Slavic folklore RPG Black Book is smashing its Kickstarter goals

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Black Book, an upcoming indie RPG based on Slavic mythology, is blowing away its Kickstarter goals—at the time of writing, it’s more than doubled its initial target, with 19 days still to go.

Black Book is the second game from Morteshka, an indie studio based in Perm, Russia whose projects tend to focus on the region’s folklore, mythology, and history. We saw that with their first game, The Mooseman—”a window into a slice of culture, history, and mythology that few would even know exists”, as I described it in my review—and that’s going to be front and centre once again in Black Book.

Black Book is a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the world of Northern Slavic mythology, shaped by its history and tradition,” the Kickstarter page explains. “The game was developed by the people who grew up with these folk tales, and consulted with historians and anthropologists to make sure the game’s narrative accurately represents the beliefs of their ancestors.”

The game follows Vasilisa, a young sorceress who decided to turn her back on fate and marry her beloved, only for him to mysteriously die before they could be wed. Rather than say goodbye, she sets out to find the Black Book, a demonic artifact said to be able to grant any wish.

An image from Black Book's Kickstarter campaign, comparing Ivan Bilibin's 1899 painting "Vasilisa the Beautiful" with a picture of Vasilisa, the main character in Black Book
Left: Vasilisa the Beautiful, 1899 by Ivan Bilibin / Right: Vasilisa, as seen in Black Book

Black Book will see you travelling across 19th-century Cherdyn, in search of the seals needed to unlike the book’s power, fighting demonic spirits and helping out the locals along the way. Combat plays out in a turn-based, card-based form, with a focus on combining different cards to create unique spells.

If you want to get a taste of what Black Book will offer, there’s a free standalone prologue available now on Steam. This prologue covers Vasilisa’s first day as a witch, and includes 20 spells.

Black Book has been in development for some time, with indie publisher HypeTrain Digital as publisher. Morteshka launched the Kickstarter campaign earlier this month in order to help fund the rest of its development, as well as adding features that otherwise wouldn’t make the cut.

A screenshot from Black Book, showing Vasilisa and a companion fighting a wolf-like demon

The initial goal of USD $35,000 was hit within a matter of days; at the time of writing, the campaign has raised USD $84,719, with 19 days still to go. Stretch goals already passed will see the inclusion of English voice acting, individual side-quests for each companion character, and an additional companion in the form of a mysterious raven. At $100,000 raised, Morteshka will add a roguelike mode inspired by Slay the Spire.

Black Book is planned for release in 2021, on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

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Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.