Realities 2015: Colliding Spheres Series #1

Realities 2015: Colliding Spheres Series #1

From: Studio Mammouth SENC

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Realities, 2015 Series #1is a new Role Playing Game PDF from Studio Mammouth SENC.

In this age of house systems and trying to stand out despite latching on to one of the open game systems, it is hard to just put out a whole new system based on original ideas. Realities, 2015 Series #1: Colliding Spheres is the first in a series of RPG rulebooks describing a world not too different from ours today, on the surface. In the introduction, this PDF e-book is described as one of a series and that the publishers intend to depart from the traditional trilogy of Player’s Handbook, Master’s Guide and Monster Compendium. Instead, the Realities series will be published in a similar fashion to comic book series, with the first book containing all the rules and game universe information and subsequent books expanding from there. This edition of Realities, 2015 Series #1: Colliding Spheres is said to be the “Gamer’s Cut,” where the writers added a few things based on player input.

From page # 2: “A futuristic world where the march of technology speeds ever forward, and where right-wing governments establish their ever-tightening grip on society.”

Content: I know it is hard when you try to do a near-future or science fiction game not to be politically biased in this day and age, but it does amaze me how much vitriol and hatred for the US comes out of certain writings, especially if they are from outside of the US. This is no different. If you are not very sensitive of anti-American bias, then you can probably deal with the background to this game. If you are sensitive, then you may find this unrealistic and full of impractical possibilities and economic misconceptions. Being the patriot that I am, I had to point those out, at least indirectly.

After scanning the publisher’s forums for this game and seeing that it is dominated by French-Canadians, I can see why the bias exists.

Getting passed my own biases, this background is definitely imaginative and well thought out. It takes some stretches to believe, but it is “science fiction.” The world has change over the past 10 years, with wars, economic collapse in the US and growth in the EU and Canada. The need for oil has been reduced because of alternative fuels, so the Arab states are in a time of economic flux. This has a strong similarity to an old game I played in the mid-90s called Dark Conspiracy (DC). But where DCprimarily focused on the US (which kind of annoyed me as well), this game attempts to give you a global view of a global social and economic upheaval.

From page # 18: Overpopulation, social upheaval and a drastic return of the Right-wing are not the gravest perils facing our world in 2015.

However, there is more. 2015 has brought the reality we are familiar with to a Nexus of realities. Seven other realities have crossed with ours to create this Nexus. These other realities – some similar to our own, while others are drastically different – bring with it energies and beings beyond most normal understanding. Outsiders, Mutants, Talented, and the Transcended roam the world, causing corruption–the element that will eventual destroy the world as we know it.

There are basically seven other realities that are colliding and invading ours–Dilmun (a reality with natural laws very close to those of our own world), Gehenna (a world of raw, unformed energy), Void (a world without stars or stellar bodies), Nirvana (a snapshot of a world before the Big Bang), Pandemonium (a reality on the brink of collapse), and Sheol (a dead universe).

Characters play primarily agents of organization called the Lodge. “Only the Lodge, a secret clandestine organization whose members are on Most Wanted Lists around the world, possesses the know-how and technology to combat such evils,” (pg 20).This organization is described in detail in these pages, from history to organization.

The remainder of the book primarily focuses on character creation and the rules system. Despite my reservations based on the political bias, I found the background to be very inspired. It has the depth that most games do not.

From page # 27:”Realities’uses the Persona System to manage the game world. The system is an original creation of Studio Mammouth, and, like any gaming design, it reflects our thoughts about what a role-playing game should be.”

Rule System: The system claims to be a storyteller-style system, called the Persona System, the apparent house system for Studio Mammouth. It is more like a cooperative story weaving system between the characters and the Narrator than other systems. It almost reads like you do not need a game master, however, a Narrator is necessary. The system uses 10-sided dice (d10) strictly and gives the players broad and open opportunities for characters.

Character Generation is classless point allocation to several areas and aspects of your character. There are five primary areas of a character that points must be allocated to – Attributes, Skills, Traits, Realities, and Experience. Points are determined by players allocating priority levels to each area. A player has 15 priority levels to allocate, so each area could simply get 3 levels of priority or a character can focus on one while reducing the priority of the others.

Attributes are fairly obvious and there are 5 of those – Vigor, Agility, Intuition, Spirit, and Presence. Skills are fairly broad and are divided up into three categories – Professions, Educations, and Hobbies. Skill levels range from 1 (Beginner) to 10 (World Famous). On top of skills, a character can have traits which represent talents and other special abilities of a character. These are similar to d20 Feats.

Two aspects that add a little style to the game are Dramas and Coolness. Dramas are story elements in a character’s past, some good and some bad. They not only give the Narrator a chance for some plot device to pull the character further in the plot, but they also give the player a chance to earn Coolness Dice. This is a great concept because it rewards the player for adding to the story. Coolness Dice are a pool of points the player uses to generate automatic successes when he needs them. As a rule of thumb, all systems should have some kind of “fudge factor” system like this, may it be Actions Dice, Dice Pools, or Force Points.

From page # 46: “The Persona System uses only 10-sided dice to resolve all actions and dice rolls.”

The system is fairly simple and very World-of-Darkness-like. It is open-ended, which is a plus, with any rolls of 10 giving the roller an extra die. The basic task resolution mechanic (Test) involves rolling a number of 10-sided (d10) dice over a certain difficulty or Success Threshold (ST). The more successes, the better. The rule of 10 gives extra dice to roll if a 10 is rolled on any of the dice. An extra die can be rolled for every 10 afterwards also. There are three types of Tests – Attribute, Skill, and Opposed. There is a strange mechanic involving skills and the number of successes being limited by an attribute, which confused me, but it does supply sufficient examples to illustrate what it means.

One gem that I do like about the system is the allowance for rounds (static 6-second combat rounds) and turns (abstract span of time that can be used for other things). I have run into many situations where going into rounds was not practical, but going into some measure of turn-based time-span was needed. This system allows for a more macro-round session for longer span tasks. This to me is a sign of an experienced gamer putting in mechanics that are practical.

Combat is fairly straight forward. Another gem that I found was in the combat system, where it ties the defense of the character to the initiative system. A defense dice pool is accumulated from a character’s initiative and the Spirit roll made each round. I really like the Spirit roll concept which can give the character more defense dice, additional initiative, or additional actions for a round.

The attributes not only act as number of dice to roll but also STs (Success Thresholds) for dice rolls. For example, to land a melee strike, it is an opposed roll and the ST is the opposition’s intuition roll. This is what I like to call interchangeability of a game and is fairly common in games today, but you would not believe in the early age how rare this was.

Another interesting gem that I liked a lot is the use of successes in determined damage. The first success in any combat is used to simply cause the base damage of the weapon. Any additional successes can be used to buy other effects that vary depending on the type of weapon. There are specific lists of effects that you can buy, ranging from different types of critical hits to knocking the opponent back. It is cool that they do not simply take the extra successes and add them into damage but give you a wider variety of effects that you can do.

The remainder of the rules system covers the Powers available in this universe and the concept of Corruption. As realities collide in this game, things change and so do people. Corruption. It is a measure of how the Veil (the fabric or membrane layer of our reality) has been broken down by contact with a multitude of other realities. It effects everything and manifests in mutations in flora and fauna. Outsides begin to cross over and finally the laws of physics begin to change.

Through out the e-book, the author references the Lodge’s theory of Realities which liken realities to soap bubbles floating around, occasionally colliding. I liked this very much. It showed a lot of imagination and thought put into the game concept. Corruption is countered, in turn, by Geomantic energy. This concept, according to the author, will be expanded on in later editions of Realities.

Powers are basically channeling energies of the realities a character is familiar with or has had contact with. The powers are categorized by the reality it is associated with and are characteristic of those realities. The are subcategorized into Aspects and each have a few effects. One can roll their Power Check like a skill and invest successes into each effect.

Layout: The art and layout is very well done for a PDF. The layout style is very cool and attractive. If this ever went to print, it would be a sharp-looking book.

One bad note about the support for this game is that while writing this review, I had major problems with the web site. I have been only able to access the French side of the site, and that’s useless to me and the majority of American buyers.

In conclusion, you take the good with the bad. As politically charged as this day and age is, I can understand their stance in the background, but to be honest, I would probably change the background a little to run this. I think with the current background, they are going to have a harder and harder time appealing to most American markets…well, maybe not California. For an indie game, this game is probably one of the best I have reviewed. It appeals to the side of me that Dark Conspiracy does, but it also has some very original and much more expansive concepts. In fact, I would he half tempted to port some of the background ideas into a game I am already running. The system itself is surprising original and entertaining. It is also not too clunky and rather elegant. This game was a pleasant surprise, considering how it started out. Good work!

For more details on Studio Mammouth SENC and their new Role Playing Game, PDF “Realities, 2015 Series #1” check them out at their website

Realities 2015: Colliding Spheres Series #1

From:Studio Mammouth SENC

Type of Game:Role Playing Game, PDF

Original concept: Maurice Lefebvre

Authors: Cedric Ferrand, Maurice Lefebvre

Translation: Julien Charest

CoverArtwork: Malte Alexander

InteriorArtwork: Addix, Malte Alexander, Karl Ouellette, Thomas Leblanc, Ysha

Layout: Mathias Cottreau

Projectdirector: Maurice Lefebvre

Editors: Julien Charest, Cedric Ferrand

Number of Pages:127

Game Components Included:One PDF file of the complete book and one printer-friendly book.

Retail Price:$ 12.00 (US)

Reviewed by: Ron McClung