Codex Venator is a shared campaign for the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, with multi-table mechanics, born from an idea of Andrea Lucca, Alex Melluso and Enrico Romeo. Born mainly as a campaign set in Milan, it quickly expanded to several other Italian cities, with the birth of many game groups.
The site can be reached at this link.
Introduction to the Codex Venator
The setting of Codex Venator is a medieval Italy immersed in the gloom and uncertainty of tomorrow. The human race reigns supreme over the other classic D&D races (elves excluded). Each city acts as a setting for the group playing in it. The Milanese will play in Milan, the Romans in Rome, etc ...
Cities are eternally divided between Guelphs and Ghibellines, with all the dislikes that scholars of the late Middle Ages have come to know. To complicate the situation and to act as a driving force for the narration, supernatural events of a dark and unknown nature take place within cities or in their territory. It will be up to the noble hunters, pure-blooded warriors, to stop these events and save their family, their city and themselves.
The setting is inspired by the artistic and historical beauties present in every Italian city, combined with a very Bloodborn and Lovecraftian style and mood.
The simplicity of the beginning
Codex Venator doesn't require much preparation to be played. Just prepare the card (there are no special indications, which is why you can do it at home or in company half an hour before the session), sit down and play. The setting is very streamlined and, playing in one's own city, the explanations of the places are rightly reduced to the bare essentials.
Each group of noble hunters elects a head hunter, the one who will have the task of guiding, carrying a particular gun (Able to report danger to others, prey and others) and to protect the Remembrant. The latter is a woman, able to go unnoticed for most of the time, useful for narrating the deeds and information collected in case the group is decimated. Needless to say, the death of a Remembrant is not a situation to be taken lightly.
In the first session, to my surprise, I have already discovered that there are multiple paths in each hunt. This is positive because, depending on the choices of the group and the player, there can be consequences both in short terms (different discoveries, information collected) and long-term effects (inability to use a resource, rather than a mentor for a fixed period of time).
Let's move on to one of the things I simply loved about this session. What happens when a group reports a danger? The characters of the other hunting groups (who are in the area, that is, who can see the signal) can intervene in defense / help of the companions. Without making too many spoilers, in the last session it happened for a particularly difficult clash, which I think involved about twenty characters at the end. If you've never seen the good Nicola De Gobbis standing on a table while mastering a fight with twenty characters and a boss, you've seen nothing.
After the hunt ended, the noble hunters gathered with their families, joining the information collected and deciding what to do. Since the family is one of the hearts of Codex Venator, this second part of the session is as important as the first. Joining a part "on the field" to a political part is really an interesting idea, which allows you to make sense of the choice made when the character was created. It will be interesting to play the next events to find out more about what is happening in my city (Milan) and to see what will happen to my family.
Balance of the first session
Taking a very short balance, after only one game session, Codex Venator manages to be very intriguing for several unique mechanics that it has. The experience does not stop at the party and the group (destined to change according to needs) but extends to families, intrigues and politics. This pushes the player to get passionate very quickly and to be naturally attracted to the next session.