(Want to skip the context and list of updates and just get to the rules themselves? I get it. Buy and download The Devil’s Brand on Itch here.)
Since February I’ve been running a twice-monthly game (with a few scattered one-shots) of The Devil’s Brand, my old-school-inspired, minimalist TTRPG for murderhobo outlaw action in the Wild West.
I’m happy to report the game works well and has been a welcome relief to the feelings of indie RPG marketing burnout and GM prep fatigue I had been feeling. It really has delivered on my desire to have a low-prep game. The only challenge is my own struggle as a GM to deliver on good plots, interesting NPCs, and quick game play. The system absolutely stays out of the way.
This update is largely quality of life improvements:
- Improved Layout: I’ve bumped up the page count from eight to twelve pages. This allows for a larger font, more white space (i.e. visual room for the text to breath), and dedicated front and back covers.
- Snippets of Additional Explanatory Text: Having heard back from a few playtesters as well as the awesome Hannah at the equally awesome Dungeons & Drimbus podcast (who have included me for a Hexingtide actual play and will be releasing The Devil’s Brand actual play in the coming months), I’ve taken the extra space to edit and clarify some of the questions I’ve gotten in the past few months. Always inevitable with short, minimalist rules, but I want to avoid lack of clarity where I can!
- New Terms for Crippling Injuries: Instead of becoming “crippled” and reducing one of your Attributes to zero, now each Attribute has its own crippling injury: maimed, shellshocked, or disfigured. Just a dash of additional narrative flavor. No mechanical change.
- Slight Bump to Stress (HP): The Devil’s Brand is still an old school, very lethal TTRPG, but now you add your level to your max Stress. Just a smidge more when a high roll in the right circumstances can still drop characters.
- New Defensive Actions: Using the Defend or Bolster actions, Characters can now take explicit action in conflicts to better protect themselves from enemies attacks, whether that’s steel and gunfire or threats and cons.
- Updated Character Sheet: Though initially designed for screw-around one-shots, I’ve been running a loosely-connected campaign for the last six months. Players have wanted an area on their character sheet to track level-up advancements. That’s now included.
All in all, I think this is likely to be the final version of The Devil’s Brand for this stage of its life. The rules are working great, this 12 page layout is easy to read, and the new character sheet works well.
I’ll pivot to eventually publicly releasing additional GM tools and perhaps a one-sheet adventure or two, but the goal with this project remains very anti-hustle, anti-marketing, just have fun-focused.
If you’ve already purchased Devil’s Brand on Itch, you can get the updated files now for free.
If you haven’t yet picked up your copy of the game, buy it now for a measly two bucks! Includes the twelve page rules, character sheet (in PDF and JPG format), combat tracker, and PC tombstones… for when they inevitably kick the bucket.
Purchase The Devil’s Brand now on Itch:
Also: I’ll have physical zines available for sell in a limited capacity. Not sure how to handle that, yet, but they’ll be around: