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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Gabriel R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/17/2022 22:20:23

I love this game so much I have been telling all my gaming friends to check it out and bought a print on demand copy after reading the PDF.

I've read at least a dozen versions of OSR looking for the perfect one and this is the one where I thought, that's it, I found it. Mechanically, it combines the best elements of B/X and 3e/5e D&D. And thematically, it gets away from the increasingly played out conceit of a tenth generation photocopy of Tolkien in favor of an assumption that the default otherworld is the realm of fairy, with goblins being nasty fairies. The magic system is based on the 3e/5e distinction between cantrips, spells, and rituals but with the important distinction that a) spells are safe but finite whereas cantrips and rituals are risky but infinite and b) all the powerful spells (anything that in 3e/5e would be 3rd level or higher) are rituals.

The star of the game is the character generation, a brilliant system that I haven't seen used in any other game (except of course for BtW's sword and sorcery edition, Through Sunken Lands). There is a standard character generation option, but the preferred way is to choose an archetype and then roll from a series of tables that in about ten minutes give your character not only stats and gear, but also a backstory and relationships with the other PCs. All this is built on a dead simple three class system (warriors, casters, and rogues/specialists).

Both mechanically and thematically, Beyond the Wall makes the supernatural feel weird and this notion of magic as something that is out there makes magic feel much more magical than "my tiefling sorcerer fires a 1d8 firebolt cantrip again." If you're interested in weird fantasy I highly recommend this. If you prefer sword and sorcery, try Through Sunken Lands (same publisher and game mechanics, different genre). If you want Tolkien-esque standard fantasy in Forgotten Realms maybe still check it out just for the character generation.

I have to admit that I haven't been brave enough to run the scenario packs (BtW's version of adventure modules, which are presented as a series of random tables). It might be that they work great but they require more GM improvisation confidence than "here's a map and a series of keyed entries." However I was very happy running Beyond the Wall with Winter's Daughter, a module written for OSE (a B/X retroclone) -- pretty much all I had to do was tone down the treasure as BtW doesn't use gp=xp. My players (one old grognard who played AD&D in the 80s and another guy who had only played 5e) hadn't read the book but still immediately understood the rules based on my brief summary.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Mike I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2022 15:15:32

If you play D&D and ever thought:

  • My group's PC's are never grounded so they always get away with murderhobo stunts and I rather they had a good in-game reason not too.
  • I wonder how I can give the PCs reasonably quick and organic backstories that connect them together
  • I wish I could put together engaging one-shots with very little effort
  • I wish I could make magic a bit more mysterious and allow concepts like allowing PCs to use "true names" to defeat foes easier
  • It would be great if the character classes skewed more towards YA fantasy classes
  • I'd like for the rules to "get out of the way" but still provide a framework and support the story

If you have had any of these thoughts, you NEED this game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall - Further Afield
by Mike I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/05/2022 13:55:35

The single best resource I have ever found for running a fantasy sandbox!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall - Further Afield
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ACTION MOVIE WORLD: First Blood
by Michael I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/05/2022 13:53:31

Based on a read only: A great genre emulator with a clever concept using the "Actor" as the interstitial tissue that turns this from a one-shot to a campaign. I'll revisit my rating again after finishing a play session



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ACTION MOVIE WORLD: First Blood
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/22/2021 10:04:03

Beyond the Wall is a simple, character driven RPG that focuses on the important stuff. The game's greatest strengths lay in how its character creation process integreates relationships with other PC's so that your party feels like it's been together for ages. The game also includes fun rules for collaborative worldbuilding through telling stories. The system even accounts for the fact that the characters might not know what they're talking about. There are also some helpful guidelines for designing point crawl style adventures. The game is designed so you can play one shot adventures, or short campaigns without a ton or prepwork by the players or storyteller.

Like any old school game, the rules are simple and intended for the storyteller to make adjustments on the fly. There's not a ton of crunch here and its not really needed. Most of the character detail and customization comes from playbooks rather than the basic classes.

I don't play Beyond the Wall all the time, but it has changed how I run games such as D&D.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Dave T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2021 00:34:43

This is an absolutely fantastic game, with a community that I very much hopes continues to grow with such rewarding material. This brings a wonderful co-collaborative mindset to the games, really stresses quality roleplay with actually building bonds and other dynamics into the game (for once), so the worldbuilding and character creation/backstory sessions are not only rich, detailed and enjoyable, but allow for a more immersive story where PC's have very real relationships with stakes and interesting hooks and plot devices. Absolutely love the mentality of not only this book but the other supplement books, they get everything right about OSR and TTRPGs in general. Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures
by Steven H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2021 17:51:44

A truly sincere sword and sorcery rpg that not only is true to the genre, the gaming world is presented in a way that the group can flesh out the world; you are not wading in someone else's homebrew setting. The rules are easy to read, learn and teach to others and the setting is easy to immerse a group into. I honestly do not think I could ask for more from a s&s rpg than Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures
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Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures
by Aaron W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/28/2020 07:10:16

A new fantastic installment to a great game system. Once again simple rules of play but plenty of content and flavour. Excellent world building tools for game masters to develop adventures, campaigns, NPCs, and locations. Great character development tools available to players to create unique and intriguing characters. I love the new setting vibes it's very reminiscent of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser or the old school setting of Yoon Suin the Purple Lands.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures
by Florian H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/25/2020 14:00:15

This introduction was originally released on my blog diceadventurer.

This year there was a great Christmas present from Flatland Games, which one or the other knows from the game Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures. This time you don’t slip into the role of young people in a small village, but go out into the wide world, plunder and conquer cities and lands and discover lost ruins.

The world:

Like Beyond the Wall (BtW), Through Sunken Lands (TSL) is a sandbox, but offers a little more setting. The world is roughly described and there are maps that can be used as a group. If you don’t want that, you can simply make your own maps and play on them, as in BtW. The setting is based on classic works of the Sword & Sorcery genre such as Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar and Moorcock’s Eternal Champion. The description of the setting is long enough to get a rough picture and short enough to leave plenty of room for interpretation and your own creations.

The system:

Through Sunken Lands is based on the same system as BtW and is fully compatible. This is referred to several times in the book, the playbooks of both games can be used in the other game. TSL is an OSR and a d20 is used for all rolls (except damage). For normal tests you have to roll equal to or below your attribute value, with skills giving a bonus of +2. Saving throws and attack throws, however, must be equal to or greater than their respective values in order to be successful.

Characters are created through playbooks. There are three classes: warrior, rogue and mage, although there are also multiclassing characters. The playbook gives you background and the story of your character. That is the great strength of TSL and BtW, you have an interesting character within a few minutes. In TSL you start at level 2 and are therefore quite competent. You play characters like the barbaric conqueror (Conan sends his regards), the pirate captain or the temple keeper. Each class comes with its own talents and skills. Attribute increases and possible spells obtained are selected at random through the playbooks. Spells are divided into three categories: cantrips, spells, and rituals. A mage can conjure up as many spells a day as his level is, but these succeed automatically. For the other two variants, he has to make a check. There are a number of spells in the book, but most OSR spells should be convertible easily.

Fighting and healing are kept very minimalistic and the equipment part of the book is also very short. In general, the group in TSL and BtW is left with a lot of their own if they want more content in these areas. A great addition in TSL is the mass combat system. Anyone expecting diverse, tactical options here is out of place. Instead, you can handle film-like battles very quickly, in which the characters can turn the outcome of the battle in highlight scenes. These battles happen in three phases: preparation, actual battle, and aftermath. In the first phase, the respective sides can explore the battlefield, drill the troops or prepare tactics. The result of the tests later influences the course of the battle. In the actual battle, the respective leaders roll dice how they lead the battle and the previous preparations, as well as the number of soldiers, give corresponding bonuses or penalties. After this roll, the players can play a scene of how they want to influence the battle, be it a duel with an important opponent, a battle with countless soldiers or even secret missions. All of these actions are then counted towards the leader’s tide of combat roll and a table shows how successful the battle was. Then the group can choose from options what they want to do with their successes (and failures), be it capturing opponents, causing damage, looting or even taking losses themselves.

Another very interesting part is travel by sea. The group has the choice between fast travel (i.e. usually without events and the journey takes place according to the SL’s narration), the hex field exploration from Further Afield (a BtW supplement that is then required) or a medium solution. The length of the voyage is taken into account and a test by the navigator or captain decides on the number of encounters.

The heart of TSL, in addition to the playbooks, are the scenario packs. In combination of the two, a game master can play an adventure without preparation. While the players are building their characters with the playbooks, the game master rolls the dice on several tables to create enemies, dungeons and plot twists. You also get hooks for further adventures. In some tables the gm fills in npcs, places or objects created through the playbooks to get the players invested.

The book:

Through Sunken Lands has 217 pages and is full color. The layout and typesetting is as in BtW and can be read properly. Some of the pictures are in full color and partly remind me of The One Ring, while others are completely blue. I would have liked a uniform style, although I generally like the artwork. The game comes with three very different scenario packs and nine playbooks, a good starting point for your first adventures.

Who might be interested in Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures:

  • Players and GMs who prefer less rules and more flexibility
  • People who like to create things themselves
  • Players who focus on narrative rather than mechanics

Who might not be interested in Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures:

  • Players and GMs who want a set of rules that covers everything
  • People who need a comprehensive description of the setting
  • Players who want complex character development


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ACTION MOVIE WORLD: First Blood
by thomas b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/31/2020 18:05:06

This is the first time whilst running a game I had to stop and collect myself because I was laughing so hard! Such a great game! It's also helping with general mental health because one of my group is still in lockdown...so the games are an opportunity to have a good laugh on line! Cheers and thanks!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ACTION MOVIE WORLD: First Blood
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Beyond the Wall - Dangers Near and Far
by David H. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2020 20:11:40

Dangers Near and Far (DN&F) is fantastic new book for Beyond the Wall (BtW). It includes the material from the last four expansions, which were already top-notch, and fuses new content together into a new beautiful piece of gaming lore. Before I address some DN&F specifics, I want to explain why BtW is so dear to my heart.

In Beyond the Wall, you start building your sense of place and purpose as soon as you make the first roll in your chosen character playbook. After the last roll, you have an unique character and several builtin story hooks for future action. The dungeon master has at least that much fun creating an adventure by choosing a scenario pack and rolling up the start of the action and the pivotal plot points. In addition, the Threat packs help add boiling danger which will plague the characters over many sessions of campaign play. This DN&F book rounds out the Threat packs and Scenario packs to give a vast number of new options and advice to build more. Two early chapters, The Village Expanded and Adversaries Expanded, are so densely packed with adventure hooks that I kept having to put the book down and go-- Whoa.

Let's talk games mechanics for a bit. BtW has three classes-- Warrior, Rogue and Mage. Each of these classes has several traits (like Attack bonus) and special abilities (like Sense Magic and Fortune's Favor). Overall, about one third of the playbooks blend these abilities into multi-classed characters, but without the usual "stitched-together" feel. The magic system is literally my favorite across all OSR systems. Mages have assess to Cantrips, Spells and Rituals which blend together into a full featured system. Each magic form has different mechanics and are equally useful overall when wielded by the clever practitioner. For example, this book (DN&F) includes the new playbook "The Lord's Secret" which is a Warrior-Mage with warrior knacks (but not weapon specialization) and mage spells (but no cantrips or rituals). Once you roll through the playbook, you may even end up with a young Brand (from Wheel of Time) or a young Falco Dante (from Battle Mage). Another mechanics note, levels are a bigger deal in BtW than typical OSR games. Level 10 is the max for all classes, but at this level your character will be at the pinnacle of power. Beyond this, your character may well be the "Gandalf" of your next campaign with new characters and new adventures.

Now let's talk about the flavor of Beyond the Wall. In short, it's everywhere-- even the descriptions of the spells and the bestiary. Yes, there is a classic "Burning Hands" spell, but the spells before and after are "Brave the Flames" and "Call the Swarm" with very evocative descriptions. Even unclaimed playbooks are storehouses of great characters and events for the players to experience. The art in all the books is varied and excellent, all work towards a feeling of life on the edge of a dangerous and mysterious wild. DN&F does not have as much art as the original BtW book, but the art present fits the style nicely. The classic OSR races are present-- dwarves, elves, and halflings. But, dangers like the faerie and goblins are more like those from the Dolmenwood setting of the Wormskin magazines. DN&F expands on the extra-planar realms by including the best treatment of "The Underworld" I've seen anywhere. This world, just beyond ours, is realm of the dead and is separated from the living world by "The Veil". Where the Veil is thin (old battlefields, graveyards, dark heart of wood, ...) the spirits and even undead can crossover. The storytelling value of this is immense. Skeletons are a barely a challenge in typical OSR campaigns. But, in BtW, no hero regardless of power can let down their guard where the Veil is thin. DN&F includes a similar treatment of the Goblin Realms, starting with a level 1 ritual "A Door in the Dark". This "frightening easy" ritual can open a existing portal to dangerous realms of the goblins and their chaotic ilk. Excellent guidance is given on creating these caverns and memorable foes like the goblin's leaders, champions and beasts. Once again, the storytelling potential of this material is vast because the smaller challenges earlier in campaign have easy mechanics to scale to tremendous dangers later as the threats build to a crescendo.

Despite the length of this review, I've barely begun to describe how much the BtW series has made me a happy gamer. Dangers Near and Far continues this fun in grand spirit. I have the hardcover versions of the previous three books, and I'd love to have this as the fourth (POD?, wink, wink).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall - Dangers Near and Far
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Paolo P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2020 12:38:33

It happens to stumble upon a game that pretty plain sounds. A game that enforce what you think is important in gaming, that makes you feel at home. Everybody has one and despite d20 and OSR not being exactly my cup of tea, Beyond the Wall is one of those to me.

In this manual, content is king. The game proposes a pretty modern and lightweight take on OSR, with some candies for nostalgic people (looking at you saving throws) and great options for the most modern-oriented players. But this game doesn't shines for its rules. Its real strenght is that it's the only game I every bought (with the honorable exclusion of Crimson Exodus) that actually delivers all and exactly what it promises.

The character playbooks and scenario packs are tools that really enpower the whole table to build something that's inherently tied and weaved into the characters' backgrounds. All, from the characters stats to places, to NPCs, is so deeply bound to what matters to the player (GM included) that you simply can't do it wrong at the table. Everyone is called to give life to a breathing world made of relations, acquaintances and memories, vibrant despite fictional.

The format allows for deep and meaningful, story-oriented casual games as well as for longer campaigns (don't miss the companion handbook "Further afield") and this really works! I read this claim so many times that I didn't really thought it was possible. Reading the manual gave me a sort of epiphany instead: it is all so damn simple once you read it, you ask yourself why you didn't came yourself to a similar format before. But don't be fooled, this is the result of the game designer taking it oh so damn right!

I won't go into deep detail: if you fall in one or more of the following categories:

  • Parents/Adult gamers with few time to dedicate to the hobby
  • Players seeking for a story-driven and player-centric experience
  • Forced into casual gaming by real life today with hopes for a grand campaing tomorrow
  • GMs seeking for great advices and inspiration on the topic above (no matter the system)
  • People who enjoy fairytales, folklore, dreamscapes etc

just buy this book (and all others in this line). You won't regret!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Thibaut C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2020 14:56:46

I've discovered an RPG gem some month ago: Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures. I'm actually playing two campaigns with this game (as a GM) and I think I can review it now :)

Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is a recent roleplaying game based on Dungeons & Dragons B/X but with some twists and a different low fantasy sensibility. One of the objectives of this game is to play with no prep (or a minimal prep). Really, it's a success. You can really create rich characters with the character playbooks and playing one of the scenario pack on the fly without having much work, on a single evening.

Theme

BtW is inspired by the works of Ursula K. LeGuin, Susan Cooper, and Lloyd Alexander. It's more a game about young people struggling for saving their homes and becoming heroes than a classic sword & sorcery game about becoming rich and powerful. The character creation and rules enforce the theme, and it's really refreshing. It's good for bringing young players at a gaming table because they play the young good people, protect their family and friends, and discover the dangerous world beyond the wall of their village. It's more low fantasy than D&D, and magic is less powerful and flashy, more subtle.

Characters

In BtW, character creation is made with all the players at the table, because they create their characters with bounds between them and are invited to create important NPC and locations to the blank village map provided. Each player picks a playbook (they are more than 40 playbooks at this time) and each playbook invite the player to roll on 7 tables to generate the character story, stats and skills in the same time. After the character creation process, all the PC have a nice background with bounds to other PC and NPC. The gamemaster can exploit this created background, NPC and locations to launch his adventures.

Technically in BtW you can play three core classes, but mix two of them for many different flavors. You have the warrior, the rogue and the mage. The warrior is what you expect, with some knacks to choose for personalization. The rogue is a better fighter than in D&D B/X, and without surprise it's a skill monkey. A rogue can be a thief, a scout, a hunter or any specialist who rely on the mastery of many skills. The mage wields the power of three magic types: cantrips, spells and rituals, but he is not bound to arcane or divine spellcasting, because magic is magic, it's subtle so it's difficult to say if a god really sends you spells or if your magic comes from another source. And the mage can use any weapon (no armor) and have d6 HP, so... it's useful from the beginning.

Rules

BtW is a nice mix between old school and modern rules. From old school D&D B/X you have the 6 stats with the classic modifiers (-3 to +3), you have your base attack bonus, XP progression chart by class, simple combat rules and the old 5 saving throws. Monsters are equivalent to B/X one, with HD and the like. From modern games you have the skills (+2 or +4 bonuses for some stat checks, who are roll under a d20), you have fortune points (sort of destiny points for rerolling dices and stop bleeding to death).

The magic system is really nice and different. A mage can cast cantrips, not potent but useful spells which don't count in your spell limit by day, but requires a stat check to not cast a fumble! A mage can also cast regular spells, who are levelless. You can cast as many spells a day as your level, and doesn't need to read your spellbook each day for memorize them, so it's not Vancian magic. And a mage can cast rituals, who are very long to cast (1 hour by level), need a stat check, but are very powerful and doesn't count in your spell by day limit. The rituals have a level, so for learning and launch a ritual, you need to be of the ritual level.

There are no complex rules here like tracking encumbrance. All is easy to understand, easy to teach, and open to quick and safe houseruling.

Conclusion

Beyond the Wall is really a nice game and my favorite OSR game at this time. The playbooks are incredibles and Flatland Games give us many free supplements for playbooks and scenario pack. The game is more a fantasy game than a sword & sorcery one, more Tolkienesque than D&D in my mind.

Review from https://anoldplayfulfox.blogspot.com



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall - Further Afield
by Thibaut C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/11/2020 15:41:34

A great lesson about how to run a sandbox campaign. I've been in strugle since many years with my campaigns, doesn't find a way to make them start and grow. This book have saving my GM life ^^



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by George G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2019 10:22:41

This game is an icredible concept. I have been gaming since the early 80s and have played more than systems than I can remember, Beyond the Wall hits SO many marks. Character creation is actually FUN for once, that alone is a revelation! The idea that I as a GM can sit down with zero prep work and have a great scenario outline, with ties the the PCs, is a God send. I have run the same scenario pack multiple times with different results each time, even having run the same scenario pack for the same group of PCs. It isn't hard to comine scanrio packs to get interesting adventures, for instance I combined one of the undead related scenarios with one from the Goblin add one, it made for a fantastic adventure with lots of twists.

The system is essentially somewhere between OD&D and Moldvay-era Basic/Expert D&D, with some modern mechanics thrown in (ascending AC for instance). I have run the game in its base form and had good results. I happen to be more of a fan of the Chaosium/BRP mechanics though, and I found it VERY easy to adapt the scnenario packs and character playbooks to Basic Roleplaying. Really only had to do a couple things; where playbook gives Wisdom bonuses, put them to Power for BRP, add some skills to the BRP character sheet, and give BRP mechanics to some spells (which is very easy to do). I think it would be nealry as easy to adapt the scenario packs and playbooks to other systems as well, so if you have a system you prefer and like the Beyond the Wall concept you could still use these pdfs.

Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
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