Tales of Gargentihr
RPG Background and System
[sterling]19.99 - 344pp
Tales of Gargentihr is the first product released from new Scottish games
company, Sanctuary Games. The first thing to mention is the price -
[sterling]19.99. At first glance, this may seem a little steep, but when you
get to see the book out of the shrink wrap and take a look at the quality of
the work and the sheer amount of text, I believe the investment is worth it.
Kicking off with the system, this is rather unusual, because it allows the
players to determine the difficulty to hit in combat. This, the GM will want to
turn into a piece of descriptive combat which is surprisingly easy to do with
Tales of Gargentihr. This system also makes it incredibly easy to kill player
characters, which, due to the length of time it takes to create a character,
will not make over zealous GMs very popular amongst the players.
The only real problem I've found with the system is that it uses too many dice
(okay, it only uses a D20, D10, and a D6, but I never was a fan of systems that
have a die for all occasions). This is not to say that the system isn't
detailed. It does allow for a lot of GM interpretation (look out players),
which is a very useful thing.
The entire tome is littered with Geruvian words. For example: Davin (sword) and
Kyashi (spirits) . This does a lot for the game in that it greatly strengthens
the ethos of the world of which you are reading.
One level of criticism that could be levelled at th game is that, because it is
a totally different world, the players have no immediate point of reference as
they would in a modern genre game set on earth and could become lost when the
narrator launches into a speech about the Chinte' F'har (cat like race) which
has contacts in the I.N.S. (Institute of New Science). This problem is overcome
by extremely detailed character generation and a three page character sheet, in
which the characters role play their background and learn about the world in
which their characters live. This is all done with the assistance of the
narrator, which means that characters can be incorporated into the game with
family feuds, friends, vendettas, and the players' shady pasts coming back to
haunt them at some later stage.
The background is, as with the rest of the game, very detailed and extensive in
the extreme. The main feature of the world is that instead of oceans, it has a
sea of silt, on top of which the continents float. When collisions occur
cultural exchanges can take place. Adventures are set on Gevuria, one of these
cultural melting pots, where the invading Karro, using the powers of their
religion, control the peaceful Ha'esh. The Karro could be compared to the
Victorians "shouldering the white man's burden" and the Ha'esh, who believe
that the Karro will fall from their position of power given time, could be
likened in attitude to Bhuddists. These are two races from which player
characters can be drawn.
The whole of Karro civilisation is divided up into societies and political
organisations; for example: The Church of Sanctology, which is now dwindling in
political power, but still has a very tight hold over the majority of Karro.
The Chronological Society, Geographical Society and the Institute of New
Science who are all vying for power in the political, scientific and
exploration fields, and various other groups whose interests include the
military, medicine and law. The most interesting and secretive society is The
Institute of Kyromancy.
Characters who are Kyromancers must be affiliated with one of the sects within
this Institute. Kyromancers are normal Karro that suffer from a horrific
disease called Dyce Syndrome which causes them to fade out of existence and
into The Dark Lands (the spirit world). This disease causes the Sa (the power
that runs through the whole planet and is, occasionally, discharged to the two
orbiting moons) to be totally destroyed in the victim. Whilst the Kyromancer
is in 'The Fade' they can't touch, see, or hear and has no physical presence in
the real world. This would continue until the Kyromancer was completely
destroyed unless they are fitted with Kyroware which allows them to interact
with the physical world. Yes, this does mean that you can walk through walls
whilst in Fade but you have got some severe limitations and there is equipment
available that will slow Kyromancers considerably, if need be.
The players can start as part of the Clondis, a secret organisation of
adventurers. The Clondis are divided up into Clon Halls, the one mentioned
here is The Sanctor's Temptation. Inside each hall there are Shevin, which are
groups of two to six people (the party). It is by no means necessary to use
the Clondis but it is advisable for the first few adventures until you have got
used to the world.
One of the most important parts of the game is honour and this has an effect on
your social standing, which in turn influences certain skills. My players
first reactions when they saw there was an honour points system was "Oh No!"
but after playing it for twenty minutes they had fallen in love with the
detail, background and ideas, and were truly thinking in a truly Gargentihrian
way and all this from ardent Vampire and Cyberpunk players.
Overall: I must say that once again a British games company has come up with
another winning idea. I hope that this will be a big hit. Considering the
amount of detail that has been put into this game, I would believe it to
deserve the success due to those who take care of the pennies when the pounds
will take care of themselves. If your first reaction to fantasy games is to
give them up for lost here is the one that will make you think again. Tales
From Gargentihr is a swashbuckling, weird sciencing, adventuring epic and well
worth the price tag.
Review by Alexander Bayly
Product supplied by Sanctuary Games