Thread: Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone
Monday, 9th March, 2009, 08:38 PM #1
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Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone
Hellas: Worlds of Sun & Stone Review
By DT Butchino
In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, “AAUUUUGGHHH!!” Why would I start a review off like this? I blame Khepra Publishing. I’d just gotten settled with a few games and planned on supporting them for the years to come and then I got a copy of Hellas: Worlds of Sun & Stone. Now, when I first heard of Hellas, I was skeptical of mixing Hellenic culture with science fiction/space opera action. But, after two hours skimming this beautiful, 338 page book, I was sold.
The game uses a variant of the Omni-System, allowing for simple, yet detailed, action resolutions. I’d heard of a few games that have used the system in the past, but had never looked that far into them. So, as a total noob, I dove in and started creating characters and playing with some random roles. Character creation is fun in itself. To begin with, you may chose from eight races that are tied to classic Greek myths. From the human Hellenes, to the gorgon-inspired Goregons and even the insect-colonies known as Myrmidons, each race captures the look and feel that fits the setting perfectly. The next step is rolling on a lifepath. For those that are familiar with R. Talsorian’s Interlock system, this lifepath is similar in concept, but tailored to the setting, offering various benefits and pitfalls that mirror the mythologies that it’s based on. The lifepath also integrates the various professions available, allowing PCs to be a bevy of genre-mashed heroes, including Artisans, Hoplites, Fighter Pilots and Seers. In all, there are over thirty professions waiting the hero (with other professions easily mocked up). The game also includes rules for Hero Points, allowing your character to be that much more like the heroes of myth, and Glory, a system that allows a hero’s exploits to be tracked and gain favor in the eyes of the Gods. Of all the character creation, my favorite idea is that of Fate. In Hellas, heroes, like those of ancient myth, have some fate befall them at some point (and usually a dire one). The game emulates this by having a random roll for Fate, detailing what should befall the hero at the end off his life. Personally, I think this is a dynamic rule for storytelling within the game, especially if the optional rules for hidden fates are used.
The system uses a single d20 as its core die. Upon rolling actions, you add/subtract a difficulty against your stat/skill, add that sum to a d20 and compare that total against the Omni-Table to determine your level of success. It’s actually much easier then I’ve made it sound, and every character sheet includes a copy of the Omni-Table. This is used system wide for skill resolution, attribute checks and combat. In addition, it’s also used with the game’s magic system, which is called Dynamism. Unlike many other games, the Hellas system uses a more dynamic, open-ended magic system that’s effect based. Though some may see potential abuse in this, under a good Gamemaster, the rules for Dynamism are phenomenally fluid and give the feel of cosmic powers at work.
Finally, there’s the setting. I’ve been a fan of Greek mythology since I was a kid and, as I look over this book, I feel a sense of nostalgia. In itself, the world of Hellas has all the tropes of a good science fiction game: starships of various sizes, alien races, various weapons of a high-tech nature, star-charts, and various planets to explore. But it also has the tropes of a good mythological story: monsters, scholars, Gods of myth, divine gifts and powers, ancient fashion and the idea of epic heroes.
I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone looking for something new and fun. As I said earlier, I was skeptical of mixing these two genres. But Michael L. Fiegel and Jerry D. Grayson convinced me that an armored Hoplite warrior, armed with a high-tech pistol and relying on the gifts of his Gods not only works, but is something that I’ll be seeing more of when I start to run Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone.DT Butchino | Designer, Writer, Illustrator | Sketchpad Studio
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