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Helldivers 2 doesn’t have an official tabletop RPG, but free fan-made tribute Helldroppers may as well be it

How about a cup of Liber-TRPG?

Image credit: Arrowhead

Helldivers 2 is a fantastic video game. Crammed full of Starship Troopers-esque satire, nonstop shooty-bang-bang action and - most importantly - massive explosions (usually dropped on your own head or those of your friends), the co-op third-person shooter about squads of armoured super-soldiers dropping onto players to clear them of deadly bugs and killer robots became a runaway success when it, uh, dived onto screens earlier this year.

Unsurprisingly, Helldivers 2’s comical combat and genuinely tense shootouts, punctuated by orbital strikes and the sound of your squadmates respawning after said orbital strikes, have caught the imagination of plenty of people, tabletop designers included. We previously wrote about Planet Fist as the ideal Helldivers RPG, which came out before the video game but captured the same mix of military-fascist satire, futuristic delight and memorable story-driven action scenes. If you’re after an even more explicit tabletop take on the video game, though, new TRPG tribute Helldroppers has you covered.

A hack of designer Mitchell Daily’s Doom-like demon-slaying bloodbath Hellguts, Helldroppers explicitly credits its setting and tone to Helldivers 2. While entirely unofficial, the free RPG is essentially Helldivers: The Roleplaying Game in all but name, casting players as members of the special forces of United AmericEarth spreading Qualified Democracy across the galaxy - mostly via the means of shooting big bugs in the face. (In a very knowing nod, the game master is referred to as J.O.E.L. - a reference to Helldivers creator Arrowhead’s own human DM tasked with managing the video game’s conflict.)

The players’ Helldroppers deploy from their ship (named in a very Helldivers-esque “X of Y” format) to the surface of their chosen planet equipped with weapons and stratagems such as lasers, bombs and napalm strikes to help them clear it of various bugs or bots. Each session revolves around a given mission on the planet, inspired by Helldivers’ objectives of launching nukes, destroying enemy facilities, extracting assets and eliminating certain targets. While pursuing their central mission, the players can also stumble upon side objectives and random encounters that present extra challenges and chances to gain extra credit and gear.

Image credit: Mitchell Daily

Players’ characters have three Patriotic Values - Valour, Efficiency and Innovation - that determine how many dice they roll during combat and other tests. Combat is, fittingly, fast and brutal, with death frequent but resulting in a replacement quickly being dropped in - complete with their predecessor’s gear and memories.

As intended, it is very much a Helldivers experience through and through, bringing us as close as we may even get to an official tabletop RPG based on the video game. Being unofficial and fan-made, Helldroppers can be downloaded without paying a penny over on Daily’s page.

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