For full disclosure I have followed this project for a couple years. I helped work on a couple minor areas of the game. I then pledged the product when it became a Kickstarter project. I don't receive any remuneration from the sale of Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Now I would like to tell you why I think this is a great game...
The setting is Hyperborea or the "Land Beyond the North Wind". Hyperborea is a rather small place but bursting with adventure. The setting combines Sword and Sorcery as a base and adds otherworldly gods, weird science, alien technology, and the familiar such as Earth races and gods. These are all jumbled together into a believable and wonderful world begging to be adventured in! This type of setting may not be for everyone but each of the elements can be toned down or left out without hurting the continuity of the setting.
The world of Hyperborea is a grim place with an aging sun and civilization fighting against decline. This is a dangerous place and only the most ambitious of adventurer would dare leave the civilized areas. The author constantly reinforces this idea in his style of writing. The descriptions of the various places, creatures, characters, and magic seem to be written by a traveler of Hyperborea. The verbiage is very immersive. Though immersive the detail level is about right. Not so little that you don't get the gist of whats going on in the world but not so much that you the Referee are stifled. The Referee still has lots of areas to make their own but with Hyperborean handrails.
The vision of Hyperborea set forth by the author is made to shine by the supporting artwork. I hope some of the interior artwork can be featured in a preview soon as it sold me as soon as I saw it. The box art is gorgeous but not indicative of the interior art by Ian Baggley. Ian does every piece in the game books. The consistency of having one artistic vision and one style throughout the book cannot be understated. The style is all black and white mostly in charcoal, with some pencil and ink and is very good. The artist catches the vision of Hyperborea very well.
The system is a tribute to an early incarnation of the world’s most popular RPG. There are twists and changes that make the system unique but is otherwise very familiar.
There is a lot of material here and a lot of game for the money. There is also a passion for the genre that shines through.
[5 of 5 Stars!]