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Valkyrie Magazine and RPGnet are happy to provide this review.

Tales of Gargentihr
RPG Background and System
Sanctuary Games
[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

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