Grimsical Inspiration

By Rookery Publications
Art by Mark Gibbons

extremely bad, worrying, or without hope

unusual, playful, and unpredictable

A flavoursome portmanteau that combines contradictory elements of the above to charming effect. See also grimsy.

To the uninitiated, Dark Deeds might appear to be a thoroughly sinister gaming experience. The cutting of purses, the stabbing of backs, the endless scheming and inevitable betrayal… all very grim, indeed. But to those in the know (which will shortly include you, dear reader) that grimness has been tempered in the fanciful fires of whimsy!

Throughout the development of Dark Deeds, its creators worked to inject levity into its sinister subject matter, determined to provide moments of tension-breaking, borderline surreal, humour. For example, players are expected to dispose of their Patron’s loathed Nemeses by whatever means necessary, and if that dark deed is best accomplished by slipping past a Guard whilst sporting Grand Pantaloons and a Pontiff's Mitre (perhaps also mounted on a Faithful Steed), before setting about their unfortunate target with a brace of Blessed Bludgeoners, then so much the sillier!

Much of the inspiration for such silliness has come from masters of the imaginative milieu, ‘The Terrys’ (Pratchett and Gilliam). Whether its Discworld’s city-state of Ankh-Morpork or the Jabberwocky-ravaged domains of King Bruno the Questionable, Dark Deeds tips its battered black hat to such rich and playful landscapes. 

And although magic (that perennial catch-all when players are asked to suspend their collective disbeliefs) appears to be absent in Anthrand, obviously fanciful episodes of play serve to liberate the game’s design from any need to feel realistic or weighty. 

© 1977 National Film Trustee Company Limited


For all its gritty, mediaeval trappings, at its heart Dark Deeds is a game about something decidedly contemporary – the toxic workplace. Who amongst us doesn’t know the difficulties of dealing with a demanding, mercurial boss; a frantic daily routine; a collection of scheming coworkers determined to hamper one’s progress up the greasy corporate pole? True, there are usually fewer Nun’s Habits or Smog Bombs flying about the average 21st century cafeteria than on Anthrand’s grubby streets, but the themes still resonate regardless.  

Dark Deeds’ art reflects the narrative theme. The menagerie of characters, loot, and plots are presented in convincingly grimy fashion, but many feature a whimsical twist that lifts them out of the mediaeval mundane. The art invites players to imagine the reality of a world where they’re pursued by Witch-Sniffers and Courtesans, and where the perfect strategy for dealing with such adversaries might involve a sprinkling of Caltrops and a shot or two from a Pocket Arbalest. 

We began the day by introducing ‘grimsical’ into our collective lexicons – a word that has come to define Dark Deeds’ compelling blend of light and shade. It extends from the game’s fundamental design, through its art, and ultimately, to its emergent, roleplay-encouraging playstyle. 

Our next blog will dive deep into the refinements, revisions, and reimagined gameplay that make the new edition of Dark Deeds sneakily superior to that which came before. Join us to learn the wicked whys and wherefores.

And don’t forget you can pre-order Dark Deeds now!


If you want to keep up-to-date on all the latest news concerning Dark Deeds, including future blog posts, you can subscribe to the mailing list here. You can also uncover more about Dark Deeds at Rookery Publications’ website. Share your excitement for the game on social media using the hashtag #DarkDeedsGame to connect with fellow minions in the service of our cruel but glorious Patron worldwide!

Dark deedsViamodiphius