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Downton Abbey meets Game of Thrones in a new tabletop RPG from D&D and Vampire: The Masquerade writers

Apocalypse ball.

Key art for tabletop RPG Our Brilliant Ruin
Image credit: Studio Hermitage

Faced with the impending death of society and the hands of a supernatural threat they can’t hope to oppose, the extremely wealthy that comprise Dramark’s upper crust banded together and… threw an endless party

This is the premise of Our Brilliant Ruin, a new tabletop RPG from World of Darkness writer Justin Achilli, Vampire: the Masquerade and Dune RPG veteran Rachel J. Wilkinson and Journeys through the Radiant Citadel contributor Pam Punzalan. The design team will launch a Kickstarter campaign later in February to fund their scathing take on a doomed world first with a tabletop game, but they already have plans for graphic novels, serial audio shows and video games in cooperation with Studio Hermitage.

Players will wend their paths through Dramark’s gilded dance halls and smoking lounges, rubbing elbows with a class of filthy rich doomed souls who are desperately trying to drown the reality of the apocalypse with wine, dance and excess. Outside their mansions and palaces, an unstoppable wave of darkness known as The Ruin twists land, creatures and people into horrifying monstrosities. But never mind all that, darling - your glass is empty!

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The group must contend with three ruling factions and the myriad houses and clans within them who squabble for social clout and political power, helping them solve problems that might feel trivial against the backdrop of a fallen world but are nonetheless paramount to gaining access into the highest reaches of society. The genteel are always looking for audacious climbers willing to venture beyond the false safety of the gardens, or keep any rude reminders of the world’s fate from interrupting their courtly games. It balances that upstairs-downstairs class split from shows such as Downton Abbey with the constant political shuffling and scheming that stuck Game of Thrones in peoples’ minds for so long.

Our Brilliant Ruin’s system uses a pool of six-sided dice derived from player characters’ skills and personality to overcome challenges. It’s very similar to other d6 dice pools, except that here players can combine two skills to represent the complicated and nuanced way one must approach most situations in Dramark. Use both obsession and fight to strike down a rival to your paramour, or deploy a combination of intuition and grace when helping a friend conceal their frightening true nature.

Key art for tabletop RPG Our Brilliant Ruin
Image credit: Studio Hermitage

Player characters can also leverage their personal portfolios of resources, connections and gossip to tip the advantage in their favour, whether locked in a duel of words, wit or well-oiled steel. Like other systems in this vein, Our Brilliant Ruin allows players to push themselves to achieve a better outcome - or avoid a disaster. Leaning on your passions might make all the difference, but is it worth the risk?

Our Brilliant Ruin’s Kickstarter campaign will launch on February 27th to fund a core rulebook - as far as we know all of Studio Hermitage’s multimedia aspirations will bloom out of this tabletop RPG’s success. The key art certainly showcases a striking world contrasted between lavish decadence and a dreary and hopeless backdrop. I mean, the moon seems to be falling apart. That’s never a good sign.

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