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SPONSORED: Our Brilliant Ruin RPG brings the social drama and romance of Downton Abbey to a doomed world with no happy endings

Struggle your way up the social ladder - and to survive.

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

This article is sponsored by Studio Hermitage. Find out more about Our Brilliant Ruin and back it on Kickstarter.

Attend ballroom dances, engage in secretive romances and fend off monstrous creatures as the world crumbles outside your mansion’s windows in Our Brilliant Ruin, a new RPG that mixes the social drama of Downton Abbey with the bleak apocalypse of Arkham Horror.

Our Brilliant Ruin’s setting, the Dramark, is a fictional world of Edwardian-influenced aesthetic, Franco-British Art Nouveau and Art Deco inspirations with existential horror at its edges. The Dramark itself is doomed to inevitable consumption by an "unnatural law" known as The Ruin. With the world’s fate already sealed, players’ characters aren’t tasked with somehow saving it from the inevitable, but instead making the most of the short time they have left.

The Kickstarter trailer for Our Brilliant RuinWatch on YouTube

How characters spend the apocalypse may come down to which of three factions they associate with in Dramark society. Aristocrats may party away the days and dance the endless night-long in their swanky mansions as they try to maintain their grip over those without the money or social clout to spend their last days living quite so fancy-free. Those may be the truefolk, everyday proles whose work continues to hold things together during the collapse of society just as they did before. Aiming to blur and then entirely erase the class divide between the two are unbonded, revolutionary activists looking to accelerate the disintegration of the rigid class structure fractured by the end of the world.

Those three overarching factions then divide further into ten groups that span from rich families and academic alumni to industrial or political organisations. A character’s social standing and connections will influence with whom they rub shoulders, butt heads or even knock boots, depending on how the players navigate their way through the echelons of Dramark’s high-and-mighty or on-the-street.

Characters’ backgrounds will play into their emotions and motivations, steering the outcome of dice rolls made by the players during their sessions. Our Brilliant Ruin uses an original gameplay system allowing players to assemble a pool of six-sided dice by combining their character’s personality traits and skills together to resolve tests, possibly drawing on their intuition or benevolence, falling prey to their obsession, or harnessing raw ferocity in a fight. As well as their personality and skill attributes, characters can make use of their social advantages - whether that’s simply how much money you have to hand, who you can call upon for a favour or the influence you hold over someone.

To succeed in your aims, you’ll need to roll more ‘brills’ - on sixes - than ‘glooms’ on ones. Desperate times might call for you to risk more, with the option to use a limited amount of ‘passion’ to add two dice able to succeed on a five or six, but with the knowledge that pushing yourself too often can lead to increased chance of failure later on.

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

While much of Our Brilliant Ruin’s conflict is ‘civilised’ - sharp tongues are more likely to appear than blades - the danger posed by The Ruin can only be ignored for so long. The creeping shadow will cause plants and animals to twist into strange and monstrous forms, with unlucky humans unable to escape its affliction as they become terrifying creatures wreaking havoc. While characters might find themselves faced with battling The Ruin directly at times, there’s no way to stop it entirely - leading most to hole themselves away and live life in excess before the blight inevitably claims what’s left.

Writers Justin Achilli, Rachel J. Wilkinson and Pam Punzalan boast credits across Vampire: The Masquerade and the World of Darkness series, Assassin’s Creed, Dune RPG Adventures in the Imperium, and Dungeons & Dragons’ Journeys through the Radiant Citadel. Art director Andy Foltz and concept artist Efrem Palacios bring their own experience illustrating the likes of Magic: The Gathering, Star Wars, Hearthstone and Far Cry 4 to envisioning the bleak world.

The team at Studio Hermitage have ambitious plans for the setting of Dramark and threat of The Ruin introduced with Our Brilliant Ruin, outlining the tabletop RPG as the first piece in a wider universe that hopes to include video games, graphic novels and audio dramas. The Kickstarter campaign for the Our Brilliant Ruin RPG is live now, with a comic-book series and audio drama planned to launch later in 2024 and a video game in development for the future.

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