Tuesday, September 19, 2023

We Die Young Review

Intro and Overview

Created by Eric Bloat and Josh Palmer, We Die Young is a SURVIVE THIS!! love letter to grunge, Seattle, and 90's rpgs like the original World of Darkness. I tend to think of this game as the sequel to Dark Places & Demogorgons (as it's a supernatural game that takes place in the 90's rather than the 80's). That's sort of true, but honestly it's it's on beast and has more of a specific setting for What Shadows Hide (which was released after this).

The book begins with a disclaimer. Drugs factor into the game (and there's a class that is specifically made up of drug users). The game doesn't glorify or promote drug use, but also acknowledges that it was a prominent part of the 90's Seattle scene. 

The mysterious Zapatral Stones are calling supernatural beings of all types to the Pacific Northwest. The stones have also affected the youth of the area, given them a general sense of apathetic melancholia. This, combined with the weather and disenchantment, has given rise to the grunge scene that is dominating the area. For good or ill, the players can band together to gather the stones and the power found within them.

If you are familiar with any SURVIVE THIS!! game, We Die Young will look familiar. You have familiar attributes, a race, class, and roll a d20 and add your modifiers.  Everything is compatible with other ST content which allows for maximum awesomeness. 

Character Creation

Unlike the (predominantly human) DP&D, you have several race options in We Die Young. They are: 
  • Dopplegangers - androgynous shapeshifters mistrusted by others
  • Ghouls - humanoid flesh eaters (they are humanoid, despite looking undead)
    Humans - 'nuff said
  • Imperishable - immortal humans, can only die by having their bodies utterly destroyed
  • Jari-Ka - mummies that feed on magic and psionic energy, each is associated with a ritual path tied to their creation
  • Realm Twisted Fey - humans intermingled with something else. Subtypes are: beastial, exalted, scalesouled, serpentcrowned, twitter, and voidhearted
  • Vampire - vampires gain new powers as the level, but this is balanced out with racial weaknesses
  • Were-beast - humans that carry an ancient curse, not all can control their rages, though players can. They have subtypes: were-bat, were-bear, were-cat, were-gator, were-otter, were-rat, were-shark, were-spider, and werewolf.  Each gain new abilites as they level up.
Players then roll on a d100 chart to find their character's occupation. This will alter their skills and attributes and give you their starting funds. We are then presented with several classes. They are:
  • Mystic - gain power from invisible rune tattoos
  • Naturalist - magic users that tap into the natural world
  • Papal Pursuant - secret Vatican archeologist priests
  • Psion - individuals blessed (or cursed) with psychic abilities
  • Revenant - think the Crow, you or someone you loved were wronged and you were brought ack for vengeance 
  • Riot Grrl - rough and rowdy chicks that fight for a cause
  • Rock Star - a musical super star
  • Serial Killer - this optional class is nasty, it includes methods (which grant bonuses) and a special victim type table
  • Shaman - spiritual spellcasters that call upon their ancestors for aid
  • Sickman - unfortunate individuals addicted to the drug Sickman, which grants them superhuman abilities
  • Street Bard - a more down to earth musician
  • Street Fighter - an expert brawler
  • Thrall - human servants to vampires; a Reinfield 
  • Tremor Christ - telekinetic religious prophets that belong to a cult known as the Silver Shivers
  • Warlock - spellcasters that specialize in summoning 
  • Witch - spellcasters that focus on hexes and curses
The skills section looks pretty similar to other ST games. This is followed by 60 or so pages of magic and psionics. There is also some information and tables related to the Void. There are some fantastic themed spells like Heaven Beside You, Super Unknown, and Pretty Noose.  

The equipment section starts out similar to other ST games and a lot of the weapons and items are similar. Then we're presented with magic items, potions, and street drugs. There are some simple addiction rules included. We are then given more in depth information on the Zapatral Stones. Where you can find them, information, effects, activation and side effects are all presented. There are 5 or 6 pages of actual stones and powers, plus rules for crafting with the stones. 

Rules For Play

This section includes standard ST rules. This is the general how to play section. However it includes some new rules specific to We Die Young. Curses, Exorcism, and Madness are all presented.  Rules for XP and Leveling are also presented.

The World of We Die Young

The book ends with more specifics on the setting. We're presented with some journal entries about the stones. We're then presented with racial factions: Ghoul Legacies, Jari-Ka Circles, Vampire Lineages, and Wearbeast Fangkin. There are several non-racial organizations discussed too. The most notable is C.A.R.E., a global organization that protects the world from dangerous threats, and the focus of What Shadows Hide. There are two pages of short location descriptions. Seven adventure seeds are presented. They are given typical ST treatment. After this there's a nice bestiary (featuring everything from pimps, to bears, to demons). Need to customize those stat blocks? There are templates to help with that.

The book ends with d100 Adventure hooks and an appendix of recommended media.

Final Thoughts

At 368 pages, I'm pretty sure this is the biggest Survive This!! book. It's packed full of character options and helpful content to GM's. This is the perfect game for Gen X gamers. As an elder millennial, I was able to appreciate a lot of it too, but the vibe and references might be lost on younger gamers. That being said, even if you aren't a grunge person, this is a great game and is an awesome companion book to What Shadows Hide.

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