Passionate Game Design

Welcome To Bloodthorn Press

Welcome to Bloodthorn Press, an independent game publisher.  Our games are primarily written and designed by myself, Jesse Burneko, and feature the illustration, layout and graphic design work of my wife, Gretchen Burneko.  Some people quibble over definitions but I consider these to be role-playing games or story telling games, if you prefer.  They all involve people sitting around a table verbally creating a shared narrative.

Core Principles:

Aesthetics: Most of the games run toward dark themes, gothic sensibilities and sometimes disturbing subject matters.  However, I strive to reach beyond just being cool, hip or “edgy”.  I believe that the exploration of dark subject matters can bring us closer together as people, if we’re willing to be a little vulnerable with one another.

Focused Design: I believe that it’s okay for a game not to have particularly broad appeal.  These games are designed with specific purposes in mind and exist to creatively serve those who are excited about those purposes.  If that turns out to be 5 people I’m happy.  If that turns out to be 100,000 people I’m happy.

Table Tested: I don’t publish what I haven’t played.  I built these games first-and-foremost because I wanted to play a game that explored a particular topic, theme or idea and nothing in my library of existing games was satisfying that desire.  My designs come from my passion for quality play.

Beyond Genre: Many role-playing games seek to emulate specific genres and often get caught up in tropes and expectations entrenched in the wider culture.  When I design a genre heavy game I first go directly to raw source material.  I read books and watch films with a critical eye and seek to build games that capture the heart of a body of work and enable players to broaden their experience beyond simply celebrating the repeated surface details of a genre.

Commitment To Independence: I believe anyone can design and publish games.  We are all hobbyist together and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to keep you out of some perceived clubhouse.  With tools like Kickstarter, Patreon, and Print-On-Demand services the means are there to make and distribute games at any level of quality.  I’m very fortunate to have a dedicated artist who makes my games look nicer than they have any right being, but today there are games that fit on index cards, are published as websites or presented as a simple book with clean text and basic layout.  Don’t wait for permission or for someone to let you into the clubhouse.  The gatekeepers are dead; stride proudly over their corpses.

All feedback on the material presented here is welcome and appreciated. If you play one of my games please send me the list of all who participated so that I may credit them in future revisions.

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