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Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond $10.00
Publisher: Cyan Worlds, Inc.
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.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond
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