[Editor’s note: The following preview is based on a complete, but not finalized, product; in advance of a crowdfunding campaign. -dc]
I first came across Geek Collaborative Gaming when they launched Adventure Post: a solo, RPG-style, dungeon crawl, physically mailed out room by room on weekly postcards. EverWyrd technically was created first and is its own, very unique, game. But at the same time, much of the “tweaking” done in its later development came from the experiences creating Adventure Post.
The first thing I want to touch on is the definition of a roleplaying game. Above I called Adventure Post and EverWyrd “RPG-style” games. The publisher, on the other hand, calls EverWyrd an RPG game. Now, I don’t play video games, and never really have, so I think an RPG having a human GM to adjust the story on the fly is an integral part of the experience. I happen to know that Shawn Hescock, who revised and updated this game for Geek Collaborative Gaming, has a longtime love of computer RPGs like the Ultima series. For players like him, having an AI system driving the story forward is perfectly normal. I don’t think either viewpoint is more or less accurate, but I think it’s an important thing to note so that everyone is on the same page. At the very least, people should acknowledge the validity of the two different pages.
Definitions aside, EverWyrd is a fast and fun game that captures everything satisfying about a good dungeon crawl. Period.
Let’s start with the incredibly simple character creation process. There are three Stats in EverWyrd. Fight, Ability, and Mind. As one might expect, these Stats are what determines how well your character will perform in different situations.
There are four Classes to choose from. The Fighter, The Rogue, and The Mage. Again, these are three of your four basic classes that every RPG has in some form or another. (The fourth traditionally being a Healer, has all but gone extinct as its own Class in most modern games.) Each Class has a default set of Stats, one at 3, one at 2, and one at 1; with the option to build your own character by distributing a total of 6 points between the three Stats.
There are four Races available to choose from. Beyond a general backstory, each race has a functional difference by providing starting Skills and/or bonuses to a character’s Stats.
-The Sidhe (the few remaining Elves of EverWyrd) get a +1 to Mind and the Skill: Cast Spells to start.
-The Orgra (do I need to point out they are what most people would picture if you said “Ogre”?) start with a +1 to Fight and the Skill: Mighty Strength. They also refuse to use magic.
-The Canibris ( a less traditional race of dog people) earn a +1 to their Fight and start with the Skill: Stealth. They can never use magic, unlike the Orgra who distrust it and therefore choose not to use it.
-Humans are, of course, present and are the most flexible Race. They have a +1 to their Ability Stat and get an extra five Skill Points to spend on personalizing their character however they wish.
The next two steps are separate but interconnected. First, you buy your Skills. With the exception of the Magic restrictions I noted above, any class or race can select any Skill they can afford. Those Skills can be broken down into two types, Skills that give bonuses and Skills that allow a character to do something. A character can use a dagger, for example, but if they chose the Skill: Dagger they get a +1 to their attack rolls using a dagger. Conversely, any player can purchase lock pick and disarm trap kit as equipment, but if they didn’t choose the Skill: Pick Locks or Disarm Traps they won’t be able to do anything useful with them.
Once you’ve made sure you have the appropriate skills, it’s time to buy your equipment. Equipment, like Skills, can be separated by things that give bonuses, like armour and weapons, and things that can be used; like rope, rations, or lock picks. Generally, weapons and armour need the appropriate skill to take full advantage of them, while other equipment may or may not require a Skill to use it at all.
Once your character is built it’s time to head into action in one of two modes of play. The Dungeon Dive runs a bit like an arcade game. Little to no plot and escalating difficulty as you progress through a stand-alone dungeon. When it’s done, you’re done. The main game, however, is meant to be played in Campaign Mode.
In Campaign Mode, there is a storyline that will tie multiple quests together. Each quest will have it’s own unique setup instructions, objectives, quirks, and tables for things like encounters and potential loot. If you survive the quest, you’ll receive Hero Points that can be used to upgrade your character’s abilities and likely some plot-specific treasure and rewards that could allow you to buy more equipment.
The gameplay mechanics, while you are in a dungeon, are pretty simple. Every check, from creature encounters to Skill checks, is done with either one or two standard six-sided dice. The prototype I played didn’t include dice (because who doesn’t have spare dice laying around), so I actually used two sets of two dice, in different colours, when I played as a solo game. One colour for my rolls, and the other for any opposing rolls (such as in combat).
Playing solo was an easy choice for me, since the entire game is designed for solo play, and there is no GM to needed to run things. From there the game expands out to a standard group game, but there’s still no GM. In fact, most of the rulebook is actually written from a group standpoint, but conveniently, the encounter tables are nicely designed to quickly scale up and down those encounters based on how many players there are. But what about those people who love taking on that GM roll, you ask? There are optional rules to add in someone to replace the AI and control the game. For those who thrive on worldbuilding, there’s even some encouragement to create your own campaigns. There is pretty much something here for everyone.
I’m really excited to see where this campaign goes, and where Everwyrd goes with it. One of the great things about the crowdfunding process is that games have the chance to grow into something more. I don’t just mean with well-planned stretch goals, but through unanticipated stretch goals and through the feedback of the community it helps build.
We’ll be back with a CrowdFUNding Spotlight on the campaign when it goes live next week. Until then you can download the FREE EverWyrd Teaser at DriveThruRPG.com and get a pre-campaign taste for it.
TheRatHole.ca does not accept payments for our reviews but may have received a free review copy of this game.