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Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond $0.00 $10.00
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Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond
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Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond
Publisher: InkWorks Productions
by James T.
Date Added: 04/25/2016 09:53:05

This was a generaly good read. The system was a bit hard to understand at times, but it was nice, and easy to understand. It's generally open world, while providing some guidelines for gaming groups.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond
Publisher: InkWorks Productions
by Pierre S
Date Added: 10/07/2015 16:32:16

As is well-known, MYST is a ground-breaking series of computer games which began in 1993, focused on exploration, atmosphere and puzzle-solving. There was almost no violence (except for a truly memorable turn by actor Brad Dourif as Saavedro in MYST Exile!) I would have been in the market for a MYST worldbook or compendium, and it was by chance I heard that a tabletop RPG had been made for it.

The rulebook starts off with 30 pages or so of typed and handwritten background letters for flavour, and that is my one reservation about the game. Using that for an introduction sort of clutters the beginning of the book. Fortunately, the base font of the .pdf made no attempt to be atmospheric or otherworldly, just a straight font to help me get through most of this massive but well spaced-out 338-page book (in a digest-sized format comparable to the size of the Fate Core rulebook).

The game is based on Fate Core rules and, in order to be a stand-alone game, presents all the rules and Fate Core concepts adequately. The story-focused mechanics works well with the atmospheric setting of MYST focussing on character and interaction with people and environments. The Fate Core Skill list has been modified, with Skills such as Experiment, Research, Engineering (the Crafting of more complex machines) and Surveying appearing. The Actions have been significantly modified: Overcome, [create or take] Advantage, Discover, and Active or Passive Opposition as needed, with no Attack or Defend Actions as such. But if you truly want gritty Age Wars with invading Disco Dwarves from Dimension X (hello, Teenagers from Outer Space!) with depleted-uranium morningstars, and you must stop them with monomolecular slashwire nunchucks, Fate Core will let you do so. It could be just me...

The heart of Myst is its puzzles, and there is concise information on how to set up machine-like puzzles and how characters uncover the history of an Age (a pocket-universe or dimension). The game master need not have to sweat out having to do original puzzles if that is not their inclination. A puzzle can be handled as an abstraction to discover and overcome according to the Unwritten rules.

There is considerable information on the history of D'ni, laid out in chronological order, and the new wave of humans who have found the entry-point to the abandoned D'ni cavern under the New Mexico desert and are occupying the abandoned D'ni city, trying to recover the lost D'ni arts of travelling with Linking Books. Some are just day-trippers, maintaining a day-job on the surface, others are hardcore people occupying the city and even adopting D'ni clothes and mannerisms. Factions are developing among the humans, arguing about how to handle these discoveries.

There is little information about Ages set in the computer games (another supplement, maybe?). Atmospheric artwork throughout reinforces the game. Overall, a beautiful tome to complement your experience of the MYST computer games, and careful study will reward you with rich role-playing sessions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond
Publisher: InkWorks Productions
by Tim B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/21/2015 13:07:37

(Note: this is nearly the same review as I gave for the softcover, but omits specifics for a published and bound book, instead talking about the PDF layout.)

Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond is a FATE-based RPG that focuses on solving mysteries, successfully completing puzzles that give you deeper insight into the setting's mythology, and forming powerful relationships to answer truly epic questions, like "how would you handle the ability to teleport to a new world?" and "with limitless resources from limitless worlds, what moral choices does humanity face?"

It is through sheer luck that I happened upon an RPGnet thread discussing mostly non-violent, puzzle-centric roleplaying games and this gem of a roleplaying game was mentioned. Remembering back to some time spent on the original MYST game, but having never finished it nor followed up on its sequels, I was intrigued enough by the idea of a fan-created tabletop RPG based on a franchise that was all about exploration, so I started doing some research. That very quickly sent me down the rabbit hole of Let's Play videos on YouTube and exploring every aspect of the MYST universe, but in a strange twist of FATE (see what I did there?), this game proved that you don't have to be a MYST fan to get a great roleplaying experience.

This is the true power of Unwritten: to present an RPG experience centered on mystery, moral choices, puzzles, and hopping to and from bizarre worlds. It doesn't matter that it is based on MYST, because it is a complete FATE roleplaying game, and it expertly co-opts various tweaks for the system to make mysteries and puzzles shine. A system from the Atomic Robo RPG is ported over as "Deductions" in Unwritten, giving players the chance to make checks and offer answers to mysteries or puzzles based on their rolls, and thereby use logic to come to a conclusion, "solving" the mystery even when the Gamemaster doesn't know the answer...if they succeed, of course! Players can establish facts in this way about the various worlds that can be visited, and thus have a ton of agency over the direction of the game...but because the rules appeal to logic and hints can be provided (or denied, based on the rolls) by the Gamemaster, there are no game-breaking effects.

These systems (Deduction is but one of them) are -- like much of FATE -- easily portable to other games and systems, and clearly would be a breeze to insert into any other FATE-based system, of course. Because the mechanics purposely gloss over detailed combat or gear in favor of relationships, exploration, and solving mysteries, the game is fairly light: there aren't any stress tracks, and none of the Skills are solely combat-focused. That said, the game remains meaty, if not necessarily in numbers and rules, but in advice on how to conduct mysteries, exploration, and puzzles in a manner that is fun and player-centric, never resorting to "pixel-bitching" or interminable rounds of dice-rolling in order to get the clue necessary to move on. In this way, it's reminiscent of the intent of systems like GUMSHOE: the players can always move forward, even after failure; things just get more complicated for them in the game world. Like the various "Powered by the Apocalypse" games (Apocalypse World, Dungeon World), success can come at times even on a failed roll, but a price must be paid.

For those who are MYST fans, there's plenty in this book for you. A detailed look at how to bring in all of the concepts of the MYST games can be found here, from Relto books to linking stones, listings of most (if not all) of the Ages from the games and the Myst Reader novels, and overviews and stats of many of the prominent characters, including many of the DRC members and Yeesha herself. The D'ni city (located under New Mexico) is thoroughly detailed, and there's even several pages covering possible campaigns in alternate timelines (during the height of D'ni civilization or after the Bahro War is over). My -1 star comes solely from the fact that this information is presented in such an encapsulated form, and that all of the more detailed Ages and examples are new to this book, and not taken from the MYST games. There's a publication schedule on the publisher's website that addresses a forthcoming book that will cover the Ages featured in the games, and further discussion of puzzles, but these aren't out yet, and I'm left wanting more.

The PDF version is great, because it comes with all of the following: 1) Fully bookmarked version of the game, in full color 2) Fully bookmarked 2-page view version of the game, in full color 3) Un-bookmarked Black & White print-friendly version (the artwork's still in there, so it's not completely free of some ink-draining pages) 4) Print-friendly Character Sheet

That's a great value, and when you consider that the book is laid out very well, it's a breeze picking the right version to have up on the device you are using at the time, whether it be a desktop (2-page view) or tablet (regular version, color) or lower-powered mobile device (B&W version). The included B&W print-friendly version has an added use: the first 30 pages are in-world written materials from various character's journals or transcriptions of speeches and so on, all great stuff to have a physical copy of to hand out to new players or use as clues and background information for their characters.

I highly recommend this game, whether or not you're a fan of MYST or FATE. It's not going to work for a combat-centric game or group, and will over little in the way of new FATE rules if you already own several FATE games, but if you're at all interested in mystery games or how to incorporate puzzles into roleplaying games without needing a "just give them the answer!" hand-wave, this game's got a lot of useful discussion, rules, and options. If you're simply interested in a game of world- or reality-hopping, Unwritten has that in spades, too, with several lists of Ages and a handful of more detailed examples (and full rules on creating plenty more). Pick it up!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond
Publisher: InkWorks Productions
by Tim B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/21/2015 12:58:49

Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond is a FATE-based RPG that focuses on solving mysteries, successfully completing puzzles that give you deeper insight into the setting's mythology, and forming powerful relationships to answer truly epic questions, like "how would you handle the ability to teleport to a new world?" and "with limitless resources from limitless worlds, what moral choices does humanity face?"

It is through sheer luck that I happened upon an RPGnet thread discussing mostly non-violent, puzzle-centric roleplaying games and this gem of a roleplaying game was mentioned. Remembering back to some time spent on the original MYST game, but having never finished it nor followed up on its sequels, I was intrigued enough by the idea of a fan-created tabletop RPG based on a franchise that was all about exploration, so I started doing some research. That very quickly sent me down the rabbit hole of Let's Play videos on YouTube and exploring every aspect of the MYST universe, but in a strange twist of FATE (see what I did there?), this game proved that you don't have to be a MYST fan to get a great roleplaying experience.

This is the true power of Unwritten: to present an RPG experience centered on mystery, moral choices, puzzles, and hopping to and from bizarre worlds. It doesn't matter that it is based on MYST, because it is a complete FATE roleplaying game, and it expertly co-opts various tweaks for the system to make mysteries and puzzles shine. A system from the Atomic Robo RPG is ported over as "Deductions" in Unwritten, giving players the chance to make checks and offer answers to mysteries or puzzles based on their rolls, and thereby use logic to come to a conclusion, "solving" the mystery even when the Gamemaster doesn't know the answer...if they succeed, of course! Players can establish facts in this way about the various worlds that can be visited, and thus have a ton of agency over the direction of the game...but because the rules appeal to logic and hints can be provided (or denied, based on the rolls) by the Gamemaster, there are no game-breaking effects.

These systems (Deduction is but one of them) are -- like much of FATE -- easily portable to other games and systems, and clearly would be a breeze to insert into any other FATE-based system, of course. Because the mechanics purposely gloss over detailed combat or gear in favor of relationships, exploration, and solving mysteries, the game is fairly light: there aren't any stress tracks, and none of the Skills are solely combat-focused. That said, the game remains meaty, if not necessarily in numbers and rules, but in advice on how to conduct mysteries, exploration, and puzzles in a manner that is fun and player-centric, never resorting to "pixel-bitching" or interminable rounds of dice-rolling in order to get the clue necessary to move on. In this way, it's reminiscent of the intent of systems like GUMSHOE: the players can always move forward, even after failure; things just get more complicated for them in the game world. Like the various "Powered by the Apocalypse" games (Apocalypse World, Dungeon World), success can come at times even on a failed roll, but a price must be paid.

For those who are MYST fans, there's plenty in this book for you. A detailed look at how to bring in all of the concepts of the MYST games can be found here, from Relto books to linking stones, listings of most (if not all) of the Ages from the games and the Myst Reader novels, and overviews and stats of many of the prominent characters, including many of the DRC members and Yeesha herself. The D'ni city (located under New Mexico) is thoroughly detailed, and there's even several pages covering possible campaigns in alternate timelines (during the height of D'ni civilization or after the Bahro War is over). My -1 star comes solely from the fact that this information is presented in such an encapsulated form, and that all of the more detailed Ages and examples are new to this book, and not taken from the MYST games. There's a publication schedule on the publisher's website that addresses a forthcoming book that will cover the Ages featured in the games, and further discussion of puzzles, but these aren't out yet, and I'm left wanting more.

The softcover -- I nearly immediately purchased the softcover after completing my read-through of the PDF, because it's that good -- is about the size of the FATE Core book and is of great quality. It's full color, and the artwork is evocative of the setting, using both original art and some concept art from Cyan Studios, which is really neat for the collector or video gamer that isn't necessarily into pen and paper RPGs so much (the history sections are also perfectly made for non-roleplayers, but keep in mind that some options and explanations aren't technically canon). The binding seems strong, so this is a great deal when you consider the price!

I highly recommend this game, whether or not you're a fan of MYST or FATE. It's not going to work for a combat-centric game or group, and will over little in the way of new FATE rules if you already own several FATE games, but if you're at all interested in mystery games or how to incorporate puzzles into roleplaying games without needing a "just give them the answer!" hand-wave, this game's got a lot of useful discussion, rules, and options. If you're simply interested in a game of world- or reality-hopping, Unwritten has that in spades, too, with several lists of Ages and a handful of more detailed examples (and full rules on creating plenty more). Pick it up!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond
Publisher: InkWorks Productions
by Jason H.
Date Added: 06/10/2015 17:24:38

When thinking of tabletop roleplaying games...Myst is not the first property to spring to mind. Most RPGs are incredibly combat-focused, with only a few notable exceptions. Now Unwritten can join the likes of Golden Sky Stories as a non-combat game. With a laser sharp focus on discovery and exploration, with a side dish of social intrigue, Unwritten fills a niche that many games probably never realized existed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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