Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mystic Empyrean - A roleplaying App review

It's been some days since my last post, as i have been with one of those readings that suck you for a while and doesn't leave you time for anything else. This little wonder here on top. 

This last years of internet, the PDF blessing has opened the market to lots of new creators and publishers not alligned with the market titans (Lawful evil by the way). This has allowed for a new style of gameplay and new world ideas to start reaching the target market.

Today i want to talk about one of these new games in the market which has placed his bet even higher: Mystic Empyrean from level99 games. For anyone not familiar with this guys, they define themselves as game creators, but their sphere of influence broads from card games to tabletop to cellphone and tablet apps, this guys have some fresh ideas about how gaming has to be in the future.

Mystic Empyrean, the game we're talking about is a true pioneer in it's class. Even though it's being launched in both digital and printed versions, level99 games has used his previous experience in app desing to launch it for the App Store as an all purpose core rulebook. 

The idea of using tablets for roleplaying it's not new, as tablets allow to condense way more books in a reduced space and open the game for other interactive uses. But Mystic Empyrean is not just a PDF app, is a comprehensive and well referenced guide, including all the rulebook chapters, and fast reference tables that stand for the classical GM´s screen, providing all info you need for gamemastering just a clic away. 

Additionally, the program includes treasure, plot ideas and encounter generators, as well as an integrated card action resolution system (cards must be bought appart in the print or digital version, but are included in the app). All of this, beautifully illustrated and even with a exclusive tab just for the Artbook accompanying the game.  

This already is reason enough for the game to be a must, and also a reference for all future RPG's, but level99 games has gone one step further: when you buy the game, you gate an access code for the beta of Living Mystic Empyrean, the online game support site, where you will be able not only to create and access content created by other users, but also to download it for the app itself, thus creating your very own campaign database in the app. For this reason, no two apps will be the same as you can always be adapting your contents or producing new ones.  

Have I got your interest? Wait, I haven't told you about the game yet!

In Mystic Empyrean, players take the place of Eidolons, beings half way between human and divine, living manifestation of their primal emotions. Eidolons are almost physically invulnerable, having advanced regenereation and only being harmed seriously to heart blows or emotional or psychical stress. For an Eidolon, losing a friend is worst to lose a friend than to lose his head. 

The world of Mystic Empyrean is a void world, in which an Aether mist has consumed almost everything. Through the use of Cornerstones, remains of the world as it once was, Eidolon can recover fragments of the all world and merging them again. But these new world pieces are created by the players themselves: They decide the aspect, the people, the government, tech level... each time an Eidolon releases a Cornerstone he can recall pieces of the old world, but also paradigms or ideas forgotten by the inhabitants, like magic, the existence of heaven, or internet access.  

This way the players become themselves GM and the story becomes a collective story. This becomes clearer as the game recommends not to have a single GM, but instead, each player becoming responsible for the world he has created (which reminds me those forum rpg systems).

The ruleset is diceless. A card deck, called the Balance, made of cards representing different elements is used for action resolution. Each player will have his own, and special NPCs and the enviroment will have another.
This Balance will depend on the character or the world's personality: A desert for instance will grant fire, a religious community, light, space age tech will grant electricity...and so on.

In this way the enviroment can be altered and actions will be dependant on the overall personalty or feeling of the place/people involved. For example, a very conservative (stone) religious crowd (light), may be manipulated by a powerful speech into a raging mob and thus adding (fire) to the mob Balance. This will affect  all future actions of the mob as they are dependant on their draws from the Balance. In this way, chances are shaped by the world, a feature wich I myself found very interesting. 

The progression system is also a great idea. The XP reign is over. I know you are all a bunch of munchkin powerplayers. After each session, the player passes his character sheet to the player on his side, and that player will decide how the player progresses depending of his playing style during the game. So you become a reflex of how others see you, instead of how you want to be. So if you want to be a proud warrior, you will have to play like it!

I don't want to talk more on the game, I think it's better if you discover it by yourselves. In level99 games site you can find a demo version (this versions works with dice for you not having to buy a Balance). And if you are from the lucky buch who owns an ipad, give not only the app a chance, but also the other products from this guys who deserve a lot of praise for being a bunch of visionaries.


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