It’s Halloween and the veil is thin. It’s a time to pretend to be something else, a time to remember those who have passed on, perhaps even a time to binge Stranger Things and fight the Demogorgon.
Well, if any of those tickle your festive fancy, there’s a Kickstarter that you might benefit from knowing about. Put together by Josh Trujillo, the writer of the fantastic Love Machines and multiple Adventure Time graphic novels, here comes Advanced Death Saves.
Advanced Death Saves is the follow-up to another successful Kickstarter anthology, Death Saves: Fallen Heroes of the Kitchen Table. The original Death Saves had a fantastic conceit: an anthology of short comics about the many and varied deaths of beloved tabletop RPG characters. Whether your poison of choice is Masks or Dread or old-fashioned D&D, RPGs have an incredible ability to invest you in the life and happiness of some weirdo you gave a silly name to. And they’re also some of the media most likely to go Game of Thrones on you and murder that fictional fave of yours without even a thought.
Whether by GM oversight or story convenience or passive aggressive revenge or even that awesome plan that would have been so incredibly epic if you’d just remembered that one small fact about the setting and/or that physics still apply somewhat, characters die and, in true RPG fashion, Death Saves memorialized those long-lost heroes with a Bard’s tale and an utter willingness to laugh at their failures.
Advanced Death Saves takes that premise to the logical next level. With double the stories and new settings including westerns, horror, and all manner of sci-fi alongside the fantasy staples, Advanced Death Saves has everything turned up to eleven.
The stories, at least the handful that I’ve seen, are straightforward and charming enough to entertain whether you’ve never picked up a d20 before or your Epic Level Handbook is dog-eared beyond recognition, and there’s a lot more than the obvious epic last stands and hilarious failures. At least two of the stories I read genuinely tugged on my heartstrings, and the comedies all have their own twists. The death of a beloved character has a different tone when it’s shown from the perspectives of the worn-down guards who have to reset the death traps and a classic tale of petty dungeon masters takes a pretty wild turn that I won’t spoil.
Look for contributions from Vanessa Stefaniuk, Ryan Little, Kat Baumann, Jordan Neves, Fleur Sciortino, Katrina E. Kunstmann, Tara Madison Avery, Ryan Nichols and Maia Kobabe, among plenty of others.
The book even includes an official Call of Cthulhu map by artist Jason Thompson. Considering that one of my favorite contributions to the last volume was also a dungeon map, “The Tomb of Horrible Death” by Bill Roundy, I’m definitely excited to see one for Call of Cthulhu.
‘But Noah,’ you yell at your screen, ‘I haven’t read the original Death Saves, that’s not a helpful point of reference!’ Well, you make a good point, but luckily nearly every level of support for the project gets you a digital or hardcover copy of the original Death Saves as well!
Especially, but hardly exclusively, if you love pen and paper RPGs, consider backing the project. But do it quickly; no matter what you roll, this campaign will end on November 9th. If you’d like to join the party you can do so at this link.