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MÖRK BORG meets church orthodoxy wars in folk horror RPG Black Powder and Brimstone

Those Puritans are armed and dangerous.

Promotional artwork for gothic folk horror RPG Black Powder and Brimstone.
Image credit: Benjamin Tobitt

The world of tabletop RPG darling MÖRK BORG has always displayed a distinctive relationship to religion, portraying churches as dilapidated sanctums and gods as fickle and cruel beings. Black Powder and Brimstone, an upcoming tabletop RPG running on the Swedish doom metal game’s rules, makes that relationship quite a bit more explicit.

Created by Benjamin Tobitt and published by Free League (Blade Runner RPG, Dragonbane and Vaesen) through its third-party Workshop label, Black Powder and Brimstone takes place in a dark fantasy setting where two sects of the reigning religious authority have been locked in bloody combat for decades. Players will embody adventurers and sellswords attempting to survive and make a buck amidst the destruction caused by The Orthodox and Puritan factions of the Church of the Sacred Blood.

The Roman Catholics and English Puritans never availed themselves of war magic, demonic powers or Black Powder weapons - literal double-edged swords (and other implements) with nasty reputations and the calamitous ability to back them up, but you sure can. All weapons in Black Powder and Brimstone carry unique backstories that inform their character and strengths, represented mechanically through a combination of damage dice and special tags. The Black Powder weapons, for example, ignore the opponents armour on hit but might catch its own wielder in the collateral damage.

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Magic carries the same intoxicating balance of risk and reward, promising practitioners with the ability to restructure the world and heavens as long as they can handle the roiling energies. Oh, and there’s also the Church’s anti-magic stance to worry about - show off in front of zealous converts and you might soon find the Inquisition’s blades beating down your door.

Black Powder and Brimstone art style carries heavy shades of Mike Mignola and CROM’s work on Daniel Freedman’s Birdking graphic novel series. Thick lines and heavy shadows hang over the character art like an oppressive blanket, and the few bright splashes of colour look intentionally garish and stark as if they’re daring the world to check their ego. Skull motifs are everywhere, the Roman Catholic vibes (a la Warhammer 40,000 is heady and excellent. If you’re into tacking scrolls to your shoulders, plague doctor masks and armour that looks as though it belongs in Dark Souls, it’s worth checking out this RPG’s aesthetics, alone.

Tobitt and Free League plan to fund Black Powder and Brimstone via a Kickstarter campaign that launches on April 25th. The core book will contain all of the OSR-inspired rules, which the publisher described in a press release as light on crunch, heavy on artwork. We don’t yet have fulfilment dates for this RPG of witches, chunky firearms and an intriguing mixture of swashbuckling and gothic vibes - expect that info to arrive with the full campaign.

Promotional artwork for gothic folk horror RPG Black Powder and Brimstone.
Image credit: Benjamin Tobitt

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