Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Survive This!! - Dark Places & Demogorgons Review

Survive This!! - Dark Places & Demogorgons is out and you need to pick it up asap. You can get the books at several places, such as Lulu and OBS, but I recommend buying them directly from source. That's where I picked up my copy of the Kickstarter exclusive cover hardback version. Now let me say, it's a bit more expensive than other versions but well worth it. It's sturdy and the glossy pages look fantastic.

This book is two hundred pages of OSR glory!

The game is set in Jeffersontown (or J'Town) in the 1980's. This is Stranger Things, Lost Boys, E.T., Erie Indiana... the game. The setting definitely has an influence on the game overall, but isn't required. You could easily set in Hawkins, Derry, Sunnyvale, Erie, or any other small town/city. With a little work you could even set it in other eras... but why would you want to do that? The game is phenomenal as is.

At it's core, this is a game we're familiar with. You have a class, level, hp, AC, attributes, and saving throws. Most of these will seem familiar, though there is some new stuff (like the Survival Attribute and the Courage saving throws). The classes are built off the classic teen 80's archetypes. We have The Brain (The Kid Scientist, The Nerd, and the Geek), Athlete (The Jock, Extreme Athlete, and Karate Kid), Outsider (Break-Dancer, Goth, and Metal Head), Popular (Preppy, The Princess, and Teen Heart Throb) and Rebel (Bully, Hood, and Punk Rocker). Class choices affect skills, attributes, and provide different abilities. They only go up to level 5 (in the book), but that makes sense considering you're playing minors. The abilities are pretty cool, btw. My favorite is that at 5th level the Metal Head can summon a minor demon!

So as I mentioned the game does have a skills system. Many OSR games don't, but this one works and isn't too complicated. You'll find some other familiar traits of previous Bloat Games, such as the Out of Action table and Advantage/Disadvantage. Like other Bloat Games releases, there rules are tools to use, but don't cover every minutia that could come up. This isn't Pathfinder (thank goodness). That being said, the game uses the best elements of games like that, such as the DC system.

The GM section includes three optional psion classes, Experiment X (Eleven), Pyro (Charlie from Firestarter), and Telekinetic (Carrie). The Adventure Seed section is one of my favorites. It presents several new monsters, with nice stories, and ideas in a monster of the week format. These guys will look really familiar to anyone who's watched 80's horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. This is followed by less detailed stats for human adversaries, monsters, and animals. Monsters have Terror stats. When you encounter a new type of creature you have to make a terror check or be affected by fear (with a nifty little chart that you roll on to see how you react). This is a cool idea, especially when you are considering your characters are (relatively normal) kids. We're given a villain generation table, adventure ideas, and such. This is followed by a short description of the setting, Jeffersontown, KY.

Throughout the book are 80's pics of the Bloat Games folks, their friends, and backers. This is a nice touch. Most of the art is pretty fitting and familiar. There are also tables and charts throughout the book with quick references to all things 80's.

My only complaint about the book is that there's advertisements about a fourth of the way through it. These would make a lot more sense at the end. I didn't like them breaking the text up. Honestly though considering how great this book is, it's a minor quibble.

I absolutely can't wait to run this game! I love supernatural teen games. I love rules light systems. This game is a fantastic combination of the two. You should definitely pick this one up. It's so damn good and the folks that made it are really great.

I'll review the Player's Options/GM's Guide and Jeffersontown Setting Guide soon. You can read my review of the vampire sourcebook here. When the werewolf sourcebook drops next month, I'll be picking it up too. 

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