Posted on September 9, 2006 by Matt-M-McElroy
Written by John Harper
Reviewed by Matt-M-McElroy
Agon takes place in a mythical Greece, drawing heavily from the Iliad and the Odyssey as inspiration (along with other sources like the films Clash of the Titans and Troy). Characters take on the role of heroes serving the gods on quests throughout the land, seeking glory and fame so their names may live on throughout the ages…
Creating characters in Agon is fairly quick and is explained throughout the second chapter. First, you choose a name (which explains your character’s lineage and determines your“name die”) and a heroic trait (bonuses to certain skills or actions). Your name and heroic trait help define who the character is or what they are good at; for example Far-Seeing Talos, son of Arsene tells us that Talos is good with ranged weapons.
Next, you choose from a variety of abilities. Broken up into Arete, Battle, Craft and Sport categories, abilities are rated by die size ranging from d4 to d12. While abilities typically starts at d6, the player can modify them slightly, raising one to d8 and lowering one to d4. This allows for some customization depending on what skills the player wants the character to focus on, provided the overall ability total doesn’t change.
Choosing your character’s patron god gives the character divine favor, which allows the player to get special bonuses during play such as re-rolling a die or extra attacks during combat. The last part of character creation involves choosing your weapons and armor. Like abilities, weapons and armor have dice of specific sizes and certain rules (range, penalties, etc)
Contests make up the bulk of Agon’s rules; you use a pool of dice comprised of your character’s name die, an ability die and possibly a weapon and/or bonus die (depending on the situation). The player may roll against the Antagonist (or GM), an NPC, or occasionally against another character. The single die with the highest number rolled is your result; if you roll higher, you win the contest. Every success is counted as a victory, each victory earns your character glory which is the primary goal of the game.
Fate, Glory, Oaths, advancement, healing and other rules are fleshed out throughout the rest of the book. These rules give you information on how to heal your character and how to help them grow as the story moves from one quest to another. Even though each character competes for personal glory, (and there are plenty of enemies in the world that no one hero can take down on their own), Oaths help build teamwork and strengthen character ties because they foster promises and debts between the players.
Throughout the book there are handy drawings of the dice, examples from the character sheet and other useful information. The book is also written in a casual style as if you were sitting down learning the game face-to-face with the author. Quotes from the Iliad and art from Costume of the Ancients set the mood just right.
Between the examples and the conversational tone, the book is fun to read and the game is easy to learn.
There is plenty of information for the Antagonist on how to run a game of Agon such as: sample NPCs, rules for spending strife, and details on putting difficult quests together. Strife is what the Antagonist uses to build enemies and create challenges for the characters while they are out seeking glory. The Antagonist can earn strife during play just as characters can earn glory, creating the flow of the quest dynamic and challenging for the characters.
Page 100 of the book explains a few of the designer’s notes and inspirations for the game, as well as some ideas for other settings (Norse adventures and others). Following that are several useful sheets, lists of Greek names, handy reference charts and more. Most of these can also be found on the Agon website, if you want to print them out.
Agon is a game that has short character creation so your group can start playing the same night. There are endless opportunities for adventure and lots of options for characters. If you like indie gaming with simple mechanics and lots of player creativity—you’ll like Agon.
Visit www.agon-rpg.com for more information and free downloads.