Indie game storeFree gamesFun gamesHorror games
Game developmentAssetsComics

Usurping Death is a two-player ttrpg set in the same psychadelic and gloomy universe as Necronautilus, using the ruleset from Uneasy Lies The Head. Gameplay-wise, one of you plays death, and the other plays a mortal trying to unset death from its reign. You settle things with cards, tokens, dice, and a hex map.

The PDF is 12 pages, with a lovely, colorful, trippy layout. After Necronautilus' dark cosmos, I was expecting heavy black backgrounds, but Usurping Death is colorful and light. It's a neat reversal of the themes and atmosphere, while also boiling down a part of Necronautilus' concept.

Mechanically, Usurping Death is pretty simple to learn, but it's got some relatively complex strategy for such a narrative-focused game. The core of the engine is hidden information, and you start play with death having a set of powers (all secret) and the usurper has an objective (semi-secret.)

Turn-taking is handled by having two types of tokens (one type for death, the other for the usurper) drawn from a bag. The usurper can choose how many tokens they add during each round, and can thus control how much they get to act on average.

Death's turns are chess-master-y, and involve moving the icons for your hidden powers around the board, spawning minions, manipulating the usurper's position, and other area control types of effects.

The usurper's turns, on the other hand, are a narrative RPG. Death can step in softly to GM, but the usurper can use dice to enforce their will upon the narrative. If they succeed, they can move around the map. Landing on death's powers allows the usurper to attempt to remove them, but not every power *should* be removed. One power corresponds to the usurper's goals, and needs to be used to trigger the final battle instead.

If the usurper guesses the correct power, triggers the final battle on it, and succeeds a dice roll all without getting cornered by death's minions, they win. Otherwise, they lose. Typically, they lose.

Overall, this is a really neat asymetrical board game or trpg---and it can easily be run as both or either. You may want to be a little familiar with Necronautilus to have a handle on the setting, but it's not essential. If you lean in an afterlife gothic space-fantasy direction, you'll have the right tone.

Definitely pick this up if you like games like go, trpgs, and things with a sense of desperate struggle.

Minor Issues:

-Can death use multiple powers during a turn? Page 6 seemed to suggest they could, and they couldn't.