True 20: Worlds of Adventure

I recently purchased True20: Worlds of Adventure. It’s essentially the result of Green Ronin’s “True20 Setting Search” contest.

The book consists of five different possible game settings for the True20 system. They include:

Agents of Oblivion: an X-files style modern game
Blood Throne: a fantasy setting
Land of the Crane: an Asian fantasy setting
Nevermore: a dark, fantastic dream world
The Razor in the Apple: a game of childhood monsters

Of the five settings, the most inventive of the bunch is The Razor in the Apple. I have no idea if these guys are planning on writing additional material for this setting, but if they aren’t, I’m going to do some myself. It’s not only the best idea in the book, it’s also one of the most interesting I’ve seen in the last twenty years.

The rest of the settings are good and each one adds something slightly new or different to their respective genres. For whatever reason, I had a story idea for Agents of Oblivion before I was even through reading their section of the book. As a huge X-file fan, it seems like it’s probably the most accessible in the book.

Blood Throne, while appearing to be a fairly standard fantasy setting, does seem to carry a fairly rich and diverse background. The material for background seem thorough and “world specific,” making it easy to create a character that is specifically designed for this world. My only complain is the same I have for the entire book – there wasn’t enough room to truly flesh out this setting enough to start a campaign (more on that later).

Land of the Crane seems to take up the old Oriental Adventures theme and add its own set of guidelines and twists. While I’ve never played in many Oriental games, I can see the reason a game like this would garner a lot of interest. The races are unique in a strange way, and the character types hold enough specificity to give you the feel of moving through an Asian climate.

Nevermore is perhaps the most abstract of the five settings. Even though I’m intrigued by the underpinnings of the world – the idea that your characters are operating in a dream world – I don’t know how easy it would be to run a game like this. I kept finding myself getting lost in the idea without ever returning to the point where I could visualize what I’d do with such a game. Nonetheless, I think it’s an interesting setting, and one that a lot of Narrators will appreciate.

As I mentioned before, The Razor in the Apple is perhaps the best of the bunch here (though Agents of Oblivion was a close second for me). As a huge fan of The Thief of Always and Monster House, I could easily see using this setting. I also have little doubt that a room full of players wouldn’t have an absolute riot playing it.

Even though each of these settings was well developed, my one big complaint about the book is the lack of space. In some cases, such as Blood Throne, I’m not even sure you get enough of the nuts-and-bolts to create a character, much less play a game. The atmosphere and history is there, but I simply don’t see enough information to truly create a character.

The same is true to lesser and greater degrees with the other settings. I understand that Agents of Oblivion, Blood Throne, and Nevermore are all putting together full world books for their respective settings (I imagine the same is true for Land of the Crane and The Razor in the Apple as well). That being the case, I wonder if this book won’t eventually become redundant, as it doesn’t give you the kind of “full picture” you really need to run a campaign.

Still, I’m halfway through the design process for my first Agents of Oblivion adventure and when that’s finished I’ll likely turn my attention to a Razor in the Apple game.

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