Unity Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, Modiphius Entertainment, £19.99. Website
Reviewed by Yannick Ladewig
The Unity Core Rulebook, published in 2018 by Modiphius Entertainment, provides all the necessary rules and background information to play adventures in the Unity, a technologically advanced world that got thrown back into an era of darkness and destruction after waging war with its Gods. Unity possesses traits of classic fantasy, steampunk and post-apocalypse. It is filled with amazing full color artwork that goes along with the deep lore which takes up almost half of the 357 page book.
The playable races, while clearly inspired by the standard fantasy ones, all still bring something new to the table. The Valla are an ancient, long-lived race that built great civilizations but then stagnated – like elves. They also used to be in constant telepathic contact with one another, almost like a sort of hive mind, until this connection was severed when the world was devastated by the angry creator God during his war on the people of Unity. The Furians are physically strong, honour-bound warriors and craftsmen – like dwarves. However, they are also much taller than humans, have cat-like facial features and burning magma running through their veins. Unfortunately, the humans in the setting are not as interesting as the other races. They are following the trope of humans as the default – average stats across the board, with versatility and determination as their defining features. Much more interesting are the Afflicted, humans that have been infected with a flesh-eating disease who have to rely on mechanical augmentations to survive and are shunned by society. Other non-playable creatures are listed and statted out in the back of the book and there are rules for creating new ones, giving the GM plenty of options for monsters to fight or creatures to encounter.
There are a total of nine classes, all of which grounded in the setting through great artworks and two pages of lore for every class. All classes are very customizable since they provide choices between many different options for Perks and Powers.
Unity uses a 2D10 core resolution mechanic for all situations in the game, although combat adds a bunch of additional rules like types of actions, range increments, attacks of opportunity, damage types, etc. into the mix. It is of note that in Unity, only the players are supposed to roll dice, although the book does contain optional rules that allow the GM to roll as well if desired.
One interesting mechanic that the game introduces is Ruin Points which the GM can gain through player choices or the passage of time. These allow the GM to invoke certain effects. It is debatable whether it makes sense to include a mechanic like this, considering that the GM has the ability to implement those effects regardless, just by virtue of being the GM. However, if nothing else, these points at least incentivize the players not to rest as often as possible, as wasting time will also strengthen their enemies.
The book describes itself as roleplay heavy and places heavy emphasis on character backgrounds over mechanical choices. However, it still heavily draws from the Dungeons and Dragons school of game design, especially with the high number of added combat rules that could be considered unnecessary in a narrative-focused game. While that means that it might be disappointing for those players that prefer heavily narrative-focused games like PbtA titles or Fate, it makes it very suitable for D&D or Pathfinder players that are looking for a more narrative-driven but still recognizable and comfortable game in a setting that, while being inventive and different, will still feel familiar.