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Zin Never Dies looks like the perfect tabletop RPG for Hollow Knight and Ghibli fans

Grub it while you can.

A new tabletop RPG will explore a magical, mysterious world inspired by the films of Studio Ghibli, with echoes of hit indie video game Hollow Knight.

Zin Never Dies takes place in a world known as Djin-Za, which combines mythological folklore - including the presence of gods - and a magic force known as Zin. Players’ characters can harness the power of Zin via a number of ‘towers’ that determine how the magical force is used, from creation and alteration to life and fire. Each tower and its respective category of magic can be progressed across five levels by spending experience, with magic-focused characters also able to harness multiple towers.

Driving the upcoming RPG is a new story-centric system known as Fitting Action. While the game sees players rolling a 20-sided die á la Dungeons & Dragons, the aim is to roll between two given numbers rather than simply above or below a target. While rolling too low results in a worse performance, rolling too high can come with its own risks - as well as potential advantages, depending on the situation - to help serve the narrative.

Combat resolution swaps to a 12-sided die, which determines how much damage is caused to a character’s hit points - representing lighter injuries - or life points, signifying more serious wounds and ongoing effects such as poison.

While creator Nemo Dowme said that Hollow Knight hadn’t played a direct role in influencing Zin Never Dies, its mythical tone, artwork and creatures - including armoured slug knights - easily bring to mind the insect fantasy world and cartoony gothic aesthetic of the acclaimed indie video game.

Its Masked inhabitants, meanwhile, appear to take direct inspiration from the Kodama of Studio Ghibli masterpiece Princess Mononoke, with the design of the species’ masks paying homage to the appearance of the forest spirits seen in the Hayao Miyazaki film. Downe described classic Japanese animation as a key influence on the RPG.

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Other playable species similarly draw from the animal kingdom, with the world’s humans having stag-like antlers gifted by the mythical Great Stag, the Feborn being effectively cat people and Tower-Dwellers taking the form of feathered humanoid birds. The game will include a total of seven species, with more than ten different settings for players to explore.

Dowme - who was responsible for Zine Never Dies’ gorgeous illustrations, alongside its gameplay design and lore - has launched a Kickstarter to crowdfund a digital PDF and physical rulebook, planned for release in March 2023. If you want a look before then, a free set of quickstart rules is available now.

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