Step into the shoes of a doomed adventurer and attempt in vain to survive perilous depths in You Meet in a Tavern, You Die in a Dungeon, a new tabletop RPG currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
Designed to hit the table with zero prep, Meet/Die (it’s a big title, okay?) is selling itself as an RPG with a party game mentality. If your group is missing a key member but has the urge to swing bastard swords at skeletons, this game wants to be the obvious solution without requiring an hour of character generation beforehand.
Meet/Die divides itself cleanly into two distinct phases. Meeting in the Tavern sees all the player characters introducing themselves via short scenes, either in pairs or groups. This will establish who they are and what they want, while also building connections and complications between them. Did the barbarian smash your master’s phylactery in a drunken brawl? Was the rogue behind the confidence scam that robbed the cleric blind?
The second part focuses on the dungeon where the party will eventually - and inevitably - meet their end. Described as a fast-paced dungeon crawl that keeps forward action always in focus, this part of the game ratchets up the danger and derring-do until each character in turn faces an obstacle they can’t - or won’t - overcome.
At this point, Meet/Die gives narrative fiat over to the player as they describe the method and manner of their grisly end. Perhaps it reflects their life in a bitter twist of dramatic irony, or they might achieve their goal by paying the ultimate price. Of course, there’s always the chance that they tripped face first into a gelatinous cube thanks to an unbuckled boot.
Everything a roleplay group needs to play will come in three zines. The Dungeoneer’s Handbook outlines the classes, their abilities and best practices. Hopefully it also includes some tips for really leaning into the whole iconic death bit. Facilitators have access to the Dungeon Keeper’s Guide, while everyone can use the random tables and tools for building a death trap room-by-room contained within the Dungeon Manual.
Actually playing seems dead simple, pun intended. Meet/Die uses a simple roll-under mechanic to resolve conflict and obstacles, which keeps the cognitive load pretty low and allows for folks to drop in and out of the game as needed. Facilitators will need a deck of standard playing cards and some dice, while players only need one 12-sided die and a pair of six-sided dice. Everything else is coordinated as a group.
Ursidice is also the designer behind solo journaling RPG The Depths of this Forest, plus a host of one-page games. They are joined on the team by layout artist Jean Verne, artist Hodag RPG and editor Sean F. Smith. The art style leans into that old AD&D adventure look with stark black-and-white contrast and designs that aren’t ugly, per se, but reflect an honest and unflattering portrayal of the often goofy nature of high fantasy - it’s a very good look.
You Meet in a Tavern, You Die in a Dungeon’s Kickstarter campaign runs until November 3rd. Both a digital and physical edition of all three zines are available to backers, and the creator expects the game to begin fulfilling in October 2023.