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Monster-hunting, Forged in the Dark

It's 1994 in the region of the fictional Ontonagon Peninsula known as "Iron Country," a belt of mining towns barely clinging to life. These towns are surrounded on all sides by the Sylvan Wilds, a forest known for old-growth pines and strange happenings. All of Iron Country seems to be teeming with the supernatural, a fact those in power would like to conceal.

You are a hunter, and you’ve promised to keep regular people safe from the horrors in the darkness. You will investigate the strange happenings going on throughout Iron Country, attempting to put the pieces together and stop the monsters before people get hurt. Will you be able to stop the malevolent forces before their power grows too strong to contain? Will you stand strong with your found family and community or will you sacrifice yourself to spare the ones you love? Will you be lost trying to find solace wherever you can?

Thrilling, gritty, and utterly human, Bump in the Dark is a tabletop roleplaying game about a group of people who’ve dedicated their lives to hunting and dealing with monsters. There are gruesome attacks, tense investigations, nasty cryptids, nefarious factions, powerful demons, action-packed showdowns, and regular folk caught in the middle.

Inside, you’ll find

  • Fully illustrated, hyperlinked, and indexed 140-page PDF with everything you need to play the game.
  • Rules to create your own hunter, combining a custom background with powerful abilities to create a unique character with beliefs, drive, and connections to Iron Country.
  • Luck, doom, and advancement systems that balance the cost of power and proximity to darkness hunters face.
  • A lightweight, low-prep investigation system that will keep everyone, even the keeper, on their toes while pushing toward an exciting showdown with the monster.
  • An evocative setting guide detailing the major locations and factions of Iron Country. 
  • Guidelines and support for framing compelling scenes during downtime.
  • Advice for creating your own hunts and running full-length campaigns.

The Hunters

There are seven character types to choose from, each representing a different style of hunter:

  • Shields are headstrong fighters and protectors.
  • Icons are calculating liaisons and agents.
  • Scourges are formidable spell-slingers and magic-users.
  • Ravens are adept thinkers and watchers.
  • Staves are sneaky scoundrels and crooks.
  • Lances are passionate occultists and zealots.
  • Unshaped are plucky novices and innocents.

The Pact

In addition to creating hunters, you'll also create the "team" they are a part of. This is called the pact, and it represents the promise they've made, whether implicitly or explicitly, to the people of Last Pine, and the promises they've made to each other. You'll define what type of group you're interested in exploring, but also create connections to Last Pine. The approach you take when creating your pact will determine the hunts you'll go on, which factions you'll likely interact with, and the NPCs needing your help.

The Mechanics

Bump in the Dark is character-driven and fiction-first, using a streamlined version of the Forged in the Dark Engine and the Redacted Materials investigation system (from External Containment Bureau). The game uses a simple d6 dice pool for action resolution. Failures and mixed successes create complications and consequences which will challenge your hunter and push the story forward. You spend luck to add dice to your pool or resist dangerous consequences and gather clues to aid in your investigation, leading to the inevitable showdown with the monster. Then it's downtime, geared toward pushing your hunters together and tearing them apart. 

Play Information

Coming Soon

Currently working on:

  • Professional copy editing
  • More original art
  • Additional hunts and supplements

In the future:

  • Text-only version for text readers
  • Audiobook  
  • Spotify Playlist

Actual Play, Reviews, Resources, and More Visit bumpinthedarkrpg.com


Buy Now$15.00 USD or more

In order to download this TTRPG you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $15 USD. You will get access to the following files:

BumpInTheDark_v0.9.5.zip 85 MB
Reedem on Role

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Download demo

Playkit (Character Sheets & Reference Materials) 4 MB
One-Shot Guide 89 kB

Development log

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I purchased the game through a bundle on Itch several months ago and finally got around to downloading it, but when I try to uncompress the zip, it says that I don’t have permission to save the file. I have tried deleting and re downloading already. Please advise.

Well that is clearly wrong. Let me reupload it and see if that makes a difference. Otherwise I'll have to contact itch support.

try again and let me know if it works

Okay, I tried on my phone again and it still says that I don’t have permission, but when I tried on my laptop it seemed to work properly. Thank you for trying.

How weird! Sorry it's goofy

Hi! I run a TTRPG exploration podcast and have been really wanting to chat with you about Bump in the Dark but have not been able to find a way to contact you, so i'm just leaving something here!

Let me know if you would be interested! If not just wanted to say Bump in the Dark looks like an amazing game and i've excited to fully read it and try it out for myself!

Hello! I'd love to talk! You can email me at my username here at gmail, or message me on discord with the same username.

Hi, just checking in to see if this is still something you're looking for!


Omg yes I'm sorry! Had a ton of work come up and i've been slowly tackling everything and completely missed that you responded to this! I just sent a friend request on discord! 

Great, I'll be on the lookout!

What’s the download key (looks like a uuid) for?


Purchases include a key to unlock the game on the Role VTT: https://www.playrole.com/

Is it not specified what the key is for? That's weird, and I will look into it.

Yes, unspecified. I see:

Claim download key

Your purchase comes with a download key!

(Key here)

Shit, that is not supposed to be the case. I'll try to figure it out. Thanks for calling my attention to it!

The Downtime section says, "You start downtime with 0-3 downtime dice...", but I don't see where "downtime dice" are defined. My best guess is that these are the dice rolled as a result of Bond earned during the Fallout phase. Is that correct?


Correct! I will clarify that in the text, thank you!

And when awarding Bond at the end of a Hunt, under what circumstances would the Keeper award one Bond? Unsuccessful hunt, but impressed an NPC? Or are these more guidelines and it’s up to the Keeper to assign 0-3 Bond?

Is there a good place to report other small errors? I’m finding small things here and there.

If the hunt is unsuccessful, they are not awarded any Bond. It doesn't matter if they impressed an NPC in that case, and for their downtime dice they would roll 2d and keep the lower result. 

So for Fallout, they will earn 0, 2,  or 3 Bond, and technically they will go into downtime with 1-3 dice based on what they rolled during fallout. I will clarify that in the text.

Feel free to post them in this thread.


The Shield and the Icon each have a template where only three action dots are selected.

This is correct. All playbooks start with three action dots pre-marked; during character creation the player marks four additional action dots.

Unless I am misunderstanding what you are saying?


Should be:

Slayer: Scramble +2, Compel +1, Hunt +1. Relentless.

Local Law: Wreck +1,  Connect +2, Sway +1. Deadeye.

It'll probably be a little while before I push out any changes because there's a big update on the horizon with some new original art but I appreciate you sharing these. 


All of these changes have been pushed and I've updated the PDF to version 0.9.5. 

can we get these two pdfs with the color cover art?

I'll look into it. Thanks.

Just re-uploaded with this change. Thanks for the suggestion.


ahhh thank you!

No problem!

I may yet mess around to see if I can do it and retain the correct formatting for spreads (and remove blank pages in both PDFs) but that is a project for a different day!


Enjoyed reading through this a lot - I think it's a solid implementation of the FitD rules with some nice additional elements. Really rate the bit where advancement requires you to frame a scene in particular. Setting info is interesting while leaving plenty of space, and I'm really wishing I'd read it before I started running my Monster of the Week campaign. 


Thanks so much for all the kind words! This game is a little bit of a love letter to Monster of the Week, so I don't think you'll go wrong there (or you can always change mid-campaign hehe). 


Don't think I didn't consider it, but it'd mean ditching our "UK TV supernatural procedural" vibe. it's defo on my list of games to try *after* MotW now though.


Can't wait to hear about it when you get there!

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I haven't read the full PDF yet, but I don't want to wait until I'm done with it to leave a quick comment here about how much I like Bump in the Dark! I'm a big fan of Blades in the Dark and have seen a few adaptations of it, but I really like what you've done with Bump in the Dark. Not only did you simplify FitD a bit, but you brought in some really cool new stuff from other systems. I love the states (and disadvantage) and also the strings (from monsterhearts?) I'm sure the rest of the PDF will be great and I might be able to play a Twin Peaks setting with it soon. Would be really happy if you continue to work on the system!


Nina! Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm glad you're excited about the game and I hope you share your experiences with it once you've played it. Twin Peaks is a major inspiration for me and the last campaign I ran definitely had some good Twin Peaks vibes. It's not a perfect fit but I think you can do it pretty well!


I had a huge amount of fun playing Bump in the Dark. Previously, I've mostly played D&D- and PbtA-based games, so it was great to use a system that really focuses on the collaborative storytelling side of things. Not having a lot of crunchy rules to fall back on for structure can sometimes be intimidating to new players, but my girlfriend (who has almost no TTRPG experience) had no problem jumping in and keeping up. Having access to the playtesting Discord server, I'm also extremely impressed with the work Jex is continuing to put into the game, both in terms of clarifying the existing material and building out rule variations to make the game more accessible to people at different levels of play and enhance long-term replayability.

I would say BitD already extremely playable, so it's an absolute steal to snag at the current discount or as a part of any bundles—though full price will be entirely worth it!


thank you <3 <3 <3 


Bump in the Dark is a fantastically fun game. Great Forged in the Dark base, with thoughtful and interesting implementation of elements from Redacted Materials. Having a great time playing!

Thank you so much for the kind words! I'm glad you're having a good time.


I think the rules for the Showdown Roll are worded in a confusing way. It looks like you add a d6 to the pool for each of the 3 questions you can answer, but it also says that each clue contributes a d6. It’s a little ambiguous as to whether you need to count up the clues or if you just need to have found at least 3 clues  

This is also a problem I have with the rules for External Containment Bureau. I like the mystery solving from The Between and Apocalypse Keys, but the Move is only about counting the clues that are part of your theory. When I first read ECB, I thought that you made a separate Theory Roll for each question you try to answer and whether you had found every clue. 

Hi! Thanks for asking for clarification.

The way the showdown roll is intended to work in Bump in the Dark is that:

1. You get 1d per question that you are able to answer using at least one unique clue

2. A clue only counts as answering a question if you haven't already used it to answer a previous question

I can see why the way it's written is somewhat confusing, since "each clue used only contributes to your dice pool once" could be read as each clue contributes a d6 to the pool, however, this is not the intention. I can look at clarifying that passage.

I will say that the showdown roll is the last bit I still find myself tinkering with. Overall, I think it works well this way: you technically only need to find three clues to be able to get the maximum dice (unless you have the "diligent" pact ability, which awards you for finding all the clues before the countdown clock fills), but in practice the more clues you find, the easier it is to come up with a theory that makes sense fictionally. I've only once had players insistent on rolling with only three clues (experienced Brindlewood Bay players, interestingly); every other time they've wanted more to be able to feel like they could come up with a theory that makes at least some sense. (I'm also pretty generous with clues when I'm running the game, so it's likely they're going to find more than just three anyway -- but if they can't figure out how to answer the second question with the clues they have, it's still helpful to have more clues). 

In early drafts of the game, the showdown roll worked just as the theory roll does in ECB, where if you answer a question with multiple clues, you get multiple dice for that question. In practice, I found that players were getting a shit ton of dice (usually 6-8) for the showdown roll in a way that felt really uninteresting to us at the table. One solution for this is to push the countdown harder, so that they can't find so many clues in the first place before having to deal with the monster, but we tried limiting it to only 3 dice maximum (4 with the pact ability) and it worked really well at the table.

I have played around with making it more like The Between or Apocalypse Keys, where there is a complexity rating equal to the countdown clock but that hasn't felt quite right, either.

I did draft this version at one point, trying to mechanize the race between finding clues and the clock filling. I may still playtest this version, and would certainly be open to feedback on it:

Take 1d for each unique clue you use to answer one of the showdown questions. Clues can be used to answer multiple questions, but each clue used only contributes to your dice pool once. Then, take -1d for each filled segment of the countdown clock. If you are left with zero or fewer dice, roll 2d and take the lower.

Regardless, I appreciate your feedback and would encourage you to try what makes sense to you, and report back if you're willing! I think it works well as written (or as intended, if the wording is confusing) but clearly I've never been 100% firm on that, or I wouldn't still be tinkering with it long after the rest of the game is done.


I do like the Carved from Brindlewood mechanics of rolling +clues-complexity, but I think the simplicity of “answer the three questions and roll 3 dice” works better for this game.

Even the FitD game CHEW uses the exact same showdown roll as Bump in the Dark, which I consider a major improvement over External Containment Bureau rules as written. It 

It does?? I had no idea! That's really interesting to know. I backed the game on Kickstarter but haven't looked at any materials that might be available yet. 

Anyway, thanks for engaging with the game! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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The only difference between your system and CHEW is what kinds of clues you uncover. Since the PCs are federal agents solving crimes, the clues are lists of possible suspects, motives, and means. The game even recommends a corkboard for keeping track of clues and making connections to build a case against the perpetrators. The CHEW Quickstart comes with a scene-by-scene breakdown of a prewritten case, but also an improv-friendly version that follows a very similar format to mysteries from Bump and ECB.

From a game design perspective, I think the difference between CHEW and Brindlewood is that the former is about deciding what details are relevant to the case, while the latter is about using all the information you have to find the truth. That's why Brindlewood has you count up the number of clues you find, while CHEW has you roll the same number of dice as long as you have a theory. Brindlewood wants you to tie it all together, while CHEW wants you to question whether the weird details are just dark absurdism or not.

itch.io says game cannot be bought. I want to buy.

that is ... very strange. not sure what was going on. try again?


Yeah. The entire page looks different now. None of the community copy info was on the page when  I looked earlier and the "buy now" button looked different. It worked tho! I bought it. Can't wait to dig in to it.

That's wild! I wonder what the hell was going on. Well, I'm glad it worked now and I appreciate your support!


A very good implementation of both FiTD and the External Containment Bureau investigation rules. Also contains a wealth of examples that would help someone not just running this game but any other Forged in the Dark game for sure.


Thank you! 


This game is so good. Highly recommend!


thanks so much Jim!