A downloadable game

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A Fistful of Darkness is a Weird West Fantasy hack of Blades in the Dark with heavy emphasis on the fantasy part. It’s not intended to be an accurate history lesson or a simulation of past times. It is designed to be a cinematic game which lets you play all those Weird West tropes towards the end of the world.

A Fistful of Darkness is not a complete game. It’s a hack for Blades in the Dark by John Harper. You will need that game to play and if you don’t already own it, get it NOW! It’s more than worth your money.

The Setting

Imaging a world with the magic and mystery of the frontier: wide open
plains of the Old Wild West in all its beauty and madness, where violence
and sacrifice dominate every single day. Now add the Hellstone rush, under-
ground mayhem in mines and brand new sciences & machines. Don’t forget
immigration, injustice, vigilante justice, outlaws, gunslingers, slick talkers
and setting suns. This all in the face of an impending doom: Demons and the
four riders bringing the end of the world as you know it. How do you make
it to the top of this powder keg, which side will you take in the impending
war and how much will your soul suffer? Let’s play to find out!

The Rules

  • 12 new playbooks
    • The Fist - Like a cobra, ready to strike
    • The Shot - A deadly gunslinger & showman
    • The Law - A lawmen & enforcer
    • The Gamble - A subtle manipulator & sly trickster
    • The Scout - A stealthy tracker & hunter
    • The Outlaw - A maverick & desperado beyond rules
    • The Thunderheart - A totem fighter born from the land
    • The Speaker - A spiritual guide & protector
    • The Plan - A well-connected mastermind
    • The Gentle Touch - An empathic light in a dark world
    • The Wrench & Saw - Mad scientist, Hellstone otaku
    • And special: The Revenant - A vengeful spirit in a dead body
  • 4 new Posse Playbooks
    • Hellstone Scavengers, Outlaws, Bounty Hunters, Tribe
  • New mechanics for your characters, crew and world (for example: Hellstone, Grit, Ablass, Stigmatas, Doom, Riders of the Apocalypse/End Game, Underworld Runs, Mutations)
  • Modified rules for Payout, Downtime and Entanglements/Rider Events, which tie into the Doom and Riders systems
  • A toolbox to create your own Weird West setting via world building
  • 24 new factions for Mudwater and beyond
  • ~180 pages of unique content including art

“Get ready, Mateo. Doom is coming to dinner.” — MARSHAL McCAIN


It was a dark time,  and it just got much darker: As if living in a cruel and heartless frontier world was not enough, as if living in a Hell on earth was not enough... in a too deep mine near that sleepy hollow called Mudwater they found Bloodstone. Thereafter known as Hellstone.

The old ones say that some things are better left uncovered and Hellstone is definitely such a thing. Like the original box of Pandora it was found deep in the earth, and now there is no way undoing it. You think the gold rush turned men into greedy monsters? Think again, because now we have all that and the real thing: monsters and demons, spirits and ghosts, mutants and undead soulless killers. Hordes of them hunting in the night, ravaging the countryside and swarms of living nightmares attacking from the skies. Beware traveler, no road is save anymore. They are coming from the mines, they are coming from underground maws, spawned into the dark where Hellstone is found.

Hellstone turned out to be way more valuable than any other resource known to man, even more precious than your beloved gold. Since they found a way to gain energy  from Hellstone there's a new generation of marvellous machines and weapons for your greedy way to the top. Science and ancient magic rituals are equally powered with what Hellstone brings. Some say there's a just and appropriate way to use  Hellstone, most of them just don't care if that's true. They are too busy exploiting it. It's a new world and everybody wants a big piece of it or die trying.

The elders and wise ones are sure the final days are upon us, that Hellstone is the first omen of a grim doom: The four horsemen will come. The white, the red, the black and the pale horse along with their riders will end existence and bring judgement and redemption. It's obvious that Hellstone plays a crucial part in this but the greedy ones are too blind to see. Does your posse recognize those signs or are you're too busy climbing to the top at the expense of their fellow people?

Thought you knew the face of greed? Come to Mudwater and learn anew. Some fools say it’s better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. Oh, yes! Who needs Heaven anyway when you have a Hellstone colt in your hand, still warm from killing a horde of demons? Just pray that you never run out of ammo... and pray for the day of your creator's judgement.

CategoryPhysical game
Release date Mar 26, 2020
Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars
(39 total ratings)
GenreRole Playing
Tagsafod, bladesinthedark, Forged in the Dark, Tabletop role-playing game, weirdwest
Average sessionA few hours
LinksHomepage, Community


Buy Now$10.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $10 USD. You will get access to the following files:

aFistfulOfDarkness_v1.4.pdf 50 MB
aFistfulOfDarkness_Covers_v1.pdf 11 MB
aFistfulOfDarkness_Sheets_v1.4.pdf 4 MB

Community Copies

Support this game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Community Copies

Cannot afford to buy the game but want to play anyway? Get a community copy for free and have fun. No tip required, no questions asked.

I will add a new Community Copy for every sold book.

Development log

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Hi! I followed your first endevours back in 2017 or 2018, and I'm happy how great it looks! (I just wondered if you mind if we go to a printer and have them glue a copy, I sit enough in front of a screen as it is, and I really enjoy to read with all senses, even the tactile one!

(We're actually starting a game later this fall!)

Hey! Thanks for asking and yes, go ahead. Everything for the fun of the game is ok with me.

But... maybe you're not aware that there's a soft cover and hard cover option pod at lulu.com. Depending on your price for printing/glueing this may be even cheaper


I was not aware! Thank you so much for informing me!

The game lacked a few parts when I was going to a western/weird western-themed convention, and I had no time to make a "scenario", but I've wanted to play it a long while now. 


Are there printer-friendly sheets available by chance? The sheets are absolutely gorgeous though!

thanks for the praising   :)

Currently there are no simple sheets. Mmmm. Maybe I could make them though. By when do you need them?


Oh there’s no rush! I printed the bare minimum and we used Roll20 (holy Hellstone these are great too!) to track the posse and whatnot.

glad you like the roll20 sheets!

To be honest, I’m trying to avoid printer friendly character sheets for some time now and you’re the first to ask for them. Sooo, if you found a solution that work for you I will avoid them a bit longer, mainly because I don’t think I can make them interesting (and not boring) enough. I’m aiming for this first time wow effect when new players open the book or the sheets and simple sheets (when I make them) don’t have this effect. 

I really hope, this is ok for you. If not, I will overcome my doubts and lazyness und make them. 


No that’s totally valid! Those sheets are so cool. Definitely a wow factor :D


Like the person below, I also ordered the book from Lulu and would like the PDF linked to my itch account when you get a chance.  I emailed the proof of purchase to in at monkeyEcho.de.  Thank you ever-so-much!

Hi and thanks a lot! Please check your mail regarding the download code and I hope you have fun with the game.


Definitely enjoying the book so far, makes me want to learn a whole new system (that I didn't know I'd already owned. How about that?). I do have one thing, though; the use of his/her, he/she etc. everywhere. This was purchased in a fundraiser for trans rights, and I fear this will alienate an audience that is going to find themselves owning this game. It's not, say, a deal-breaker, we're certainly used to seeing this everywhere. But definitely something to think about.


Hi babylon, I glad you like the game and I hope you have fun with it.

Thank you for pointing that out his/her, he/she etc. You are right that trans could use more emphasis in the book. While there is text indicating that any gender is welcome and that this should be clarified in advance at the table, I failed to explicitly point out fluid gender, trans gender etc.
At the time (the game is much older than the Trans Bundle), I did not have this sufficiently on my radar. I promise to do better for my next game.


I ordered the HC from Lulu (which was supposed to be here three days ago LOL) - is there any way to get a PDF of it here so it's linked to my account?

sure! Send a proof of purchase via email (in at monkeyEcho.de) and I’ll send you a code for itch. 

Deleted 1 year ago

I never had the occasion to post here on Itch.io how good is this game. It feels really complete, and it has a good layout and art. Very recommended.


thanks! That means a lot to me :)


Hello, I have just started my first read-through of the rules and I'm loving it so far. Thanks for your hard work on this! 

I was planning to use Roll20 with my group, but it looks like the character sheets are an earlier version. Do you have any plans to update the Roll20 documents to v1.4? 

If you're open to some additional suggestions ... the light blue text in the chat, which shows the results of resistance rolls, is hard too see against the grey background. Would you consider using another color instead of that? (My apologies in advance if that's something that I can change on my own.)

Thanks again!


Hi! Thanks for pointing that out. Sheets are currently at V1.3 of the book (sheets and book has different version numbers because they do not change in sync). Only change in book V1.4 is a renaming of a special abilitiy in the The Law playbook. I will do that asap and let you know.  Same for light blue color: I will change that asap to something with more contrast.

New sheets are live now!


you have roll20 sheets???? sick!


Blood, sweat and tear, friend. Blood, sweat and lots of tears :)

I've been there, lol


Hi, have loved reading through the game. I had a quick question and wasn't sure where else to ask.

"To use the artifact it must first be bound to the PC (his/her soul, maybe?). To bound it, pay the quality level of the artifact in Grit (may be resisted using Guts). Artifacts already owned at the beginning of the game are bounded to the PC for free."

Does this mean permanently losing Grit (resisted) or is there no reason to resist unless the Quality is particularly high?


Here is a good place to ask questions or over at the Blades in the Dark forum. So, thanks for asking and no the paid Grit was not meant to be permanent but a one-off payment. I hope for a good scene when the PCs is bounded the artifact (or the other way around). Maybe the PCs does not choose the moment for the bounding but the artifact does or the former owner dies in combat and you have this one chance to snatch this Hellstone gun before some else does.  If you don't have enough Grit left or you just don't want to accept a Stigmata you may choose to resist. BTW if you resist or not does mean something storywise, right? Open arms acception or another burden, it may establish a starting ground for this PC/artifact relationsship. Everything is a good story or questions to the players or a cool scene.


Admittedly, I only ran this game when is was in an early beta/playtesting format. That said, I ran a year-long Fistful of Darkness game that was easily the best game I've ever GMed. Truly a blast.


great game, definitely worth the price tag if this is your sort of thing


This is a beautiful game.  The "end times" theme flows throughout the game and the playbooks, special abilities, and world building are incredibly evocative of weird wild west.