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Novus - Deluxe Version
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/15/2014 09:35:20
A while back, I thought to myself that I'd take the chassis of Dungeons & Dragons 3.x and fiddle with it a bit. Remove classes and levels, make it even more skill-based, switch from d20 to 2d10 for the bell curve and to do something interesting with the dice, scale damage based on the attack roll, break the enormous block of spells down into smaller, more thematic lists...that kind of thing.

Then I found out that Novus already did it for me, so I just bought that instead.

That's not to say that Novus is derivative of D&D 3.x so much as that it drew on the same well. The author also worked on Rolemaster and HARP, and you can see elements of those games in here. Always roll high. Rolls are open-ended. Small spell lists with the possibility to learn multiple lists and each spell being customizable on the fly. That kind of thing.

Anyway, the game. I'm not going to cover the setting because there's nothing explicit, but the rules lend themselves to generic D&D elf-dwarf-orc fantasy. There is a class and level system, but it seems kind of vestigial to me. The only thing they determine is what skills you get a discount on buying, called Favored, and what Talents you start the game with. Level just provides a pacing mechanic to prevent someone from sinking all their points into their Stab Fools skill right away and becoming a combat god, though it also provides a somewhat-useful comparison with the monsters since all of them have an implied level too. The classes are a bit more diverse because of the skill system, but while they still fall into the Fighter/Mage/Thief/Hybrid paradigm, it'd be pretty easy to build your own as well. The attribes are exactly what you'd expect, except Dex is split into Dexterity and Speed (covering fine motor control and gross movement) and Willpower and Wisdom are separate attributes. Somewhat confusingly, it's called Wisdom instead of Perception even though the latter is basically what it does.

The basic mechanic revolves around rolling 2d10 and adding a bonus from your skill and trying to beat a set difficulty. Everything, from combat to casting spells to searching for traps to resisting magic to talking to people, follows this format. If either die rolls a 10, that die explodes, and if either die rolls a 1, then that die implodes. If you roll a 10 and a 1, neither die explodes or implodes, but you get a Fate Point, which can do various things like add static numbers or rolls, add Boon or reduce Snag points, add an extra d10 to your roll or, for multiple Fate Points, to another's roll, and so on.

Boon and Snag Points are the other major lynchpin of the system. Whenever a roll is a full 10 points above the difficulty, then it earns a Boon Point, which can be spent for different effects, like bonus to further uses of that skill during the day, extra damage in combat, special maneuvers, and so on. Similarly, every 10 points the roll is under the difficulty earns a Snag Point, which must be spent to have various mishaps and terrible things happen.

There's plenty of fiddly bits on top of that, too. The combat system has a system of maneuvers to buy, like All-Out-Attack or Trip or Ranged Disarm or Dive for Cover, and the actual combat uses an action point system where each movement, attack, spell, or other action taken in combat requires a set amount of action points and the various maneuvers modify how many actions points each action takes. Armor is damage resistance instead of making the wearer harder to hit, though shields do the latter, and while there is different armor for different locations, normally that's abstracted away unless the attacker deliberately goes for a called shot.

The spells are all modifiable at the time of casting, with the ability to add more damage, a greater range, other targets or other effects at the cost of making the spell more difficult to cast and cost more spell points. I know this is one of the most widely-praised aspects of HARP's magic, so I'm glad it's carried forward into Novus

There's also a small bestiary with all the Generic Fantasy™ staples, like orcs, trolls, skeletons, imps, and so on. And dragons all the way up the ancient wyrms that will eat you in a single bite. Finally, there are rules for finding treasure and a small sampling of various potions, scrolls, and magical items. There's also a note that a character has to attune to magical items and can only carry seven at a time, ostensibly because chakras, but I think it's a good way to help work against the Christmas Tree effect.

Novus actually reminds me most of the D&D Basic Set in its construction. It's a complete game in just over 100 pages, focused mostly on low-power spells, low-level monsters, and low-level magical items, but with hints of how the game works at a higher power level and the ability to extrapolate up if the GM wants. The focus is pretty similar too, with the idea that the PCs are kind of nebulous "adventurers" who go out, descend into dank holes in the ground, and beat up The Other for their silver and shiny magics. It doesn't have the advantage of simplicity that the Basic Set does--I imagine many people who play pre-3.x games or their clones would recoil in horror at the action point rules--but I don't particularly care about that because I like some crunch in my rules.

That's not to say there aren't some oddities that stand out to me. One thing I find weird is that opposed rolls aren't really opposed. If, say, one character is trying to sneak past another one, the first character rolls their stealth, and then their roll modifies the difficulty of an independently-derived roll the other character makes instead of just pitting the rolls against each other, which is really odd because there's actually a Perception skill. I can see this in cases where there's only the attribute saves to rely on since they don't scare nearly as well as saves do, but if there are skills, why not just have them roll against each other?

Also, there's a random table to determine how much treasure is found, but just a note about how there's no random table to determine what type of each object rolled on that random table is found because the GM can suit it for their game. That's true, but doesn't that apply to how much treasure is found too? Some kind of guidelines would be nice, at least to know what the design assumptions are. And it's minor, but enchanted weapons have an equal cost to gain +1 to hit and +1 to damage, even though +1 to hit is far better because the amount by which you hit is the amount by which your damage is increased.

If you want D&D-style fantasy but aren't all that enamoured of the gameplay of D&D and its various spinoffs, Novus is a good alternative. And there's several small expansion PDFs out to add more options, like a system for building new spells, one for removing classes or building new classes, getting rid of spell points in favor of a fatigue system or casting from hit points, and so on. I eagerly look forward to further products in this line.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Novus - Deluxe Version
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Novus - Deluxe Version
by Dick C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2013 06:25:34
I'm surprised how GM firendly and versatile Novus engine is. With additional Libram Novuses I'd tell that is as adjustable and tweakable as Fate Core but more crunchy. And still is very easy to learn and to GM. It'll be my default choice for the fantasy games to run.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Novus - Free Version
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2012 16:57:36
Novus is different, being a 2D10 system. But, it does look good.
Characters have 5 AP (Action Points) per round.
Character creation is different, but seems to work well.

Well worth a try.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Novus - Free Version
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Libram Novus #1
by Matt S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/12/2012 18:31:50
This is a must have the spell base lists add terific depth to the magic system

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Libram Novus #1
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Libram Novus #2
by Matt S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/12/2012 18:30:35
good product love the sorcerer and the cosmology background

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Libram Novus #2
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Libram Novus #3
by Matt S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/12/2012 18:26:59
Great product I love the profesion breakdowns and the proffesionless option and a lot of fun talents

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Libram Novus #3
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Novus - Free Version
by Matt S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/12/2012 18:23:56
Novus is a good new system cant wait untill the final version is out

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Novus - Free Version
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Novus - Deluxe Version
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/07/2011 12:10:37
This is going to be a great game when all is said and done. I can see the influence of the "ROLEMASTER" family of games in this product. Specifically HARP. I look forward to seeing what will come up in future upgrades of the game while it is still in "Beta" mode.
The system itself is a 2d10 model that provided for open ended rolls at either end of the spectrum. A 10 on a die allows you to roll again while a 1 on a die forces a reroll that results in a penalty to your result.
Here's to the finished product being highly successful!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Novus - Deluxe Version
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Novus - Deluxe Version
by Christopher C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/03/2011 17:14:10
This product is great! I heartily implore all who enjoy old style gaming to take a look and support this product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Novus - Deluxe Version
by Erathoniel W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/28/2011 22:44:57
It is perhaps fitting that Novus's name almost makes one think of "novice", since it is very much geared towards a novice group, in a good way.

My one gripe about Novus is that it's nothing I haven't seen before. It feels like a crossbreed of d20 and Earthdawn, and I'm not sure I like all the d20 elements I see (at least it does use 2d10 dice with exploding and "imploding", which makes the probability curve change a lot, meaning I don't have my normal d20 gripe), but at the same time it deals away with the worst and most encumbering parts.

While it's a tad generic, that can be an upside, since it makes Novus very easy to imagine used for various settings. The point-based character system is a boon to its simplicity and flexibility, and the use of background systems, which at first earned a slight cringe (due to association with typically random-generation heavy works), wound up actually working to permit a truly flexible and dynamic character.

I felt the non-Vancian magic (which sounded a little much like Earthdawn with the talk of matrixes, but still better than d20) added a lot to the setting. Even though point-based magic is a mite sketchier on balance, it feels more natural to me.

With Novus, the keyword is flexibility. It's not a 500-page tome that has all the stuff put straight down in stone. I wouldn't constrain it to being a beginner's game, but as the cover on the back says, it "tried to make a fun and flexible game", and I can definitely see it being used as a fun and flexible game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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