Category Archives: Other Systems

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The player races have been replaced by a rich selection of cultural backgrounds.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.

Where is the FUDGE Fantasy?

I am rather taken with the FUDGE system. It is a long way removed from my usual mainstay of Rolemaster but reading the Ghost Ops quickstart and Early Access booklets was a real eye opener.

So I set out to try and find a ‘pre configured’ FUDGE fantasy game. I liked the sense of realism that GO provided but so far I am not finding what I am looking for.

A search of RPGNow produced only slim pickings, the closest thing to a fantasy game is Gatecrasher Science Fantasy Adventure which is not what I am looking for.  I want something more like Game of Thrones and don’t really need the SciFi elements.

So am I looking in the wrong places?

Am I really meant to build it myself from the FUDGE rulebook?

Of all the FUDGE systems on offer, that I have seen so far, they all seem to lack that compelling setting and slick implementation that I found in Ghost Ops.

I have found in the past that there are so many RPGs available that if you cannot find what you are looking for it is quite likely to be because you don’t actually know what you are looking for. A year ago I was in exactly that place. I knew I would recognise it when I saw it but I didn’t really know what I was looking for.

I want a system where combat is truly dangerous, where characters are defined through their skills and are capable right from the start.  I want a setting where magic is rare and more ritualistic than fireballs and lightning bolts. I want monsters to be rare but horrifying. Think along the lines of a FUDGE implementation of Call of Cthulhu in Hârn.

So any suggestions because I am not finding anything? Is this something I am going have to build myself? Is this something that others would want to play?

Most Excellent 7th Sea Adventures

I heard there is is to be a third Bill & Ted movie this week so I just had to use the ‘Most Excellent’ phrase 🙂

I have been quiet for nearly a month but it is not because I am shirking. I have been busily reading rulebooks and play testing games.

I have finally finished the 7th Sea 2nd Edition Core rulebook. I started looking at this in my last post Reading Up On 7th Sea. I love this game and although I have not been able to play it yet parts of it has already sneaked its way into other games I am running, more of that later.

What I am finding frustrating is that 7th Sea has really grabbed my imagination but I have no one to run it for or for me. You all must know that I am a fan of solo rpg but this is one game that completely defeats my efforts to solo play. The demands to be creative on both sides of the screen do not fit with a single person playing both sides and all the NPCs.

I have both the original and 2nd edition of 7th Sea and I do think the new version is an improvement. I absolutely love the hero creation rules.

Over in Rolemaster land we have an unusual situation of a supposedly public beta version of the rules being available for play test but the changes to those beta rules generated by testing are a secret. There is not going to be a third play test version and no one is going to see the modified rules or should that be finalised rules before it hits the shelves.

So the problem this causes me is that we know the beta rules have problems and parts are broken but we don’t know what fix the writers have decided upon. I have a play test game running but there is no point in calling it a play test at all as I am having to house rule around things. So in effect I am not play testing at all, I am playing a home brew version. So this is where 7th Sea has ‘infected’ my gaming. There is an element of the hero creation, hero stories, that I think is brilliant. It also makes sense of the experience rules in the new version of Rolemaster. So I have now woven hero stories into my new game.

Of all the parts that make up an RPG I think character creation is probably the most important. If you don’t want to play the character you get at the end of it then there is no fun in playing the game. This is something that 7th Sea 2nd Ed. does supremely well. It is just a pity that my players cannot see past hack and slash. 7th is definitely not a game for murder hobos!