Desolation – High Fantasy, Brought Low. Plus, special guest Hollow Earth Expedition.

I’m a big fan of the Ubiquity dice system, for its speed, style, and cinematic nature. Taking a couple of ideas from FUDGE, the Ubiquity system has you rolling a number of eight-siders with varying number schemes on them: d1’s, d2’s, and d3’s. Instead of rolling a stack of dice, all you do is roll these low-numbered d8’s and count the numbers on them (which, coincidently, are the number of successes you archieved). I first heard about it when Hollow Earth Expedition came out; not only did the pulp feel of the game sell me, but if I could’ve found a set of Ubiquity dice to save my life I would’ve picked up both the dice and game.

Here we are, several years later, and Ubiquity dice have been produced on a scale where you could actually find a set of them someplace. More and more games are springing up using the system, and the newest is Desolation, a post-apocalyptic vision of a fallen high-fantasy world. The setting is a mere 18 months after most of the world collapsed in a fiery cataclysm, and it’s your job as a survivor to–well–survive. The game makes an excellent pitch, but there’s scant amounts of information availible on it, even on the website. What is availible, however, sounds pretty awesome. The races are a standard mix of elves, dwarves, “orcs”/beastmen, but are sufficiently tweaked to interest me–the dwarves are a desert race of theocrats, and the gnomes have an interesting mystical heritege. Elves, on the other hand, are still forest dwelling cliches, but we can’t all be winners. To top it off, the creatures are sufficiently tricked out, a mix of apocalyptic undead horrors and traditional high-fantasy staples like griffins and dragons.

The 256-page tome retails for a whopping $39.99, so I assume it’s in color. After I pick up my Ubiquity dice and a copy of Hollow Earth I’ll see if I can’t dig up Desolation to go with it.

Hollow Earth Expedition
Now that I’ve mentioned Hollow Earth (HEE) several times, I also feel the need to point out that it’s been growing incredibly fast these days, with one sourcebook planned per year. The first expansion was Secrets of the Surface World, detailing mad science, criminals, and other pulp staples while taking home even more Ennies. The upcoming release returns the focus back to the lost civilizations and dinosaurs of the King Kong-esque Hollow Earth Realm. What intriques me the most is the release planned for 2009–Revelations of Mars. I would KILL for a Barsoomian/War of the Worlds release with pulp steampunk space travel and lost civilizations on another planet; hopefully it will keep up the game line’s tradition of new uniquness combined with traditional pulp styles and themes. I highly recommended HEE, and I suggest you go find a copy.

The core book is a massive $39.99 tome, sadly black and white, though it won a stack of Ennies in 2007. Secrets of the Surface World rolls in at $29.99, with the upcoming Mysteries of the Hollow Earth retailing for $34.95. Ubiquity dice have an MSRP of $5.99, and can be found in a scant number of retailers; it’s best to check online. Both Exile Games and Studio 2 Publishing usually have sets in their online stores.

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