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Note: This review corresponds to the playtest version of the game, v.06. The current version is likely even stronger, so take everything I'm saying here with the expectation that there'll be more content and polish in the final copy.

Brinkwood is a gothic rebellionpunk pen-and-paper rpg about what you're willing to give up to kill monsters. It runs on the Blades In The Dark engine, and should feel comfortable and familiar without being repetitive to anyone who's used to Blades' system.

Brinkwood is 274 pages, currently without art, but with a mostly clean and consistent layout (there are some rougher patches where the font changes later in the document, but nothing unreadable.)

Writing and world-building-wise, this is a heck of a book. There's a lot of conventional pulp gothic notes (vampires control the major nations, anti-vampire tools are outlawed, etc,) but there's also rigorous worldbuilding underneath that. The coin of the realm, for example, is called blood sterling. It's made of alchemically processed blood, and it's what vampires eat to gain and keep their immortality. Commerce, therefore, ends up being a literal magic---one which vampires can abuse to increase their power. Other world-building follows in this vein; starting with the setting's foundations, and then building up.

Tone-wise, there's no shortage of gothic atmosphere in Brinkwood, but the characters don't exist just to brood. The stated intent is for the PCs to be proactive, engage with the setting, and change it, and the book works to encourage that. The Blades engine helps a bunch too.

There are some cool flourishes Brinkwood puts on top of Blades, though. One is that the book comes with some pre-prepared antagonists you can set your campaign against. Another is that classes are somewhat customizable, with a significant chunk of your abilities coming from a mask you can swap out between runs. Another is that you aren't necessarily going to have a third of the town hate you all the time, the way you would in Blades---you're expected to rally and assist your allies, and the book gives you moves to support this. Resources are also more granular in Brinkwood than the Coin and Rep in Blades, and each has more stuff you can do with it, encouraging you to periodically spend materials when you have an excess.

That all said, the spots that stick to the Blades formula are also plenty fun, simply because they get to flesh out a setting that is both fully realized and completely different from Duskvol. Character creation in particular is a treat, and introduces a lot of the book's lore in passing. The faction writeups are also excellent.

Overall, if the idea of gothic vampire robin hood strikes you as interesting, and if you're interested in a game that hugs the line between tactical engagements and collaborative storytelling, I would recommend picking up a copy of Brinkwood.

Thank you so much for the thorough review! It's greatly appreciated.