When I read Peter Bebergal's amazing sword and sorcery anthology, Appendix N: The Eldritch Roots of Dungeons & Dragons, one of the stories I was most struck by was C.L. Moore's "The Black God's Kiss." While it may be embarrassing to admit it, I knew nothing of C.L. Moore or the Jirel of Joiry stories. I was completely enchanted by this dark, surreal, and hallucinatory tale and its intense, determined female protagonist. I was even more agog when I looked at the bios in the back and saw that the story was written in 1932, by a female author, Catherine Lucille Moore.
When poet and game designer, Janaka Stucky, read the story in Peter's book, he was similarly taken with it. "I was immediately gripped by the story, and literally couldn't get it out of my head for weeks afterwards," Janaka tells Boing Boing. "That's when I knew I had to do something with it, and contacted Peter."
Janaka decided to turn this dark, proto-feminist tale into a roleplaying game adventure setting. He gathered together a dream team of collaborators, including Bebergal, game designer Max Moon, and impressive ink and graphite illustrator, Saprophial.
Three days ago, Janaka's Blazing Worlds launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Black God's Kiss, a D&D 5e and Old-School Essentials adventure setting and microgame that explores the world outlined in C.L. Moore's Black God stories. As of this writing, the campaign has already taken in over US$50,000.
From the Kickstarter page:
Based on the fantasy fiction of C.L. Moore, who stands as one of the great sword & sorcery and weird tale authors of the early 20th century, the box set contains everything you need to delve into the star-lit realm of the Black God—explore forbidden ruins, encounter wretched creatures, and retrieve a weapon of dreadful power … the Black God's Kiss!
Undertaking an expedition in this pocket dimension will tax your body, your mind, and threaten the very nature of your soul. To survive, you must carefully make choices—managing your own humanity as a limited resource which diminishes by the hour. To succeed, you must not only confront the Black God, but the darkest recesses of your own shadow self.
The four backer levels are a $29 digital bundle, a $59 Core Boxed Set with five zine books, microgame, play map, and punchboard counters, an $89 Deluxe Set with all of the core set materials, plus a bonus module, a full set of custom polyhedral dice, a 48mm resin Black God miniature, virtual tabletop maps and VTT tokens, and a $189 Black God's Bundle with a Core Box and Deluxe Set, a T-shirt, a poster, and a GM screen.
After reading "Black God's Kiss," I immediately went out and bought a collection of C.L. Moore's work and am now reading the other Jirel of Joiry stories and her many fantasy and sci-fi shorts. I can't wait for this Black God's Kiss adventure setting to come out so I can climb inside of Moore's dark, surreal world and have a muck around.
Image credit: All art by Saprophial/Blazing Worlds, used with permission.