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Passages $32.95 $13.95
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
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Passages
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Passages
Publisher: Blue Devil Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/18/2012 11:03:21
Passages is a rather interesting game. First the premise is one that all the literature of the Victorian age is true...somewhere. These stories exist in multiple parallel worlds that can be accessed via the Passages. So in some ways it is like Victorian Age Sliders, or Stargate. The mechanism for trans-versing these worlds is one of the more clever ones and wholly compatible with Victorian Age ideas. This is my favorite part of the game; the magic of the Passages and the very clever means of how they can be employed.

The game itself is a Victorian Age one with the aforementioned twist. It covers the time between 1837 to 1901, so a full Victorian time line is presented. Though what it has in breadth it lacks in depth as compared to games that only focus on a few years or a decade of the Victorian era. That being said though, that information is easily found anywhere. Game Masters should instead focus on which tale they want to interact with. Is this an Alice in Wonderland game? Well then that is all you need plus this book. Dracula? Likewise.
Passages does spend some time on character creation in a Victorian Age and that is a very nice touch. In fact I found the character creation portion of this book my second favorite part.

The game system itself is a simple version of the d20 system, somewhere between d20 proper and True20. I think I might have liked it more as a True20 system, but this is a nice middle ground. The system does add Advantages and Disadvantages to the d20 character creation, but most everything else is skill based. There are no classes, but there is HP.

There is a great section on the known world and again is a bit broader than other Victorian era games. This is a game obviously about adventurers, since so many options of places to go and things to do are given.

I love the Sherlock Holmes and Prof. Moriarty sidebars. Gives the game a really nice touch.

This is great game all by itself and one I am happy to own both the PDF and Print versions of. Where I get the most use out of it though is as a means of going between different Victorian games. Create characters and use the rules outlined here so they can move from game to game.

The layout is clean and easy to read. The art is a nice mix of original work and select PD images from the time.
In truth the only way I would like this more is if it had been created for True20. The "feel" of the book screams True20 to me and I think it would be a fantastic choice of a system. Not that there is anything wrong with the system it is using now. This is just a personal thing.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Passages
Publisher: Blue Devil Games
by Stefan C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2009 12:57:09
The game is based on the classics in fantasy literature, mostly those written in the Victorian Age (1837 – 1901). The game mechanics are OGL (characters have Strength, Constitution, etc.) with certain simplifications - there are no character classes or experience points. Characters evolve through energy points which allow them to gain advantages such as increasing skills and hit points.

The game presents a series of genres: Fantasy, Horror, Science fiction, Adventure, Comedy, etc. For each genre it lists works of literature of that genre. The system permits play in each of these genres.

The setting of the game is a “multiverse” called the Book without End. It is an infinite number of universes which all linked through portals. For example, Jonathan Swift created a portal to Lilliput in his London living room. One of Melville’s characters – Bartleby – found a way to access a utopian world in the numbers of the accounts he was working with; which explains why he doesn’t want to leave his office (“I prefer not to…”). Alice found a world of her own.

Not only is the game very good, it also creates incentive to read the authors which are mentioned throughout the rules.

The art is brilliant. It is a mix between modern drawings, and drawings from the 19th Century.

There is a long presentation of 19th Century London which gives a good feel of the place.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Passages
Publisher: Blue Devil Games
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2007 00:00:00
Passages

Role playing games are many times compared to stories. But it is the rare game that combines stories with a role playing game. Usually it is a licensed game that just tries to do one book or series of books. Passages might be the first role playing game that takes a whole bunch of stories from the classic Victorian era and places them into a role playing game. I love the tagline for the game. It is Passages: Adventures Penned by Literary Giants.

Passages is a role playing game by Blue Devil Games. These are the people responsible for Dawning Star one of the better sci fi RPGs I have ever read. That set the bar pretty high fir this game. The RPG comes in a print and PDF formats. I have both and must say the print version is a lot easier to work with. They contain the same content but the PDF one has no book marks making it a little harder to use. The book is almost three hundred pages long and that can be a bit unwieldy with out the aid of book marks in a PDF. The artwork in this book is really top notch. Jennifer Rodgers does a fantastic job on the cover and her and Annelisa Ochoa have great work inside the book. The lay out is top notch and seeing that Phil Reed did that came as no surprise.

The basic idea for the game is the setting of Victorian Earth. It is a time that many of the classic stories have been published like Alice in Wonderland and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The game?s catch is that these stories are not about fictional places and people. The writers of these stories traveled to them and possible experienced the stories for themselves. And the player characters will be able to do similar things and be able to travel to these fantastic places and get to experience what it is like to walk the Yellow Brick Road. The hook for the game is a great strength but can be the biggest weakness. The RPG has great information on the Victorian age and how characters are like and how the world is. But it does not have that much about the stories themselves the characters will be traveling to. While I am sure many people have read some of the classic novels from this era it could take a bit of research and reading to build an adventure patterned after one or more of them. It could be a lot of fun to experience the adventures of White Fang but I like many people haven?t read that book in fifteen years. What would be very useful is a page or two of almost cliffnote like text but geared towards running the stories as an RPG adventure or just having ways to use the setting and characters in different plot lines would be immensely useful.

The game system is pretty simple. One just uses a d20 and adds to the die result. Combat is a skill and hit points are few. It is a simple and easy to learn system. It does look like it can be a little deadly with combat. Character advancement is also pretty easy though it does say it is intended to be a little bit slow. Characters start out pretty competent so character growth is no as important for the mechanics. Character creation is basically a point buy system. There are character arch types to choose from and there is an advantage and disadvantage system. There are some great advantages and some that will probably only be gained through character adventuring and advancement.

The book is a great resource for characters in the Victorian age and so if one is playing another game set in this time period like Chuthlu by Gaslight or Rippers for Savage World the information in this book can be very helpful. For instance it has two great sidebars that are the Qualities of a Gentleman and the Qualities of a Lady. The book also goes into many of the cultures available at the time and has a great basic time line that goes from 1837 to 1901.

Passages is a very creative role playing game. It will be great for lovers of Victorian age literature but can be appreciated by almost anyone. I do think it will take a little effort and research from the storyteller unless one happens to have a Lit degree. But it can use characters that most people are familiar with like Sherlock Holmes and Hawkeye and present a new little twist to them



LIKED: Great and creative way to bring the classics in literature to life

DISLIKED: needs more info on the literature

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Passages
Publisher: Blue Devil Games
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2006 00:00:00
The back cover text of Blue Devil's Passages states ?the only Game Preperation of agreeable taste to all palates, and an excellent substitute for Cod-Liver oil.? The text goes on in a similar fashion, continuing to praise the game's ambiguous attributes using adjectives straight from a traveling snake-oil salesman's opening pitch. It concludes with testimonials from Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Any RPG game good enough for Lewis Carol is good enough for me, right?

Passages is a d20 (more accurately an OGL) RPG set in a world in which the great stories of the Victorian age were not mere works of fiction, but fantastic travelogues written by special men and women who had found a way to journey through an infinite parallel multiverse known as the Book Without End. These travelers, called Passengers, travel to worlds where they can match wits with Sherlock Holmes, set sail with Captain Hook, or help save a young Alice from the hungry fangs of Count Dracula. Players take on the role of one of the heroes of this world. Normal citizens of 19th century Earth who have learned to pierce the boundaries of the mundane and venture into the infinite.

The core system behind Passages is the familiar d20 system, although it has been altered in a number of ways. The principle difference is that only one die, the d20 itself, is ever used. Variables that usually rely on additional dice rolls are instead handled by preset numbers and degree of success. Weapon damage, for example, is based on the amount by which the attacker exceeds his opponent's defense roll (plus a handful of other factors). Many rules have been simplified or streamlined to fit the feel of the setting. Character creation has had almost all randomness stripped away, giving the player full control over the kind of PC he wants to make.

Passages positively shines with flavor. Since the game setting is based on the collective works of some of the most skilled and imaginative authors who ever put pen to paper, a worthy GM should find no shortage of inspiration. The designers have added to this by filling the PDF with wonderful art featuring both new works and period illustrations. In addition, there are fantastic quotes from such luminaries as Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling. Passages is very complete and looks very professional.

To help the GM set the proper scene, Passages contains a useful section detailing the Victorian era. Included is a timeline, a lexicon, and useful sidebars on such varied topics as phrenology and mesmerism. There is also information of the lifestyle, outlook, and interests of the Victorian people. There are adventure ideas aplenty as well as secret societies and GM advice.


LIKED: Passages contains everything one needs to roleplay a group of extraordinary gentlemen (or ladies) in a Victorian era inspired earth that lies parallel to a multiverse of adventure. The writing is top-notch, and the various quotes and pieces of period art add to feel of the setting. While I've not extensively tested the modifications to the d20 system such as the new damage mechanic, the rules seem to achieve their goal.

As a complete package of rules, setting, and flavor, Passages is almost perfect. Its a top-notch, well-written book with good art, good mechanics, a clever idea to back it all up.

DISLIKED: The PDF lacks bookmarks, which makes it unnecessarily slow to navigate. Also, I'd like to see more of the spread rules in actual play before I give them full approval. They seem to work well enough with some simple play testing, however, so I can't call this an actual flaw.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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