If you had searched for Red Opera before this week, you would have found an album by a band called DiAmorte. There are two versions; an orchestral one and a death metal1 one.
Apotheosis Studios’ The Red Opera RPG is both a campaign and an adventure inspired and accompanied by that music. Apotheosis even got The Budapest Scoring Symphonic Orchestra to play the orchestral version, and there’s a song per chapter to set the tone, mood and make your players say “Wow!”
The Red Opera is already a Kickstarter smash hit. It funded in 40 minutes. At the time of writing, there are 22 days on the clock. The campaign has about 730 backers, and the pledge goal of $10,000 has been slaughtered with $60,000 or so offered up. You can follow progress over at the campaign page.
The Red Opera creates a setting of its own called the Shadelands. This means you can take any group of heroes playing D&D 5e, give them access to the Shadelands and get them involved in the events of The Red Opera campaign.
You do that twice or more times too, as Apotheosis Studios have built an adventure with appropriate emphasis on player agency which means the events in the Shadelands can end in different ways.
There’s an emphasis on the Warlock class here. Why? Patrons are all critical in the Shadelands. Anyone entering the realm, whether they’re a Warlock or not, can strike a temporary bargain with an entity in the Patron power-scale.
Over 85,000 words (stretch goals to be added) bring The Red Opera: The Last Days of the Warlock to life as the operatic tragedy. There are 10 chapters, each one kicking off only when the party’s actions (or inaction) take them there.
Usually, the primary campaign is designed for high-level characters, although this can be adjusted. After all, the Shadelands were created as a realm where Warlocks had no need to hide their nature. It’s here that characters could meet Patron-level NPCs or acquire magic items believed to have been lost to antiquity.
It’s a pledge of US$30 to get started with rewards. At this level you’ll get yourself The Red Opera RPG as a PDF and an exclusive “Making Of” section, you’ll get digital art and wallpaper and a tier specific tag in Discord.
Twice as popular, the $50 tier gets you all that and a standard edition of the physical book.
There’s a $100 tier for Dungeon Masters, 23% cheaper than the planned retail price for the book, which gets you the digital goodies, your name in the credits and a special edition of The Red Opera (complete with a deluxe foil-stamped slipcase).
There are pledges in between, but the next physical book upgrade unlocks at $650 (that’s about £495) and brings the handmade leather edition of the book. That $650 tier has backers, but not as many as the $995 tier!
The top tier, currently unclaimed, sets you back a cool $5,000.
Honestly, I was nervous just having my mouse near that button.
The Red Opera preview
What’s all the fuss about? Well, the Kickstarter campaign page is remarkably well constructed with many dramatically animated gifs.
More importantly, there’s a 33-paged free download sample. Apotheosis Studios are using Google Drive to host it which means Geek Native can embed it below (for as long as the Studio maintain the upload).
As you might expect, this Warlock inspired campaign setting-meets-adventure contains new Warlock classes in addition to the side quests and story branches.
The Kickstarter campaign finishes at the end of the month and the expected delivery of most items is July 21st.
1The Red Opera metal album uses the death growl vocal technique and so, rightly or wrongly, I classify it as death metal.
Check the comments below to see what readers have to say.