Role playing games are many times compared to stories. But it is the rare game that combines stories with a role playing game. Usually it is a licensed game that just tries to do one book or series of books. Passages might be the first role playing game that takes a whole bunch of stories from the classic Victorian era and places them into a role playing game. I love the tagline for the game. It is Passages: Adventures Penned by Literary Giants.
Passages is a role playing game by Blue Devil Games. These are the people responsible for Dawning Star one of the better sci fi RPGs I have ever read. That set the bar pretty high fir this game. The RPG comes in a print and PDF formats. I have both and must say the print version is a lot easier to work with. They contain the same content but the PDF one has no book marks making it a little harder to use. The book is almost three hundred pages long and that can be a bit unwieldy with out the aid of book marks in a PDF. The artwork in this book is really top notch. Jennifer Rodgers does a fantastic job on the cover and her and Annelisa Ochoa have great work inside the book. The lay out is top notch and seeing that Phil Reed did that came as no surprise.
The basic idea for the game is the setting of Victorian Earth. It is a time that many of the classic stories have been published like Alice in Wonderland and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The game?s catch is that these stories are not about fictional places and people. The writers of these stories traveled to them and possible experienced the stories for themselves. And the player characters will be able to do similar things and be able to travel to these fantastic places and get to experience what it is like to walk the Yellow Brick Road. The hook for the game is a great strength but can be the biggest weakness. The RPG has great information on the Victorian age and how characters are like and how the world is. But it does not have that much about the stories themselves the characters will be traveling to. While I am sure many people have read some of the classic novels from this era it could take a bit of research and reading to build an adventure patterned after one or more of them. It could be a lot of fun to experience the adventures of White Fang but I like many people haven?t read that book in fifteen years. What would be very useful is a page or two of almost cliffnote like text but geared towards running the stories as an RPG adventure or just having ways to use the setting and characters in different plot lines would be immensely useful.
The game system is pretty simple. One just uses a d20 and adds to the die result. Combat is a skill and hit points are few. It is a simple and easy to learn system. It does look like it can be a little deadly with combat. Character advancement is also pretty easy though it does say it is intended to be a little bit slow. Characters start out pretty competent so character growth is no as important for the mechanics. Character creation is basically a point buy system. There are character arch types to choose from and there is an advantage and disadvantage system. There are some great advantages and some that will probably only be gained through character adventuring and advancement.
The book is a great resource for characters in the Victorian age and so if one is playing another game set in this time period like Chuthlu by Gaslight or Rippers for Savage World the information in this book can be very helpful. For instance it has two great sidebars that are the Qualities of a Gentleman and the Qualities of a Lady. The book also goes into many of the cultures available at the time and has a great basic time line that goes from 1837 to 1901.
Passages is a very creative role playing game. It will be great for lovers of Victorian age literature but can be appreciated by almost anyone. I do think it will take a little effort and research from the storyteller unless one happens to have a Lit degree. But it can use characters that most people are familiar with like Sherlock Holmes and Hawkeye and present a new little twist to them
<b>LIKED</b>: Great and creative way to bring the classics in literature to life<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: needs more info on the literature<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>
[4 of 5 Stars!]