The Wicked Ones TTRPG by Bandit Camp Games is a new tabletop roleplaying game being funded on Kickstarter along with its new expansion, Undead Awakening. In both books, Player Characters play as monsters building a dungeon together and slaying adventurers – it’s heavily inspired by the PC game Dungeon Keeper. Both games are currently on Kickstarter in a high-quality print run of the successful 2019 Kickstarter of the original (digital-only) Wicked Ones campaign.
Get Ready to Play as The Bad Guys
Author and designer Ben Nielson has created a nuanced game that puts the players into the reverse role of the monsters looking to raid, pillage, and slay the heroes of typical pen-and-paper dice games, and the system truly shines in its tone and theme. He’s masterminded a game that definitely knows what niche it’s trying to fill, and the options inherent in the game lean towards that end.
The Wicked Ones TTRPG uses a modified (see expanded) Forged in the Dark system, originally made famous by the Blades in the Dark RPG by John Harper. Basically, it uses a six-sided die (d6) system, and Players build a dice “pool” by rolling a number of dice equal to their rating in a specific action. The highest number on any of the rolled dice determines the outcome: a 1-3 is a failure, a 4-5 is a “mixed result” success, and a 6 is a success. Multiple 6s create a critical effect, which truly pushes the game into savage territory.
The Players take on the role of monsters, and available options are iconic fantasy (ie, D&D) monster races: Bugbears, Demons, Goblins, etc. A true highlight in a recent playthrough was the Slissik (serpent person), an original race created for the game. Player roles feature “Playbooks” such as Brute (a raging brawler), Conniver (a master manipulator), Shadow (a sneaky killer/thief), and Zealot (the typical evil cultist), among others. In the Undead Awakening, Player options are expanded to include powerful undead (such as Liches and Vampires) leading hordes against the living and playing through classic undead horror movie moments.
Like other Forged games, the system is “player-forward”, where the players, rather than the Game Master, set the scenes and push the narrative. In a typical round of activity, they will describe the way they wish to pursue a goal, and the Game Master determines Position (how drastic a failure would be) and Effect (how fantastical a success would be). The Player descriptions (and playing towards their Monster’s strengths) will provide bonuses accordingly. To ensure success, however, the Wicked Ones TTRPG have a unique set of 2 features to further boost their carnage: Dark Hearts, a sort of “currency” that their dark souls create that can fuel their impulses, and Stress. Stress utilizes the “clock” system found in other Forged games: the Wicked Ones can spend Stress for additional success, resist enemy attacks, and empower their rage, but each Stress tick will bring them one step closer to Going Feral; when they truly become monsters and give in to their base destructive nature. Going Feral can cause its own complications, but the results of dealing massive damage to heroes or by flying into a power-fantasy tantrum is intoxicating.
A unique and wholly-singular design of this game compared to other ttrpgs, however, is the idea that the Player group ALSO plays as the “main Character” of the story: The Dungeon itself. During several play phases, the Players draw the Dungeon together, populate it with minions, and set traps to ensnare adventurers. This level of detail and creativity truly raises the system above the typical “let’s play as monsters” trope and gives the characters a strategic depth that is refreshing and just plain fun.
Another highlight of the book is the art by Victor Costa, a shade-cell blockish design that truly captures the feel of the games and the monsters therein. Each page contains art of the uniquely wicked creatures and dungeons of the games. It’s evocative as well as
For players looking for a ttrpg that’s willing to ask the big question: “Can we Play as the Bad Guys?” of “Can we play an Evil Campaign?”, the Wicked Ones TTRPG will scratch the itch with a 12-inch-long claw and tooth.
Wicked Ones and Undead Awakening are on Kickstarter now!