Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Unisystem

U is for Unisystem, the game system that powers all of Eden Studios' games.

The system itself is rather simple.  Attribute + Skill +/- some Mod + 1d10 and compare that to a list of Success Levels.  Typically you want higher than a 9.  Simple right?  Well that is the point, Unisystem is designed to be simple and get out of the way.

Unisystem is divided into two basic types, Classic (which is used in WitchCraft, Armageddon, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Terra Primate and Conspiracy X) and Cinematic (which is used in Buffy, Angel, Army of Darkness and Ghosts of Albion).  Though all are 90% compatible system wise.

What I like most about it is that the system does get out of the way rather easily and allows you to focus on the story at hand.  Character creation is a snap and most people new to the game can get up and running in seconds.

One thing I think it has over d20 is that skills can be combined with any attribute and not just linked to certain ones.  Take "Art" for example.  To paint might be Dexterity + Art, to identify a particular painting might Perception + Art and to know something about that painting or painter might be Intelligence + Art.   All the other skills work the same way.

Skills, Qualities, and Drawbacks are bought much, in the same way, has GURPS and other point-buy systems.  But that is not what I think makes Unisystem so special.  It's the magic.

WitchCraft (which I'll get into later) has one of the best magic systems I have ever played.  I love how it works, how each "type" of magic is dealt with.  Conspiracy X uses a similar system but bent more towards the mythos of the game.   Buffy uses a simplified system for magic, but if I may be so bold, the magic system really shines in Ghosts of Albion.  I spent a lot of time thinking about what I like, what I don't like and how I want it to all work.   In GoA you have your spells, but you also have magical philosophies that say how you learn your magic and even restricts you from what you can or can't learn.  Magical defenses give you exactly that, a defense roll against certain magical effects. And what I might be most proud of the magical duel system.  Now your wizards and witches can stand 20 paces apart and duel like the Arch Magi they are.

The biggest flaw though in Unisystem is I own everything there is and the new material comes out at a snail's pace.  I can't fault Eden for this, they are doing all they can, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I do know there is a new Zombie (AFMBE) book coming out for Free RPG day.  Hack/Slash is on the horizon and Beyond Human is all but done.

Maybe we will see more from Eden Studios and Unisystem this year.  Here's hoping!!!


Gaming Ronin said...

I have been a fan ever since you popped on to every game message board I know and said something like

"tell me what this system can do that I cant do with unisystem".

And rambled on and on about it like a cross between a televangelist and an infomercial.

So I had to go see what this Webwarlock guy was all worked up about. And the rest as they say is history.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

LOL. Televangelist and infomerical? That is pretty apt I would have to say.

Yeah Unisystem is still my favorite system to use for just about everything.

Anthony N. Emmel said...

Nice overview. I've been away from Unisystem for a few years, but I've got the hankering to run WC or AFMBE again.

Unknown said...

We've been playing Buffy for years and I have a lot of love for the Unisystem. I especially like the simplified magic approach (taking into account the magic Box supplement). I *still* haven't seen Ghosts of Albion but, you know, I think I need to fix that.

(Loved Witchcraft, btw, but I've never actually played the game... we just steal bits and pieces for Buffy)