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Heart and Spire creators to help bring TRPG based on Kieron Gillen’s comic DIE into reality

Rowan, Rook and Deckard will be handling publishing and production duties on Gillen’s design.
Image: Stephanie Hans

A tabletop RPG adaptation of Kieron Gillen’s award-winning comic DIE comes to Kickstarter in November, courtesy of Rowan, Rook and Deckard. The UK-based design company will be working directly with Gillen to publish designs he has been developing since 2018.

The simply named DIE RPG has been available to play for free as a work-in-progress version for years, but this collaboration will tighten up the writing and rules, bind it together into a physical book and reportedly stuff it full of new artwork from comics illustrator and co-creator Stephanie Hans.

Rowan, Rook and Deckard - composed of one-page comic virtuoso Grant Howitt, Chris Taylor and Maz Hamilton, and makers of the ENnie-award winning Heart and Spire RPGs - said in a press release it will handle the publishing and production duties on the project. Gillen’s beta version will be adapted into a short, two to four session experience called DIE Core, while the foundational rules will be further developed and expanded to support longer campaign play.

“DIE is a comic about roleplaying games, and we make those!” Howitt said on Twitter. “It's lovely to be involved in something so metatextual and strange. It's also lovely to have Kieron written the text instead of me, which is what often happens with books we publish.”

DIE is Gillen’s latest comic after the British Comic Award-winning The Wicked + The Divine, first published in 2018. It begins with a group of youths gathering to play a bespoke Dungeons & Dragons-esque RPG as a birthday celebration and ends with two years of unexplainable disappearance into an alternate world. Taking place more than two decades after that initial experience, the story delves into the trauma and fractured relationships of a group of players truly lost in a world of someone’s imagination - the GM who never returned.

The RPG adaptation will allow players to create their own Personas who exclusively use one of six dice to power their abilities, along with shaping the reality of the game world itself. Just like in the comic, the mental hangups and emotional baggage of each character will be cruelly reflected in the society and monsters that populate their version of DIE's angular world. Groups beware: there’s going to be some unpacking.

Classes include the Godbringer, who wheels and deals with deities in exchange for power and the slightly anachronistic Neo, a cybernetic warrior whose abilities are powered by addictive and debt-inducing Fair Gold. The Dictator turns the popular image of fun-loving bards in a horrifying condition, while the Fool tends to escape trouble only as long as they project an outward image of calm. Oh, and the GM is a fully embodied character as well, wielding the all-powerful and feared twenty-sided die.

Details on what the physical book will contain aren’t yet available, as Rowan, Rook and Deckard claim details for DIE RPG’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign are still being finalised. Interestingly, one of the selling points was to officially sanction all campaigns played as part of Gillen’s universe, saying “Every single game played with DIE is canon to the comic. This is quite literally your chance to be part of DIE’s universe.”

Keep checking Dicebreaker for more information about DIE RPG as it becomes available.

EDIT: This article has been updated to list Stephanie Hans as illustrator and co-creator of the DIE comic.

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