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Epic Role Playing: Setting Rules

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mattormeg:


Epic Roleplaying is a fantasy roleplaying game system from Dark Matter Studios, LLC. The core system is composed of four slim soft-bound volumes, each one averaging around 130 or so pages in length, illustrated with grayscale artwork of good quality. The books are the Rules Manual, Book of the Arcane, Atlas of Eslin Volume I, and the Bestiary. I only have access to the first three of the four listed titles, and thus, must limit my comments to those particular volumes.

Epic is a setting-rich system, which is at once its greatest strength and most limiting weakness. The rules are so strongly ensconced in the default campaign setting of the game that a GM (called a “Guide” in the parlance of the game) who prefers his or her own campaign setting may find their work cut out for them.

To be sure, the campaign world, Eslin, is a lovingly developed and incredibly well-crafted setting that can stand on its own against other popular competitors like Glorantha or the Forgotten Realms in terms of quality and potential adventure hooks. There are dozens of individual nations, cultures and races, from the tree-like Celarri to the monstrous panther-like Buruk that mark Eslin as the creation of truly fertile minds.However, this same level of detail and meticulous attention to native cultures and unique professional organizations could make it difficult to use the Epic game for anything else beyond games set in Eslin.

The designers themselves must have had this in mind, because it is necessary to own all four books to really use the system. The Rules Manual guides the reader through most of the character creation process, and then it is off to the Atlas to pick a guild or other professional organization. Without the Atlas, the character cannot be finished – at least not without some considerable guesswork on the part of the GM. The designers could have made at least one concession to “generic” fantasy by including some standard fantasy archetypes (fighter, thief, etc.) from which players could draw their skill choices and finish their characters, but they didn't. Then again, it is likely that this is exactly the sort of thing to which Epic was designed as an alternative.

After checking the Atlas, players looking forward to playing any sort of magic-using character must then consult a third book, The Book of the Arcane in order to complete their character. Having to consult several books to complete a character is annoying when all of the books come together as a single unit; it can become absolutely prohibitive when those same books must be bought individually, each at a cost of $20.00,  USD.

The Epic magic system is essentially skill-based, with higher levels of skill granting both the greater possibility of casting success and in some cases enhanced effects for spells – called “variants” in Epic, and like the rest of the game, it is both meticulously and  lovingly detailed, yet fairly setting-dependent. There are six different Disciplines of magic, each organized around a unique philosophy, from metaphysics to “Shen,” a Chi-like system utilizing mind over matter.

Those players who own the Rules Manual, Book of the Arcane, and Atlas will find a fairly robust character creation system. Creating an Epic character occurs in several stages, each representing a different phase of the character's life, from birth to adulthood. Players are encouraged to roll on a series of charts, each one breathing life into the new character in the form of skills, boons and important story-based events in his or her life. Despite the utilization of guilds and professions in finishing out the character, traditional character classes play no part in Epic, with the pursuit of a particular profession handled by roleplaying and buying new skills and specialties with earned experience points.


By itself, the Rules Manual can be roughly divided by the reader into two sections: one devoted to the players supplying the majority of the character creation system, rules for conflict resolution and combat;  and one devoted to the Guide, which includes some 20 pages of fairly standard advice about gamemastery followed by an impressive section on magical weapons.

The conflict resolution system is target number based, with each player rolling two ten-sided dice, adding their relevant skill total and comparing to either the target number required for success or the total rolled by a competitor or combatant.

Combat in Epic offers a lot of option for players and GMs, with rules provided for everything from dirty tricks and combat feints to mass battle between hundreds of combatants. Between individual combatants, damage accrued is subtracted from Life Points, with several levels of relative harm, each level inflicting cumulative penalties to actions attempted by the wounded.

The magical items section of the Rules Manual is well-detailed with a number of very intriguing items that could be ported to any other fantasy system with a minimum of fuss. In addition to basic enchanted magic items, a lot of attention is given to the innate values of expertly crafted weapons and armor. This is a boon to the GM hesitant to dish out large amounts of magic in his or her campaign.

At its core, the Epic Role Playing game is a serviceable gaming system coated in layer upon layer of rich but highly-specific narrative detail. After the price, this will probably be the sticking point for most potential buyers. Those looking for a generic fantasy game would probably do best by looking elsewhere, but for those looking for a fully-realized fantasy milieu integrally represented in every aspect of a gaming system, Epic may be just the thing.



 

 

Reimdall:
Hi Mattormeg -  

Thanks for the looksee - we're excited that you appreciated the various settings in Eslin so much!  We've had a lot of feedback from gamers about the lack of sample guilds in the Rules Manual, and we've published on our website a selection of guilds and occupations for players who don't own the setting, or want to craft their own guilds and professions in their homebrew campaigns.  There's also a blog article detailing the creation of the same in a GM's custom setting.

The address for the sample guild article is here.

You can find the guild creation guidelines here.

Mcrow:

--- Quote from: Reimdall ---Hi Mattormeg -  

Thanks for the looksee - we're excited that you appreciated the various settings in Eslin so much!  We've had a lot of feedback from gamers about the lack of sample guilds in the Rules Manual, and we've published on our website a selection of guilds and occupations for players who don't own the setting, or want to craft their own guilds and professions in their homebrew campaigns.  There's also a blog article detailing the creation of the same in a GM's custom setting
--- End quote ---


Hello,

Just wanted to let you know that Mattormeg is one our staff reviewers and that I passed on the copies of the books to him for review.

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