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Publisher: Garnett Elliott
by Jacob S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/20/2020 12:23:19

Everywhen is a game based on the latest version of the Barbarians of Lemuria ruleset. It’s a universal setting that can be adapted to a wide range of settings and play styles. Overall, it’s a great system for almost any needs with a little bit of work. In this review I’m giving info on the layout, art, content, and included settings.

Layout - The entire book except the covers are in black and white. The page design is clean two column text. Optional rules are clearly set off and called out. At the very end of the book there is a section reviewing key terms. A few pages after that is a few pages of tables for quick reference that can be used as needed. Honestly if you’re not concerned about a proper gm screen some of these pages could be printed out and slid in any gm screen designed for such things. Others are suitable for players including a quick character creation guide.
There is an outline available on the digital copy that makes it easy to navigate throughout the book when you’re searching for something. Unfortunately, the table of contents, index, and any references to another section or page number in the book do not have links for easy navigation. A minor complaint but something I always appreciate. Everything is laid out in a logical way.

Art –Again, all of the art with the exception of the cover is in black and white. It covers a wide range as appropriate for a set of core rules meant to be used over a wide variety of settings. There’s nothing that I was just blown away by but, on the other hand, there were no pieces that stuck out as outright bad.

Content –There are several chapters of rules or mechanical information. The first is how to create a character. This is a very easy process but will require the gm to layout some options or say some options are off the table depending on the setting and style of game being ran.

Characters creation is quick by assigning points among four attributes (Strength, Agility, Mind, Appeal). They do the same for combat abilities. There’s four of these too and then pick four careers to assign points to. Careers act as the skills of the system and are a brilliant way of incorporating things that a character should logically be able to do but may not have skill points for in another system. For example, let’s say you have the career of Pilot in a sci-fi game. You not only have the skills associated with piloting a ship directly but also a bit navigation, possibly military regulations if you are in one, and any other thing a pilot might reasonably possess. Characters also pick from among boons and flaws. Boons typically grant a bonus die and flaws typically grant a penalty die, though there is much more variety than this. Overall, characters are designed to be highly competent. They also get hero points which are basically bennies or fate points with a very wide range of what they can do.

The rules are fairly simple for the most part. Careers are combined with the core attributes for rolls using d6s with a normal target number. The standard way of modifying the difficulty is with an increase or decrease to the roll based on said difficulty. An alternative system is given with target numbers instead of dice modifiers. It works out the same either way but I prefer the target number and was grateful for the small call out pointing out this optional method of setting difficulty. A particularly good roll can provide extra success to whatever action is being attempted based on the margin of success. There are also bonus or penalty dice that can be added to the roll to reflect advantages or disadvantages. It’s a very easy system to pick up.

An optional rule is given to use larger dice than d6s which can be used to increase the longevity of a game as characters advance fairly quickly.

I really like the rules for aiding, hindering, group task rolls, projects, and dramatic challenges. All add a feeling of involvement for players other than just making one pass/fail roll and dramatic challenges can be used to strongly spice up certain tasks. There are several examples of applying dramatic challenges to a wide variety of situations. There’s also rules for the ever popular “success at a cost” which works pretty well if you like to go that route in your games. The social rules are even pretty good with well worked out examples of what success or failure could mean.

Combat is simple and makes use of regular attributes plus one of the four combat abilities being rolled. The damage rules work to represent a wide range of damage and there are variant rules online for damage on the various Everywhen online gathering places. Healing works well without being over or under powered.

There are also rules for scale which is a very important thing for a universal system. Speaking of things necessary for a universal system, there’s a wide variety of other rules and systems to support the gm including an optional mental resolve track, rule for mass battle, hazards, journeys, investigations, inventions, and hacking. I’m particularly fond of the vehicle rules which can be used for everything from a hand cart to a capital space ship with just a little work. There are also some rules for creating the vehicles which any gm can easily adapt to any ship.

Something else essential for a universal system are powers. The power chapter in this book covers magic, psionics, divine powers, and martial arts. The magic is largely based on the Barbarians of Lemuria system but also has a couple options that can be used to give it an entirely different flavor. For those of you who hate resource tracking for your powers, there’s option for either using a resource-based system or an alternative system. Overall the section is pretty good but there’s a small section on super powered campaigns that isn’t really worthwhile. This is mostly the fault of the system working better for such things as fantasy, pulp, and space opera than anything supers related. Which isn’t to say that characters can’t be amazingly competent and use powers but supers just really aren’t this system’s forte.

There’s a robust section on adversaries covering rabble which are basically meant to be mowed over by the heroes, toughs, which are a bit tougher, and then rivals, which are likely to be the big mover and shakers during a session or campaign. There’s several boons and flaws in this section that are meant for beasts, the supernatural, or just plain weird adversaries.

Advancement rules are robust but will lead to quick advancement. There are options to slow down the advancement and the previous optional rule of using different size dice can help prolong a campaign too.
The gm advice section is well thought out with guidance on getting players to notice stuff without making it obvious, what to do when the party splits, investigations, pacing, and planning adventures including guidance on incorporating the heroes when generating plot ideas. Finally, there’s sections about planning campaigns and creating and running settings. The guidance for setting creation is brief for a universal system but is really all you need with the exception of helping to generate ideas.

Setting -Theoretically the system is adaptable to any setting. Two setting examples are given; True Brit Vampire Slayers and Broken Seal of Astarath. The settings themselves are incredibly sparse of any background content or detail. The real detail is in giving examples of careers, boons, etc. that would be used in the setting. Given the size of the book, this may be more useful than a lot of fluff as it is a pretty clear guide on how to mechanically lay out a campaign before presenting options for character creation to players. It’s actually a very useful section for having so little information about the fluff of the setting itself. I really would have liked to seen the settings expanded upon though. That being said, there are several setting books available for Everywhen which are much more fleshed out and are only $5 for the pdf on drivethru. There are also several setting/core book bundles. I suggest checking one out if you want an already created setting for the game.

Summary -I strongly recommend this book if you’re looking for something that is flexible, encourages competent pcs, and has good guidance for creating your own settings mechanically. It lacks somewhat in guidance in creating fluff but if you’re picking up a universal system you probably have tons of ideas. Personally, I’ve put in a good amount of work for a Star Wars setting and have found it easy to adapt to the Everywhen rules. There’s no coffee table worthy artwork in the book but it’s all suitable and fairly easy on the eyes. The layout is good and a well bookmarked outline helps balance out the minor complaint of no links throughout the book.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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