Friday, June 2, 2023

Black Void Provides A Refreshing And Strangely Hopeful Dark Fantasy Experience

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Those looking for adventure in far-away and often horrific galaxies should jump into Black Void, a tabletop RPG designed and written by Christoffer S. Sevaldsen. Earth is but a distant memory to those who have been sucked through the titular voids, pulling mankind from its familiar home and spitting it out across an unforgiving world of cosmic mystery and mayhem. You and your group play as humans, half-humans, and something un-human entirely as you determine what the next step will be for the fragile remains of humanity. The possibility of madness lays just around the corner, but so too does the opportunity for enlightenment…

What Do You Get When You Purchase Black Void? 

You might also just run into a blue person. Life is full of possibilities

Black Void is a core rulebook with two parts. The first part is for players, the second for the game master, all together clocking in at 419 pages. Designed with the look of an old textbook meeting a forbidden book of spells, Black Void provides everything needed to create, launch, and play endless campaigns. We’re talking magic. We’re talking monsters. We’re talking maps! When coupled with the rich art style of the book, the void comes to life in all of its unique forms. 

Worth noting is that Black Void provides both the game master (called Arbiters in this game) and the players with comprehensive examples of gameplay from the get-go, including suggestions on in-game narration, dialogue, encounters, and even a fully designed character. While the game suggests complete novices to get familiar with this game by “meeting up with some experienced players for a couple of sessions,” the core book seems to provide all the knowledge that an experienced player might have within these examples. I would posit that new players that go over them carefully will find it much easier to warm up to the world in a shorter amount of time.

Example of the traits assigned to Ziana, the book’s tutorial character.

Black Void also has three separate RPG campaigns available for purchase, Those Who Would Be Gods, Dark Dealings In The Shaded Souq, and When Darkness Falls. Any Arbiter that has familiarized themself with the world will have a blast with these campaigns, which include the same level of step by step instruction that make the core rulebook so easy to follow. The campaign I’m currently playing with friends is right out of Those Who Would Be Gods, and we’re planning to try something original for our next go-around. Not to say that’s what you should do. I’m a reviewer. Not a doctor.

How’s It Played?

As the players, you’ve left the safe confines of the planet earth only to find yourself on Llyhn the Eternal, a place where the veil between the cosmos and the horrific voids are thin, and where humans are at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

Success and failure is decided by the roll of a D12. In the simplest terms, high rolls are good, and low rolls are something other than good. A low roll may not necessarily be bad, per se, because the Arbiter is the ultimate decider of what your roll determines. This allows for a great deal of flexibility in gameplay, something that may be very attractive to those that are getting a little sick of 20-sided supremacy. 

The void is the moment.

So What Will I Need?

Your old pals paper and pencil (or a tablet screen, if you’re more digitally minded). Each player will need a D12, a D4, and a D6, and it is recommended to have extra of all 3. You can copy the character sheet from within the core rulebook, or you can download them for free at Modiphius Entertainment.

Black Void monster and traits

As a personal suggestion, I recommend adding Genesys dice to your game. Since this isn’t a review of Genesys and this is not endorsed by the book itself, the fastest possible summary is that these dice are more about things like proficiency and challenges that are determined by symbols, not by numbers. The main rule of Black Void is “Simplicity grants diversity,” and I find these dice add a new range of successes, failures, and especially in-betweens that I can offer to my players.

Anything Else Noteworthy?

The world of Black Void is so expansive that it’s just begging you to add your own personal touches to your campaigns. If you’ve been looking to run a campaign with familiar friends The Elder Gods, this game is the perfect opportunity to bring that idea to life. 

Given the terrible and grotesque outer world environment that the game provides, it’s also not too far-fetched to suggest using this game to create your own Mortal Kombat RPG. And I’m not just saying that because I watched the new Mortal Kombat (2021) film on Saturday. There’s no affiliation between brands here. I’m just saying that’s what I would do and it’s my original idea, don’t steal.

Listen I don’t care that this creature is 14 stories tall I’m going to spin kick it into next Thursday you can quote me on that.

The humans that were abducted from earth started getting pulled up into those ol’ voids from the times of Babylon, so, you know, around 2300 BCE onward. I suggest leaning into these ancient-world aspects of the game, but if you’re looking to have a more modern audience get abducted, that can be done fairly easily.

The monster design in this game is on point. There are certain creatures I can’t look at for too long without getting both the heebies and the jeebies – I count that as a point in the book’s favor. 

You know they say teeth monsters are just friends you haven’t met yet.

Do You Recommend Black Void?

Absolutely. I’m a big fan of the game The Quiet Year, and Black Void has a lot of elements that I like from that game, but much, much bigger. I’m often very frustrated by post-apocalyptic narratives, and so Black Void offers something fresh and, more importantly, it offers something that’s almost sardonically hopeful- Because if you can make it at the edge of the universe, you can make it anywhere. Assumedly.

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You can pick up a copy of Black Void from the Modiphius Shop, Drive Thru RPG, or your FLGS! There’s also a free quickstart available if you’d like a taste before you buy!

Images courtesy of Modiphius Entertainment

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