Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ultima Resurrection a quick review

Make Ultima Online Great Again!
Meandering on the web has taken me to this interesting find. While browsing pixel art on Pinterest, I felt the urge to go looking for art from my favorite Ultima games. This led me to the Ultima codex gallery,  a marvelous website with all sorts of cool stuff I will explore later. However there I stumbled across this page "Ultima Resurrection" which contains a zipped version of a tabletop RPG version of Ultima. There is also a link to a host site for this game. Being interested in all things Ultima, I downloaded and took a look. Based on a quick read through it seems to be a playable and viable game. Unfortunately, it based on Ultima Ascension and Ultima Online my two least favorite Ultima games. Like Ultima Online, it is tri-stated and skill-based using skills rated from 0-100. One advances by using skills. Unlike the computer game, this is at a fixed rate rather than a random shot. I think this advancement system is workable but will require a lot of bookkeeping. It is subject to the same skill spam breakage techniques that soured me on Runequest. Combat goes as follows: the attacker makes a skill check against one of the combat skills (archery, fencing, mace fighting, swordsmanship, or wrestling); the defender gets a chance to parry if he has a shield; if the attacker is successful hit location is rolled; damage is determined by rolling the dice specified by the weapon; damage is reduced by the armor rating of the armor at the hit location plus the shield if a successful parry is made. Magic has four different systems: Ethereal Speak, Ethereal Lock, Spell Book Sorcery, and Ritual Sorcery. Ethereal speak is an impromptu magic system based on words of power. Fortunately, Ultima has a nice defined set of words of power.  However, adjudicating their combined effects on the fly may prove challenging. Ethereal Lock is like Ethereal Speak but uses virtue points to make the effect permanent. Spell Book Sorcery is a defined list of spells with defined mana costs and required reagents (from the Ultima Online list of eight reagents). Ritual Sorceries are special spells which can only be cast while possing specific items in certain locations. If I run this game I may limit the players to Spell Book Sorcery. There is a nice bestiary, although for some reason it is located in front of the character creation and how to play the game. Overall this is a very good adaptation of the Ultima Online game to the tabletop. The power word spell system has some potential if the game balance can be worked out.  The ritual sorcery has great potential for creating quests and adventures. I would have liked a little less bookkeeping. The game mechanics will fail in the same method as the online game (i.e. people will spam skills to gain; the only way to have high hit points is to have a high strength so all high-level monsters hit like trucks). However, this is still the best tabletop version of Ultima Online I have found. If I don't play it outright, I'll definitely mine for ideas for other game systems.

P.S. There is also an Age of Shadows supplement, but I haven't looked at it yet.
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