Judge. Jury. Executioner. The Dishonored series places you in these roles and you can either cast judgement with violence or take a passive route. Whatever fate you decide for those you encounter, the world shifts in response.
Kill the Pendleton twins and there are more plague rats, Weepers (those infected by the plague), and harsher city checkpoints.
Knock the Pendleton twins out and leave them at the hands of a gang, the twins will have their tongues cut off and will be sent to their own mines. No one will ever believe they were of nobility and it’s not as if they could plead their case…
Sometimes the passive route is more grim than the violent route.
In the Dishonored series, every action prompts a reaction. You either create more chaos or perpetuate the status quo. This style of storytelling has made Dishonored a unique series that has fans replaying the games to explore distinct gameplay possibilities. As a fan myself, I’m always on the lookout for more Dishonored content or any lore tweets from Harvey Smith.
Good news! The wait is over!
Modiphius Entertainment, in collaboration with Dishonored’s co-creative director Harvey Smith, provides all the tools for you to create your own path in the world of Dishonored with your friends in the “Dishonored Roleplay Game.”
This tabletop game uses the 2d20 system, which can be a familiar or new system for many. The book provides rules, background information, story hooks, and more to help you create a memorable adventure with fellow fans.
I immediately snagged a copy of the booklet, my favorite set of dice, and a group of Dishonored fans to throw into a tale of political intrigue, backstabbing (literal and figurative), and the supernatural.
Here are my experiences and helpful tips (along with an editable resource) for navigating this game.
If you’re new to the 2d20 system, it’s okay!
I am new to the 2d20 system!
Dishonored: The Roleplaying Game requires both the players and the game master to take the time to review the 2d20 system. As someone who’s only played and taken the lead in 5th Edition D&D games, this system is very unfamiliar to me. At first, it was daunting! However, I developed a useful tool that summarized the information with my spin thrown in.
This tool is available for everyone to use. This is not a substitution for the rulebook, just a condensed version of how to play and other unique mechanics.
I hope this helps both you and your fellow players! To be honest, the best way to introduce this system is through a few practice sessions. It, also, is an opportunity to bond with group members, and make mistakes together.
The rulebook stresses that these rules “are flexible and are presented as options and advice” (Modiphius Entertainment & Arkane Studios, 2020). At the end of the day, the rules are for you to use and tailor to your campaign’s needs. Just make sure you communicate those rules before starting out!
As Game Master, you’re The Outsider
The rulebook shares how characters in the campaign have a connection to The Void (whether they realize it). It doesn’t mean they bear the Outsider’s Mark, it’s that their actions have more weight in the world.
I feel more like The Outsider in my current campaign. I watch characters face uncommon scenarios and quietly measure their actions. I use a homemade scale to move up or down the area’s awareness of the characters, momentum usage, and chaos for players to see.
I even track down characters’ reputations based on their actions. Are their actions going against their factions (i.e. Dead Eels, City Watch)? Is it time to crank out the Wanted Posters?
These mechanics create the storytelling intrigue felt in Dishonored games: your behavior impacts others.
Just like the Outsider, I can see how their actions are changing the very environment and the story set before them.
The story so far…
Want to throw players in the middle a feud between Paolo’s gang and the Overseers in Karnaca? Or explore Dunwall after the Morleyan Insurrection? Or find out what really happened on Whitecliff between the Overseers and supposed heretics? These are just a few of the routes you can take to start you on your journey!
The rulebook provides story hooks and a pre-made adventure that makes it possible to explore all of Dishonored’s universe. With all the information provided on the Isles and those who live there, it’s easy to create homemade adventures of your own. And yes, you CAN hold your campaign in Tyvia!
I went the homemade route and have pulled my players to the beginning stages of the Rat Plague in Dunwall. There are unknown figures who already are profiting off the chaos affecting the lower districts. Last we met, The Outsider paid a visit to the group to provide a cryptic clue. I lived for their shock and awe as they got thrown into The Void.
I can’t wait for my next session as I pull them further into this mystery as Dunwall, soon, will cave in on itself.
This resource is for you (even if tabletop is not your thing)
Even if you’re not interested in tabletop roleplaying, this is a resource all Dishonored fans should have on their shelves.
The rulebook is full of useful information and artwork on the Dishonored universe. Most of the book is dedicated to lore, regional information, the Void, and more. For me, I love the descriptions used to explain the different locations in the Isles. It gives me a clearer picture of the unexplored areas in Dishonored.
I would even argue that there is enough background information provided to help anyone not familiar of the series a good understanding of the universe.
However, I think the magic that comes from the rulebook comes from our experiences with the game. We all remember that gut-wrenching moment where the game shows us the consequences of our actions or the eeriness of the Void as we meet The Outsider for the first time. Now knowing we can move through this universe with our own characters? The thrill is undeniable!
If you’re a fan of Dishonored and/or want to try your hand on crafting an adventure that throws you in the middle of the Isles, check out Dishonored: The Roleplaying Game.
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