The Dark Knight Returns…to Tabletop

Monolith, a tabletop company with a history of bringing Batman to flat surfaces is expanding the reach of the Dark Knight. While Batman and his extended family of allies and sidekicks are no strangers to the tabletop space, Monolith’s upcoming Batman Tabletop RPG marks a new way to explore the grit and grime of Gotham City.

The Batman Tabletop RPG — fighting crime under the moniker Gotham City Chronicles brand — will provide rules for becoming an agent of the law or a vigilante to combat crime on Gotham’s mean streets, or commit capers as a criminal yourself — costumed or otherwise. Monolith plans to provide methods for playing your favorite iconic characters from the storied Batman universe, as well as the ability to create your own heroes and villains. Bat-Family characters slated for an appearance include Nightwing as well as 2 flavors of Robin - Tim Drake and Damian Wayne. On the Rogues Gallery and Villain side, expect to see Two-Face, Bane, The Riddler, Mister Freeze, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, the Penguin and the Joker to show up. Will you fight these dastardly villains? ...or play them?

A total of 5 books are planned at this point. The core rulebook — titled Gotham’s Heroes — will provide the framework for adventures in Batman’s slice of the DC universe using a D20 based system. The Gotham City Guide will provide lore on Batman, his allies, rogue’s gallery, and the titular city setting for use in crafting adventures. Gotham City Chronicles rounds out the list of announced book titles (an odd and possibly confusing choice, given the name of the game/brand), and will focus on providing scenarios for freshly minted dark heroes. Two more setting books have been alluded to, but do not have titles or release dates as of yet.

Batman has certainly been present on the tabletop before (both from Monolith and others) in the form of boardgames, miniatures games, and even tabletop RPGs. Gotham’s City Chronicles - The RPG marks the first time that the Caped Crusader and his entourage are the primary focus for roleplaying adventures, however, and given his broad fandom, it no wonder there is a high level of excitement surrounding it. A Kickstarter is planned, but as of this writing has not yet gone live.

Superhero RPGs are certainly nothing new, but in this author’s experience, creating the lore, relatable characters, and balancing game mechanics are consistent challenges for the genre. Monolith has a solid amount of experience developing games in the Batman universe already, and by utilizing the well-established framework of Gotham, they have a serious shot at getting things just right. The Batman universe’s collection of characters also trend towards thematic crimefighters and megalomaniacs rather than deity-level powerhouses, making story and atmosphere the stars, while simultaneously making balancing character powers easier to accomplish.

We still don’t know when Monolith’s Kickstarter will go live — Gotham City Chronicles The RPG marks their eleventh foray on the platform, so chances are high that the veteran team will hit their funding mark. Keep your diamond masks handy and your detective skills sharp — you’ll want to leap into action when the funding campaign starts.