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Break!! is an absolutely stunning fantasy RPG inspired by Zelda and Ghibli, a decade in the making

Be a Battle Princess or a Murder Princess.

A gorgeous fantasy RPG inspired by classic video games and anime is finally launching a Kickstarter to crowdfund its release, over 10 years since it started life.

Break!! has been in the works since at least 2013, with creators Reynaldo Madrinan and Grey Wizard originally creating their passion project as a hack of first-edition D&D retro-clone Labyrinth Lord. Over the years, the RPG grew into a standalone game with an original ruleset and setting, breaking away from D&D’s Open Game Licence in the process.

Despite its now non-OGL rules, the current evolution of the RPG still retains the 20-sided die familiar from D&D at its heart. Players hope to roll their d20 under aptitude checks, based on ability scores such as mighty, grit and insight defined by their character’s calling - the game’s class equivalent that includes magical Sages, rogue-like Sneaks, everyday Factotums, Heretrics, Raiders, Champions, and both Battle Princesses and Murder Princesses.

Combat is also kept simple, with hits and damage combined into a single roll. Characters move between a series of zones defined by the GM during fights, defining their range using a basic distance and engagement system. Characters heal between fights - meaning no need for resting - but can suffer longer-term injuries, from shock to broken bones, if they lose all their hearts during battle.

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As well as aspects like negotiation, crafting and downtime, Break!! includes dedicated rules for exploration and journeys between inhabited locations in the game’s world. A point-crawl system is used to track overland travel, affecting the time taken and encounters along the way. Vehicles range from rideable chocobo-style birds to bicycles, wagons, walking steampunk machines and flying airships.

Madrinan and Grey draw on classic video games such as The Legend of Zelda and Japanese anime and manga including Studio Ghibli movies and gritty fantasy epic Berserk for Break!!’s sumptuous artwork and shattered setting of Outer World. I mean, honestly, just look at it.

The world of scattered civilisation and roaming monsters blends classic fantasy and magical technology, with inhabitants including the adorable Chibs, Rai-Neko catpeople, godlike Prometheans, robotic Bio-Mechanoids and even human Dimensional Strays - who are effectively humans teleported from our Earth to the other world, isekai-style - alongside fantasy staples such as dwarves, elves and goblins.

The game’s creators describe Break!! as blending its traditional gameplay ideas - usually seen in grimdark games from the Old-School Renaissance - with its colourful, anime-infused artwork, resulting in a game that is approachable for newcomers but still has plenty of mechanical heft behind its clean aesthetic.

The rules themselves are said to only take up a small part of Break!!’s chunky 470-page rulebook, with options for character creation, equipment details and monster and map references for GMs filling the rest.

Break!! is expected to hit Kickstarter towards the end of April. Its creators aim to release the game’s PDF following the crowdfunding campaign, with the print release after that. Following the release of the core rulebook, the game will be supported with short zine supplements that introduce themes and features cut from the book during its long development.

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