Brindlewood Bay Tabletop RPG
Tired of the usual role playing tropes? Try a dive into Brindlewood Bay, a TTRPG where cozy murder mysteries meet Lovecraftian horror in a picturesque New England town. This tabletop RPG takes elements of Agatha Christie’s novels, David Lynch’s surrealist Americana, and a Golden Girls sensibility to create a unique mystery solving game experience.
Brindlewood Bay was designed by Jason Cordova and is Powered by the Apocalypse for game mechanics. The game is set in a small town where women of a certain age—called Murder Mavens—assist local authorities in solving murder cases while unearthing a dark, occult conspiracy. The game features a clever “Brindlewood mystery system” that allows players to cooperatively solve puzzles and uncover clues. We’ve played and read about a lot of RPG games over the past year and Brindlewood Bay seems like a truly unique mystery solving RPG experience.
Jason Cordova had been working on a Victorian-era, Powered by the Apocalypse game called The Between. He wanted to test a specific aspect of the game—mysteries—without rewriting large swathes of text with each iteration. The question that arose was how to systematize the emergent mysteries so that any player could easily pick up the game. A chance meeting with a professional acquaintance provided the simple yet captivating concept: a blend of Murder, She Wrote and the Cthulhu mythos. This led to the creation of a small but powerful RPG that emphasized non-combat conflict and otherworldly dread. And thus, Brindlewood Bay was born.
Murder Mavens and the Supernatural
The charmingly macabre world of Brindlewood Bay invites players to embody older ladies—called Murder Mavens—who wield baked goods and sewing needles rather than weapons. These endearing characters assist local authorities in solving murder cases in a picturesque New England town while unearthing a dark, occult conspiracy that connects the cases.
Innovative Mechanics and Mysteries
Brindlewood Bay’s gameplay offers innovative mechanics and a captivating mystery system. As the Murder Mavens gather clues, the players discuss their theories about the murderer. In actuality, nobody knows the solution to the mystery – including the GM. As the game progresses players are given clues which they use to create theories about the crime. The theories are then tested with dice rolls which determine whether the players were correct or not in their solution.
This collaborative approach where no one knows the solution beforehand feels refreshing in the world of tabletop RPGs. Other unique mechanics include tapping into the characters’ love of mystery novels, sharing character backstory for improved dice rolls, and even narrating cheesy TV commercials to save the Mavens from peril.
The Dark Conspiracy and Supernatural Elements
As the Mavens progress in their investigations, they become aware of a Hellenic death cult called the Midwives of the Fragrant Void. This cult is behind the numerous murders in Brindlewood Bay and is connected to the Dark Conspiracy. As the Mavens find special Void Clues, they become more vulnerable to the dark forces around them, eventually triggering the end game where they face off against the Midwives. To counter these dark forces, the Mavens can tap into supernatural powers and hone new, otherworldly talents.
Expanding the Brindlewood Bay Universe
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Brindlewood Bay is set to release two hardcover books. The first, Brindlewood Bay, contains the core rules and six mysteries. The second, Nephews in Peril, expands the game with new setting material and ten new mysteries. Each book is hardcover, full-color interior, A5 size (roughly 6″x9″), and approximately 150 pages.
These new additions deepen the stories of Brindlewood Bay and allow Keepers to take their campaigns to the next level. Nephews in Peril, in particular, includes six standard mysteries and four Sweeps Week mysteries, which have a stronger focus on the supernatural and take place in different parts of the world.
Embracing the Cozy Horror
Brindlewood Bay’s unique blend of cozy murder mysteries and Lovecraftian horror, combined with its innovative gameplay mechanics, makes it a groundbreaking addition to the world of tabletop RPGs. As players explore the charming New England town and unravel its dark, occult secrets, they will find themselves immersed in a rich, multi-layered narrative that challenges conventional roleplaying norms. The focus on non-combat conflict, character development, and collaboration adds a fresh dimension to the gaming experience, offering a welcome change for players seeking more than just hack-and-slash adventures.
Brindlewood Bay is a testament to the potential for innovation in tabletop gaming. By skillfully weaving together the seemingly disparate genres of cozy mystery and Lovecraftian horror, the game offers a fresh perspective that resonates with a diverse audience. The game’s unique mechanics and collaborative storytelling foster an environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and camaraderie among players. We are truly excited about this title and can’t wait to get our mavens out for an adventure as soon.