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Ehdrigohr: The Roleplaying Game
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2013 15:03:18
I kickstarted this RPG a while ago based on the premise--an RPG setting with a tribal feel, based on a lot of real-world cultures that aren't usually the subject of RPGs--but I only just recently got around to reading it. I shouldn't have waited so long. It's quite good and immediately set a ton of ideas brewing in my mind as I was reading it, though I did have some small reservations. But before I deal with those, I'll do my usual split review.

== Setting ==

Don't let all the bright colors fool you--this is pretty much dark fantasy, though the backstory is actually pretty similar to the Ainulindalë. WhatMoves created the Songs, who set to work making the Weave. One of the songs, Ok'o-wi, started singing in dissonance with the other songs, creating sorrow, and it eventually led to the end of harmony, the destruction of the old society and the death or disappearance of all the intelligent races except humans in a giant war only ended when WhatMoves came back and banished Ok'o-wi outside the Weave.

After the end of the war, things seemed to be looking up, and humans settled down and started building villages, but as they gathered, they found a present that Ok'o-wi left for them: giant monsters called the Woe, which awoke when humans gathered in sufficient numbers and laid waste to human civilization. Even when the Woe weren't awake, their corruption created monsters called shivers that boiled out of the forests and wild places to attack the settlements. It wasn't until a group of elders traveled into dreams and came back with a rite that could keep the Woe asleep that humanity was able to build their cities in relative peace. Enter the PCs!

There are nine tribes that make up humanity, and each of them takes their inspiration from a historical culture: Barata (Mound Builder tribes from America), Batu (Mongols), Beyduun (North Africans and Arabs), Chi'an (Chinese), D'zul (desert tribes from the American Southwest), Ga'el (Celts), Mic'talan (Mesoamerican tribes), Urali (Norse), and Wiitjasa (American plains tribes). There are some neat twists, like how the Chi'an build their cities on the back of giant hibernating turtles, or how the Urali man The Line in the north, when the long polar night comes and the lack of sun means the shivers can travel freely, or how the Beyduun are divided into traditional desert tribes and a new Salduun Empire that's developing steam and clockwork technology as a new power source, or how the Mic'talan tribes are named after kaiju--G'Jhira, M'Otehr, G'deh'Ora, G'Me'era, among others.

One thing to be clear about. If you hate the fantasy tendency to sprinkle apostraphes on with a salt-shaker, you will hate the names in Ehdrigohr. I'm not sure, but I suspect it might come from the use of apostraphes in Lakota. Some of the cultural vocabulary, like the use of tiyospaye to refer to extended familiar or kin groups, are apparently Lakota concepts.

The world provides a pretty good variety, from the endless winter of The White where the Urali live, to the southern deserts of the Beyduun tribes, from the swamps of the Chi'an's turtle cities to the shiver-infested islands that the Mic'talan live near, to the great plains of The Shil in the center. A lot like Reign, most of the creatures that aren't spawned from corruption are natural animals but are still strange enough to provide a feeling of being another world. Giant spiders the size of elephants, or pillbugs the size of dogs that are kept as pets, or rabbits that are two meters high at the shoulder and used as mounts. There's definitely a good sense that this is a familiar yet different world.

Players are tacitly assumed to belong to one of the four "Great Societies" of the tribes: the Crows, who are warriors and peacekeepers; the Doves, healers who frequently receive advice from spirits; the Owls, mystical wanderers who seek out old knowledge and secrets; and the Jays, talespinners and entertainers. The societies cross tribal boundaries, so there's a ready-made reason to have characters from different ethnic groups working together without having any major conflict.

All in all, it's set up to provide plenty of possibility for adventures and conflict while not unduly constricting the choices players can make.

== System ==

Ehdrigohr uses a version of the Fate Core System to power it. If you're unfamiliar with Fate, the SRD is available for free here, and since it is, I'm not going to spill a bunch of ink covering the system basics.

I will chat about it a bit, though. Fate has a focus on modeling the flow of a narrative, rather than using the rules as a physics engine the way that Dungeons & Dragons 3.x or Exalted does. As such, basically all actions the PCs take fall into one of four possible actions: Overcome a Difficulty, Create an Advantage, Attack, or Defend. Characters, locations, or situations have "Aspects" like "Show Your Might, Be as the Wolf" or "There's Fire Everywhere" or "Phobia of Spiders" and most of the bonuses and penalties on dice rolls relate to invoking these various aspects. The magic system, also ties into these basic actions, though there are a lot of different ways to accomplish them using the four Mysteries: Elements (Earth, Wind, Fire, Water), Natures (Body, Mind, Spirit, Soul), Principles (Love, Life, Honor, Destiny), and the Essences (Weave, Moment, Space, Truth).

The magic system is one of the most complicated parts of the game, but even there it's still pretty simple since everything falls into the basic action types. A lot of it relies on player creativity on coming up with a way they can apply their Aspects and Mysteries to the situations, so players who are used to defined action types and a set list of knowing what they can do might have an adjustment period. And admittedly, I personally would have preferred a more physics-emulating system, but I can't fault the game for being what it is. I knew it was Fate-powered when I backed it, and it seems like a pretty solid implementation of it.

Aspects come from the PCs tribe and Great Society, and also they gain several from their upbringing. During character creation, each PC has six phases of their background they think through and draw an Aspect or important event from--Childhood Remembrance, Becoming (adolescence), Adventure (great deeds), Companions (sharing in another's background), Awakening (develop mysteries), and Nightmares (something terrible that happened). The Winter of Companions is an especially good idea. I always like it when games provide an explict note that the PCs should have met each other before and know each other as more than people who met in a tavern or whatever the local equivalent is.

If I needed to make an elevator pitch for Ehdrigohr, I'd say something like, "Heroes stand against the encroaching darkness and humanity's eternal divisions in a world drawn from indigenous mythology." If any of that piques your interest, Ehdrigohr is definitely worth your time.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ehdrigohr: The Roleplaying Game
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Ehdrigohr Gazetteer Preview
by Alex S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/06/2013 13:09:07
A good preview for what looks like a very interesting product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ehdrigohr Gazetteer Preview
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Ehdrigohr: The Roleplaying Game
by John B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2013 12:53:41
I backed the Kickstarter and followed the development of this game. This won't be an in depth review so much as an overview of what to expect to help decide if you might be interested.

First, I really like the setting and the art. That's what drew me to the game in the first place and what makes it stick out.

It's a Fate Core game with a setting largely based on Native American stories (particularly Lakota, I think), with a strong dose of other, mostly tribal, cultures.

The cosmology is really cool. It takes Native American themes and weaves them into a mythic, high fantasy setting with strong horror elements.

The PCs are definitely intended to be heroic and make a difference. You can help a town avoid literally being lost to sorrow, or run a zombie apocalypse-style game of survival horror as shivers threaten to overrun everything, or get involved in rebellions against an oppressive regime in cities built on the back of giant turtles, or investigate and heal a tear in reality that's letting inhuman Breachers through, or go on an epic quest to save the world (the Trail of Slumbers described in the book could easily be an epic, mythic campaign), and so on.

The game is pretty straight-forward Fate Core. If you like Fate Core, then you'll like this. If you don't, then nothing here will change your mind. There are a few minor system variations (like Power Levels and a magic system), but it's pretty close to Core mechanically.

The magic system walks a line between too much and too little detail (and different people will have differing opinions how well it succeeded). Mechanically, most of the system is about how you cast, depending on your tradition. The effects of the magic mostly come down to the four core actions. But the traditions and also the Mysteries are evocative and also allow a very wide range of possible character concepts.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea if you might be interested.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ehdrigohr: The Roleplaying Game
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