Wednesday, April 4, 2012

PGR: Uresia, Grave of Heaven (S. John Ross, 2003)

I am more a fan of non-D&D role-playing games than a player of them. A lot of times I will find something that looks cool, or has a good idea, or fit into my impulse buy niche. S. John Ross' Uresia: Grave of Heaven is a world-book for play with the now defunct (I believe) anime/manga RPG Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM). I have not played this, but thought I would give Uresia a look.

I am a bit startled at how fun it is to read. I never read gaming books. To me they are for reference, but Uresia is pretty compelling, and quite well thought out. When game mechanics are discussed, I am a tad lost, but I do know BESM is a point-buy character game with reportedly simple mechanics, so things were not completely unusual.

Ross has apparently bought the rights to the game, originally published by Guardians of Order, then on to ArtHaus Games, and eventually White Wolf Games... When I looked at their website, White Wolf appears to have completely discontinued BESM. Ross is apparently working on a system-neutral world-book based on the original Uresia.

Patrons at "The Chainmail Bikini," a strip club in Shadow River which features only dwarven strippers.
In many ways Uresia is what The Forgotten Realms and The World of Greyhawk either used to be or could have been. There are numerous nations with trade and diplomatic ties, countries that don't like each other much, backwaters trying to be big players in the world, and fallen empires trying to regain old glories. The nations have their own personalities and racial make-ups and play can be as serious or humorous as the players desire. Best of all, it is well thought out, and only Ross has had his hand in it. You try getting into a Forgotten Realms campaign as a newbie. It is tough. There is so much history and so many contributors that when the Fourth Edition world came out, Wizards pretty much wiped the slate clean... pretty much... Uresia has a basic history of the world as it currently stands (less than 2000 years old) and has basic details of the major nations, but leaves a great deal unexplored. The nations typically have their "story" that everyone knows them by, and a motivation. Players can be part of standing organizations, or independents. There are special renowned classes which player can decide to be rather than saying "it would be fun to be a Harper..."

I am looking forward to the system-neutral book, and have already been thinking about trying to play a Uresian game, either in BESM or converted for some form of D&D. If you can get a hold of this, it is awfully interesting.

9 comments:

T. Roger Thomas said...

Sounds like it would be fun to play

Dumok's Comics said...

I would suggest to try digging up a copy of Big Eye Small Mouth d20, and The Uresia suppliment for it...

Darius Whiteplume said...

It is certainly an interesting mix. It reminds me a bit of Burrough's Barsoom, in that there is a variety of intelligent life, and you never know what you'll find if you drift off course.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I got an email from S. John Ross and he said the new addition should be out soon. I do tend to shy away from most d20 games, as I fell out of love with 3e D&D pretty quickly, but still I do love world templates :-) Thanks for the recommendation!

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Unknown said...

You're in luck about one thing: BESM, the 1st/2nd edition, is what this is based on. You can find PDFs for BESM easily in torrents.

Normally I wouldn't blatantly tell you to steal but Guardians of Order have been out of business for years.

BESM 3, which is what White Wolf picked up to publish, is the only thing that continued past it.

I also loved my copy of Silver Age Sentinels. ^_^

Darius Whiteplume said...

Thank you! I will take a look :-)

Darius Whiteplume said...

I have the 1st edition in print somewhere... Yeah, I have seen these as PDFs, but did not want to jump out and say it either. Of course, if things are completely out of print, then what are we net-savvy gamers to do? ;-)

I may have mentioned that Mr. Ross emailed me and said his new edition will be out soon. I told him to send me a link and I'll spread the word.

S. John Ross said...

The new edition is now out :) http://www.cumberlandgames.com

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