A tabletop RPG of building dungeons, slaying adventurers, and being a monster, using the Blades in the Dark system.
A tabletop RPG of building dungeons, slaying adventurers, and being a monster, using the Blades in the Dark system.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Wed, July 10 2019 7:13 PM UTC +00:00.
Wicked Ones is a Forged in the Dark tabletop RPG where you play fantasy monsters raiding human lands, hoarding the gold they loot, and building a dungeon to protect it. Your notoriety lures increasingly greedy and powerful adventurers to your dungeon. Can you stave off the inevitable onslaught of heroism that your notoriety brings?
Wicked Ones is essentially Dungeon Keeper meets Blades in the Dark. You spend most sessions going on raids and building your dungeon, then every few sessions you put your dungeon to the test against invading adventurers. You play as monsters doing monster stuff and it's a hell of a good time.
You play as one of the wicked ones, monsters with the rare ability to see the bigger picture, to develop plans, work together, and use minions to further their goals. Every monster is flawed, with something deep, dark, and terrible lurking inside their heart - and you choose what your flaw is. It hinders you, leading you away from your goals, but play into it and you'll be rewarded with bonus dice called dark hearts to spend in play and XP at the end of each session. This balance makes it fun to play a monster that has goals, but is still pushed towards monstrous tendencies.
Wicked ones follow one of nine callings, each giving unique abilities to choose from and XP triggers that reward you for playing into that calling's play style.
In addition, each player creates a small group of minions - cutthroats, grunts, mages, priests, raiders, thieves, or tricksters. They make up the bulk of your dungeon's denizens. Players can slip into the role of these minions, fully fleshing out and breathing life into the dungeon. Essentially, players play two characters - their wicked one and their minions.
Your dungeon is your home, your only safe refuge in a world that despises you. It's your defense against powerful heroes who would see you fall. Before the first session, you choose a dungeon style as a group, giving you a theme to build your group around and access to unique dungeon rooms supporting that theme.
Most importantly, you draw out all of this on the dungeon sheet together! Every detail matters and comes into play while defending your dungeon. Your dungeon isn't an abstract entity - it exists right there on the paper. The book will have a thorough guide with a lot of advice for those not familiar with drawing out dungeons.
Your dungeon increases in power from tier 0 to tier 4 and consists of weak imps that do the manual labor, minions that players control, creatures that are attracted to your dungeon by your hoard, specialists that you hire to do specific tasks, dungeon rooms which provide powerful bonuses, traps with mechanisms and triggers decided when you build them, and locks to keep adventurers out of sensitive areas. And at each tier, as your imps dig out your dungeon rooms, you roll to see what you discover underground - rivers of lava, spider queens, gold veins, gnomes, buried ruins, and more.
A quick look at how a dungeon might grow from tier 0 to tier 4:
The first level of your dungeon houses your minions, dungeon rooms, and traps. As adventurers invade your dungeon, players take on the roles of the minions and try to thwart them. If the adventurers manage to overcome your first line of defenses, they descend to the second floor and into your sanctum where the wicked ones wait for a climactic battle.
Wicked Ones has a clearly defined cycle of play: Roaming, Raiding, Lurking, and Defending. The passage of time is important as building a dungeon is a huge task. The cycle of play allows you to skip to the exciting bits, keeping each session action packed, while still allowing for the passage of time.
Most sessions of Wicked Ones consist of roaming, raiding, and lurking with defending happening about once every 4 sessions. A typical campaign going from a tier 0 dungeon to a tier 4 dungeon would span about 16 sessions. However, it works quite well for one shots and short campaigns as well, and several scenarios for these will be included.
As you raid the world and your notoriety increases, you draw the attention of increasingly powerful adventurers. The players also set a master plan which gives XP when they work towards it, while each faction works towards their own goals as well, leading towards conflict. Monsters are their own worst enemies and for all the plans and machinations the wicked ones have, they are still monsters. This balance and the fun that happens by playing into the flaws or keeping them at bay is what captures the feeling of playing a monster.
When you finally reach max notoriety, end-game scenarios are triggered. It's a tipping point where civilization recognizes you as a dire threat and will do everything they can to destroy you.
Your dungeon ties you strongly to its immediate surroundings as venturing too far from it risks invasion while you're gone, a minion uprising, or other evil factions moving in. The game works best when the scope is relatively small, zoomed into a local region, a sandbox ready for the wicked ones to rampage through it. However, you can't just abandon your dungeon and leave the sandbox - you'll have to deal with the blowback of your raiding.
The book includes guidelines on creating your own setting with factions and important NPCs, but it also comes with 5 sandboxes ready to rampage through. Each sandbox comes with a regional map, a list of factions and goals they're pursuing, major NPCs, secrets to discover and a starting scenario with some initial raid targets. After the first session, each player chooses a vile friend they've made and a faction they've angered during the initial setup of the dungeon, tying the players more strongly to the sandbox that they help flesh out.
One of these 5 sandboxes is the Forest Village, shown in the map above. Hard-working, pious people live their lives trying to maintain their independence from a baron off map to the east. A garrison of his troops exerts pressure on the region, regularly causing trouble. A community of elves live hidden in the southern woods, their borders protected by enchanted animals. A seedy tavern built outside the village along the forest road makes for a common place for adventurers to gather.
Wicked Ones is a game driven by character action, meaning the players roll dice and the NPCs act when the rolls are failures. Every roll has a position which determines the severity of the consequences of failure and four possible results from a roll - a critical success, a success, a mixed success, or a failure. This guarantees that every time you roll, something will happen and move the story forward. A typical raid consists of these actions rolls blending together, rolling into one another as consequences and tension pile up until the monsters come out the other side with loot in hand and a few heavy wounds to show for their troubles.
The game is built on the system made by John Harper for his excellent Blades in the Dark. I haven't discussed most of the concepts and mechanics of that game here for lack of space, but it's a fiction first system where a character's actions and the consequences of those actions are determined by the circumstances surrounding it. It's a flexible system that allows players and GMs to judge a variety of situations and really lets players get creative. It's a framework for ruling on different situations instead of providing specific rules.
The FitD mechanics have been heavily modified to suit Wicked Ones. Click here to check out the mechanics in a nutshell and some examples of play!
And here's a quick list of some of the cool stuff the Wicked Ones mechanics captures:
- You draw out your dungeon - its rooms, tunnels, traps, creatures, things you discover, private lairs, and sanctum are all drawn out. It's obviously the most unique feature of the game and the dungeons it makes are creative and awesome.
- Players can roleplay monsters, meaning they don't feel bad about working against the group's interests because there's mechanical encouragement for sometimes playing up your monstrous nature and at other times, suppressing it to work towards group goals.
- You collect battle scars which give you permanent XP, making you gain abilities faster. Too many scars and you've been beat into a pulp, though, and your character is retired.
- You go feral when you take too much stress, a resource used to resist consequences. You become beholden to your flaws, having to act to satisfy them. You're truly a monster. Go feral too many times, though, and your characters slips over the edge and is retired.
- Magic is creative and on-the-fly. Players detail the spell they want to cast and the GM gives it a tier determining how difficult it is. Magic is very creative.
- Monster science is possible with insane contraptions, alchemical compounds, potions, and more. The system is flexible and rewarding, but with danger and volatility built in.
X Card support is built into the Wicked Ones. To put it simply, the X Card is an X on an index card that anyone can point to to signal they're not comfortable with the current scene for whatever reason. The GM then moves past the scene and makes a note to avoid such content in the future. Playing evil characters opens up some topics that might normally be off limits or never come up. This poses a very sensitive issue as what's off limits differs greatly from person to person. The game comes with a default set of "off limits" and "off cameras" that will probably be enough for most groups, but also has advice on having your own conversation about them and how to use the X Card.
Roll20 works great with Wicked Ones and has proven to be a great tool for us during playtests. Drawing out the dungeon together is great fun. Roll20 character sheets and other assets are 100% going to get made prior to release.
We started streaming our weekly playtests recently. It's not so polished and we're pretty new at this, but it's nice to get a look at how the game plays. We play on Thursdays at 7:30pm CST. You can check it out on Twitch at GLScuzz's (the Gromp player) Twitch channel.
You can also check out the latest session below. The video is set to 2hr 15m mark to jump straight into the playtest group's raid, showing off some of the action in the game. Since this is our second session in this campaign, the time up to that point was spent detailing their minions, vile friends, and enemy factions.
The rewards are fairly simple, with just two tiers. You can either get the full game or the full game and a 72-card tarot deck toolkit that makes playing a bit smoother.
For the most part, players are encouraged to play mostly humanoid monsters to keep the playing field somewhat balanced as really unique monsters don't fit within the mechanics so well. For some stretch goals, I'd like to explore this space and release some true monsters that don't take on normal callings, instead having their own set of unique abilities and game mechanics. These require a lot of playtesting and development time, but can extend the play experience of the base game by a lot - which seems like perfect material for stretch goals!
In closing, a quick message from Ben, the designer:
I always wanted to make a Dungeon Keeper-inspired tabletop game. I knew that there was some amazing gameplay in the building up and defending of your dungeon. Once I played John Harper's Blades in the Dark, I became completely absorbed in the idea of making my dungeon building game happen. A year later, here I am with the coolest project I've ever worked on, ready to get it out in front of many more people.
The core game rules are based on a heavily modified version of the Forged in the Dark system. They're mostly complete and we've playtested the heck out of the game. The system feels smooth, with no major hiccups, and really captures the feeling of playing as monsters. The dungeons players draw are unique and interesting and, most importantly, feel like dungeons. They have this awesome emergent quality to them and it's a blast seeing how they develop. And when all your planning pays off and you wipe out an adventurer party, it feels really rewarding. At this point, I feel confident that others are going to love playing Wicked Ones as much as I do.
So we're on Kickstarter for two main reasons. First, we need more art. Victor Costa (buy him a coffee!) is doing all of the art for this project and creating an amazing, consistent vision that captures the tone of the game perfectly. We're about 25% of the way through the art for the book and great art takes time and money, money which I've paid on my own so far. It's important to me that I felt confident investing my own money in the project before asking others to back it as well. Second, though, is that I want to expand the playtest. As soon as the Kickstarter wraps up, I'm going to release a playtest packet to all backers. I want to get more eyes on the game to help make it the best dungeon building game we can.
Thank you all for considering backing! After all, these dungeons aren't going to build themselves! - Ben
Risks and challenges
Drivethrurpg will be used to handle the distribution of physical copies through their print-on-demand system, which really minimizes the risks. As soon as the Kickstarter finishes, the playtest packet will go out to all backers. You can keep up with the development on Discord as well, plus updates here when new playtest packets are released. While playtesting is underway, editing and layout work will begin - both of which I have experience with and don't anticipate any problems.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter