Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Furt Digs Into The Ultraviolet Grasslands.

The Rusty Arc, by WizardThiefFighter
I like nomads.

If you read my blog even casually, you probably already know that from the amount of attention I've paid to groups like the Fokari, or the ancient Ersuunians.

Despite (but maybe not because of) it being a complete opposite in almost every way to the shut-in, sedentary life that I lead, nomadism and the people who live it have fascinated me since at least the end of my high school years.

Central to nomadism is travel from place to place for resources, and therefore survival. Home is the collapsible shelter you take with you, and your personal life can potentially fit into a saddlebag.

So when a fantasy game comes along that tries to capture the experience of travel beyond rolling on a random monster encounter table, I usually take an interest.

Of course true nomadism is a highly structured, cyclical system of migration following weather, animal patterns, and cultural traditions, while nomads as romanticized wanderers akin to adventurers are what have penetrated the tropes and tales of fiction the most in past years (when they aren't characterized as marauding hordes akin to murderhobos, of course).

Fortunately, the Ultraviolet Grasslands (UVG) by WizardThiefFighter includes both elements.

Supported by fuzzy psychedelic metal themes and the author's own distinctive art style which combines surreal blends of magic and science with an appreciation for desolate beauty, UVG is a game about traveling by caravan into the end of the world- literally.

Beyond the familiar lands of the Rainbowlanders who rule the bulk of the world, all the way at the Left End of the Right Road there is a Violet City- a massive trade hub which is a surreal melange of beings and forces all living together amid bizarre bazaars overseen by stewards who may or may not be the servants of hyper-intelligent house cats.

Beyond the Violet City, are the Ultraviolet Grasslands.

The Grasslands make up a steppe environment of inconceivable vastness stretching out into the west, studded by ruins and pieces of half-functional technology from an enigmatic "Long Ago" time.

And beyond that, long past the point where the laws of reality break down, is the Black City.

But it isn't about what your destination is- it's about the journey.

UVG is a rules-lite game which can be added in parts or as a whole to any existing game, though it works bests most similarly to OSR-type games, since the base rules assume six stats, AC, hit dice, etc.

UVG is also a Pointcrawl, which is a type of game system I only learned the existence of through this same game. For those who don't know, it's a way of organizing points of interest on a campaign map or what have you, but leaving the spaces in between those points vague and undefined. It's economical for DMs who don't have a lot of time or resources to work with, but also highly appropriate for travel across the Grasslands, where I get the sense that time and space are somewhat mutable, and the second trip through an area might not be the same as the first.

The Grasslands are populated by all manner of sub-human, superhuman, energy being, robot, and ghost. Player characters are even weirder, partly because they're actually willing to go on a trip out here. There are a host of reasons offered as to why they want to go into the Grasslands, from being merchants and their guards, to fulfilling destinies or prophecies in the face of the world coming to an end, to simply returning home as one of the Lime Nomads (it's unclear if they are named for the fruit or the color).

To show how vast and empty the Grasslands are, actions are taken according to Weeks, rather than rounds, turns, minutes, etc. In these Weeks, the players can travel, forage for supplies (measured in Sacks), make discoveries, and run into misfortune (one of several reasons not to dump Charisma in this game). Making good use of your Sacks is vital to finishing your job on the Grasslands alive and profitably, while weight allowance on the caravan is enough of a concern that you might prefer to permanently deface beautiful but heavy works of art in order to carry away a few handfuls of precious stones. Gritty realism is assumed for injury and healing, and cannibalism has a slot in the rules right on page 33. I wouldn't be surprised if a rule comes along soon for characters losing sanity from over-stimulation by the constant buzz and glow of the landscape.

I encourage you to give this weird world a shot if any of this has piqued your interest, particularly because the work-in-progress introductory book for the game is offered for free on the creator's Patreon page and through DriveThruRPG. More content pertaining to more locations in depth is available to Patrons, with even more goodies forthcoming.

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