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!
[5 of 5 Stars!]