Exclusive: Paint the town (blood) red in this new sad vampire game

An interview with Zach Cox of SoulMuppet Publishing about vampires, mental health, and how to make characters dying really, really worth it.

Exclusive: Paint the town (blood) red in this new sad vampire game
Cover Art by Johan Nohr; Background art by Brian Yaksha

Combining existential dread with the desire to drown your sorrows is an age-old tradition, and when your existential dread promises to last, well... an eternity or so, you're likely to have a lot of raucous nights. Paint The Town Red, the upcoming release from SoulMuppet Publishing promises the intimate "powderkeg" of an urban fantasy faction game with the insatiable, chaotic bloodlust of a vampire living on the edge.

With gorgeous art, a tight combat system that prioritizes making your character sad over killing them, Paint The Town Red is combining everything yours truly loves about vampires and making it even better. (Or, even worse. Vampires aren't the best people.)

A free digital quickstart will be released on May 17 via the SoulMuppet store, and the full game will be crowdfunded on Kickstarter in September.

In the meantime, whet your palate with this exclusive cover reveal, featuring the art of Rascal favorite, Johan Nohr*, and read creator Zach Cox's take on how this game works, how it came together, and what it means to gamify the very act of being human.

Art by Johan Nohr

Lin Codega: Can you talk about the art and design of this book? 

Zach Cox: I pitched Johan [Nohr] the game last year at Gencon and we decided to work together on it. I love Johan's work from Mörk Borg, but his stuff on Into The Odd felt really relevant for this project.  We've started hiring artists for sample pieces, but most of the art in the book is public domain. It was pretty easy to find sad depressing vampire art, and stuff that showed a spooky nightlife. 

For the artists we commissioned, we wanted to depict the emotional notes of our vampires in how the art appeared. Pieces were either classed as Brood or Passion. Brood depicts a vampire deep in misery with murky shapes, coloured only in black, white and red. The Passion pieces were almost unreal, showing a vampire at a party, sharp lines, vibrant palettes, almost unrealistic. As for the layout, we've gone for this bloody gutter that increases in intensity and vibrancy throughout each chapter in a cascade of messy viscera. This plots the arc of each vampire. 

As always, we're balancing aesthetics with useability and everything has to be clear. We're using a sharp, reduced palette of red, white and black.  I'm so excited to feel how the final thing looks, once we can commission more art and finalise the look of the setting.

Codega: This is a game based around sessions, but how do you see this game expanding over longer campaigns? 

Cox: Paint The Town Red is set at some point in history in a city on earth, a place cool enough where the undead gather and form a nightlife. At the start of your campaign, your vampires arrive in the city and meet new people, indulge their Passions, make mistakes and generally cause Chaos.