I have been pondering the words to be used in this review for a long time. Vulcania è un prodotto very Italian, landed and exploded on KICK-STARTER and, I admit it, really a lot inspired. Designed in 2013 from the minds of Matthias Arnaudo e Simone Raspi, Manufactured by Geargames and distributed in Italy by Raven that we all know well, is a small pride of our beautiful country, released at Lucca Comics & games last.
I want to make a small premise: we have already had to deal with Vulcania with our beautiful editorial team, playing it when it was still in the creation phase, and we were pleasantly impressed. If you haven't seen our bet, I suggest you retrieve it Wed. It deserves every minute spent.
It is not an Isonation for old people
Vulcania is set in a world (called, precisely, Vulcania) that has long since passed the industrial revolution, entering the era at full capacity Modern; every person, every day, has to do with machines, gears, alchemy and fuel. The known world is divided into various Isonations, each with a predominant characteristic and suitable for any type of palate.
This feature allows each player to play their favorite character, skillfully mixing each "branch" of this genre and thus leaving everyone happy. FromItteghasp, European isolation with inventors, foils and multinationals al Nuugard, land of Vikings armed with propelled axes and domestic bears, everyone will have what they are looking for. Yes, I said domestic bears, and they are just one of the many really cool things in this game.
It's not all roses and flowers, though. The various Isonations have their dose of problems: from political intrigues to conflicts between Clan, from crime to rebellion towards the regime, Vulcania lends itself to dealing with the most disparate themes, from the most goliardic to the serious ones.
Vulcania and Traditions
From a technical point of view, Vulcania belongs to that group of role-playing games called traditional: there's a narrator, the players create their own characters and, by rolling the dice, they beat the difficulties that the narrator thinks for them.
Character creation goes through their origin, attributes (4, which in turn give access to 4 skills each), pasts (classes), skills and equipment. There are so many variables that it is practically impossible to create two identical characters. The distribution of attribute points and port skills changes based on the character's experience level, grouped into 6 ranks scalar.
I admit I found some flaws, if so they can be called, in Vulcania; some pasts are similar to each other at least as a concept, not covering all possible occupations (they are all very oriented towards combat) and, consequently, the Arts also reflect the fighting style of play. Vulcania, on the other hand, it makes no secret of wanting to push a lot on the pace of play, so it's a partial disappointment, if you can call it that.
Graphic and playful side
The game manual will allow you to get to the table immediately, containing both the part of the players and the part of the narrator / setting. The graphics, entrusted to the good Master Koboldo, and of very high level. The layout is very basic without side inserts (I would have liked them, they would have made the manual more lived-in) or comments, but in general it can be read and runs quite fast.
From a purely point of view practical, Vulcania presents a great middle ground between pun-pun and rough and nasty fighting; the presence of different ranks and gregarious enemies help the specific narratives while leaving the playability and room for maneuver unaltered. The number of dice rolls is no higher than those of a very traditional standard, a mechanism that is speeded up after learning the system. Also interesting is the character construction strategy which, through the Arts, winks at careful optimization.
In light of the observations reported here, I promote Vulcania with good marks, eagerly awaiting other products concerning this beautiful and inspired world, and suggesting what is happening almost everywhere: creating an Italian community and “creating” a mega-regional campaign.
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