Review: NEVR – Insight RPG System

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Insight RPG System
Insight RPG System is a generic universal role-playing game, written by Even V. Røssland and published by NEVR.
By Aaron T. Huss
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Learn more about Insight RPG System here
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Disclaimer: Roleplayers Chronicle Editor-in-Chief was sent a free hardcopy of Insight RPG for review.

Insight RPG is the latest installment of Generic Universal role-playing game systems. For those unfamiliar with the term, generic universal is a RPG system mechanics with no designated theme or setting. It’s designed, or usually designed, to accommodate all settings and themes, or at least a large assortment of them. Insight RPG is a skill-based dice pool system using only d10s. Actions are decided by choosing a single skill or combination of and rolling to see how many successes are received. What is considered a success is dependent on a character’s “understanding” of that skill, or skill level. The better their understanding, the easier it is for them to roll a success. How many dice form the dice pool is dependent on the Ability that governs that Skill plus some modifiers when applicable. The number of successes needed is based on the complexity level of the action being performed. However, there are some additional situations that need to be considered, like an added level of difficulty, that can alter the success rate by changing the range of each die’s success. For example, a normal roll with normal understanding produces a success when an 8, 9, or 10 is rolled. Hopefully you’ll only need to roll one success, because if you’re only rolling 3d10, there’s a very good chance that you’ll fail; the odds are not in your favor. This forces characters to specialize, which many systems do, so that the character can succeed. There are thus three conditions to consider: skill level, complexity, and difficulty. If you reference the charts, you’ll see it visually. Oh yeah, you can also combine skills and combine more skills to those combinations to get the finite action types you really want to perform. It’s a bit much for me, but some people may like that amount of detail.

Like many systems out there, Insight RPG associates a skill with an ability. To overcome the lack of being able to crossbreed your skills and abilities, more skills are added to the system. In my opinion, there are many skills that could be removed and only added for particular setting themes or consolidated into a single skill that governs them all. In fact, sometimes even the skill descriptions sound like rewordings of the same thing. I like options, but not redundancy. However, not everyone likes that and there are many out there who really like to create characters that totally differ from each other through the use of skills. For people like that, you’d want a good skill list that doesn’t get too fiddly. I would call this a bloated skill list, but in general it doesn’t get that fiddly. I have a feeling the design mentality was to essentially recreate the abilities of real people by allowing for detailed skills that don’t get too involved.

As a core rulebook, Insight RPG presents modern action and fantasy at the same time. You get a list of modern weapons and action-styled themes (like martial arts) alongside fantasy elements like weapons and spells. However, I will note, magic is NOT detailed. In fact, much of it is hand-waved in a “whatever you want” sort of style. This is in quite opposition to the rest of the mechanics in the book, such as combat. If that’s the case, it should either be removed or have limited options that are properly described and detailed. Otherwise there’s just too much room for interpretation or GM-required intervention.

Speaking of combat, it’s a unique twist on the subject. It uses this downloadable board called a Combat Board where range is generally hand-waved and not actually defined as a distance. For instance, there’s a melee area and a short range-1 area. Distance is defined as short range being 15m, but it seems awkward that characters would by on the board, next to each other and are actually 15m apart. The melee range is not really defined at all. The good thing is that ranges on the weapons are given in meters and you could choose to not use the board. This is actually a nice way of presenting options. You can use a complete freeform, or the game board semi-freeform. Either one gets the job done. To go with combat, armor and weapons are presented similar to skills – lots of options to represent their capability for damage or damage reduction.

Modifying options seems to be a common theme throughout this system.

Insight RPG finishes up with a nice little bestiary and a brief sample setting with a few new beasts and some pre-generated characters. I like the creatures chosen for the book, but then I’m a fan of creatures that are more horror-like and less fairytale-like.

Insight RPG is nothing short of different. There are some definite new takes on designing a dice-resolution system and there is no shortage of skills to really tweak your character. Added to that, the book actually looks very nice and is laid out very well. The designer really likes tables, but that’s okay. The tables aren’t excessive and definitely get the point across. Many new RPG companies struggle with layout and end up producing books that look horrible. Insight RPG does not fall into that category; it’s a good looking, easy to read book. I managed to walk away understanding the basics of the core mechanics. In a way, the core mechanics remind me of some war games where the success of your roll is based on your character’s ability versus the target’s ability.

The system is definitely not to my liking; that doesn’t mean it’s bad though. It actually utilizes a fairly simple presentation and is mostly straight-forward. If you like RPGs with a lot of options to choose from during character creation and game-play, then it’s not a bad system to look at. If you like trim skill lists with no fiddly bits, then this won’t be for you. The variable difficulty isn’t too involved and fits nicely on the included character sheet. The best part is, if you don’t like that much variability, you can ignore it. I’m pretty sure you won’t break the game by remove the difficulty level mechanic and stick only to complexity and skill level.

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