5 Reasons to buy this RPG:
- Mark Smylie. He designed, wrote, and illustrated this RPG himself. You donâ€™t get that kind of creative unity in most RPGs. Having everything under his supervision really made for a faithful transition of Artesia and the Known World to a roleplaying game. Smylieâ€™s art, which you can also find in the Artesia comic books and some Wizards of the Coast products, never fails to amaze. Some of the art is taken directly from the comics; much of it is original. Itâ€™s all outstanding, and itâ€™s 99% in color. There is some nudity (male and female), but itâ€™s tastefully done.
- The setting. (this RPG assumes you have not read any of the Artesia comic books, and introduces you fully to the world. You need never pick up the comicsâ€”but you should!) The Known World is a complex blend of innovative mythology and religion, well-realized history and politics, and a compelling sense of the fantastic. The entire first half of this 350+ page book is devoted to the setting; it really draws the reader in, and creates a world in which you canâ€™t wait to adventure. There are beautifully-drawn color maps of the Known World, with detail maps of more central areas. Interspersed throughout are illustrations of people hailing from various cultures, giving you a good idea of what the various humans look and dress like. The various religious cults, and how they manifest in different cultures, are described in detail. I really enjoyed the equipment sectionâ€”particularly the armor. There are over 2 dozen suits of armor, all with names that evoke a history (example: â€œDaradj three-quarter bannermanâ€™s harnessâ€). You can also construct your own from the various piecesâ€”and Smylie has done his homework on armor (very cool if you are detail-oriented). There is a bestiary with more than enough opponents to get you started. The nations and their relationships are covered in detailâ€”including the buildup to war. All in all, you get the feel of a world where something really important is about to happen, and you will be a key player. At this particular point in the Known Worldâ€™s history, war is about to erupt, and there are many different possibilities for a party of PCâ€™s to make an impact as history unfolds. And to really help you kick things off, there is an introductory adventure for beginning characters, â€œthe Witchâ€™s Price.â€
There are also several follow-up products slated for the coming year (including mass combat rules), so there looks to be plenty of product support available. The website has downloads, a forum, an art gallery, and a release schedule.
- The Fuzion game mechanic. Artesia is an example of the mechanic being creatively adapted to the setting, not vice versa. Iâ€™m pretty slavish to d20, but I have been inspired by the way the mechanic was adapted to the Known World. The result is that game play actually brings out the feel of being in the Known World. I think d20 really would have stifled this setting, and Iâ€™m having fun playing outside of the box. (For those of you who MUST have d20, I believe there will be a d20 adaptation soon).
- Magic. Magic in the Known World is not traditional (as in D&D traditional): any character can use incantations; magic is not restricted to wizards (although you can create and play a wizard, who would be more skilled in magic). Rather, magic is part of the natural world, tied to the gods and the spirits. As a result, magic comes across as more fantastic and unusual. More advanced characters are, of course, more skilled and have more options.
- Overall, this is a great book. The layout is beautifulâ€”every page draws the reader in with color borders and backgrounds. Smylie succeeds in getting a lot of information across in a very presentable manner. (All the color will be hard on your printer cartridges; but then, so will printing any 350+ page RPG). I canâ€™t say it enough: this is a beautiful book. I could read and campaign in the Known World for a long time.
My only beef with this pdf is that there are no bookmarks. For a pdf of this size, bookmarks are really a necessity. But the excellent layout helps to offset the inconvenience.
I give this book 5 stars. My previous reviews, all several months back, were done on a scale of what was available at the time. Artesia: Adventures in the Known World has really broken the curve for me; I havenâ€™t been this excited about a fantasy RPG since 3rd edition. Buy this book, read, play, and enjoy!