Author: Urania Games (@PercyPropa)
Where to Buy: https://urania-games.itch.io/end-of-the-line
You we involved in a terrible tragedy that killed a lot of innocent people. Was it a train derailment? Massive fire? Flood? It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Death is pissed you escaped the culling and now you’re going to have to look over your shoulder forever as she stalks you to the end of your days.
Unless you can appease Death with a sacrifice. Maybe if you find a victim and kill them, Death will leave you alone. After all, one soul’s as good as another, right?
If this premise sounds familiar, it’s because you have excellent taste and have seen a couple Final Destination movies.
And now you can play along at home, thanks to the black comedy TTRPG End of the Line by Kyle Tam!
The game is divided into two distinct parts. In the first part, called “Doing Shit”, players do their best to survive seemingly benign day-to-day occurrences as Death (the GM) describes how everything that might kill the players definitely tries to.
Each time a player attempts an action that might fail, they roll a number of dice and try to get below a target number. If they fail, they don’t die right away, thankfully. That’d make for a very fast, very unfun game. Instead, they add to the “Bad Time Mod” which increases all players’ rolls. As this modifier climbs, players inch closer to death. Should a player exceed a fairly high target number with their roll (including the aforementioned “Bad Time Mod”), Death gets to describe how they get snuffed out.
If the players manage to make it through the Doing Shit phase, they enter the “Getting Shit Done” phase. During this stage, players try to find a victim to un-alive so they can absorb their life expectancy and forestall their inevitable demise. If they’re successful, neat! If not, well, they’ll have to face another “Doing Shit” phase and the myriad horrors that come along with it. The game ends when all players either find and successfully slay a victim to appease Death or die in a hilariously gruesome way.
If you’ve read my other horror RPG reviews, you’ll know I love when games find a way to keep the fun going for characters who get knocked off early. End of the Line does this by allowing dead characters to haunt the survivors. Dead characters can interfere with their living counterparts, forcing them to reroll successes once per phase. It’s such a simple rule and yet it successfully keeps all players engaged and having fun. This is the heart of good design.
Though the author states you can use this system to replicate any sort of horror movie, it is at its best when staying close to its source material. Sure, you could shoehorn a slasher movie or zombie flick onto this ruleset but…why? Plenty of games can handle the other horror subgenres beautifully, but when it comes to Final Destination, nothing comes close to End of the Line.
DISCLAIMER: I do not know anyone involved with this book, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review. Also, as of 10/8/21, this game is funding on itch.io so go and support the author if you can!