So, where do I begin?
If you've been following my social media feeds, you already know the Big News©. If you somehow missed it, Storm Bunny Studio launched our third Kickstarter on Wednesday, and it immediately rocketed to 55% of funding in just over a day. I was so excited by the progress I thought we might fund in the first 48 hours. We didn't, but we're still showing some excellent (and very steady) growth (we're almost at 70% funding right now), and I honestly think that as our audience continues to widen, we're not only going to fund - we're going to hit some of the very cool stretch goals we have planned.
The Very Brief History of Bloodlines & Black Magic
Before I jump into discussing the Occult 7 rules, I want to talk about the birth of Bloodlines & Black Magic.. Quite simply, Bloodlines & Black Magic was born in a hotel bar, over several beers, in a brainstorming discussion between Clinton Boomer and myself at Nexus Game Fair in Milwaukee. It was one of those "Why doesn't someone make Pathfinder Modern?" discussions, and touched heavily on all the things he and I had loved about White Wolf's World of Darkness, as well as all the things we'd do differently (with plenty of references to his blog). Of course, we knew about some of the modern Pathfinder variants (like The Modern Path), but we were both looking for something ...different. At the time, Occult Adventures had just been announced (we're talking the summer of 2014 here), and I knew I wanted to work with that.
We talked throughout the rest of 2014 about it, but I was still very focused on getting my first successful Kickstarter (for the Rhune: Dawn of Twilight Campaign Guide) to print, and was focused on that Kickstarter primarily. A year later, at Nexus Game Fair, he and I sat down again. We hashed out some more ideas, talked about implementing 07, and eagerly awaited the July release of Occult Adventures. When it released, we were both very excited by the new classes (Boomer arguably more about the Kineticist than anyone, short of maybe N. Jolly, I know) and decided to start compiling our notes, ideas, and so on. Before long, we had a very rough working document (and plenty of Traveller references).
Well, that and the Thaumaturge, but that's a story for another time.
Fast forward to Gen Con 2016. Both Occult Adventures and Horror Adventures had been released, I had a working document, and I only wanted to check on a few things. During the con, I was able to pull Erik Mona aside and tell him my evil, evil plans, as well as my concerns. We discussed how Storm Bunny Studios would execute the setting, how to keep it Pathfinder compatible, and what to avoid. With that in mind, I drove back to Wisconsin with a clear plan. When I pitched my plan to Boomer, his reply was classic Boomer - "I love this idea." Bloodlines & Black Magic started to walk.
That was last summer.
Going into the fall of 2016, we had a working document, title, a play model, and our core mechanics in mind, so we got to work. I pitched the idea to several other designers, including Matt Banach, Ben McFarland, Brian Suskind, Stephen DiPesa, and well... most of the current team. I wanted to bring Brandon Hodge and Stephen-Radney McFarland onboard, as well, but neither of them had the time to commit, even though both were pretty enthusiastic about the project.
We've been working hard since.
Over the last year, we've been meeting once every month (often more) to brainstorm, look at our work, and update the document. We've written a lot of material for this setting (enough to fill a book, it would seem). We have dozens of locations outlined, well over a hundred unique NPCs to fill our new, modern dark world, adventures (we're calling them episodes), spells, and a whole new model for game play.
Honestly, our goal was (and still is) pretty lofty. We've desiged something that remains compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that fans know and love, but is also something that has its own aesthetic. All of our core classes for this campaign setting are from either The Advanced Player's Guide (the brawler, investigator, and slayer) or Occult Adventures (the mesmerist, occultist, psychic, and spiritualist), which gives us a very unique (and modern) feel for the game. We wanted a game that didn't focus on fighters, wizards, and clerics. We wanted a game that featured you or I might really be, all of whom could readily have their own reasons for delving into the deeper shadows of reality - be those to gain power, accrue wealth, or simply because they knew the world they were being presented wasn't the real one.
I think it's also important to note this - When creating Bloodlines & Black Magic, we knew precisely what we didn't want to do. We didn't want retro clones of White Wolf's World of Darkness, Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu, or d20 Modern's Urban Arcana. Sure, we love those settings (a lot, to be honest), but we didn't want clans of vampires, more cultists worshipping unspeakable horrors, or beholder gangsters directing dark elf assassins (although I'm pretty sure Boomer still wants to include dark elf assassins somewhere). The fact is, while those settings did masterful jobs telling their stories, we wanted to tell a completely different story. Plus, we had other ideas in mind and wanted to give GMs more room to tell larger, more diverse, and arguably more inclusive stories. We still wanted players to feel like heroes, but still feel the extreme danger of tangling with the supernatural. Most importantly, we wanted challenges that only heroes could meet - without resorting to what Clinton Boomer calls "guns against darkness." We still wanted our favorite things from those other settings, but in a wholly new way.
Alright all, it's getting later here, so I'm going to call it for a night. I'll be posting more in the coming month, likely right after I get back from Gary Con.