Unity is a roleplaying game by Zensara Studios distributed by Modiphius which was crowdfunded on Kickstarter back in 2016. I really haven’t had it on my radar until Panny from Modiphius asked me if I was interested in doing a review. At first I was hesitant, because I feared it might be another overly complex fantasy heartbreaker. Oh boy, was I wrong!
In a way it is a heartbreaker. From the setting to the mechanics Unity shows that the authors love fantasy roleplaying in all its forms. The setting is reminiscent of fantasy MMOs like World of Warcraft, and JRPGs like the Final Fantasy series. The rules have elements from fan favorites like D&D 5th Edition or Monte Cook’s Cypher System. But what really sets it apart is that everything works perfectly together. This could have easily turned out like a weird mishmash of ideas, but fortunately it’s a really impressive game with a lot of potential. Unity is a class-based fantasy roleplaying game where magic and technology coexist. It has also elements of a post-apocalyptic game with a world slowly recuperating from a huge cataclysm.
Artwork and Layout
The first thing you notice when you leaf through the 371-paged PDF (there’s also a hardcover version) is the gorgeous artwork. The book just looks awesome. The production values are definitely top notch comparable to what you’d expect from Free League Publishing or Paizo. The book is also laid out in a very clear and readable manner. It uses a standard two column layout with sidebars which often contain helpful information.
A World of Unity Shattered
So what’s the setting like? Unity is a post-apocalyptic fantasy world. A world where a Golden Age ended abruptly after the Skyfather – the creator god of that world – basically tore down the gates to hell in his anger. But let’s start in the beginning. The Skyfather and his beloved Ivory Queen looked for a planet where they could create life and eventually found Unity. There they created the Valla, Furians and eventually Humans.
Eventually the Skyfather left Unity and the Ivory Queen remained to watch over her children. As it is often unavoidable the three races started to wage war with each other. The Ivory Queen wanted to stop this war and followed the whispers from “The Drift” (a spiritual world in which all the darkness in the people of Unity was made manifest) she had been listening to for a while now. So she created the Crimsom Horde, which contained all manner of dangerous creatures which attacked Valla, Furians and Humans alike. This common enemy should force the three races to work together. Unfortunately this plan worked too well, and eventually the three races overcame the Crimson Horde and slew the Ivory Queen herself. This victory lead to many hundred years of cooperation and the three races experienced a Golden Age with huge advances in magic and technology.
But eventually the death scream of the Ivory Queen reached the Skyfather. He returned and in his anger tore down the veil beyond this world and “The Drift”. This lead to human-created automata to become self-aware, the dead rising from the grave, and demons from the Drift spilling over. The angered god also cursed the three races. The Valla lost their empathic link, Furians are now overcome with a destructive rage, and the best and brightest of the humans got afflicted by the Phage which causes limbs and organs to rot away. The Afflicted only survive by replacing lost organs with technology. They left are now a fourth faction, shunned by their brethren and looking for a place to call home. The Skyfather’s onslaught eventually ended, but now the world is destroyed, former nations have fallen, and the survivors are now trying to pick up the pieces. It’s the perfect time for daring adventurers to make their mark in the world.
This concludes the first part of my look at Unity. Next week I’ll continue with a closer look at the rules. If this article has already whetted your appetite, I highly recommend you check out their 43-paged sampler which is available here.