Review of YELD!, a magical TTRPG full of adventure!

YELD! is a tabletop RPG focused on youth characters, magical lands to explore, and a quest for the keys needed to escape home before hitting 13 years of age! 

Note: this review is for YELD! 1st edition.  At the time of publishing this article, YELD! 2nd edition is crowdfunding here.

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YELD! is great for ages 8+

YELD! is rated for ages 8+ and really focuses on young player characters.  All PCs are under the age of 13, and their goal is to escape the land of Yeld before they’re a teen.

For math skills, the mechanics use an additive d6 dice pool, so for number tracking, players need to track the number of dice that they’ll roll and be able to add the total.  There’s no separate bonus modifiers to track and it does only use d6’s, so you won’t be combining or needing to track different types of dice.

With regards to reading and writing, there is some reading required and writing on the character sheet, but something that can greatly help with reading is that rules are explained in text and then also explained in a graphic novel/comic strip format to add pictures, diagrams, and story along with the written explanations.  This helps people who are more visual or story-based learners to connect with the written material more, and can assist with reading the basic rules.

YELD! is set in a wonderful and dangerous land of adventure

YELD! takes place after the player characters are pulled through a portal into this unknown land!  PCs soon discover that they need to collect keys to a door that will let them escape this world… but only if they can do it before reaching the age of 13 or they’ll be trapped here forever!

While searching for these keys, players will encounter fairies, mermaids, goblins, and even Pi-Rats, they’ll celebrate holidays and victories, and they may even face off against the land’s cruel vampire prince.  It is a world full of excitement, exploration, and self-discovery as you search for a way out before becoming one with Yeld!

Player characters in YELD!

Player characters in YELD! are all required to be under the age of 13 and will follow certain archetypes to set up their basic vibe and determine their core dice bonus and starting special move. Archetypes include characters like “Big Sister”, “Know-It-All”, and “Liar” that help add flavor to each character without requiring a ton of backstory (unless you want it), making it easy to start out, especially if this is your first TTRPG.

To set up your character, you’ll pick your archetype, age (which determines your restore rolls and extra special dice), birthday, name, and dice allocations.  You’ll then divide your starting core dice plus any extra from your archetype and age bonuses amongst your four stats: strong, tough, smart, and brave.  Once you’ve completed this, you’re ready to enter Yeld!

However, that’s not the only thing you can do with your characters in YELD!  After your PC gets their bearing in this land, they can take on a job that gives them further abilities and bonuses, like casting magic or unlocking additional special moves.  You can also train in these jobs by completing special quests to further improve your abilities and unlock a new tier of options.  

I really liked this job system since it introduces more complication only after everyone has figured out the basics, and it gives A LOT of freedom for being able to push characters in the direction that you want.  In many other TTRPGs, you pick your class or job upfront, before taking time to test out the character and see how you want to play their personality, and this lets you do that BEFORE choosing the career path that you think would fit them best.  It gives a better character development experience, and it felt more natural during my test run.

Mechanics in YELD!

Additive dice pools

YELD! uses an additive dice pool mechanic, which means that you track the total number of dice between your stats and bonuses, roll them, and then add the total to compete against a target number or contested roll. 

Your dice can come from a number of places including your core stats, special moves, weapons, armor, and good & evil bonus earnings.

These dice are also how your health is tracked – if you fail a roll, it decreases your core dice, making it harder to succeed next time and potentially knocking you out (you’ll turn into a ghost until revived).

I really liked the dice mechanics here for a couple of reasons.  

First, all the dice are the same and you’re tracking just the number of dice, so it is really easy for young players to understand and to teach newcomers to TTRPGs.  Because your dice can come from multiple areas, it still allows quite a bit of strategy, if you want, without making it super complicated.  

Second, having health tied to the dice pool means that you are still only really tracking that one element: your dice.  It keeps the mechanics simplified, and still creates a very significant impact to your characters, so players need to balance risk and reward.  It’s a streamlined way to make every move count.

Combat

Combat takes place on an 8×8 chess board style map.  On their turn, players can attack, defend, and cast magic like in most other TTRPGs.  Where YELD! is different is in the save and bank mechanics and in the action chain mechanics. 

You have the option to save your action to bank it for later and earn more dice for your next turn.  This means that if you start an encounter and determine that you aren’t able to muster enough of a score between your stats, gear, etc, you can still find a way to land a hit.  You’ll need to forfeit your turn to simulate your character strategizing or waiting for a moment to target a critical spot, and then you’ll gain an extra die for your pool for the next turn to increase your odds of a success. 

With the action chain, this lets you do a combo move with your fellow players to land some BIG moves on the baddie.  Each consecutive hit by the party as a whole gains momentum and gives a bonus to the next hit by the next party member until the chain is broken by a miss or by an enemy’s turn coming to order.  So, if you have 3+ players and the first lands a hit, the 2nd gets a bonus.  If they land a hit, the 3rd player gets an even bigger bonus, and so on.  This builds in teamwork and makes for some exciting combat sequences when you’re able to pull off a massive group combo chain!

Magic

The magic in YELD! has got to be one of my favorite parts because of how much humor is built into it.  You’ll roll for your magic using your dice pool like for other moves, but if you roll too many 1’s (so the risk goes up if you roll more dice to try to meet a higher target), you get a magical backfire that could result in anything from someone taking damage to your PC growing animal ears.

The spells are also great and are wonderfully illustrated to help show what they do and get players to remember them.  My favorite was probably the Escape Goat spell where you summon a literal goat that can help chew through ropes or bring you gear needed for your egress from a dire situation. The illustration for this is a spastic looking goat carrying a gear pack and bursting through an upper floor window – this image will live rent free in my brain for quite a while.

Spells are also very clearly separated by what profession can use them, giving players a set and manageable list of about 11 spells for the initial mage jobs so they give variety but aren’t overwhelming or requiring players to read through a massive spell index.

Overall thoughts on YELD!

This was so much fun to check out!  I even showed it to a couple of teens while at a convention, and they LOVED the art style and humor baked into it as well.  The graphic novel style rules explanations were great for conveying what this game is all about, and the style and vibe of everything, from start to finish, had a defined tone that I really enjoyed.  I liked the variety of options with characters and enjoyed the lore (which I couldn’t get into too much in this review due to length, but, trust me… it is A LOT of fun). 

Find a copy of YELD!

You can find a copy of YELD! 1st edition On DriveThruRPG for free, and you can find YELD! 2nd edition here through Kickstarter!

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