After last month’s beginner’s guide IAN LACEY gets back to in-depth reviews of the latest PBM releases. First off there’s the superb Raiders Of Gwaras, then there’s a look at some new games from the IBM of PBM — KJC Games.
THIS FANTASY RPG is one of my favourite games. Called Raiders Of Gwaras it’s set on the planet Gwaras and has me engrossed in both my character and its wider world. Players’ characters are created by themselves and fitted into the world by Raiders GM, Mike Richards. This is done by giving your character a background, a family and detailed surroundings. There’s a choice of over thirty races (most unique to the game) and one-hundred professions. Some of these equate to normal mage/fighter ‘adventurers’ but many do not, such as the politicians, courtiers and pirates.
The game has a very open format, with no rule over how silly/serious you want to be. The results of your moves come in the form of up to four printed pages of A4 paper, filled with wonderfully detailed descriptions.
The world of Gwaras is very much like a cross between many periods in our middle to late recorded history. All of the countries have their own history which fit in with the global changes. Background is generally extensive and lovingly detailed by the Game Master. In all, Gwaras has almost 2000 years of history, giving it a feel of authenticity no other game can touch.
Character generation has a slight feeling of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but is far more complex. You have all the usual statistics (DEXTERITY, BUILD, STRENGTH etc), plus roughly 30 more detailed ones. You then have characteristics based upon the four humours (Air, Water, Fire and Earth) which add great depth to your character, making him/her more enjoyable to roleplay. The whole system is very well designed so that both hardened roleplayers and newcomers will enjoy this. The GM is always willing to lend you a hand if you get stuck since he was a total newcomer to PBM when RoG started.
So if you want a game with plenty of thought, detail and interest, but don’t want to pay through the nose for it, this is the one for you. A Raiders start-up pack costs £3, which includes a map, a rulebook and highly detailed character background. Turns are a mere £1.25 with no hidden extras.
GAD Games are a rapidly-expanding little company with three games to their name now. The first is World Of Chaos which has been around sometime now, getting some great reviews in its playtest stage. It’s a fantasy roleplaying game set around the six Isles Of Morden. With the start-up at £5 and turns at £1.20 it represents good value for money. The second game is the computer-moderated football management simulation Soccer Supremos. It’s a very run-of-the-mill footy game, but rulebooks are free so why not take a look. Turns are £1.20.
GAD’s latest game is Invasion and is really Risk by mail. It’s a very simple wargame and lots of fun. Still, I don’t think it’ll be a serious rival to Crisis — a more complex version of Risk from Mystery and Adventure Games. The cheaper Invasion is quite good though, with free rulebooks. Start-up costs £2 and turns are 80p. Moreover GAD Games have said that the first 30 players to pay their £2 start-up fee will receive an extra two turns, effectively pricing the start-up at 40p.
KJC Games have been busy recently. After taking over Casus Belli they’ve got the game’s designer, David Bolton, to redesign it. The result is now being launched as Crucible Of Destruction, and is supposedly a far larger game than its predecessor.
Not satisfied with that KJC have bought the rights to three more games! Dawn Of The Ancients is a twelve-player computer-moderated fantasy wargame. Developed in America by GSI (Earthwood designers) it sees all the great empires of world history starting out at the same time, vying for power. Twelve empires ranging from the Egyptians to The Huns to the Babylonians all battle against each other.
KJC’s third new game is State Of War. Set in America in the year 2000, a nuclear war has destroyed Europe, and left America in crisis. Twenty American states, fed up with the Federal government, have set out to rule America and make the world their own. You play one of those twenty states.
Finally there’s Warlord. Another wargame set in a post-holocaust world, a hundred players control countries who went underground for protection, and are just emerging. Guess what their objective is...
Crucible Of Power is due for release very soon, write for details. Dawn Of The Ancients costs £5 to start and turns are £1.50. State Of War is just out, costing £6 for a start-up with turns at £2. Lastly Warlord is just £2.50 per starter package with further turns at £1.25.
See you next month when I’ll be looking at Magelords Of Dorm and In Dubious Battle, plus offers galore with loads of free start-ups. See you then...