DIE is a brilliant comic book about role-playing from Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans, and Clayton Cowles.
DIE is also a brilliant storytelling role-playing game (RPG) from Kieron Gillen and Rowan, Rook and Decard.
This takes some explaining.
The thing you need to know right now is that if you want a deluxe physical copy of the RPG you have only three more days to Kickstart it, and if you want a deluxe physical copy of the entire comic run you can pre-order it right now (including pre-ordering from your local comic shop – yes, it’s already time to pre-order November hardcovers).
Okay, now on to the explaining!
DIE is one of the most-fascinating indie comic books of the past few years, both in concept and execution. The comic has already come and gone – it ran for 20 self-contained issues from December 2018 to September 2021 in four tight 5-issue arcs with no fluff.
(Mild first-issue spoilers lie ahead.)
The story started something like Stranger Things: 25th Anniversary Reunion.
A group of friends used to play role-playing games together in high school, but it ended with their sudden, inexplicable disappearance – and just-as-sudden reappearance years later, minus one member of their party and with a bevy of physical and psychological scars.
Where were they? They’ve never uttered a word about it to each other or anyone else and went on with their lives. Some of them were successful, some started families, while others could never shake their trauma and subsequent guilt.
On the anniversary of their disappearance they receive an unsettling reminder of their shared experience and they cannot help but be sucked back into something they know is much more serious and deadly than any game.
There are plenty of “real world people are transported into fantasy” stories out there, but DIE had a special, undeniable magic to it.
Central to that were the real world characters – five wounded adults, some of whom had spent their lives trying to be completely different than their game characters while others chased after becoming more like their fictional selves. They each had relatable stories about loss, addiction, identity, and disability, and those themes were amplified by the fantastical world around them.
As the story progressed, it became clear that this was a fantasy story with a very specific structure. In fact, the structure was so well-formed we could refer to it as a set of rules.
That’s because Kieron Gillen, in all of his wild genius, not only scripted a 20-issue comic story, but also the complete ruleset of the role-playing game the characters were playing in the story. [Read more…] about It’s time to DIE – pre-order the deluxe hardcover AND the role-playing game!