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Epic Role Playing (Rules Manual)

Posted on March 5, 2006 by Flames


Available at Amazon.com

A Quick Note

Epic Role Playing is a fantasy role playing game system published by Dark Matter Studios and presented in three separate volumes (the Rules Manual, Bestiary, and Book of the Arcane, respectively). Additionally, a setting designed for use with the Epic system is also available in the form of the supplementary Atlas of Eslin (Volume 1). This review deals specifically with the Epic Role Playing Rules Manual, while further reviews will cover the other Epic core books, as well as the Atlas of Eslin setting supplement.

What is Epic Role Playing?

Epic Role Playing is, like Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy system by default. That is, Epic Role Playing isn’t an entire game, but a set of rules that can be used to play games (an entire game, of course, requires the inclusion of a defined setting and premise). As a system, the primary design goal of Epic Role Playing is to present a “flexible and open role playing system that fits the needs of gamers”while striking a balance between verisimilitude and playability.

Now, I’ve played a lot of games and fooled about with many a system, but I haven’t ever seen a product with this specific design goal before. As I’m sure you are, I’m used to seeing games shoot for one end of the playability/verisimilitude spectrum or the other, not exploring the middle ground. In this regard, Epic Role Playing may not be unique, but it’s certainly uncommon – Epic doesn’t make you choose between playability or verisimilitude, rather, it gives you both in one package.

This isn’t an easy line to tow, and Epic does have a few rough spots, but ultimately the folks at Dark Matter Studios seem to have nailed it, providing a system that captures both entertaining meta-constructs and a great deal of verisimilitude, while remaining flexible enough to apply to a setting of your choice. Epic Role Playing obviously won’t please everybody (no game system does), but for some folks it may well be the Holy Grail that they’ve been searching for.

Production Values

I’m always somewhat wary of small press production values as they still, even with the advent of print-on-demand fulfillment houses, run the gamut from aesthetically pleasing perfect-bound, soft-cover books to xeroxed, spiral-bound, crap that could have been printed at Kinko’s for all I can tell. I am happy to report that the Epic Role Playing books (including the Rules Manual) all fall squarely into the former category.

The Epic Role Playing Rules Manual itself is a perfect-bound soft-cover that is priced to move at $20 (US) and contains 135 pages of content (including character sheets and quick references). The first thing you’ll notice is the gorgeous cover art. Rendered with a watercolor effect, the cover portrays a lone warrior standing in the entryway of a stone castle, drawing his sword, and preparing to face an advancing hoard of warriors bent on destruction (the burning village that can be seen in the wake of the advancing hoard makes its intentions quite clear).

As a big fan of artwork rendered in watercolor, the covers of the Epic Role Playing books really impress me. Not only are they stylish, they are also evocative of that ‘high adventure’ feeling while simultaneously providing some insight into what you’ll find within the pages of a given Epic volume. Simply put, the Epic Role Playing cover art does everything that good cover art should do. Kudos to Chris Organ for the excellent work here.

Although it is less visually stunning, the interior layout of the Epic Role Playing Rules Manual is both organized and easy on the eyes. The few pieces of interior artwork that can be found in the Rules Manual are all subject appropriate (i.e., you won’t find a giant picture of a dragon in the equipment section) and rendered with the same skill as the cover, albeit in black and white (and not in watercolor). The folks at Dark Matter Studio obviously take the maxim “Better sparse art than bad art!” very seriously.

Overall, I was very impressed with the physical quality of the Epic Role Playing books. The artwork and layout rivals that of much larger publishers and far surpasses that of many small press publishers that I am familiar with. If you need a measuring stick, I feel comfortable saying that the Epic Role Playing rule books are approximately of the same quality as Wizards of the Coast’s early soft-cover class supplements.

The Rules of Epic Role Playing

Rules are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the real meat of the Epic Role Playing Rules Manual. It is important to keep in mind the aforementioned design goal of Epic while reading this section of my review, as some things will initially seem odd until cast in the light of said design goal. That said, without further ado, I present my overview of the rules.

Epic Characters

The creation of characters in Epic Role Playing likely isn’t what you’re used to, but it isn’t entirely unfamiliar, either. In the portion of the Rules Manual that pertains to creating characters, you’ll find many familiar concepts that have been carefully reshaped specifically to accommodate the system’s primary design goals of striking a balance between verisimilitude and playability, while remaining open and flexible enough to be easily adapted to any campaign setting.

Character Race

Character race, by default, plays a much less prominent role in Epic than it does in many other role playing systems. In Epic Role Playing rather than race representing a collection of mechanical advantages it tends to represent cultural ideals and determine the physical characteristics of a character. This isn’t to say that a player’s choice of race doesn’t bestow any beneficial qualities upon their character, merely that such qualities aren’t the sole defining features of a given race, having been seriously toned down from what I am accustom to seeing in fantasy role playing games.

In accordance with this step away from a character’s race as stereotype and corresponding mechanical contrivance, the Epic Rules Manual doesn’t present any fully-fleshed out races for players to ‘pick from’ when creating a character. Some very brief examples (names of races, really) are given, but the reader is (appropriately) directed to the Atlas of Eslin supplement to learn more about them. The message here is very clear – races are part of a setting and should be built to that setting’s standards, as opposed to being imposed upon a setting by the system.

While this design decision may initially seem awkward, it certainly caters to both verisimilitude and flexibility, not only by allowing a Guide (the Epic Role Playing term for Game Master) to create races that reflect setting-specific tenets, but by encouraging them to do so. This departure from what is generally considered standard fare for many fantasy role playing games really appealed to me as a fan of roleplaying in fictional settings that haven’t yet received dedicated RPG treatment.

Nature vs. Nurture

This is where the divide between Epic Role Playing and many other high fantasy role playing games is most evident. Where many games choose to emphasize nature over nurture (often by virtue of codifying races and professions as narrow stereotypes), Epic chooses to place its emphasis upon the environments and social settings that a character is raised in. This is another design decision that caters to verisimilitude, while simultaneously ensuring that the system isn’t tied to any specific stereotypes by default and, thus, making it easy to adapt to a fantasy setting of your choice.

Epic Role Playing achieves this focus by implementing a kind of ‘life path’ generation system somewhat reminiscent of the old Central Casting: Heroes of Legend book from Task Force Games, but much more coherent, both in presentation and where producing practical results is concerned (i.e., you can’t end up fathering your own parents, becoming a sailor despite a lifelong phobia of the sea, or other such weirdness).

In Epic, a character’s life path begins when a player consults with the Guide and chooses a nationality and hometown for their character based upon the choices present in a given campaign setting. After this a player either chooses or randomly rolls their character’s familial status (Were they a bastard? Were they adopted? Do they have any siblings? Do they even have a family that they know of?) and then dip heavily into the well of cultural influences.

After a player has determined their immediate familial status, they randomly determine their character’s social class as it pertains to one of two broad society types (Tribal or State). The social class of a character directly influences a number of things, including the character’s right to title (if any), the number of languages that they can speak, whether or not they’re literate, and their family’s occupation. In turn, the profession of a character’s family determines the character’s base set of learned aptitudes, each of which begins with a rating of one ‘level’ (note that level does not carry quite the same connotation here as it does in many other games).

Once the social class, right to title, linguistics skill and family occupation of a character have been determined, the focus shifts to a more traditional life path focus by allowing a player the opportunity to randomly roll up some memorable events of early childhood and adolescence. These events are largely only bits of flavor text that help a player to immerse themselves in the role of their character during actual play, but a handful of them can impact a character mechanically (social standing is by far the most common aspect of a character that these events impact).

I like the way that the life path system has been implemented in Epic Role Playing. Unlike some life path systems (such as the aforementioned Central Casting: Heroes of Legend), the Epic life path focuses on providing only vital information that could conceivably shape a character’s persona, rather than attempting to facilitate the creation of an entire life story or getting bogged down in setting-specific detail. Extremely flexible, the Epic life path system won’t be at odds with your setting of choice unless it is incredibly alien. I can, for example, easily envision using the Epic life path system to create characters for use in Eberron, Greyhawk, or Harn.

Vital Attributes

Vital Attributes in Epic Role Playing represent inherent genetic traits possessed by all characters and creatures in a given setting. There are ten different Vital Attributes in Epic; five physical attributes and five mental attributes. The Vital Attributes are: Agility, Beauty, Build, Might, Vitality, Essence, Intuition, Presence, Reason, and Will. Each of these attributes is rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with that rating being determined either randomly (by rolling percentile dice) or by allocating fifty-five points among the ten attributes.

Each Vital Attribute rating in Epic Role Playing corresponds to a modifier ranging from -4 to +4 that works in the same way an ability modifier does in Dungeons & Dragons (it is added to or subtracted from a roll result that corresponds to a given attribute). If you grok how abilities and ability modifiers work in Dungeons & Dragons, you’ll be able to grasp the fundamentals of Epic’s Vital Aptitudes with absolutely no problems whatsoever.

Now, it should be noted that the rating range of 1 to 10 represents the upper and lower limits of human ability – the scale can be expanded to incorporate races either stronger or weaker than humans (indeed, the Epic Role Playing Bestiary does this very thing). A brief note on how to do this is included in the Rules Manual, but it’s largely a matter of common sense when you get right down to it (i.e., higher ratings bestow higher modifiers and lower ratings levy lower modifiers).

The expanded list of Vital Attributes in Epic allows a bit more flexibility in terms of character definition, making some logical distinctions between different physical and mental attributes that go a long way toward providing a semblance of reality without falling prey to the pitfall of too many attributes and/or a variety of attributes that each works in an entirely different way where mechanics are concerned. So far, so good.

The Role of Gender

Gender can play a part in Epic Role Playing, but doesn’t have to. In Epic, a character’s gender is specifically tied to a character’s race where determining things such as height and weight are concerned. As they were earlier, the reader is again directed (and, again, appropriately) to the Atlas of Eslin supplement for examples of height and weight variations specific to certain races (naturally, this kind of information is also fairly common in other fantasy setting supplements).

Unusual Traits

Unusual traits in Epic Role Playing work much like ‘advantages’ or ‘disadvantages’ do in other games, although a character created using the Epic system is limited to one such trait by default. To determine if a character does, in fact, have an unusual trait, a player rolls one ten-sided die. After they determine whether or not a character does, indeed, possess an unusual trait, they then roll some percentile dice to determine the exact nature of that unusual trait (including whether it is beneficial or detrimental). Altogether there are a total of exactly one-hundred such unusual traits, ranging from near superhuman abilities to debilitating mental illnesses.

While I like the idea of unusual traits and definitely think that their implementation in Epic Role Playing fosters a sense of reality (well, insofar as that term can be applied to a fantasy game), I can see the possibility of them leading to possible party conflict (I know that I wouldn’t want to travel with somebody who suffered from debilitating paranoia). Ultimately, I think it is best if the Guide approaches unusual traits as a purely optional facet of the system.

Character Occupation

Occupations in Epic Role Playing are just what they sound like – they’re a way of earning a living. Given this, it probably goes without saying that they’re very setting-specific and, thus, are given the same treatment that races and gender are. That said, as a character’s occupation determines the majority of their starting skills, it carries a bit more mechanical weight than either their racial stock or gender do in games that utilize Epic. To this end, the Rules Manual explains how occupations are related to skills and how you can implement them in your own games.

The default assumption is that occupations (i.e., trade crafts) are the domain of different guilds whose members have cornered the market where that occupation is concerned. Each guild has a certain number of specific skills that it teaches to its members. During character creation, a character chooses which one of these guilds they would like to commit themselves to, and gains all of the skills that their chosen guild teaches at +1 level (if they already have levels in a skill due to their family’s occupational background, they add this new level to any that they already possess).

The concept is incredibly sensible, providing an explanation for how characters actually acquire their initial professional skills in life and tightly weaving what is an assumed social structure in many fantasy settings into the actual mechanics of Epic. While the way occupations are handled is extremely simple in implementation, the sense of reality that it fosters is disproportionately large by comparison. Color me impressed.

Ethos

Ethos is Epic Role Playing’s answer to what other games systems sometimes refer to as ‘alignment’ or ‘demeanor’ (among other things). Ethos, like many other aspects of Epic, has been scaled back quite a bit from its counterparts in other games, dealing in shades of grey (quantified in terms of behaviors or emotions) as opposed to highly polarized and extremes (e.g., good and evil).

There are three integral parts that compose a given character’s ethos: Disposition, Morals, and Motivation. For example, a character may have a calm disposition, an altruistic moral outlook, and be motivated by friendship. Players may either define their character’s ethos as they see fit or roll 1d10 three times to randomly determine the components their character’s ethos.

How is ethos tied into Epic Role Playing mechanically? It’s not. In accordance with its primary design goal, Epic presents ethos solely as a set of guidelines for roleplaying – ethos doesn’t grant mechanical bonuses, levy mechanical penalties, or serve as a prerequisite for occupations, races, or skills. Ethos is about how a character is perceived by others, what drives them to move forward in life, and what values they hold dear – and that’s it.

I’ve never been a big fan of alignment as mechanics, primarily because I’ve never liked the way that they are often used to ‘keep players in line’ by either punishing or rewarding certain behaviors mechanically. Ethos alleviates this primary complaint of mine while still providing enough meaningful definition to justify the retention of such a moral classification system, rather than excising it altogether.

Finishing Touches

Here, we’re largely straying into unexciting stuff such as purchasing equipment and/or calculating life points, weight limit, and protection factor (i.e., how much a character can carry). There’s really nothing original here, but it’s worth mentioning that these things exist rather than skipping over them altogether (so, there you go).

Epic Action Resolution

To determine the outcome of an uncertain action in Epic Role Playing, a player makes what the game refers to as a Decision Roll. This roll is initially made on 2d10, with the appropriate Vital Attribute modifier and any relevant skill levels being added to the die result to obtain a total. After a total has been obtained, it is compared to a difficulty factor and, if it meets or exceeds that difficulty, the outcome of the roll is successful – if the total is less than the difficulty factor, the roll fails (and so does the action being attempted by a character),

A large amount of action in Epic will come about as the result of being directly opposed by other characters or creatures. In these instances, a difficulty factor is not a static number assigned by the Guide, but the total of another Decision Roll made on behalf of the opposing character or creature, In these instances, the character with the higher roll total triumphs and ties indicate a stalemate (unless you’re making a defense Decision Roll in combat – defense rolls always go to the defending character in the case of a tie).

As a general rule, any roll total of less than 5 (the lowest static difficulty factor) is a failure, while a natural 2 (i.e., a result of ‘1′ on each d10) is treated as a critical failure, and a natural 20 (i.e., a result of ‘10′ on each d10) is treated as a critical success. Much of this probably looks familiar, and it should – but that’s a good thing. If you play Dungeons & Dragons or any other d20 System game, you’ll be able to pick up and play Epic with very little trouble. I can’t help but view this low learning curve as a positive feature.

Finally, Epic is a skill-based system, with all action resolution defaulting to a skill first and then, if a character doesn’t possess levels in an appropriate skill, to the associated Vital Attribute. The application of this single mechanical standard further lowers the system’s learning curve, making the game flow very smoothly during actual play.

Epic Combat Resolution

Combat in Epic Role Playing is a logical extension of the system’s basic resolution mechanic, with only a small number of added complications, all of which have been carefully balanced to ensure that their utility is proportionate to their payoff (i.e., they’re just as complex as they need to be for what they offer in terms of game enhancement). Divided up into ten-second ‘turns’, here is how combat in Epic plays out:

First, players proclaim the intended actions of their character at the beginning of a turn. This is pretty straightforward and shouldn’t need to be expanded upon.

Second, players determine the order in which characters act by making an Order roll. In Epic, the Order roll is a standard Decision Roll that defaults to the Maneuvering skill (and to the Intuition Vital Attribute).

Third, players resolve actions via a series of Decision Rolls (most of which will, obviously, be opposed by other characters or creatures).

Those are the very basics and, really, if you don’t want combat to be any more complicated than that, it doesn’t have to be. Having said that, for those of you that crave tactical detail in your combats, Epic Role Playing certainly doesn’t skimp on it – it simply doesn’t make such detail absolutely mandatory, instead opting to present the combat rules in such a manner that they are easily tweaked to reflect your personal tastes where level of detail is concerned.

Utilizing a commonplace square-grid combat mat (with each square representing one yard), Epic offers a number of tactical combat options including choking, called shots, disarms, counter-attacks, and shield bashing. The list of combat options is longer than that, of course, but it doesn’t go overboard in terms of bulk. One notable thing about these combat maneuvers is that anybody may attempt them, provided they possess the proper equipment (e.g., you’ll need a shield or shield-like object to perform a rushing shield bash).

Damage in Epic combat is determined by two things – the weapon that a character is using and the character’s Power (a sum of the corresponding skill level and Vital Attribute modifier). This damage is then tracked via a system of Injury Levels that corresponds to a character’s life point total. Every character has six possible levels of injury that they may sustain before being shuffled off the mortal coil, with each level representing a number of life points equal to the character’s initial life point total.

I like this. The Injury Level system parses the familiar system of life/hit points with specific degrees of injury in such a manner that manages to remain simple while providing a great deal verisimilitude. Overall, as both a fan of verisimilitude and an opponent of complexity for complexity’s sake, I’ve found myself very impressed with the approach that Epic takes to both injury and combat.

Epic Advice for the Guide

While it is a comparatively small portion of the Epic Rules Manual that deals with dispensing advice to the Guide, it is worth mentioning that what advice this section of the Rules Manual does dispense is very good – if you agree with the viewpoint of the authors (I do).

Covering everything from basic themes and plot point to story pacing (including The Hero’s Journey as postulated by Campbell), as well as more mundane (yet important) topics such as how to believably integrate new characters into a game midstream; this section of Epic Role Playing Rules Manual is written with those earlier mentioned primary focuses of striking a balance between verisimilitude and playability in mind. If striking that balance in your own games is important to you, you really should read at least this much of the Epic Rules Manual, regardless of what system you actually use.

Herein, you’ll also find one very important aspect of the system discussed – character advancement. Like many other fantasy systems, Epic Role Playing also uses experience points to facilitate character advancement, although (as was the case with many other aspects of the system) it takes a toned-down approach. Rather than gaining experience in the thousands for overcoming a single challenge, a character typically earns five points of experience every two to three game sessions.

Experience is applied to a character’s individual skills by way of in-game training to increase levels of expertise (Vital Attributes cannot be raised with experience). As you might suspect, character progression in this manner feels very natural, allowing characters to mature organically as the story progresses rather than as the result of purely meta-considerations. This approach won’t be for everybody, but if character growth is one of those areas that you think many game systems could shore up with some sense of reality, I suspect that you’ll like it.

Epic Treasure Hoards

The chapter dedicated to treasures in Epic Role Playing (entitled ‘The Treasury’ appropriately enough) contains a lot of information, covering every conceivable variety of treasure from ancient coinage and brilliant gems to imbued (i.e., magical) items and arcane manuscripts. Really, if you’ve ever thought about rewarding players with something as a treasure, Epic probably covers it. Having said that, there aren’t a lot of surprises here, but there are a couple of ways in which the treasure of Epic Role Playing noticeably differs from that found in other fantasy games.

First, treasure in Epic campaigns is its own reward – characters don’t earn experience or gain any other mechanical benefit merely for discovering treasure (i.e., treasure itself may bestow some kind of mechanical benefit, but simply finding treasure will not). Now granted, not all fantasy roleplaying games reward players simply for finding treasure, but many very popular ones do. If this has long been a troubling aspect of character advancement for you in other games, Epic Role Playing’s approach to treasure should make you happy.

Second, imbued items must be ‘powered’ by the character wielding them. In order for a character to reap the magical benefits of an imbued magical item, the item must temporarily draw from the Essence of the character who is using the item in question. The exact amount of Essence drained is determined during the item creation process (detailed in the Book of the Arcane), so if you’re only using the Rules Manual, you’ll have to fudge it (that said, several examples of imbued items from the Eslin setting are offered as fully fleshed-out examples).

I really like the idea of a magically endowed item requiring an actual magic charge to operate. I think this small adjustment in how magic items function goes a long way towards offsetting some of the more troubling aspects of magic items in other game systems. The idea of imposing this kind of mechanical foil for magically imbued items that would otherwise be self-contained ‘power ups’ really makes a lot of sense.

I’m as pleased as I can be with this chapter of the Epic Rules Manual, largely due to the way that treasure is handled as a reward and the quirky nature of magical items. Those two small things make a large difference in how treasure impacts a campaign during actual play, and are nice alternatives to a ‘low’ or ‘no’ treasure/magic items campaign.

Epic Warfare

In addition to rules for regular man to man (or man to creature) combat, the Epic Rules Manual also provides a simple and entirely self-contained system for running and resolving squad-based and full-scale warfare, including sieges. While some of you could probably care less about the inclusion of such rules, I suspect that my fellow simulation fans will be just as intrigued as I was when I opened the Epic Rules Manual to this topic.

The cornerstone of the Epic warfare system is a simple set of rules for defining fighting forces (from small, elite, units to entire armies), that takes both fighting men and auxiliary troops such as messengers and standard bearers into consideration. While defining a fighting force using these rules largely amounts to picking troop types from a list, that list is detailed enough to give me the options that I want without burying me under a mountain of rules.

Like regular man to man combat, the Epic warfare rules also utilize a square-grid combat mat, although each square represents ten yards here as opposed to one yard. As was the case with man to man combat, the mechanical core of the warfare rules is the Decision Roll, but rather than adding individual skill levels and Vital Attribute ratings to the roll results, you add the attack bonus of a unit to the roll result.

Finally, just as the man to man combat rules presented a healthy list of tactical options, so do the Epic warfare rules – from equipment based options (e.g., mantlets and spike hedges) to troop formations (e.g., shield walls and vanguards). The Epic Role Playing warfare rules give you just enough tactical options to allow for diverse play without drowning you in the rules minutiae of a full-blown war game.

As a fan of war games, I could probably occupy myself with the Epic warfare rules for hours at a time, as they easily stand on their own as a game. As a roleplayer, I’m thrilled to see a mass combat system that offers me the tactical richness of a war game while remaining simple enough that it won’t intrude upon the roleplaying aspects of a campaign that I choose to implement it in. Chalk this up as another ‘won me over’ feature for Epic.

The Pitfalls of the Product

As much as I like certain aspects of the Epic Role Playing Rules Manual, it does have a few rough spots. The good news is that, of these three rough spots, one is a relatively minor blemish in an otherwise polished product and another is personal pet peeve of mine, as opposed to a major concern for the typical consumer. The last rough spot, however, is a potential deal breaker depending upon what it is you’re looking to get out of the Rules Manual.

The Minor Blemish

While the Epic Rules Manual does contain an index, it’s not as comprehensive or as thoroughly cross-referenced as it could be. Several times during the process of writing my review, I attempted to locate bits of information using the index only to find that not every instance of a given topic was listed therein. While frustrating, it’s hardly a deal breaker – a lot of products don’t have any index, and I find a slightly hobbled index better than none at all.

The Personal Nitpick

Jargon. I hate it. If you’ve followed my forum posts, I’m sure you’re well aware of that. Epic dispenses with some perfectly sufficient and familiar terms such as ‘Game Master’ in favor of some slightly confusing terms (e.g., Guide) for purely cosmetic reasons. While the product doesn’t go nuts with new terminology, the fact that it uses [i]any[/I] jargon when it doesn’t have to rubs me the wrong way. Thankfully, since new terminology is used in moderation, it doesn’t detract from the product’s good points.

The Possible Deal Breaker

Okay, here it is – the thing that might keep you from dropping $20 on the Epic Rules Manual. There is no spell system. The game itself contains multiple spell systems, but they’re found in another volume (the Book of the Arcane). Now, just to be clear, the lack of a magic system in the Rules Manual doesn’t necessarily make it incomplete – if you want to run a ‘no magic’ campaign or a campaign where magic is primarily item-based, you can do that using only the Rules Manual. If, on the other hand, you want to run a high magic campaign using just the Rules Manual… well…. you can’t. For me this isn’t a deal breaker, but I can see where it could be for some people.

The Final Verdict

Despite serving up much suspension of disbelief, Epic has a very low learning curve and an intuitive, unified, central mechanic that makes the system both easy to learn and fun to play, as well as extremely flexible. In short, the Epic Rules Manual does exactly what it sets out to do and does it very well. That said, the ultimate decision of whether or not to buy into Epic comes down to what you want out of a fantasy role playing game.

If you’re looking for a different, yet familiar, fantasy system that emphasizes verisimilitude without sacrificing playability by way of giving into either the ‘More rules mean more realistic!’ maxim or the similarly troubling ‘More complexity means more options!’ maxim, then you should definitely take a look at the Epic Rules Manual. It is a rare product that can successfully strike a balance between verisimilitude and playability, and the Epic Rules Manual is such a product.

If you’re looking to inject some more suspension of disbelief into an existing d20/OGL game, I’m of the opinion that the Epic Rules Manual can offer you a lot as an idea mine, despite the fact that it isn’t a d20 System or OGL product. The basic resolution mechanic can, for example, be dropped into a a d20 System game with very little conversion, along with the life path generation system, injury levels, balanced magic items, and the mass combat system. There are literally a host of good ideas to plunder in the Epic Rules Manual.

If you’re not looking for and/or to do either of those things, then you’ll probably be better off giving the Epic Rules Manual a pass. Epic Role Playing was designed with some very specific goals in mind and if you don’t have an interest in those goals, then you probably won’t have an interest in Epic products.

Reviewer: James D. Hargrove

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