Category Archives: News & Reviews

ANCIENT WORLDS: ATISI

Well, my weekend plans went slightly sideways, but in a good way, when I was offered the advance review copy of ANCIENT WORLDS: ATISI. There are details of the crowd funding campaign for this setting at the end of this post if this whets your appetite.

Forget the impervious castles and the knights in shining armor of a medieval setting. Picture an older world, inspired by writers like Robert Ervin Howard (Conan, especially the Stygian stories), Fritz Leiber (Lankhmar books), Michael Moorcock (Corum series), Poul Anderson (The King of Ys series), Marion Zimmer Bradley (Atlantean series), and Jessica Amanda Salmonson (many short stories, and the fantastic Encyclopedia of Amazons). Think in a grandiose scope, of great cities and monuments overshadowing mortals, reminding them of humanity’s achievements in times past (like the Colossus and the Hanging Gardens), and use such imagery in your games.

Dungeon World is one of the systems I have previously looked at and discarded. I am not a fan of hit points, alignments and levels for characters. I do not like excessive player input in world building and I don’t like fake freedoms. Fake Freedoms are where the game says on one page you can create any fantasy world you like but then on the next page if you want to play a thief you MUST be human or halfling, as if an elf never stole anything(!). Either anything is possible or it isn’t you cannot have both simultaneously.

Ancient Worlds: Atisi by Marcelo Paschoalin is a derived game based upon Dungeon World and is an excellent interpretation.

Ancient Worlds: Atisi is an ancient Egyptian style fantasy world and its reimagining by Marcelo appears rock solid. For a start everyone (PC) is human. That instantly removes one of my gripes about DW. It also gives the game a defined point of view. We now know that the world looks like, we can imagine the people, the modes of dress and even the architecture.

The player races have been replaced by a rich selection of cultural backgrounds. These give varied options for appearance, style of dress, language and options to player moves.

Bonds are a feature in DW that I quite like for bringing characters together. Bonds in Atisi are better. The reason they are better is because they are more interactive or should that be collaborative. In the original you simply insert the name of the character you want to have a bond with. In Atisi bonds you choose your bond and ask which of the characters want to be the bond character. I find this simple change means that your bonds help me define the sort of character I want to play. In vanilla DW your bonds impose things on my character.

Another big gain with defining the setting first and then wrapping DW around it comes with the classes. Not only does Ancient Worlds: Atisi limit the available classes but the moves and advanced moves are tailored to the setting.

Ancient Worlds: Atisi Magic

A key element of any fantasy setting is the way that magic is handled. In Ancient Worlds: Atisi Marcelo has defined distinct limits on magic, it cannot reveal the future, it cannot create energy or matter that does not exist and it cannot make you fly. Within those confines anything is possible but as the text says “Power corrupts. Magical power corrupts magically.” All magic carries a risk of corruption.

Roughly two thirds of the 280 page book is setting information but with the DW culture of asking  questions of the players at the end of every section to push you and your group to make the world your own. Included in this setting information are plenty of adventure hooks, creatures in the bestiary, locations to explore and treasures to be found.

All in all I think this is a very good game setting. What I have seen is an Advance Review Copy and not the finished work but it looks extremely good. The only think I would have like to have seen is incorporation of the DW rules themselves. The book sends you to the online SRD site http://www.dungeonworldsrd.com for the game rules. This is fine as Ancient Worlds: Atisi sells itself as an adventure setting for DW but had the rules been rolled into the text then this would have been a fine standalone game. That is not a fault but I think it is a missed opportunity.

Right now you can support Ancient Worlds: Atisi on Indiegogo.com http://bit.ly/atisi it is well worth taking a look.

Long Silence!

It is a long time since I have posted anything here or even commented for that matter. I have not abandoned Stargazer’s World, I have just been exceptionally busy.

Several weeks ago I was given a selection of books by Columbia Games Inc from their Hârn setting. Previously I had heard of Hârn but had never looked at the books. Most of my gaming had been done in either Middle Earth (MERP and Rolemaster),  Shadow World, Forgotten Realms (Rolemaster) or in Sci Fi settings.

When Hârn landed on my desk I was really interested in it from a developers point of view. I like writing and sharing adventures but you cannot publish material for Shadow World as Iron Crown are fairly hostile to indie developers and WotC are not really interested in letting you use their setting for different games.

Hârn on the other hand is a stand alone setting. I have never looked at HârnMaster but I am not in the market for different set of rules (actually that is not true but HârnMaster is not what I am looking for).

I have reviewed the core Hârn booklet over on my own blog but here I wanted to look at HârnManor.

One of the things l like about the HârnWorld materials is that they are fairly ‘bitesize’. Most that I have looked at have been in the 60 to 70 pages. That is manageable and I can read them in an evening.

HârnManor is 88 pages but the second half of the book is five manors fully detailed and ready to use. The first half of the book is all about manor life and how to generate a detailed manor.

Manors are where 90% of the HârnWorld population live and work and is most likely where your players are likely to start their life. The rules presented in HârnManor allow you to create a detailed manor to use as a backdrop for your setting right now to random events. The medieval manor glossary was genuinely interesting and educational!

HârnManor costs $29.99. So would I buy it? I am not entirely sure I would. When I am GMing I may well just tell you that there are fields of crops and there are peasants working the fields. I don’t need to know what the crops are and the exact yield per acre. I just don’t need to know that level of detail. For lots of GMs they love that level of detail. If you are of of those GMs then you will love this book.

If you are into HârnWorld then I suspect you will already have this. It feels like one of the core works and it was published back in 2009. As a standalone setting it is a useful addition I think to most GMs libraries.

New D&D 5E Campaign Settings are Just Around the Corner

The site comicbook.com were the first to break the news. Obviously they spoke with Nathan Stewart, the Brand Director and Executive Producer of Dungeons & Dragons, at a recent event where he hinted at new campaign setting coming as early as this year.

This is good news indeed. The Forgotten Realms are not everyone’s cup of tea and D&D can be so much more than standard high-fantasy fare. Settings like Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Planescape, and Eberron have been fan-favorites for years, and many D&D players have hoped for their return in 5th edition.

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According to the article on comicbook.com we can expect treatments not unsimilar to the one of Ravenloft we’ve seen in the Curse of Strahd book. Personally this would suit me fine. I basically own almost every single book ever released for Eberron and one book covering the setting in broad strokes and including all the necessary rules would be all I need to get started.

A more subdued publication schedule compared to earlier editions also seemed to have served Wizards of the Coast fine, and the quality of the material released so far was pretty good. The only thing I and many other D&D fans missed was support for some of their favorite settings like the ones I’ve mentioned above. But this will probably be remedied in the coming months!