Author – Luciella Elisabeth Scarlett (@LuciellaES)
Where to Buy – https://luciellaes.itch.io/fight-bears-cough-blood-kill-god
I can’t help falling in love with a great title, and they don’t come much better than Fight Bears, Cough Blood, Kill God (FBCBKG). Luckily, this game is so much more than a catchy title. In this short two-person RPG, players explore the novice/mentor relationship as they prepare to confront some ultimate evil.
Popular media is full of these stories (and accompanying awesome training montages) and I’m sure as soon as I said what the game was about, you had a few examples pop into your head. Luke and Yoda. The ninja turtles and Splinter. Mary Poppins and the Banks children (that totally counts!). Though FBCBKG takes its inspiration from fighting anime, it is not limited to telling only these stories.
The gameplay itself is quick and simple which is just what I want in a two-player game. After reading through the five-page PDF once, my cohost and I had enough system mastery to run the game for our upcoming podcast episode (airing 6/14/21). Character creation is collaborative, consisting of answering prescribed questions to generate who each player controls. This question-and-answer system is also how the stakes, setting, and antagonist are created.
In our game, because we can’t do anything the normal way, we decided to tell the tale of a recent divorcee who became a janitor at the community college version of Hogwarts. His mentor was a washed-up gym teacher who was once a renowned wizard dodgeball player. They worked together to defeat the opponent that, all those years ago, cheated to beat the master in the state championship.
As goofy and off-the-mark as our premise was, we didn’t have to adjust or house rule anything for the game to work as written. At the start of each in-game day, we used the training regimen table to figure out the setting for our daily montage. If the novice did well, they’d gather resources (dice) to use in the final confrontation.
Regardless of the success or failure of the training, each day provided an opportunity to explore the relationship between the mentor and mentee. New information was revealed based on the novice’s rolls and a handful of premises provided by the game. Though there aren’t many of these premises to choose from, they’re such broad options players could select the same one over and over again without making the game feel repetitive.
Ultimately, as you might expect, the game comes down to the novice and master squaring off against the ultimate evil. Both players roll several dice, dealing hits and losing dice depending on the results. As the combat goes on, the odds get worse and worse as the players’ dice pool shrinks. I can say from personal experience that this was surprisingly (and enjoyably) dramatic despite our silly premise.
FBCBKG’s simplicity, flexibility, and inherent replay value has earned it a permanent spot on my roster of fantastic two-player RPGs. If you’ve got two people and an hour to spare, you will not be disappointed by this light indie gem.
DISCLAIMER: I do not know anyone involved with this game, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review. I do want to draw attention to the author’s decision to support http://paytherent.net.au/ which gives a percentage of her income to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. That’s awesome and I wish it was something we had in the US given our history of colonization.