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A downloadable tragedy

Darker Malleus is an analog adventure game for 2 to 5 players about a band of righteous hunters on a journey to pursue and defeat a champion of the Adversary. Along the way they'll test their mettle and virtue against violence, duplicity, and temptation. In the end, they'll discover that Evil is not so wicked and the Creator is not so good. We play to find out if they'll triumph over the Devil anyway or join the ranks of the Adversary's champions.

It features:

  • A fleshed out rules text friendly to veteran gamers and first-time players alike.
  • Randomly generated Hunters with varying backgrounds, equipment, and virtues. Plus, the possibility of playing a traitorous False Hunter.
  • A resolution system centering the Hunters' growing Hatred and how it eats away at their Virtues.
  • Clear advice and procedures for the Adversary, Darker Malleus' GM, to create scenarios and mediate play.
  • A luxurious layout that invites meditation on and annotation of the text.
  • Full-page, black and white illustrations by Felix Miall.

The Rules in Short

Every Hunter has the seed of Hatred burning in their heart. This Hatred has a value that goes up to 10. Depending on the Hunter's Lifepath, their Hatred starts at 4, 5, or 6.

When a Hunter acts on the world, or is acted on in kind, and we're not sure of the result, we roll a ten-sided die (d10) and read its result as 0 through 9.

nine ten-sided dice showing 0 through 9.

Dice icons modified from originals by John W. Sheldon of Daedalum AP Games.

When the result is equal to or less than their Hatred, it means that darkness and violence have won out in their heart. When the Hunter is trying to do violence or act with cunning, this is good. When the Hunter is trying to express their inborn Virtue or resist the Devil's temptation, this is bad.

When the result is greater than their Hatred, it means that light and virtue have won out in their heart. When the Hunter is trying to do violence or act with cunning, this is bad. When the Hunter is trying to express their inborn Virtue or resist the Devil's temptation, this is good.

A Hunter facing failure may declare "Not today, Satan!" to overcome their weakness, but doing so increases their Hatred.

A Hunter who, in their weakness, indulges their temptation, increases their Hatred.

If a Hunter's Hatred reaches 10, their heart breaks and they fall to Evil, becoming one of the Adversary's champions.

Critical Praise for Darker Malleus

"Dire and delectable. Darker Malleus innovates on modern design trends and interrogates assumed wisdom. Read it. Play it." --Aaron Burkett of Doom Rides.

"Darker Malleus oozes theme. Simply use the game's terminology and you can't help but fall into character." --Eli Kurtz of Mythic Gazetteer.

Unfinished, Not Incomplete

Darker Malleus is the product of an unsuccessful Kickstarter. While the game itself is text complete, it presently lacks certain intended amenities. Chiefly, only one of the five original illustrations by Felix Miall have been paid for and completed. As we continue to raise funds through sales of the digital edition, we will finish the game as originally intended.

  • $300--Full Page Illustration #2. COMPLETED!!
  • $600--Full Page Illustration #3.
  • $900--Full Page Illustration #4.
  • $1300--Wrap Cover Illustration.

Witness the Origin of Darkness

Darker Malleus is built from the bones of one-page, two-player game called Dark Malleus. You can find it here:

StatusIn development
CategoryPhysical game
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(1 total ratings)
AuthorBad Quail Games
GenreRole Playing
Tagsgrimdark, Horror, OSR, PbtA, sword-dream, sworddream
Average sessionA few hours
MultiplayerLocal multiplayer

Development log


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I had the pleasure of playing Darker Malleus with its creator as our GM. It's elegantly simply and we were off into the gloom with characters made in only minutes. The mood and setting were perfect. It was incredibly fun and story-based. I can't say enough good things.