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Fight Item Run melds retro video games and a modern approach to tabletop roleplaying

Don’t hoard those phoenix downs!

Fight Item Run, the newest game from indie RPG designer Tay Curreysmith (Spell: The RPG) draws from his memories of playing old school video games with his brother and drapes that aesthetic over a Powered by the Apocalypse framework.

This new game aims for the ostensible simplicity of classic dungeon-crawlers or early Metroidvanias - a portmanteau of Metroid and Castlevania used to describe video games including elements of both - by reducing the physical world down to “the dungeon”. According to Currysmith, the definition of dungeon can be highly malleable, depending on the kind of story a group wants to tell.

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Each session splits into two distinct phases - combat and recovery - that govern whether the party is fighting its way through monsters or retreating back to a safe location to take stock and lick their wounds. Players will have access to different sets of moves in both phases and specific goals, such as obtaining loot, finding the stairs to the next level, visiting a merchant or meditating on their relationships and personal goals.

Since it's in the name, Fight Item Run will feature plenty of pickups in the form of potions, consumables, gear, weapons and more. Curreysmith draws on the narrative-first nature of PbtA’s engine by having the flavour text dictate how any one weapon or tool functions in the game. Party members will have full control over the creative applications of, say, a suit of goo armor or crab leg spear.

Cutscenes move the flow of the game from a room-by-room dungeon crawl to a more cinematic overview. This allows the GM or players to decide when and how they want to focus on important moments like a boss kill or total party wipe. Flashbacks, flash forwards and quiet asides help flesh out the affinity system between characters, which provide minor bonuses at first but could lead to powerful and unique gear if pursued.

The Kickstarter campaign for Fight Item Run will be active until December 12th. Backers can pick up a PDF and hardcover option for $15/$35 (£12/£27) respectively. All purchases come with a plain text version and will begin shipping next February.