The King is Dead

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Blackwood Kickstarter

A pair of errants.
I'm going to assume "red bears" are red pandas. 



For the record, I’ve exchanged pleasantries with creator Eli Kurtz on Google+, I consider contributor Richard Woolcock a friend, and pal and publisher Eric Simon acted as their Kickstarter consultant, but I have no business interest in the Blackwood Kickstarter.

Remember the end of Brotherhood of the Wolf when Fronsac paints his face so that we can’t tell Mark Dacascos is standing in for Samuel Le Bihan and then he goes totally kung-fu crazy? And there are all those crazy masked cultists? And Jean-François de Morangias not only regenerates his arm, but fights with a bone sword-whip like he escaped from a Tsui Hark film? Remember that?

That’s basically The Blackwood Errantry Codex.

As long-time Wine and Savages readers know, Brotherhood of the Wolf is a significant contributor to the DNA of The King is Dead – but the Blackwood setting hones in on the wild juxtaposition of martial arts and Old World aesthetic shown in that film to create a unique fantasy setting. I picked up the free primer materials from DriveThruRPG this weekend, and they convinced me to back the project. 

Carved out of the center of the massive Blackwood forest sits the Elder Kingdom, a peaceful land that’s basically Confucian China in Early Modern German drag. Long ago, the Elder King broke the power of the elves – here described as the weird, malevolent creatures of European folklore instead of the clean-cut immortals of Tolkien – but now he’s gone missing and darkness is creeping back into the kingdom from the edges of the forest. Thankfully, a caste of traveling warriors called errants wander the Margin of the Elder Kingdom – the luminal space between the mundane and the supernatural, between law and the outlaw – to quell elves, their monsters, and their worshippers.

Errants look like they stepped out of 7th Sea or one of Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman movies, but they dash along treetops like Li Mu Bai in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Eli Kurtz has adopted an Edge-based approach to martial arts for Savage Worlds that allows players to activate iconic wire-fu abilities without worrying about Power Points and activation rolls – though he’s also created a few new Arcane Backgrounds to bring some additional flavor to spellcasting in the Blackwood, like the Classicists who blend music and scholarship, for those who want to throw bolts around.

For those who are curious but doubtful, I recommend checking out the free materials at DTRPG. A primer with samples of new magic and Edges, a set of pre-generated characters, and a quartet of adventures are all available. The adventures include murderous remixes of “The Elves and the Shoemaker” and Journey to the West(by way of the Beast of Gévaudan) so they should give you a good idea of whether the Blackwood appeals to you.

The Kickstarter is a few hundred short of funding with a week left to go. I’ve gone in on a pledge that gets me the physical copy of the book – something I decided to do with Buccaneer: Through Hell & High Water as well – and expect that there will be a last-minute flurry of pledges to get the project funded. As a fan of the disparate genres Eli Kurtz has woven into this unusual setting, I hope the Blackwood flourishes.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Sean! And to answer an implied question: red bears *are* like red pandas, but with the too-human hands and notorious thieving instinct of raccoons. They're ornery little critters.

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  2. If you haven't seen OneShotRPG's Blackwood game that Eli ran, it's well worth the watching. Great GMing, fun characters and players, and an exciting setting. The video is up on Twitch now (https://www.twitch.tv/videos/144673034) and I think will be up on YouTube eventually. Great stuff!

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