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Bluebeard’s Bride is an investigatory horror tabletop roleplaying game for 3-5 players, written and designed by Whitney “Strix” Beltrán, Marissa Kelly, and Sarah Richardson, and based on the Bluebeard fairy tale.
In this game you and your friends explore Bluebeard’s home as the Bride, creating your own beautifully tragic version of the dark fairy tale. Investigate rooms, discover the truth of what happened, experience the nightmarish phantasmagoria of this broken place, and decide whether or not you are a faithful or disloyal bride.
*Back the game, download it from our first update, and give it a try!*
Bluebeard’s Bride is based on the Powered by the Apocalypse system used in Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Monsterhearts, Masks, and more. It's a simple system; when your character takes an action that fits a move, the move tells you what happens, or you roll two six-sided dice to find out. Since this is a horror game, we have modified it so that the majority of moves use no dice; this harkens back to telling ghost stories around the fire.
Bluebeard’s Bride produces adult feminine horror fiction like Crimson Peak, American Horror Story, or The Company of Wolves, making it fun for horror fans and dark fairy tale fans alike. And the Powered by the Apocalypse system gives Bluebeard’s Bride the strong, yet flexible system necessary to tell your own flavor of horror.
The Bluebeard fairy tale is simple enough: A young bride is wed to an ugly, but powerful man with a blue beard. On their wedding night he must attend to other urgent matters. He gives her the keys to every room, inviting her to explore… but one room in his house is forbidden. The bride eventually falls prey to her curiosity and opens it, discovering the gruesome sight of former brides who had been murdered... evidence that reveals her husband to be a killer of women.
When you play Bluebeard’s Bride, you aren’t repeating the dark events of that morbid tale. You’re following the skeleton of that story to tell a new one covered in your own bloody fingerprints. The Bride’s story is unpredictable and engaging, leading her down a dark path to an unknown future. Your fate, the terrible contents of the final room, may not yet be fixed, but every step you take moves you closer to your doom.
Your experiences in Bluebeard’s house are guided by the original fairy tale, a framework that ties your story to the many tellings of the Bluebeard myth—past, present, and future. You move from room to room, gathering tokens and encountering horrors, before eventually making your way to the final room—and sealing the Bride’s fate forever. And along the way, questions arise...
What will you find in your new husband’s house?
What horrors will haunt you?
What darkness will you find within yourself?
But in the end, there is only one question for a new Bride: will you open the final door?
At this point, you may be wondering how all of you are supposed to play as the Bride at one time. The psyche of any person is complex, and the Bride no less so. In your story, each player takes the role of a distinct part of the Bride's mind—a Sister—who guides the Bride through Bluebeard’s house, armed with little more than a set of keys.
And those Sisters don’t always agree. Each of you speaks as these aspects of her psyche would speak, deciding what actions the Bride takes, pushing the Bride deeper into the mysteries of each room, and provoking new horrors along the way.
The Sisters take turns in moving to the forefront of the Bride's personality, guided by a core mechanic of the game: The Ring. Whichever Sister holds the Ring is the main guide of the Bride’s actions.
Over the course of play, the Sisters may suffer trauma (physical or mental); should a Sister receive too much trauma, she shatters. When a Sister shatters, the Bride loses that part of herself to madness...and that lost Sister becomes part of the house’s horror and darkness, adding to the twisted nightmares the Bride must endure.
When you start play, each player picks one of the five Sisters to play. Each Sister is different, with specific Traits that make her stronger or weaker than her fellow Sisters in certain areas, and custom abilities that are unique to her alone.
Bluebeard’s Bride is designed as a one-shot game where you play out your fairy tale version of Bluebeard in 3-4 hours. Each game is its own story, its own investigation, its own beautiful, macabre dance. The Bride from your game may even leave behind a legacy of her own, inspiring her very own room to be explored by future brides of Bluebeard. Replayability is high as you investigate other rooms, interact with new Sisters, and explore the horrors of new Groundskeepers and their own dark twists on rooms you may have already been to. Even the final room is shaped by the players and their decisions.
You might never encounter the same room between any two games of Bluebeard’s Bride, or you might investigate the same room in different games, and each time that room will have its own, new dread skew. The game is molded through and through by the people at the table and the fears they bring. And you’re unlikely to dredge the full depths of Bluebeard’s house and their nightmares in a single game...
The game of Bluebeard’s Bride is not only your gateway to this manor of misery and horror—it is also a beautiful tome, one that brings elegance and unsettling grace to any bookshelf.
Bluebeard’s Bride will be available as a premium edition 8” x 8” hardcover featuring a Smythe sewn rounded case binding with an embossed, spot gloss, and stamped cover. The estimated 96 pages will be printed on quality matte paper, and will feature blue and gold spot color. The book will include beautiful blue and gold metallic end papers and a silk bookmark. Our goal is to create a display-worthy book, with every detail carefully thought out.
The Book of Rooms is a guide through the rooms of Bluebeard’s house, a vade mecum of the horrors you can find there. Behind each keyhole is a mystery of what happened, to who, and why… Do you dare to open the door?
In addition to the core text of Bluebeard’s Bride, we are also offering this curated hardcover full-color Book of Rooms. The rooms will each be fully illustrated with all you need to entice the Bride at your table—Mysterious Objects, Themes, and a description of the room as you open the door. Each room reveals a different kind of dread that you can explore time and time again. The Book of Rooms will include approximately 40 pages and 20 rooms to start, and more may be added by stretch goals throughout this project.
The Book of Mirrors is a collection of playsets for Bluebeard’s Bride, an array of dark reflections of the original fairy tale. Each one takes the tale into a new place with new fears and grotesqueries...do you dare to look in the mirrors?
We are also offering this hardcover full-color Book of Mirrors. The playsets in the book will each be fully illustrated with images to show off the particular strangeness of each mirrored world. With these playsets, you’ll have a slew of new ways to play Bluebeard’s Bride that all still keep its core issues and ideas. The Book of Mirrors will include all the playsets unlocked through this Kickstarter, and will likely be an 8” x 8” book, between 60 and 100 pages in size.
The Book of Lore is a standalone book containing the original fairy tale that inspired the game.
The book will have the same hardcover, 8” x 8” form factor as the other books, and will include original illustrations to complement our dark text. In addition, the story will come with variable endings, letting you choose your own, just like in the core game.
Bluebeard’s house is full of the strange, the cryptic, the mysterious. You will handle them, contemplate them, cast your mind at their terrible secrets. But populating the house with so many curios can be a strain on the Groundskeeper, the player running the game. This Deck of Objects is designed as a play aid to help the Groundskeeper place the perfect objects in the house while keeping the tension high.
Each card features a picture, a description, and all the information needed for the Groundskeeper to bring the item into play, including the themes of the object and where to place it in the manor. Objects include everything from feminine beauty tools and innocuous jewelry boxes to books made of flesh, hidden adult toys, and living, breathing couches.
The deck also includes special cards to help you keep track of the turn order. These cards feature the same beautiful art and styles as all the others, with one custom card for each Sister. The deck will include 28 cards to start, and more may be added by stretch goals throughout this project.
The Bride may try to take comfort in not truly being alone in the manor. There are servants—maids, butlers, cooks, stablehands, and more—throughout the manor. All beholden to the new lady of the manor...and all truly loyal to the master of the house. The Groundskeeper is responsible for portraying these other denizens of the estate, in all their sinister obeisance. The Tarot of Servants is a play aid to help the Groundskeeper quickly and successfully generate servants on the fly. All it takes is a quick reading of a few cards, and the Groundskeeper will be ready to introduce another face into the house, well in-line with the house’s dark secrets.
To start, the Tarot of Servants will include the 16 face cards (Dames, Knights, Queens, and Kings) of the Tarot, each one with custom art suited for Bluebeard’s Bride. The rules for using the Tarot to create a new servant of the house will be available for download later. More cards may be added by stretch goals throughout this project.
In addition to the books, decks, and downloadable play materials, we are offering other custom items to help you and your group explore Bluebeard's house. Delve into these rewards to find the perfect fit.
- Tokens of Loyalty and Disloyalty: These eight wooden double sided tokens are used to track how close the Bride is to entering the final room. Loyalty is represented by a pristine, unopened lock. Disloyalty is defined by a blood stained key.
- The Bride sheet: An elegant print of the Bride sheet on silk fabric. As you move from room to room, lay your collected tokens on the track, and watch the final room draw inexorably closer.
- The Ring: The Ring of Submission, crafted by The Rogue and The Wolf, enchantingly wraps around your finger in black hi-grade 3D printed polyamide plastic (metal allergy free). The ring may not fit every player, but then again... not all of you are as suited for Bluebeard's tastes as you might like. Nevertheless, the ring will remain in front of you as a constant reminder of the Bride's power and who gave it to her.
- Dice: The Bluebeard's Bride logo embossed in gold atop these swirled black and blue dice. The one who holds the Ring also runs their fingers over these tools of chance. A reminder that the unexpected is never far from reach.
The art prints come in 6” x 6” and 12” x 12” forms, printed on archival-grade Hahnemühle German Etching rag paper. This paper has a matte surface and slight tooth, making it a pleasure to touch while still rendering the art in exquisite detail. Each piece will have gold accents applied after printing, bringing it as close as possible to Rebecca’s original work.
Choose from the following prints, or add them all to your order and display the whole collection:
- Cover - The Bride is caught in his blue hair, struggling against the strands twined around her limbs, but he could never let her go.
- The Myth - The Bride on her wedding day, draped in fabric and riches, but she knows not what pulls at her from the edges of the frame.
- The Game- The Bride runs to a new door in the halls of Bluebeard’s home, but horrors and aspirations are close behind.
- The Groundskeeper - The Bride tries on brilliant jewels and gems of every kind, but is unaware of who or what is watching her from the mirror.
- The Final Room - The Bride was told she could go anywhere, except the one room forbidden to her….
Add on $35 for each 6” x 6” print, and $50 for each 12” x 12” print. Shipping is $5 domestic and $10 international for any order of prints, no matter how many you order.
We have some great stretch goals lined up, from ways to make the physical rewards even more beautiful, to new means of exploring the strange and surreal world of Bluebeard’s manor.
In addition to our reward tiers, we also have some special items that you can add to your order. Just pledge for your tier and add on funds equal to the add-ons you want. We'll collect information from you after the campaign to make sure you get everything you want:
The Book of Rooms - $30 You can add a copy of the hardcover Book of Rooms to your order if you pledge at least $50. These books will be 8” x 8”, and approximately 40-80 pages.
The Book of Mirrors - $30 You can add a copy of the hardcover Book of Mirrors to your order if you pledge at least $50. These books will be 8” x 8”, and approximately 60-100 pages.
The Book of Lore - $30 You can add a copy of the hardcover Book of Lore to your order if you pledge at least $50. These books will be 8” x 8”, and approximately 60-100 pages.
The Deck of Objects - $20 You can add a copy of the Deck of Objects to your order if you pledge at least $50. The deck will include approximately 28-52 regular-size cards.
The Tarot of Servants - $30 You can add a copy of the Tarot of Servants to your order if you pledge at least $50. The deck will include approximately 16-88 tarot-size cards.
Art Prints - $35 or $50 each You can add a 6” x 6” or 12” x 12” print of any or all five of the Bluebeard's Bride full page art, by Rebecca. *Shipping for these prints is special: $5 domestic and $10 international for any order of prints, no matter how many you order.
We'll make all of these these add-ons available after the campaign ends through our normal channels.
Retailers can add on additional books and add-ons at retailer discounts through Backerkit, after the campaign ends.
If you're an international backer, please add $7 for each add-on you add to your order to cover shipping. Domestic shipping for add-ons is free.*
Bluebeard’s Bride was inspired by such awesome works as Bluebeard, Crimson Peak, and American Horror Story. It draws heavily from the aforementioned Powered by the Apocalypse games, like Apocalypse World, Urban Shadows, Monsterhearts, and more.
There is a connection between the feminine experience and horror that we wanted to tap, and hope that you find a rich environment in which to base your game. There is a wide range of experience embedded in both the fairy tale and the game, and some of that will speak to both traditional horror literature as well as some real life situations.
Podcasts - Actual Play and Talks
- Sarah runs the game for One Shot Podcast (February 2016) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
- Sarah runs the game for The Jank Cast crew (February 2016) Part 1, Part 2
Video - Actual Play
- Sarah runs the game for the 2016 Big Bad Con Kickstarter:
- Whitney, Marissa, & Sarah talk Bluebeard's Bride on RPGGeek
- Whitney, Marissa, & Sarah chat about Bluebeard’s Bride and Noir on Last Chance Noir
How do I stay safe while playing this horror game?
Bluebeard’s Bride pushes a lot of boundaries and explores many taboos, but the book goes over some methods for helping you manage the experience. Safety first, of course.
Can a man run or play this game?
Of course! There are plenty of tips and support in the book to help anyone feel comfortable playing the game. We want players of all genders to experience Bluebeard’s estate.
Is Bluebeard a sympathetic villain?
Nope. In this game Bluebeard is a true monster… but your bride may not yet know the vast evil harbored within his soul.
Why do I feel so powerless when I try to fight monsters in this game?!
A proper woman does not simply fight the monsters of the manor, dirtying her hands with violence at every opportunity. She suffers the horrors as best she can with grace and dignity befitting her station.
Mirrored Wine Cellar Reward tier list CORRECTION:
The Mirrored Wine Cellar tier does not contain both the LE corebook and regular corebook. You get everything from THE MIRRORED BEDROOM level, but with a special, limited edition hardcover version of the Bluebeard's Bride core book instead of the standard edition, as well as a beautiful ring to use during play, a copy of the Tarot of Servants, and a special silk-print Bride sheet to track her tokens.
See Update #20 for more Backer Question & Answers.