A downloadable zine

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They are alone, seeking a secret place. They are dead set on getting there.

Black Mass is a roleplaying game about two people leaving a community that doesn’t want them, to the woods that calls for them. Those travelers, Lydia and Catherine, confront their pasts to seek their own black mass, a moment of transformation, to put the tools of change into their own hands. 

Black Mass is a tarot-based tabletop roleplaying game played in one sitting over the course of two to three hours. Black Mass is for four to eight players, including a proctor, who facilitates the game.


Black Mass is a pointillistic tarot-based roleplaying game where players share responsibility over two travelers, Catherine and Lydia.

Players take on portions of their personalities, called personas. We join in their successes, their defeats, and we all sign their names into the devil's book together. During a game of Black Mass, players take turns inhabiting different elements of their histories, personalities, and tendencies. Personas revolve around relationships, emotional experiences, discovery, and growth. Each persona is different and sketches out a different piece of each character. Each player gets two: one for Lydia and one for Catherine. 

We play to find out who they are, why they left Salem, and what they find in the woods. Once we know that, we’ll find out what they do after their black mass. 

Black Mass is a game about discovery: through play we learn about Catherine and Lydia, informed by the in-play personas. No two games are similar, and no two Catherine’s and Lydia’s are the same between playthroughs. There are ten personas for both Catherine and Lydia, resulting in many unique combinations at the table. 


Throughout the game, players draw tarot cards to overcome obstacles and to add to the spread, two rows of cards in the center of the playspace. The spread represents the lives of Catherine and Lydia, each card symbolizing a moment in their past, present, and future. 

Tarot cards act as action resolution and oracles. When a persona begins inhabiting Catherine or Lydia, the player draws cards from the central pile and adds those card to their personal stack of cards, called the cairn. Players spend cards out of their cairn to move silently, shrug off spectral voices, bear the cold, and negotiate their path through the woods. Only one player may act as Lydia and Catherine at a time, and when they’re out of cards, they're no longer in control. 

At the end of these turns, players may add a card to the spread, narrating a scene from their present or past. 

The proctor of Black Mass facilitates the game, providing challenges for the personas, and taking actions. The proctor guides the personas through the prologue, confronts them in the woods, and sets them free during the black mass. 

Black Mass has three modes of play, October, December, and February. An October game of Black Mass has bubbling cauldrons and flying broomsticks. A December game of Black Mass focuses on eerie exploration and introspective journeys. A February game of Black Mass has cloven hooves and bloody snow.  

312 backers helped bring this project to life on Kickstarter as a part of ZineQuest!

This download includes the digital zine and a suite of music (https://black-mass.bandcamp.com/album/the-black-mass-suite).

Character sheets and an action reference are free below.

The team:

Want the physical version? Grab it at heavypress.co

Zine Donation Library

The Kickstarter backer's generosity have made a number of physical copies available to those in financial need. To get one, fill out the form here. US shipping only, but if you're outside of the US, I'll send over the PDFs. 

Purchase

Buy Now$9.00 USD or more

In order to download this zine you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $9 USD. You will get access to the following files:

black mass 35 MB
the black mass suite 472 MB
persona sheets 67 kB
general action reference 46 kB

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