A new tabletop RPG aims to capture the speed and brutality of classic first-person shooters like Quake, Doom and Unreal Tournament.
Grim puts players in the boots of heavily-armed explorers investigating mysterious ruins on a far-flung wasteland planet, only to end up fighting for their lives against nightmarish creatures that inhabit the underground realm.
To carve their way through the hordes of cosmic horrors, the party can tool up with weapons that feel straight out of the brutal multiplayer matches of Quake and Unreal, from devastating sniper rifles and plasma rifles to a spear-shooting lancegun and, of course, a shotgun.
Each weapon has both a standard way of firing and an alt-fire that costs additional ammo, which players will need to keep track of to avoid finding their chamber going click at an unfortunate moment. Ammo is simplified into different sizes and types, aligning with the broad categories of guns on offer.
Keeping gameplay as fast as its on-screen inspirations is a light ruleset that allows players to use their characters’ combat skills to zip around maps and blast foes, before exploring the world and interacting with its environments and inhabitants with roleplaying skills. Tests are resolved using either a single six-sided die or a coin flip, adding to the brisk feel.
There’s plenty of the edgy feel of ‘90s shooters in Grim’s lore, from its acronyms for its world and factions - such as the party’s overseers in the Martyrs of Free Olympia (MOFO) and the eponymous planet itself, short for Gamma Rho Iota Mu - to references to Whispering Gates, Sacrificial Cathedrals, the bloodstrewn tunnels of the underground Aeorta, Eyes of Pus, Gorelords and so on.
The rulebook’s visuals lean into the video game inspiration too, with pixellated takes on obelisks, strange runes and a font that I can only assume is legally-distinct from the Diablo logo. It even has its own accompanying soundtrack with thumping synths and crashing industrial drums.
Grim is designed to be played with up to six players, with the game’s GM equivalent of a Watcher running the action either in short one-shot sessions of up to four hours or longer campaigns, both supported by the rules.