I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
The Black Drink is a compact, quick game about witches in a medieval village. They’re treated badly and resort to drinking the Black Drink, with a range of results from the comic to the tragic.
The game is quick, possibly just an hour or two, with the Black Drink as its centerpiece. The more you drink, the more drunk you get, and the effects start to pile up. You probably want to reach the point where you see the demons Zimoras or Agarchosias who might help you with your troubles.
The focus of The Black Drink is firmly in the mud of everyday life. For example, a witch might be bedeviled by relatives who try to marry her to a tedious suitor. It notes that while people who want ill for the witch can be good enemies, sometimes people who are technically on her side can be even more troublesome.
The visuals come from medieval woodcuts and the demonic acts have a similar vibe that’s more historical than “game mechanicky”. The demon Zimoras might ask you to “Prick an upright woman with a pin”.
Drinking the Black Drink tends to cause trouble, and dealing with that trouble is a large part of the game. One nice touch is that the demons are essentially trustworthy. They don’t lie or try to cheat you. The genre trope of demons who try to twist the wording of a wish is prevalent and leads to tedious gameplay where players try to word wishes so they’re interpreation-proof. This is much better: The interesting part is when the witch gets what she wants.