
The Blood and Doom Kickstarter closes on 1st May 2023 4am BST. It has already been fully funded.