Day 5 of our journey through the Worlds of Legacy takes us to our final destination – the monster-filled castle of Rhapsody of Blood, written by me and illustrated by Adrian Stone.
Rhapsody of Blood came from a simple idea: that the generational action/adventure stories of Castlevania and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure could be a great fit for the multi-generation stories we were telling with the Worlds of Legacy. From there, I had my goal for the game: cinematic action in a supernatural gothic horror setting, mixing in the awesome boss fights and battle against corruption you see in FROM Software games like Bloodborne and Dark Souls.
So, here’s the pitch: once a generation, the blood moon rises and an evil castle from outside the universe breaches our reality. It uplifts the most prideful or monstrous villain in the area as its Regent, and reshapes itself to their whims as it begins blighting the world.
You are members of mystical bloodlines, able to sense the castle’s taint and fight it back. Maybe you’re Legendary Heroes, drawing on a legacy of honour and sacrifice; Magi, transmuting the castle’s corruption into safer power; or the Hidden Hand, profiting from fighting evil.
Each generation, your bloodline will have particular cause to raid the castle. Maybe their relics have been pillaged, or a group of mortals they protect is under attack, or a beloved outsider has been kidnapped, or they see a chance to right an ancient wrong. Each player uses these options to define this era’s castle, and their entry points. Maybe your breach method is sneaking into the castle’s servants quarters, or teleporting into a pocket realm within it, or kicking down its front door.
You send your explorers into the castle depths, each with their own specialities. Maybe the ever-prepared Packrat, or the ferocious Slayer, or the Bonded – aided by a strange spirit that stands and fights beside them.
They need to work together to survive: to help with that you track your Covenants with the other explorers. Maybe you’re rivals, or lovers? Maybe one of you is helping the other with a sickness? Maybe you’re both religious? Whatever form it takes, your covenant will tell you what you can do to strengthen it, and how you can betray it for power. When you have a covenant with someone, you’re better able to help them and can summon them to fight at your side even if they’re far away – or dead.
Together, you’ll travel through the nightmare corridors of the castle, face down its minions and traps, draw on places of power, and learn more about the Regent. At the apex of each ward of the castle lurks one of the Regent’s Acolytes, playing some role in their dark plan.
When you enter battle with an Apostle, the system brings in a set of Confrontation Moves. You see, Apostles don’t work like normal enemies. Each is defined by three Qualities – packages of thematically-linked abilities.
And you can’t just attack the Apostle and deal damage – they’re far too powerful for that. Instead, you must search for openings, whether through baiting your foe out of position, pushing them onto the back foot, or spotting a weakness in their fighting style.
Once an opening has been identified you strike at the foe. If successful, you strip away one of their Qualities. If they’re still alive, they may counterattack, activate new Qualities, or fall back and fight more defensively. If it was their last Quality, they’re dead.
With each Acolyte that falls, you get closer to taking down the Regent. But you also grow in power yourself, absorbing the contamination of the castle. As your Blood rating grows, you unlock new abilities and advance your stats, but you also get closer to losing control.
And when you’ve faced down the Regent and they’re dead at your feet, all the power the castle was gathering for them is still waiting there, an unholy grail. The explorer most contaminated with the castle’s blood can take the grail and change the world. But there’s a cost: if you take the power, you’re the next regent of the castle. Maybe the GM takes control of your character? Maybe you’re the GM for the next generation? Up to your group. But this ensures that each castle follows on from those before, as you confront past sins. Meanwhile, your Bloodline is growing in fortune or suffering terrible trials. They’re there to give you respite as you explore and help you protect the mortal realm, and also create continuity between generation.
So – that’s Rhapsody of Blood, a fully standalone game of castle-raiding and reality-twisting contamination. You can pick it up now in PDF from DriveThruRPG, or very soon in softback from Modiphius. Go check it out – I’m particularly pleased with the layout I put together. Or if you need a bit more convincing, why not listen to our Actual Play podcast?
Looking to the Horizon
That ends this tour through the Worlds of Legacy, but we may travel again. If you have an idea that brings Legacy’s multi-generation, wide-scale gameplay to a new setting, get in touch and we can talk. Especially if you don’t fit the standard RPG writer cis/het/white/male mould!