Monday, December 12, 2016

Get Your Stormpunk On With Rhune: Dawn of Twilight!

What would it take to get you to buy a new campaign guide for your gaming group? Would it have to be comprehensive, detailing a world that is at once organic, and totally unique? Would it need to be compatible with the system you're playing so that you don't have to buy a whole new library of gaming books? Would it need to have dwarven bards with machine gun mandolins?

Because if that's the case, you should really check out Rhune: Dawn of Twilight.

You didn't think the dwarf comment was hyperbole, did you?
Rhune: Dawn of Twilight is a setting devised by Jaye Sonia, and it is responsible for a term that had me hooked as soon as I saw it. That term is Stormpunk.

Rhune: A Change From Your Regular Fantasy

Rhune takes an unusual idea, and creates a setting full of possibilities with it. That idea is, simply put, what if you took the basic setup of the world of Norse mythology (where Midgard is the world you play in, and Ragnarok is approaching), and then inject a huge amount of fantasy, mixed with unusual technology? The result is a world thrumming with electricity called from the sky by storm shepherds, where the cities are filled with foundries and war machines, and where the forests are thick with elves who have abandoned the call of mechanization. In the heart of the world the Ragnarok clock chimes its dark tones, and the forces of frost giants and dark dwellers marshal for their march on the south.

You want to play in this setting now, right?

Don't be shy. It really is as cool as I've made it sound.
Rhune has a lot of things going for it, as a game. The world is completely unique, even when compared to other settings inspired by Norse myth like Kobold Press's Midgard setting. The game is Pathfinder compatible, and it provides you all the lore and stats you need without really preventing you from bringing your favorite parts of Paizo's work into the world. It also offers some unique mechanics, Wyrd and Honor being some of my personal favorites since I feel they really draw you into the setting.

With all that said, though, I'm not without my quibbles and nit picks on the game, as a whole.

While I really like the setting, I personally dislike how many classes are tied directly to in-game representation. Cavaliers, for instance, are specifically part of in-game organizations per the lore of the book. This takes away a lot of flexibility players have in terms of how their stories are told, and how their characters are perceived in many circumstances. And sure, a DM could easily just rule that this isn't the case in his or her game (such as if a player wants to put together a paladin who is a wandering do-gooder that isn't a part of a knightly order, and never has been), but the more house rules you have to make, the more stuff you have to keep track of as you play.

My other main complaint is that, as rich as it is, the world feels a little small. Not necessarily in space, but in the scope of ideas. There's plenty of lore, and a huge amount of history, but it feels like games are going to be either city-based games (where players can use sword pistols and fight sky pirates while firing lightning cannons) or forest-based games (where you either have to leave all your fancy toys behind, or try to fight every elf that catches a whiff of the ozone your flash batteries create). While the dichotomy of urban areas developing fantasy tech, and elves drawing away into the forests because they believe said technology is speeding up the end of the world is a big part of the game's lore, it can artificially limit what parts of the world certain characters and parties can explore. Especially if you're playing a mechanized race, or you want to take advantage of characters with cybernetic enhancements or prosthetics. It's nothing a good DM can't overcome, but it is a kink that you have to work through if you intend on running the game in a way that reaches outside just the city, or just the wilds.

Lastly, Rhune: Dawn of Twilight, is a bit on the pricey side. The rule book will run you $65, though if you can catch it at a convention you might be able to pick it up for a little less.

Would I Play It?

Nits and picks aside, if a DM I trusted got hold of me and said, "Hey, I'm thinking about running a game in Rhune, would you be interested?" the only questions I'd have would be where, and when this game is going to happen.

Rhune: Dawn of Twilight is not a perfect RPG setting by any stretch of the imagination, but it is worlds better than many I've seen, and I'd consider it well worth the price. Whether you want the setting, the additional classes, the races, or just a storm-powered Gauss cannon for your ship, the book is full of resources. Not only that, it lets you bring up the word Stormpunk in regular conversation, which I think is reason enough to give it a look.

If you're looking for more information on Rhune: Dawn of Twilight, why not stop by the game's Facebook page? If you've got questions, or want feedback from other players, that's a great place to post them.

That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday post. I'm glad I have a copy of this game, and I hope that other gamers looking for a way to spice up their Pathfinder nights join me in trying it out. If you'd like to help support Improved Initiative, then go to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page, and make a pledge. For as little as $1 a month, you'll get some sweet swag, and the knowledge that you help me keep bringing great content right to your screen. Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, what are you waiting for?

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