This is a new roleplaying (RPG) board game from Australian company Last Hold Games. At Board's Eye View, we've only had a short time to check the prototype out but, with Awoken due to launch today on Kickstarter, we thought it might be helpful to feature the game and share our initial views.
Designed by Ethan Cox, there is much about Awoken that will be familiar to seasoned RPG players. The game demands a GM (games master) to function as story teller, to control the monsters and non-player characters that the players will encounter as adventurers, and to act as arbiter on the legality, feasibility and success probability of players' actions. Like Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and other RPGs, players create their characters choosing classes (whether they are a warrior, mage, cleric or one of host of other classes) and they'll be trying to level up their characters to make them more powerful. Like D&D, there are stats to keep track of: players will be rolling various polyhedral dice to determine the success or failure of the actions they take, and they will be applying modifiers according to their character's particular skills and the weapons and equipment they carry.
Awoken brings to the table a coherent storyline and set of maps that make the task of being GM much less onerous than other RPGs yet nonetheless rewarding. For the adventurers too, Awoken offers a more streamlined experience. For example, weapons, armour, equipment and artefacts that the adventurers find are all represented by different sized cards. Rather than having to mither over the bookkeeping determining how much a character can carry, players have simply to make sure they can fit the cards onto their player mat. If a card can't fit without overlapping another card, you're carrying too much weight and have to discard something.
The streamlined approach in Awoken, however, doesn't mean a lack of depth or complexity. This isn't dumbed-down D&D. There's plenty here for even the most seasoned RPGer to get their teeth into. It does, however, help newcomers to ease themselves into the game. This is an RPG where players really can be up and running within just a few minutes, and without thankless hours of pre-game prep from the GM.
Our preview prototype box came with a 60-page draft rulebook, a GM guide, 10 different character class sheets, monster and spell sheets, and multiple hex-grid maps. It had plastic markers to represent characters and monsters on the map, with indentations for cubes that can mark special effects (for example, an adventurer having been poisoned). Doubtless many of those who back Awoken will want to substitute minis taken from other games but it's good that this is a game that doesn't demand minis as a play prerequisite.
We'll be watching with keen interest to see how Awoken continues to evolve over the course of its Kickstarter campaign. You can check out the campaign and back the game at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lastholdgames/awoken-worlds-apart