A new tabletop RPG is offering a whimsical take on classic fantasy.
Land of Eem shares its colourful fantasy universe with the Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo graphic novels and book series Dungeoneer Adventures, both by Ben Costa and James Parks.
The universe is maybe best summed up as the meeting point of Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings and The Muppets, with the RPG’s high fantasy world populated with both familiar species - including skeletons, tortle-like quortles and gelatinous goo (cube-shaped or otherwise) - and more whimsical takes on classic roleplaying classes, such as The Loyal Chum and Mushrum Dungeoneer.
The upcoming RPG runs on an original gameplay system - no 5E in sight! - based on rolls of a d12, which the game’s press release correctly laments as “criminally underused”. Tests are resolved by rolling the die, before adding or subtracting a relevant skill modifier - divided into key categories of vim, vigour, knack and knowhow - to determine the outcome from complete failure on a 1 or 2 through “failing with a plus” and “succeeding with a twist” up to a complete success on a 12.
Combat is based on a counterattack mechanic said to mimic duels with quick fights and easy resolution. The theatre-of-the-mind system uses a simplified set of ranges - close, nearby, faraway and distant - to determine who can attack and any disadvantages.
The game also features a crafting system that allows players to create food, items and potions - required for magical abilities by non-Gnome classes - from more than 200 different components and ingredients found across the world.
Players will journey across the titular Land of Eem using hex maps and a dedicated set of travel rules that will generate random encounters and can be used with a series of sandbox campaign settings for the game. The first such sandbox setting will be The Mucklands, comprising six regions featuring unique quests, places and inhabitants to explore and interact with.
Land of Eem’s core rulebook will include gameplay rules for both players and GMs, including 16 playable Folk species and six character classes - ranging from familiar Bards and magical Gnomes to Rascals and Knight-Errants. The book will also include random tables for generating aspects of the world such as dungeons, towns, taverns and NPCs, along with environmental details.
Each character class features 20 abilities unique to that class, with characters gaining experience points and levels by exploring the world and progressing the narrative. The designers stress that the game’s focus is on collaborative storytelling, world-building and discovery, rather than purely combat.
Costa and Parks have teamed up with indie RPG darling Exalted Funeral to bring the game to fruition, with the two authors having playtested it for a number of years before bringing on extra writers, artists and editors for a full release.
As well as the core rulebook and campaign setting, a bestiary will also be offered as part of Land of Eem’s crowdfunding campaign, which will launch on Backerkit’s newly-expanded crowdfunding platform next month.