The room beckons. You enter, and the door closes behind you …
Bluebeard’s Bride is an intense roleplaying game of investigative horror from a feminine perspective, where the players take on the role of aspects of the psyche of the Bride, who then explores Bluebeard’s mansion, discovering the string of horrors within (you can read our review of the core game here).
The Book of Rooms is an idea-generating supplement for Bluebeard’s Bride, giving the beleaguered Groundskeeper some possible rooms to import into one session’s mansion, or allowing them to use individual elements as inspiration for aspects of different rooms.
Each of the 40 rooms in the Book of Rooms gets its own two-page spread. On the left is a full-page imagining of the room, with items of interest picked out from the rest of the room in distinctive colors. On the right, usually not quite using up the entire page, is the text write-up of the room, including the threat classification (e.g., sexuality -> abortion), a description of the door to the room, a description of what the Bride sees when she enters the room, four mysterious objects, and two horrors (triggered by two of the four mysterious objects). The descriptions of the horrors are usually vaguely divided into what the Bride sees when she first looks at it, and then what happens when she interacts with it (the division can be vague, that is, the descriptions are clear and, as appropriate for the game, sometimes rather disturbing). The room descriptions are quite evocative. They are not, however, comprehensive, in that they don’t provide suggestions on examination of the two mysterious objects that don’t have an associated horror, or (usually) suggestions on how the Bride might go about overcoming/succumbing to the horror.
The Book of Rooms is divided into four wings, based on the mundane concept of room (that is, the division is unrelated to the type of threat the room presents). The North Wing contains rooms related to entertainment, such as the music room and the game room. The West Wing contains rooms related to the staff and mundane operation of the mansion, such as the servant’s quarters and the wine cellar. The East Wing contains rooms related to hobbies and crafts, such as the sewing room and the greenhouse. The South Wing contains more private rooms, such as the meditation room and the powder room. There are a lot of roleplaying games (maybe most roleplaying games) where I’m not enthused by ideas that are not “complete” – if I’m going to a supplement for an adventure, or a character, or a dungeon, or a monster, I probably want to be able to grab the thin wholesale and just use it. However, the way that the Bride interacts with rooms in Bluebeard’s Bride is, I think, far too open-ended for a supplement to define the ways that the Bride can interact with a horror. The game plays far better as “yes, and” than it does as “guess what solution the book lists.” Plus, for me, the hardest part of creating a room is that initial spark of an idea – even if one wanted lots of detail on ways the Bride might interact with a horror, just providing a fleshed-out idea in the first place is already the lion’s share of the value. It would have been nice, however, to get a little snippet about the two mysterious objects in each room that don’t generate a horror.
Ultimately, while the Book of Rooms cannot be said to be a “must buy” supplement in that it doesn’t add rules or player options or new scenarios, it does a great job at providing inspiration for the part of Bluebeard’s Bride that is (for me, at least) the most challenging part of being the Groundskeeper. And that can be a pretty valuable thing.