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Imagine Role Playing

Reviewed by Randy Sivigny &copy:2002

Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion

     Imagine a game where the sky is the limit and game mechanics do not hamper you.  That is what I found in Imagine Role Playing (www.role-playing.com).  I will start you out with making a character and then I will break down the mechanics.  

     First off you decide on a race, of which there are a lot to choose from.  They range from the standard Human, Dwarf, Elf and Midfolk (hafling), but then each one sub-divides based on terrain and culture.  There are Barbaric Humans, Mountain Dwarves, High, Grey and Dark Elves and more Midfolk.  Then we get into the wild races.  We have Centaurs, Grahl (dogmen), Chetahl (catmen) and various Avian races.  Next are the races that survive in the wild.  These are Beastmen, Brownie, Changeling, Dryad, Lamia, Ratahl, Yeti, Se'eth and S'rett.  Last but not least are the uncivilized races of Goblin, Ogre and Troll.  All of these can be played as player characters with no problem.  As the name of the company states it is left up to your imagination. 

     Now we come to the classes.   There are four basic classes: Warrior, Rogue, Mage, and Priest.  The great thing here is that each basic class has about seven variations that are capable of being played.    In Warrior there are Knights, Dark Knights, Ranger, Beastmaster and Cavalier.  Next, under Rogue there are Assassins, Bandits, Border Scout and Acrobats.  Then we get into the Mage, with Alchemist, Seer and Mentalist.  The Priest has subclasses of Dark Priest, Monk, Witch and Shaman.  Now, this list is by no means complete.   Some of these classes are from the newest release, called Aspects of the Wild. 

     When it comes to rolling your character there are twelve attributes: Strength, Agility, Vitality, Intelligence, Knowledge, Wisdom, Charm, Appearance, Social Class, Aura, Piety and Will Force.  All of these are important and make sense.  You always come back to the attributes to make rolls to do basic things.  Some of these are lifting things, fumbling your weapon, and avoiding passing out from damage.  The only thing I didn't like here was the use of four-sided dice to roll the initial values, but you only do that once when making your character. 

       The next great thing is the skill system.   Each character has a number of racial and social skills that are determined by your Knowledge.  This part makes so much sense.  The racial skills give so much life to the races.  For example, the racial skills for a Chetahl are Climb, Smell, Listen, and Leap, just to name a few.  Each character class has a list of core skills.  This makes your class selection very important.  Your class also provides you with the skills you will get for each Title (level) that you earn.  There is an exhaustive list of skills including combat, disciplined, divine, informational, magical, and stealth.  Under each of these there are about forty skills.  No longer do you need a spell to detect magic.  This is an ability for some races and classes. 

      Now, to move into game mechanics, I'll discuss combat.  This is where Imagine really makes a difference.  They actually made it so each weapon is different.    Each weapon is rated on damage, strength and ease of use while cutting, piercing and smashing.  Also, each weapon is rated on its use as a missile weapon and the ability of the weapon to be used with other skills, like Weapon Parry and Trap Weapon.  The class and Title of a character determines their ability in combat.  You are given a rating from Beginner to Master.  This determines which bulls-eye you use to hit.  The body is broken up into twenty locations that can be hit.  This bulls-eye is superimposed over a location you are aiming at.  If you don't hit directly, you may still hit but just a different location.  This part was pure genius.  Body parts can only take so much damage before they stop working or are severed.  Also being hit in the vitals (chest, stomach, head) can cause critical results such as a collapsed lung, blindness, or keeling over in pain.   

     The magic is very detailed and flexible.  You are not limited by the level or Title of your character.  Each spell is broken down very easily.  You can decide how much power to put into each spell.   It is truly up to you, with the only limitation being your Aura.  Also, the Divine Magic system is very thoughtful.  It gives you a vast amount of spells and powers to choose from.  On top of all of this there are so many different methods of using magic.  There are magical skills using Candle Lore, Ballad Lore, Poem Lore and many others.  

     The advancement system is the standard "experience points get you a Title" with a very nice twist.  Each Title consists of three goals.  At each goal you get points to add to your class skills and a chance to improve your attributes, both dependant on your class.  After three goals you gain a new Title.  On top of getting more skill points, you get more skills and more Endurance to take damage.  As you gain more goals and Titles you get better at your skills, combat, and magic.  Another fabulous aspect is that you can advance to godhood!  It is built into the game with all the rules necessary to do this. 

     There is so much in this game that I cannot encompass it all in this review.  Imagine addresses world creation, magic creation, monster creation, class creation and race creation.  There truly are no limitations to this game.  You can actually see that this company cares about role-playing and that they have played this game and continue to play it.  Another fabulous aspect is the support given over to it.  The CEO and the President of Imagine, as well as members of their Design Team, constantly answer questions about the rules and procedures on their website.  Heck, they even put  new monsters, herbs and magic items on their website monthly!  This is an advanced game well along the lines of Rolemaster in its depth, but it is all easy to find in a well-formatted, hardbound book with an index.  There are currently three hardcover books: the Players Handbook and Masters Manual which sell for $29.95 USD and Aspects of the Wild which sells for $24.95. All are easily purchased online at www.role-playing.com.  As well, there is a free scenario, The Barrow McMaern, available for download.  I would say this game is a must-have for any medium to advanced player.  The wealth of knowledge in this text is unbelievable.  There is enough for everyone to be encouraged and playing for many years.

 

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