[Release] Blightburg, a PbtA intrigue-drama game

Hello people!

I'm proud to announce the release of my indie RPG project, Blightburg! The game has gone through seven playtest campaigns and three years of development, and is now ready for your eyes.

While I'm sad to see Story-Games close its doors soon, I'm happy I managed to finish this project before that: Story-Games was the place where I first posted the proto-idea of the project, and a version after the first playtest campaign.

Blightburg is a player driven game of intrigue and character drama set in a grim Renaissance era city. The dramatic intrigue is spiced with occasional action, witches and Faustian pacts with demons. The characters range from shifty lowlifes and zealous fanatics to powerful but flawed individuals involved in complex schemes. As a TV series analogy, think of it as a mash-up of Game of Thrones and Salem in the Renaissance period.

The game's core engine is Powered by the Apocalypse, but it has a number of non-standard features. These include heavily player driven gameplay fueled by character beliefs, a lifepath based character creation system and a situation creation procedure that involves the whole group. The move set is naturally optimized for intrigue play.

Intrigue combined with player driven gameplay means that all the player characters are rarely in the scenes together. To make sure there's no excessive downtime, the game offers two distinct mechanics (compelling traits and the Devil's seat) that allow the audience to explore the characters that are currently in the scene. The object of the game is to find out who the player characters are deep down inside.

Check the game's website for more info, including the free print references! The game is available at DrivethruRPG. A5, 140 pages. PDF $8 / Print $15.




  • Nice to see something come of this!

    I'll definitely take a look to have a gander at your "audience mechanics".
  • edited July 2019
    Congratulations, this looks fascinating. Feel free to submit it to the indie directory at fictioneers.net, maybe I can drive some traffic to your Drivethru page!

  • edited July 2019
    Thank you!

    Paul: You can check the basics from the free references. You're looking for the Devil's seat play aid, and the Compel move in the move reference. The Trait Resolution move gives a bit more context on how compels and traits work together, and the character creation reference gives the basics on traits. I can expand on them here if you've got further questions.

    Tod: Awesome, thanks for reminding me of Fictioneers! I submitted the game there now.
  • Sure thing! You're on the front page now, those games tend to get more clickthrus, and they're usually up there for about 30 days.

  • Thanks!

    Someone asked about the audience mechanics on Reddit, so I wrote an overview there. I'll just paste it here as well since Paul was interested in those mechanics:


    Each character has a trait meter that has two opposing traits. For example Cruel vs Compassionate. This is part of finding out who the characters are deep down inside: either one of those can become a deep (a mostly stable) trait for the character. This is where compels come in.

    A compel is essentially a question, for example: "Since your character has the Cruel trait, is he willing to beat a sick person to get the info he wants?". A compel always targets either a trait on the trait meter, or a deep trait. A player that's not involved in the scene triggers the compel by coming up with a suggested course of action that requires the compelled player to judge their character. In this situation the suggestion would be "hey, you're Cruel. Just beat the sick man and get on with it". And then the player has a decision to make.

    If a compel is accepted, the character gets a mark for e.g. Cruel, if it's refused, the mark goes to the opposing trait. When the difference is large enough, the trait pair is resolved. Grit points (hero points) and stress points are also involved in the process (basically accept -> gain grit either now or later, refuse -> gain stress).

    So the people in the audience should be interested in the other characters and they should be actively looking for interesting opportunities to compel the characters on-screen. Compels can spin scenes into unexpected directions, and they slowly define the characters.

    So far I've left one thing unmentioned: When a compel is accepted and the player e.g. beats the sick man to get the info he needs, the player that triggered the compel takes the compelled character's Devil's Seat. The seat is metaphorical and works on the player level. It grants its holder specific powers to coerce the character to act in ill-considered ways (e.g. lose their temper), and it allows the holder to penalize that player's rolls (e.g. set a rolled die to 1).

    Both of these powers cost that character's stress points. So when a character has high stress, misfortune looms over the character in the form of the person sitting on the character's Devil's Seat. Also, if a character has very high stress points, everyone gets temporary access to the Devil's seat powers for that character.

    Thus compels, the Devil's seat, traits, grit and stress form 1) part of the grit/stress point economy 2) a set of mechanics that allow the audience to influence the events and explore the other characters and 3) a way to find out who the characters really are.
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