About this project
Blood and Bone is a tabletop roleplaying game set in the dark, gritty, low fantasy world of Ossura. Its unique and expansive campaign setting and core rule system are inspired by the brutally realistic historical fantasy championed by writers such as Glenn Cook, Robin Hobb, and, of course, George R.R. Martin.
"The true horrors of humanity derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves" - George R.R. Martin
Like Game of Thrones, the world of Blood and Bone is governed not by cosmic forces of good and evil, but by the actions humans, driven by Machiavellian principals in a struggle for power. The world is morally complex, fueled by sexuality, political intrigue, and war.
"Family games and kids games are great... but this is not one of them. If you're looking for a world of heroes and monsters -- clean cut good versus evil -- this game is not for you."
Ossura, the Shard, is inhabited by a dozen complex human civilizations. There are no shallow reimaginings of the worn fantasy tropes (Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, etc). Nor are the races cheap facsimiles of historical civilizations from our own world. Each culture is unique to the world and setting of Blood and Bone...
A monarchy in name, the five provinces of Caros are controlled by rival generals and scheming high priests of the Order of Ash.
High priests of the Order are paradoxically corrupt, presiding over their theocratic domains with absolute authority and an insatiable hunger for gold and power.
To the cold and desolate north, soldiers of the King's army fight to repel Inoruit raiders from the ragged shore. In the west, the army holds a weathered Mason fortress, the Iron Eye, border to Tarn. To the south, the ancient and sprawling city of Arx marks the end of a great trade road from Mercos.
The most populous region of the Shard, Mercos is comprised of dozens of small city states, most ruled by trade princes, and united under a common will to profit.
Famous for its rich iron and gold mines, Mercos trades with every region of the Shard. Mercish swords, Mercish mail, Mercish oil, and, above all else, Mercish coins can be seen in every city.
Wealthy traders and traveling merchants, the men of Mercos enjoy decadence -- from elaborate shows in the arena, to grand bazzars' overflowing fountains, to pleasure houses, packed with Thralls and concubines, and every earthly delight that gold may buy.
Although the largest region of the Shard, most of Abkhaz is hostile desert. The great desert is too vast and unforgiving to be controlled by a single ruler. Instead, it is home to hundreds of nomadic tribes.
Fittingly, the Abkhazi who call this land home are a resilient race. They are known throughout the Shard as fearsome warriors and mercenaries. For some such wandering bands, the line between mercenary and bandit can be thin. Some Abkhazi will ambush Mercish caravans and take captives only to ransom or sell as slaves.
Blooded in Abkhaz are common, but often weak. The making of Risen is seen as a natural stage of one's life and is desired by warriors, who strap katars to their wrists so as to fight even in to undeath.
For over three hundred years, the same king has presided over Tarn. He is seen as the face of The Reaper, their undying god. He is called The Old One, The King Eternal, and The Black King. The Blooded of Tarn are both the most prevalent and the most powerful. Risen are used as a workforce, in cold mines and fields.
The Tarnish army, too, is largely undead. Noble Houses rule much of Tarn, commanding peasants and Risen alike, loyal to the Black King.
Only a Blooded child may inherit a Noble House's title. To consolidate royal power, the first male Blooded child, at the age of ten, is sent to join the army of the King Eternal. So too, at the age of ten, a Noble House's first Blooded daughter is given to his royal court. Thus, Tarn remains.
Ruled by grizzled warlords, the Inoruit are a collection of scattered tribes clinging to a rocky cluster of northern islands. It is rare that a great warlord may unite them under one banner.
Precious few of the Inoruit are Blooded. Despite this, they are fearsome warriors, naturally larger and stronger than the other peoples of the Shard. Their contact with the mainland is largely limited to their seasonal raids of Caros and Tarn.
The few Blooded among the Inoruit are regarded as shamans. They use the Blood to replace their teeth with those of wolves or bears and to affix antlers and horns to their skulls.
"In D&D any cleric could just summon food and water at will, but the existence of people like that seem to have no impact on the pseudo medieval world. I love how your world is built around the Blood. It makes everything feel so much more real..."
Each of the cultures of the world of Ossura is profoundly influenced by the existence of the Blooded, individuals possessing power over the forces of life and death.
What is Blood?
Blood is the powerful hereditary ability to manipulate the forces of life and death at will. It is innate, coming naturally to the Blooded, those born with its terrible gifts. Like any natural talent, ones' level of skill is a composite of their inherent skill and years of careful practice.
While perhaps one in every hundred people is Blooded, many of them will be weak, lesser Blooded. Only a fraction of those will have genuine power, and a smaller fraction still can be said to have true mastery over their potent abilities.
At its extreme, a master of the Blood can live for centuries, their bodies woven with Blood, returning the dead to life at will and reducing their enemies to dust at a glance.
What can Blooded do?
Blood is the power over life and death. It is exhausting to use and requires great skill and training to control. Used to destroy, it can wither flesh, rot wood, and rust metal.
Used to heal, it can cure infection, knit flesh and bone, and mend even the most dire of wounds.
The regenerative powers of the Blood may challenge even death itself. It can be used to create Risen -- horrible, half-living men, reduced to primitive rotting husks.
It can also be used to truly return the recently dead to life. However, if this goes awry, it may create a Risen, or worse, a Thrall. Thralls, returned to life, are technically living, but they are empty, reduced to hollow, mindless, shadows of their former selves.
How does Blood shape the world?
Blood is a defining force in the world of Blood and Bone. Its inherent existence profoundly shapes each of the unique cultures of the world. It is a core pillar of almost all aspects of society, shaping the face of religions, economies, political regimes, and military forces.
Fans of Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder looking to try something new will feel right at home with Blood and Bones' streamlined rule set, based on the 20 sided die. While its foundation on familiar principals make it ideal for RPG veterans, it is streamlined enough so that it can be explained and played in minutes. The rules are intuitive, and allow for endless customization, balancing the games depth and approachability.
"Characters are more than cardboard cutouts, and they're not defined by race or sex. Things are gritty and tricky, just as in real life. This is fantasy not as comfort-food, but as challenge." - China Miéville
The characters in Blood and Bone, scheming nobles, grizzled sell swords, or even the rare hero, are just that, blood and bone. Player characters and NPCs are, at the core, statistically the same.
Though players may undergo rewarding character progression, both narratively and statistically, this latter scaling is bounded. Even at its peak, the scale of this game is human, rather than mythological. Even a high level character, say, a master swordsman, could be killed by a group of low level sellswords if he wasn't careful -- combat is brutal, and fights often prove deadly.
There are no character classes in Blood and Bone. Instead, characters are defined by the paths they take and the choices they make along their way. Being a warrior doesn't make you good at fighting -- being good at fighting makes you a warrior.
Play as a band of sell-swords, one ragged notch above marauding bandits, or a consort of scheming nobles, spymasters, and assassins, pawns and chessmasters in a deadly game of power -- or perhaps a gang of thieves, operating from the shadows siphoning overflowing wealth of distant trade princes and the larger guilds. The core rules help to facilitate the stories you want to tell.
On creation, players choose one of three archetypal paths for their character: Determined, Skilled, or Blooded. Even between these paths, progression is fluid and completely customizable. Any path can invest in improving their attributes, learning new abilities, acquiring new skills or improving the ones they have.
Attributes reflect a character's innate physical and mental capabilities.
Skills enumerate a character's learned mastery of certain tasks.
Abilities are specific, defining traits that really set characters apart.
The proceeds from this project will fund the production of the tabletop roleplaying game Blood and Bone. The bulk of the funds received will go towards art and publishing costs. We're looking to take our illustrations in a dark and atmospheric direction.
When complete, Blood and Bone will take the form of a full color, fully illustrated, 200+ page core rulebook and combined campaign setting. It will be available, both through this Kickstarter, and for purchase thereafter in the forms of a PDF, softcover, and hardcover editions.
Additional funding will go towards an expanded book, new content, enhanced art, and a multitude of exciting, Kickstarter exclusive rewards.
We have an exciting array of rewards ranging from one dollar to one thousand dollars.
Most of the reward tiers include all the digital rewards listed above them. I.E. Buying a hardcover copy of the book will also get you a PDF for free.
The most important basic reward tiers are:
$10 for the PDF of the game book
$25 for a Softcover Copy of the game book
$50 for a Hardcover Copy of the game book
The Arbiter's Scroll - [Unlocked] An illustrated sheet of useful information, quick rules reference, and tips for the Arbiter (Game Master), available to all backers at the $15 level and above.
Bloodlines - [Unlocked] Illustrated printable character sheets for players and NPCs, available to all backers at the $15 level and above.
Visions - [Unlocked] An additional artist will be contracted to expand art content for the entire book.
Illuminations - [Locked] Lavish bonus illustrations will fill the book - more half page and quarter page illustrations for each of the sections.
Cartography - [Locked] A built in expansion, with an expanded world, new cities, items, skills, traits, creatures, and illustrations.
Into Darkness - [Locked] The game book will come with a supplemental campaign comprised of five adventures.
Risks and challenges
Arcana Games is small company. So small, in fact, it's just me!
I, Eugene Fasano, am the single driving force behind this project, and as such, am wearing many hats.
That said, this endeavor is not a hobby or side project – it's my full time job. I've invested many personal resources in it's success, and, with your help, we can expand our team to hire the editors and artists to see this game to completion.
I believe that being an independent startup is resonant with the true spirit of Kickstarter. Established companies and big name game designers don't need crowd-funding. For them, it's free advertisement and publicity.
This is not a bad thing, as these big names draw attention to other, smaller projects of the same ilk, but I believe Kickstarter was made for projects like Blood and Bone. We have the opportunity to do something new, something exciting, something that bigger companies might not dare to do.
The game itself is close to being finished. Since its inception nearly five years ago, it has been refined and expanded. Over the past 29 months, it has been honed through rigorous play testing and player feedback. What needs to be done is some explanatory writing, formatting, editing, and, of course, art. Most of the money gained from this project will go towards art and printing costs.
I look forward to a transparent process as I work on the project, keeping you informed and updated along our journey. Your help will allow me to devote myself entirely to the game, applying my attention and craftsmanship until it is completed. Thank you for joining us on this quest!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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