From: Insomnium Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Abeois a new Role Playing Game from Insomnium Games.

Abeo is a role playing game of “the world of fear and wonder.” It is a modern horror role playing game where players play the hunters but slowly become that which they hunt. It is based on a game system called the Crisis System, an original system where “anything is possible.” My first impressions were that it was another hippy, touchie-feelie Storyteller-wanna-be and I was not far off.

From page # 3: “Beautiful, deadly things are waiting for you.”

Content: After an Introduction that gets into the obligatory explanation of role-playing and a glossary of lexicons, the e-book starts out with Character Creation, which will be further delved into in my review of the system. This includes a character questionnaire, a character sheet breakdown, and a section on character qualities. Also included are chapters on Factors, Skills, and Passions, obviously key concepts in a character’s creation. Players of Abeoare highly emotional people, and as they journey through their experience, they become less and less able to interact with the real world. The world is steeped deep in emotional angst and the desire to believe there is something more. It separates the mundane people trapped in the world of apathy and the passionate people who are not afraid to explore their emotions and the worlds they can take them to.

The Character Advancements chapter, also called Hard Lessons in a Hard World, delves into the obligatory Experience as well as more on Passions. It also includes other concepts of Intensity, Fade, Consequences and Breath and Hunger. Advancement explains the process through which a character can grow and become more powerful while perhaps at the same time fall and become dysfunctional.

At the heart of it, the game is about characters who are special people that live normal lives in the normal world but have the ability to see beyond their mundane world. They live in the Phenomenal and Noumenal worlds. One is the normal and boring world with monsters that we know and can touch–monsters defined by rules and laws we can understand, change and enforce. The other is a world of unreal monsters, impossible beings and magic.

… nothing overly original, but well presented.

The Crisis System: Nuts and Bolts chapter is about the system. See below about the system.

The Magic: Castles in the Sky chapter describes the Magic of the Abeo – the ways that characters may use the forces of Passion and the unknown to perform magical feats. It also describes the differences between the Noumenal and the Phenomenal. The key concept in the game world of Abeo is emotion and its power to take the person beyond what is real. The key concepts of the Abeo which are also integral with the Magic concepts are the differences between the Noumenal and the Phenomenal. The Phenomenal is our world – the world defined by physical laws and tangible realities. But as the author states, it is a single band of a broader spectrum. The Noumenal is what is beyond. Those who see into both are called Liminal. Some Liminals are actually able to use the power of the Noumenal – the power of madness – to effect the normal world. This is Pathos. There are also those that delve into magic without touching the Noumenal and this is Logos. Logos is the function of cold logic and precision and Pathos is magic stemmed from fiery emotion and passion. Then there is something in-between called Ethos.

Pathos: Madness and Powerdelves further into the heart of the powers of passion and the madness they bring. This chapter defines the possible powers based on the character’s primary Passion or Intensity. Some are fairly tame powers like effecting those around you emotionally or in some other way mentally. The higher level powers are more dramatic and powerful, including shape shifting, seeing the future and other powerful manifestations. This is not your normal D&D-style magic. Each require expenditure of points, usually a point of Imagination.

St. Augustine: The Lovely, Deadly Land of Florida; Storyline Revelations: A City Visible but Unseen; and Pre-Made Characters: Unbrokenare sections that give a full fleshed-out sample setting, plot ideas and a set of pre-made ready-to-play characters to begin playing. St. Augustine, Florida is apparently the oldest permanent European settlement in America and interestingly presented. Storyline Revelations isfull of plot ideas, potential challenges, conspiracies, and NPC stats.

From page # 7: “Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is the man who has rationalized his emotions.” -David Borenstein

System: You can tell a lot about a game from the character generation chapter. There are several philosophical approaches to a character in any role playing game. The philosophy behind Abeo is in the first paragraph – “The character is the means by which a player acts upon the events of the story’s world.I adhere to a little more long term philosophy but this is a basic concept I would agree with.

Character generation involves a point allocation system using Creation Points (CPs). These points are spent on Qualities, Cascading Dice, Skills, and Pathos. This accompanied with a character concept (of course) fleshes out a character. As mentioned above, this chapter has an extensive character questionnaire to help flesh out, in detail, your character. This was reasonably impressive. I make it a habit to use questionnaires also.

Qualities are the character’s raw abilities and include Physical Qualities (Strength, Agility and Resilience) and Mental Qualities (Imagination, Retention, Perception) as well as a special quality called Socioeconomic Status (SES). SES is a very abstract and interesting statistic. It defines many things on many levels. It includes a measure of money, friends, housing, possessions, and overall status/refinement. Each of these qualities range from 1 to 6 and represent values you add to your cascading dice. They also can be “burned” in order to do “something” in game, but have consequences.

Factors (and Negative Factors) are the Abeo‘s advantage and disadvantage traits. There is a considerably long list of many high concepts as well as fairly understandable traits given. Factors are broken down by Quality as each factor is related to a specific Quality. This is obviously where some of the meat of the game comes in, much like the traits in World of Darkness.There are some very imaginative items in this list.

Cascading Dice determine a character’s range of performance. There are two types – Mental and Physical. The base is a six-sided die (d6) but a character can buy that die up to d8s or d10s.

Skill Categories and Skills represent a character’s training and talent in specific areas. This is fairly simple; however it does have a couple of very interesting and imaginative concepts – Savant and Certification. Savant allows a character to invest some CPs or experience in a specific Skill Category, allowing the character to use any skill in that category without the untrained penalty. Certification applies to any skill with a rating of 4 or higher, allowing the character to gain an in-game certification for those skills like doctor or attorney.

A character’s Passion denotes how far he has gone down the paths of insanity, his disconnect with the Phenomenal, and his power within and over the Noumenal. It is the central concept to Abeo. There are four possible categories of Passion – Anguish, Dread, Fury, and Yearning – and the highest of those four determines the character’s Intensity. The characters initial Ethos, Pathos and/or Logos is also drawn from his Passion.

Crisis System gives all the details that a player or Narrator needs to resolve conflict, mystery and challenges within the game. The basic mechanic is adding a Quality to a Skill and rolling a Mental or Physical die. This is compared to a Target Number which can range from 8 (Easy) to Near Impossible (20). Beyond the basics, there are other mechanics that can modify rolls including Burnout – burning a point of a Quality to gain a better result to go above and beyond your normal capabilities.

Also included in this chapter is a fairly detailed section on drugs (legal and illegal) and their in-game effects (why was I now surprised?). Following this is the combat system. Damage is different. There is no specific hit points or health. Damage is taken directly for physical scores.

Layout: The art is a combination of penciled abstract fantasy art and stylized photos. It is interesting but not something that attracts me to the game. The flow of the book is fairly easy to read and the art does not distract you from it. Overall, it is a well-written book.

In conclusion, this game is about as hippy as you can get. The system is fairly simple and does not get in the way of the storytelling. However, I am not sure I would be driven to want to tell any stories in this angst-ridden, entirely too emotional world. The system is very inspiring and works for the universe. The universe is not overly attractive to me, but it is imaginative. I think the general problem that I have is that as you go on in the game, your character slowly falls into insanity, which is not something I would want to strive for. I think that’s just me, however, because I can easily see people I know (World of Darkness fans, for example) playing this game at least for a one-shot. I do find the concepts of this game reasonably fascinating, and they could be something I could integrate into an existing game as part of it but not something I would want to focus on as the overall game.

For more details on Insomnium Games and their new Role Playing Game “Abeo” check them out at their website http://insomniumgames.com.


From: Insomnium Games

Type of Game: Role Playing Game PDF on CD

Developed by: Jennifer Reynolds and Chuck Lauer

Layout: Dana Brandt

CD Cover:Dana Brandt and Leni

Cover Design: Leni

Character Sheet Design: Dana Brandt

Art: Kevin Bampton, Jerome Batali, Penny Bird, Dana Brandt, Lillith Jakobs, Brandi Kincaid, Melody LeBeau, Alex Morgan, Patrick Robenolt,Christian Staedtler

Editors: Jennifer Reynolds, Dana Brandt, Chuck Lauer

Head Writer: Chuck Lauer

Writers: Chuck Lauer, Dana Brandt, Jennifer Reynolds

Consultants: Joshua Lyle and Kate Katsulas

Number of Pages:239

Game Components Included:One PDF Core Rule Book and One PDF Character Sheet

Game Components NotIncluded:Dice

Retail Price:$ 15.00 (US)


Reviewed by: Ron McClung