Down We Go
Lead Designer: Markus Linderlum
Game Developer: Tony Vasinda
Lead Artist: Simone Tammetta
Have you ever seen a crowdfunding project that you just had to back as soon as you saw it? That’s how I felt when I saw this campaign. It is only better now that I’ve played the beta.
Down We Go is a gritty, rule lite Old School Renaissance TTRPG. It’s being crowdfunded on Gamefound.com right now, so check it out. This game prides itself on a simple-to-learn/play promise. For anyone familiar with Dungeons & Dragons, it might feel weird to know that Down We Go can fit all its rules on a single page. In fact, almost all the rules are on the character sheet. It’s that simple.
There are no “classes” but rather categories in which play characters attribute levels. The beta has four categories, Sneaky, Mystical, Holy, and Bloodthirsty. Each level attributed to a category earns the player character a new special skill, increases the number of times the PC can use a special skill from that category. Levels attributed to Sneaky and Bloodthirsty also improve your defense and attack, respectively. Holy and Mystical don’t contribute to any specific stat, players use them in circumstantial situations that deal with the undead and magic.
When it comes to “hit points” and “damage” Down We Go” does away with the variables. Each character has a certain number of “hits.” Posed as a question that statement would be: how many times can you be hit before you die? Monsters are created the same way. Unless altered all PCs start with 2 hits, while monsters can be much higher than that. By default, all PCs do 1 hit, no matter what weapon they are using. Some monsters deal more than 1 hit, and by getting better weapons and leveling up, players can deal more than 1 hit per attack. The nicest part of this is how simple it makes tracking. . . everything. Once a character puts seven levels into any one category, there is a homebrew mechanic added to the game. The player works with their Game Master to develop a custom skill for their character.
Now, we all know the cliche, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but let’s be real. We all judge books by covers. And more specifically, we all judge things for the way they look–the aesthetic. Well, Down We Go has a gritty, monstrous aesthetic, both in setting and art. There’s even an addon for a cassette of the soundtrack, which is super cool. The art is weird and impressionistic, without being abstract. The implied setting is an infinite city, or purgatory, called Infinopolis. If that feels on the nose, the lore of the game supports it. The city has existed forever and will exist long after your PC has died. That’s cool. That’s metal.
When I played this game, I modded the rules a bit so to play it as a solo RPG, and it worked great. I mean, other than the fact I died. Despite this, it made the whole experience feel difficult. This game is cool because the rules are simple, easy to learn, and fun to play with, but it’s also fun because it’s hard. It feels like a survival game in which players will really need to try and live through battles because fighting undead is dangerous. I like this realism set against all the other parts of this game that are clearly not real. Simply put, the game feels infinite in its hackability and scope but gives players and GMs, alike, a foundation to begin.