Skybound Entertainment has launched the Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstone, the first in a three-part tabletop RPG series. Here’s what we know.

Skybound Entertainment has launched the Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstone, an arena-style tabletop roleplaying game wherein 1-8 players can either fight each other, or work together on a story-driven campaign. Each player character is trapped in eternal combat, forced to fight to the death at the whims of Vanira, a tyrant who’s been corrupted by the titular Bloodstone.

Created by Skybound Entertainment’s Senior Director of Tabletop Games, James Hudson, Bloodstone is the first release in a planned three-game arc, which also features tie-in novels written by Ari Marmell.

Hudson said it’s the most expensive game Skybound has ever produced, and it boasts 40 miniatures, over 100 custom dice, a full color board, character cards and more. Due to cost, Bloodstone is a Kickstarter-exclusive, meaning potential players will need to back the crowdfunding campaign to secure a copy.

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Bloodstone cover

“We’re really devoted to the lore and world-building,” Hudson said during a round-table playthrough. The game comes with a massive world bible and unlockable content, and it features a unique combination of asymmetrical dice-based combat and deck-based initiative. In addition to the tie-in novels, Hudson also hopes to stay in-house at Skybound for screen and other adaptations.

Hudson made comparisons between the first Bloodstone and industry mainstays like Dragon Age and World of Warcraft. Since Bloodstone is meant to launch a full franchise, there’s a ton for players to unpack — and a later expansion may bridge the gap between the first game and the second.

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The playstyle in the second game will also be different, steering away from the combat arena and toward an “Indiana Jonesy exploration to unearth some artifacts.” Hudson compared the second game to Gloomhaven and said fans who don’t get in on the first game should be able to jump right into the second — in fact, introducing different playstyles throughout the series is intentional in that way. Not everyone will like an arena game, but people may be more into future titles.

One thing all three games will have in common, however, is their difficulty level. “I wouldn’t say it’s Dark Souls-like, but it’s not easy,” Hudson said. He also admitted that not everyone will survive from game to game: “Some characters will be in the next game and some will not, and there will be some new characters.”

Bloodstone adapts some roguelike elements to tabletop gameplay, with players dying over and over in Vanira’s arena, only to be resurrected with necromancy to fight another day. Players can choose to fight each other for bloodsport, or work together in a gauntlet-style PvE campaign. There are a total of eight bosses to beat in the campaign, and each one is a bit different than the last. Raid bosses will drop loot, as well, which adds even more incentive to this gameplay mode.

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Bloodstone Game Display

Extensive content is already built into Bloodstone, and Kickstarter backers will have plenty to choose from in the campaign’s rewards. Hudson said there will be no stretch goals, but Skybound Entertainment will do daily reveals throughout the game’s 24-day crowdfunding effort. There may be a limited print run of the game available on Skybound’s webstore after backers have received their perks, but pledging will guarantee a copy at a lower price and with an earlier delivery time.

The Bloodstone team faced unique challenges in creating this game during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as it forced them to use digital tools to create an analogue experience. On the subject of digital gaming, Hudson said he hasn’t decided whether there will be a Steam release for Bloodstone, though there may be a limited tutorial option for digital players.

Hudson said he understands the appeal of Steam, “but I also feel like this is a 30 percent less effective format to teach somebody a board game. The feel and the look is not the same. I’m very hesitant to let people play the game, for their first impressions, on this system.”

Related: These 5 Steam Games Have the BEST Reviews on the Platform – Here’s Why

Bloodstone is currently available through Kickstarter. The campaign will be live for 24 days, and Skybound Entertainment aims to raise at least $150 thousand to complete production on the game. You can see the full story below. For more information, visit skybound.com/bloodstone.

The once-great Empire of Stormwrath has fallen to a coup. Now the priest-queen Vanira draws on the immense power of Bloodstone to destroy anyone that would challenge her authority. At the heart of the city, the fighting pits have been made into a monument to her strength. The most powerful champions from across the continent have been captured and made to fight as a warning to any would be rebels.

Every time the champions die, Vanira uses the necromantic powers in the Bloodstone to bring them back to life, and with every resurrection their grip on reality strains. But a rebellion is brewing, and the champions in the arena must put aside their grudges and begin planning their escape if they ever hope to win their freedom and free the Kingdom from Vanira’s iron grasp.

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