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Ex Novo


Ex Novo is a playable city-generator that helps you construct, and populate fictional villages, towns, and cities. This physical game can be played solo or with up to 3 friends. Playtime ranges from 1 to 3 hours. 

Meet with your friends, and collaboratively draw the map of your city as you explore the history of its founding, and the forces, factions, and events that shape its development. 

Ex Novo is both a fun game, and a tool that helps you build memorable settlements ready for further creative use; the cities generated can for example be used in any sort of narrative endeavors or as settings for pen and paper role-playing game adventures.

Please share your cities with us using the hashtag #ExNovoCity.

Created by Martin Nerurkar and Konstantinos Dimopoulos.

Playing Ex Novo

You (and up to three friends) take on the role of the guardian spirit of a freshly founded settlement. Its founding, in fact, conjured you into existence, and imbued you with purpose: to witness the settlement grow, shepherd its development, inspire its factions, and remember its stories.

During play you will make sense of the events happening as you roll dice, plan and draw on a collaborative map of your settlement, and influence its changing shape. You will flesh out a living place complete with landmarks, districts, resources, and people, and in the end create your own, unique, fictional town. A town with a true sense of history and place.

An example Ex Novo sketch of a coastline

Sequence of Play

Play begins with a brief discussion phase, where each player shares their assumptions and expectations. The age and size of the city-to-be are also determined, and with them the expected duration of the game.

Next up is the founding phase. Taking turns, players define such fundamentals features of the settlement as the surrounding terrain or its original founding purpose. Every feature is described by the acting player, who will then have to draw it on the map. Following Ex Novo's initial sequence of turns, players will have an interesting starting situation in their hands.

The following phase, the development phase, is the core of the game. Each turn in this phase provides with an event brought forth  by the roll of three dice. These events need to be interpreted, and sketched by the active player. During the development phase the settlement will grow, change or even shrink; factions will rise and fall, populations will move, old neighborhoods will decline, and mighty edifices will be built. This is where the exciting history of your city will be played out, where its structure will evolve, and where the game map will get both bigger and richer.

The final phase is the topping out phase. These few quick turns are all that's needed to wrap up the development of the city, and tie up any loose ends. Dominant landmarks might even get named as your settlement's finishing touches are applied. 

Finally your creation will be ready for you to admire, illustrate, show off or use as a jumping off point for something entirely new: a new RPG campaign, a video game setting, a novel fantasy or a even short story.

Third Party License

Ex Novo is a creative game, and we want to foster this creativity. So, we put together a third party license that will allow anyone to make new stuff for or based on Ex Novo, and either publish it for free or sell it. Find out everything you need about the Ex Novo Third Party License on the Sharkbomb Studios website.

Other Sharkbomb Games

If you are curious, here are some other Sharkbomb projects you might be interested in:

A cover image with a medieval map of a city on light blue and the EX NOVO logo in black on beige on top of it.

Ex Novo

Ex Novo is a playable city-generator that helps you construct fictional villages and towns. This role-playing game can be played alone or with up to 3 friends. Playtime ranges from 1 to 3 hours. Meet with your friends and collaboratively draw the map of your city as you explore the conditions that led to its founding and the events that shape its development.

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Goblin Errands

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Ex Umbra

Ex Umbra is a playable dungeon-generator to construct fictional underground caves, labyrinths and tombs. This physical print-and-play game can be played alone or with up to 3 friends. Playtime ranges from 1 to 4 hours. Meet with your friends and collaboratively draw the map of your dungeon as you collect questionable rumors about its threats and treasures.

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Planedawn Orphans

Planedawn Orphans is a campaign kit that provides a flexible and versatile framework for the fantasy role-playing game of your choice. Set in the Planar City, a strange melting pot that connects the vast diversity of the multiverse. The players are Planar Orphans stranded in this city, their original home worlds destroyed, corrupted or lost. They are tasked to complete a Planar Key, a mighty artifact that will let them create a new plane for themselves and their fellow refugees.

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The Mending Circle

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Reviews (1)
Discussions (2)
Customer avatar
Nathan E October 25, 2021 12:22 am UTC
Is this just like following a bunch of writing prompts?
Customer avatar
Martin N August 03, 2022 1:43 pm UTC
No, it is a more involved game where actual map drawing is a part of it. However another part of it is to make sense of prompts, so in that regard it is comparable to writing prompts, in a sense.
Customer avatar
David B July 16, 2020 10:11 pm UTC
I have seen other games like this. What does this one bring to the table that is new?
Customer avatar
Martin N July 21, 2020 8:22 am UTC
Most other games focus on only providing a fun play experience. The big draw of Ex Novo is that it's both a fun time to play but it also generates a city you are itching to play your favorite RPG in.

If that's a bit too vague, I'd love to provide more details but then it would help to know what to compare against, so if you've got similar games that you have in mind, let me know!
Customer avatar
Jeff T June 09, 2022 11:08 pm UTC
Hello Martin, Ex Novo is my favourite solo rpg! I have taken liberties with the game to incorporate features of other games. I apply dice roll outcomes and apply them to building states, which then has political applications for adjoining towns, which has a flow on effect. My states are experiencing a weather pattern which is slowly affecting my 33 states. I have taken the game from being cities/towns to making this about whole states. I love the dice role tables & use these to find synergies when taking the 3 dice roll numbers and rearranging the numbers e.g roll 1,2,3 = 123, 231, 312, 132. Even in instances where outcomes when applied do not have synergies, I refer to random game icons to find a way to link the two outcomes. I must do a YT vid on how full blown this game can become. I also incorporate historical events to fit what is happening within a town (I have a handful of states which are expanding and are on the verge of war, trade and protection agreements, school & learning developments which...See more
Customer avatar
Martin N August 03, 2022 1:42 pm UTC
Hey Jeff! Super happy to hear you're having fun building on the game to customize it to your liking!
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on July 15, 2020.