By Charles R. Bernard
Mörk Borg has been a Wandering Monster staple since its inception. As the pitch-black shroud of Mörky doom enfolds the indie TTRPG scene, its creator-and-player-oriented OGL has drawn hordes of supplements, modules, bestiaries, and all manner of third-party content to its gore-soaked banner.
We’ve played and reviewed many of these adventures on stream, and the ones we’ve explored have ranged from merely good to absolutely outstanding. Chain Assembly‘s Pilgrimage of the Penitent, an adventure for Mörk Borg coming soon to Kickstarter, excels expectations on every count. Pilgrimage stands out as one of the better, more interesting, and more iconic books in the scene. It’s well worth your time and provides opportunities for twisty, interesting gameplay that you won’t want to miss.
Chain Assembly’s art is striking and archetypal. Every illustration in the book feels like it could have come from a stained glass window in a cathedral in hell, or a Tarot deck used by things that go bump in the night. In particular, their NPC and Item art make this book a must-own for artpunk TTRPG fans.
Font and color are key to navigating Pilgrimage of the Penitent. Not in a way that feels distracting or confusing, but in a simple, straightforward manner that helps streamline the GM reading experience. The book’s layout is fun, eye-catching, and as delightfully cracked as one hopes for in a Mörk Borg book.
Chain Assembly’s take on penitence, sin, and regret are foregrounded in Pilgrimage. I was interested to note that adult/sexual themes are present (or, at least, made overtly possible), with such potential partners as tentacled mud-dwellers and people with their intestines worn like festive aprons. Some readers may find this off-putting, but they probably aren’t the readers interested in grimdark content to begin with. For my part, I appreciated that deliberate choice on the creator’s part, and it allowed Pilgrimage to explore themes of body horror and sexuality while doing so in an understated way.
Additionally, the thematic use of religious imagery (or, more accurately, blasphemous imagery) is executed with subtlety and unapologetic force in equal measure. That’s a hard balancing act to pull off gracefully, and not every Mörk Borg adventure manages it without stumbling. Chain Assembly’s imagery and text thread the needle without wavering, and the result is a must-own for fans of the pitch-black Borg aesthetic and ethic.
This book is worth backing for the gameplay alone. Sections that can be exported to other modules are flagged for easy use. Chain Assembly has created a fascinating spectrum of ailments, some of which are semi-symbiotic in a sneaky way that I enjoyed. Game paths are well-laid-out for the GM, but plenty of room is provided for player choice and alternative paths. Ample lore and detail are provided but aren’t absolutely integral to the core of gameplay, allowing for à la carte engagement. That’s a factor I consider a huge plus.
On the whole, I can’t wait to play Pilgrimage of the Penitent (perhaps on-stream!). This is a TTRPG book that you will want to own.