Fan Praise

Words of Praise from Players of Universalis

I’ve loved Universalis since I first heard of it. I own two carefully-cherished copies (one first edition, one Revised), and would be happy to pay for a pdf of Revised as well. The game is that good, and it’s influence on my thinking has been that deep.  In fact, every time I start to design my own RPG system for something, I tweak and I add and I put on all sorts of bells and whistles and cruft — then, recognizing complexity-for-complexity’s-sake I edit it down and pare off all the unnecessary BS…and discover that I’ve essentially written a Universalis hack. 🙂  … it needs to be kept available, in order to continue to infect tender and impressionable minds with it’s contagious design memes.
—Dain Lybarger

Yeah, Universalis. Almost every story game I play feels like a hack of Universalis. It’s the mother-of-all. After D&D/Pathfinder (and a run of Warhammer that I almost forgot) it’s the rpg that I’ve played the most, and unlike those games, I have distinct memories of every session: the medieval superheroes, the David Lynch pastiche, the muscle cars from space, the coming ice age, time travelers in London during the black plague, the ghost ship in ancient China…
—Jamie Fristrom

Sorcerer was interesting, but Universalis is how I knew I found what I’d been looking for at length when I bumped into The Forge at GenCon ’03 (or maybe ’02?).
–Christopher Weeks

Universalis is one of three games that changed everything at our table and ultimately made Diaspora possible. Well done, Universalisites.
–Brad “Halfjack” Murray

Universalis. I love with the burning passion of 812 brain-damaged suns the fact that you can make your setting super-complicated and detailed, or pretty laid back and “whatever”, depending on the preferences of the table.  AND I love the “build a game” game vibe of it. Plus the sidebars. Sidebars are always great and should be used a lot.
— Jason Corley

Seconded on Universalis. That game’s grafted onto my DNA, like, Forever.
–Tony Dowler
Hello All, I’d just like to note that what impresses me most about Universalis is that it finally gives us a “storytelling” game that: A) Really IS a storytelling game and B) Isn’t “rules-lite.”  Very, very impressive.
— Jessie Burneko

While the rules aren’t “rules light”, they are so intuitive that you can internalize them after one session of play. We played our second session tonight and never had to refer to the rules. It was great!
— Roy Penrod

[After switching a d20 game to Universalis for a single session to kick start some ideas] The plot was thickened and we got more accomplished in the next 3 hours than we had in the last 3 sessions combined. In the 4 or 5 scenes (and about a dozen mini scenes) we introduced 19 new characters, at least 6 new groups, a palace worth about 30 coins and a ton of interesting plot twists.  Every long running campaign (using any system) that starts to slow down in the creativity department, should switch to Universalis for at least a single session. We generated enough ideas in last night’s session to drive the game for at least 8 more sessions.
— Matt Gwinn

Wow! That’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Universalis.  Thank you so much for creating Universalis.  I am having the time of my gaming life with it.  I can honestly say I’ve never had more fun gaming than I did tonight.
— Roy Penrod

[In reference to a thread on a Universalis / Sorcerer cross over game] This is … amazing. Talk about offspring exceeding their parents!  Sorcerer + 17th-cent French adventure + Universalis + … man, my brain is going “sput.”  I’m linking to this thread from the Sorcerer website right away.
— Ron Edwards

Production quality is high… nice artwork, good dark print.  I look forward to playing it. It seems sort of like what FUDGE should have been. I’ve got a feeling that from now on my train of thought will run something like this:  “Ooh, that’s cool, I should design a game around it…Oh, wait, why would I do that when I can just use Universalis?”
— Nathan Banks

There’s something about the system that just gets all the juices flowing and before you know it you’re getting amazingly original new RPG ideas every single day. Until you realize with dismay that they all seem to involve spending coins to buy dice… 😉
— Tony Irwin

Universalis can do more or less anything you can think of. Just pay some coins, and make it happen. The thing that makes it truly awesome is that its all a feature of *play,* unlike FUDGE, where the customization is a feature of pre-game design work by the GM.
— Nathan Banks

Seeing an independent game with these production standards really inspires you to dig out all those cool ideas you once had but never bothered to fully map out. It’s a beautiful little book, I’m still stunned by the integrity of the text – I thought I’d finally found a typo at one point but realized it was just a phrasing choice.
— Tony Irwin

Just wanted to let you know I received Universalis yesterday.  Read about half way through it & have one comment — mind boggling!  Can’t wait to give it a whirl…Thanks.  Money well spent in a hobby where this is not always the case.
— Lou Goncey

Universalis is just so much more than a simple storytelling game. I can’t even begin to tell you the possibilities it’s opened up in my gaming.  Not only is Universalis great on it’s own, it can add so much to any role-playing game out there. Everyone needs to own a copy of Universalis just for it’s mind-expanding capabilities. Now if I can just talk my company into using Universalis to control it’s meetings!  If you really want to create an RPG, do yourself a favor and play a few games of Universalis first. I guarantee your creative juices will be flowing in no time. I now have at least three solid ideas that may find their way into indie rpgs of their own thanks to Universalis.
— Roy Penrod

I’ve been waiting for a game like this ever since I was 12 years old, and I was worried that I’d have to end up writing it myself.  In any case, I think Universalis is probably the most innovative game I’ve read since Nobilis (which was the most innovative I’d read since Continuum, which was the most innovative I’d read since Fudge, etc.)  It will enjoy a treasured place on my shelf.  In any case, I’ll savor every word and look forward to taking it apart and messing with it. Thanks again for making such a great game.
— Jonathan Walton

It looks like it has the potential to really explore a gaming group’s creativity and, for people able to disinvest from specific characters, is probably a storytelling romp to boot. Another Thought-About Game Design, from our friends at The Forge. Hell, they should charge tuition at this rate.
— Ken Hite

We fell in love with the game from the very first run through–except that we had so much fun in the creation stage that we almost didn’t make it to the rest of the game! Best of luck to you, and congratulations for creating such a dynamic and impactful RPG.
— Robert & Sarrah Pickering

I’ve got a confession to make – I’ve been dead scared of Universalis since I heard of it. First, it’s universal. Second, there’s no GM – and as radical as I get, that’s something I’ve never tried. Third, there’s a horse-load of resource management (it would seem), and I suck at that. I actually reneged on a promise to play test it with my group that I’ve been feeling guilty about for nine or so months.  Monday night, I faced the beast head-on. A group of people that I’d played with zero to one times with before all got together and tried our hands at it. We ended up playing a sci-fi/horror game set on Mars that sounded like a damn fine action movie, to be honest.   Thanks, Ralph and Mike, for making such a great game.
— Clinton Nixon

I think Universalis worked for me because it provided enough rules structure to give me something to fiddle with. Whenever I got a good idea, I’d be busily planning which characters and locations I’d need to snag, what new things I needed to create, and how much it was going to cost. And the complications system is great, because as much fun as storytelling is, its just human nature to want to chuck around a big honking handful of dice once in a while.
— Wilhelm Fitzpatrick

The game itself is more suspenseful than most role-playing games. Most RPGs aren’t suspenseful at all for the GM – he knows what’s going to happen. Even in a heavily narrativist game, he has some ideas, and knows the agendas of his antagonists. Players can read this, by the way – people can be obvious. I’ve often known what was going to happen in a game because I knew what TV shows the GM watched, or movies he liked, or books he read. In Universalis, since everyone contributes, no one has an idea what might happen next. This kicks ass.
–Clinton Nixon

Ralph, not only do I like Universalis, but it’s currently my FAVORITE GAME. No offense, Clinton, Mike, but I like it even better than Donjon and Synthesis. (Since Mike’s seen me play both of those games, he can tell you how much that means I like Universalis. 🙂
— Nathan Banks

Complications rule. The system pays you Coins to start conflict. I honestly cannot think of a better system to create story tension than this in RPGs today, and Ralph and Mike can quote me anywhere they want to.
— Clinton Nixon

One of the biggest influences I’ve had in pushing in this direction has been Universalis. My own brief exposure to it proved to be more emotionally satisfying than my past two years of playing D20.
— Keith Sears

With Universalis, you’re not just telling a story together – it gives you the tools to design a whole role-playing game as you play. “Innovative” – this term doesn’t do it justice.
— feed back from Andy Kitkowski’s Indie RPG awards.

Universalis is so innovative it’s barely an RPG. It’s a group-storytelling game that isn’t boring. That’s as innovative as it gets, really.
— feedback from Andy Kitkowski’s Indie RPG awards.

What can I say, is it even really an RPG anymore? It challenges the very definition. Chucks out every preconceived notion and starts up from the bottom.
— feed back from Andy Kitkowski’s Indie RPG awards.

#$@% Hell! If Universalis isn’t God’s gift to role playing, I don’t know what is! It seems that ALL my designs lately start of with something like “So, imagine Universalis, but with ______.” I’m currently working on a major, detailed, extended review of it for RPGnet, and it’s only making me more impressed. It’s something that all of us have thought about, but nobody really sat down and wrote. Genius in a bag.
— Jonathan Walton

I received Universalis yesterday. I’ve fallen in love, and I can’t get up. This game is simply amazing. Thanks for making it.
–John Harper

Let me forego the usual bluster and get right to the point: Universalis…represents a revolution not so much in ideas as achievement. For years, designers and theorists postulated that…GM-less play could be supported by a system specifically designed for it…But again, nobody stepped up to the plate to design such a system, though games like Soap, Baron Munchausen, and Once Upon a Time skirted that territory.   Until Universalis.
…This is where I’m supposed to come up with some kick-ass conclusion, but I don’t know that I really have one. How’s this? Buy Universalis. Read it. Play it. But, most importantly, digest it and make it a part of your roleplaying and game design vocabulary. Become fluent in it.
— Jonathan Walton, excerpts from RPGnet Review

I got to play Universalis — which KICKS MAJOR ASS. If you don’t have a copy of it, you’d better get one RIGHT THE HELL NOW.
— John Wick

I personally feel that Universalis is the most significant release of recent years, and simultaneously my present top recommend for getting newbies to the hobby started.  It fundamentally strips away all the accreted wargaming roots of RPing, and actually delivers on the promise of every “what is role playing” chapter. It answers those niggling questions of “why do you have a GM then? Why does one guy get to decide everything if the possiblities are limitless?  We can point to Universalis first amongst many others and say “It can be done, it has been done, it’s enormous amounts of fun.”
— Pete Darby

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: more new RPG’s need to be influenced by Universalis. I’m trying to do my part.
— Matt Wilson

Sebastian, my 7yo, read the back of my big Pendragon book. He explained it to me last night at dinner. “It’s like Universalis,” he said, “only you have to have one character and it has to be a knight. Also one person has to be the ‘game master,’ who tells what happens, and you tell how your knight responds.
— Vincent Baker

[do you have any idea how cool it is to have a young blossoming RPGer describe a mainstream RPG as being “like Universalis, only with a GM”…wicked cool, — Ralph]

This week, I ran a Universalis game for a couple of high school students as part of my job. I’m working for a summer program that serves upperclassmen or just-graduated high school students, and part of my duties is running one evening activity a week. I’ve chosen RPGs as my “workshop” topics, and ran a couple of D&D sessions earlier in the summer. I’m a little tired of dungeon crawls, however, and have recently had good experiences with Universalis so, I decided to try it this week.
The three of us had a blast with it–so much so that they want to continue the same story next week, although I’d originally intended it as a one-shot. What pleased and surprised me the most was how much the other players were willing to take initiative and contribute. Anyway, I just wanted to register that satisfaction. In contrast to my earlier D&D sessions, I found it much easier to get the players to take initiative in the collaborative free-for-all atmosphere of Universalis (and this despite the fact that I was a staff member, and thus by default “in charge”). Good fun.
— Adrienne

I know that I want to play it, again…the game is ideal for certain situations that other games are wholly incapable of handling — such as cooperative world design. I’ve heard tell that people use it for figuring out metaplot issues, too, at which it would be excellent.
In short, this game is great. You should go buy it right now. It is easily the single most innovative RPG I’ve seen.
— Christopher Bradley, excerpts from RPGnet Review

Ralph, I tip my hat to you, sir. So much of this game is brilliant, not just in the concept, but in the counter-intuitive way you elegantly solve so many potential problems. For instance, being able to add in traits during a Complication is something that runs so counter to traditional rpg rules thinking, yet works so smoothly to solve this problem.
— Hudson Shock

 

 

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