At the time of the Babylonian Empire, humanity was sucked from the safety and order of the Cosmos into a realm of chaos called the Void. Humanity was scattered among the stars. Some managed to find their way to the eternal city of Llyhn, where they were able to band together in order to survive in the alien cosmopolis. This is the scene that Christoffer Schultz Sevaldsen has set for us in his cosmic survival horror RPG Black Void.
What I like about what I’ve seen of Black Void is that it depicts humanity in a weak and vulnerable position. In Llynh, humans have managed to carve out their own district, but it is a slum in comparison to the opulent alien districts nearby. In this caste-based urban society, humans are at the bottom of the ladder, and there are a lot of aliens who would like to destroy or enslave them. Because the city is so diversely alien there is no standard morality. Morals are a point of view. The city is founded at the border between the Cosmos and the Void, where the veil between the two is thin, and it seems like this makes it an attractive place for alien cults who worship the strange and powerful entities that live there.
When it comes to making player characters, Black Void is very nonlinear and modular. All player characters are human (although there are options for creating ‘halfbreed’ characters with alien traits) and abilities are acquired or improved using a point-buy system. At the game master’s discression, player characters can also increase in enlightenment (by increasing their knowledge of the Void) or influence (by gaining power over others).
In the quickstart rules there are options for gaining boons through blood magic. To use blood magic, a character has to ritually sacrifice another creature. Depending on how the ceremony goes, they will get access to a range of beneficial options. There’s also a chance of a botched ritual, which might lead to negative effects. I like the fact that this makes magic seem a bit more dangerous and costly. It seems more like how I would expect magic to work in the ancient human world, and also helps to make the setting seem strange and alien.
The Black Void Kickstarter campaign launches April 11. In the meantime, you can get the quickstart rules and adventure via the form here.