Monday, October 29, 2018

Endless Realms: Infinite Possibilities, Unnecessary Complication

For folks who stop by my Monday posts on the regular, you know I occasionally like to present a review of RPGs you may not have seen before. Sometimes I get lucky, and people who make games reach out to me, and ask me to take a look at what they've made. This week is one of those scenarios. If you're in the market for something fantasy-oriented, and you're tired of the usual Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons options, then you might be the sort of player who'd get into Endless Realms.

It is, if nothing else, a very pretty game.
However, before you immediately click to see what it's all about, I'll give you my take on what's good about it, and where it falls short.

A Unique Set of Realms

The thing that first caught my eye about this particular RPG is the feel of its setup. It gives you multiple realms to play in right from the get-go, and presents a unique cosmology that feels distinct from most other standard fantasy RPGs out there. It puts me in mind of Final Fantasy, and in a very good way.

This one, in particular, just with less future tech.
In addition to giving us a unique setting, as well as a very different view on magic and the origin of a lot of class powers (particularly for those who are used to the age-old arcane and divine divide), this game also hits us with a fairly unique plethora of starting races. They're colorful, unique, and completely bypass the usual elves, dwarves, and orcs in favor of tiger warriors, small, immortal women covered in downy fur, saurians, and a slew of other, more unusual offerings.

When it comes to doing something really different, and presenting us with a cool, fun setting, Endless Realms gets a big thumbs up from me.

The problem is the actual game part of this roleplaying game.

A Mechanical Mess

I like to think I've never shied away from learning a new system, and I've seen my share of different offerings over the years. The games that have always gotten me engaged, though, are the ones that provide a simple framework, and which then offer me a wide variety of bricks to fit into that framework to build whatever sort of character I want.

The framework this game uses, though, is frankly a mess.

"Have you assigned all your attributes?" Wait, what's the difference between agility and dexterity again?
I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. In RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness games, and even Call of Cthulhu, you have a single set of attributes. These attributes represent the inherent qualities of your character, and they're usually variants on how tough, strong, dexterous, smart, wise, and charismatic you are. Sometimes we throw in a few extra ones, or we change the name, but the idea is that these are your raw numbers. This game gives you 4 separate sets of stats that you have to buy at character creation; trainable stats, inherent stats, vital stats, and unique saves. That logic follows through with the core of the design; nothing is given a single, broad stat when it can be broken down into a dozen different categories, each of which needs to be tracked and managed separately.

That's bad enough on its own, but then it's combined with what feel like extremely arbitrary rules, and linear sets of advancement paths. For example, barbarians are banned from ever becoming literate due to... reasons, I guess? Not just starting out illiterate like in the 3.5 days, but if you learn to read then you lose your patron's favor, and your powers. Not only that, but if you don't kill an enemy in combat at least once a week, boom, lose your powers. Even patrons in Werewolf: The Apocalypse were rarely that ridiculously demanding when it came to bloodshed.

That's bad enough, but when you combine that with being forced to pick an advancement path (the same thing that locks you into one, specific character path that you see in both the 4th and 5th editions of Dungeons and Dragons), and you have a game that commits one of the worst sins for me as a player; one that is needlessly complicated when it comes to tracking your attributes, but which then slaps your knuckles and tries to put you on specific paths for playing your character.

Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't seem all that hard to make base classes, and then to make archetypes of those base classes that give you additional options should you want to do something a little different, rather than following what feels like an MMO-style setup right from level one.

One Man's Feature is Another Man's Flaw

With all of that said, I'm well aware that I am not the only kind of gamer out there. If all the stuff I mentioned up there is right up your alley (and let's face it, there are some folks out there who loved the Pathfinder 2.0 playtest, and if that's your jam then I think you'll adore this game), then give Endless Realms a look to see if it's what you've been looking for.

For my two cents, it's a very pretty game with some unique ideas, and an engine that I wouldn't touch with a fifty-foot pole.

That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday installment. If you're still on the lookout for new games to try, you should check out my thoughts on Pugmire as well as on Dice & Glory.

For more of my work, check out my Vocal archive, or just click through to my Gamers page if you only want to see my tabletop stuff. You should also stop in to check out the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio, where I work with other gamers to make videos for dungeon masters and players alike!

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  1. Thanks for your post it is very interesting for me! College paper help for you.

  2. Thanks for your review. Actually, I quickly understood that this RpG can't be good for me, mainly for the mechanical part.