If first saw Beyonder at Pax Unplugged 2017, being drawn into to the Flying NightBear Games booth by all the wonderful artwork they had on display and being hooked by the McEntire brothers’ explanation of the game and its history. In the early 70’s their father, Robin, started designing an RPG he called “The Game”, fleshing out the world as he played. His 3 sons grew up hearing tales of this world and eventually became involved in “The Game” as it evolved into Beyonder and the continent of Tamarra.
A short while after the convention Flying NightBear sent copies of Beyonder: The Science of the Six (core rulebook) and Imbelnhi’s Bestiary: Being a Traveler’s Account of our Continent and her Creatures (a monster manual of sorts.) Each book is wonderfully produced, laid out, and filled with the most amazing artwork and lore. The world of Beyonder is rich, wonderfully detailed, and a fair bit different than your traditional hack-and-slash RPGs. It’s a world crafted with love and care by people who truly live and breathe the setting.
The core of the game revolves around the Six Energies of the world (the player stats) and the 10 races of the world that can harness and manipulate that energy. The base system revolves mainly around checks made using 2d10 and a Rhythm system used as a sort of timeline for conflicts. The actual mechanics, while detailed, play a minor role in the system compared to just about everything else. In fact, you don’t even get much into the mechanics of the game until page 119 out of 300 in the core rulebook. They’re simple, effective, and keep the flow of the story moving along nicely with little interruption.
The core rulebook provides everything you need to play Beyonder with more lore than you can shake a stick at and plenty of powers, equipment list, etc… for a successful campaign in Tamarra. Each of the 10 races is unique with their own history, traits, and connection to the world, making the creation of each player’s Channel (a rare energy wielder born to their race) an amazingly fulfilling process. There are Humans and Dwarves, sure, but each of the last 8 races are as different as can be and in possession of a certain charm. There’s something for everyone here.
The other book I had a chance to take a look at was Imbelnhi’s Bestiary: Being a Traveler’s Account of our Continent and her Creatures, a 200-page book with over 60 creatures that inhabit Beyonder’s world. The beauty of the book is that it’s written from the perspective of an in-game NPC, Imbelnhi. It’s more than just a book of creature stats. It’s another book packed with history, artwork, connections, and worldbuilding. The entire book helps to flesh out Tamarra, providing more value than just a book of things to kill. The book itself is filled with thick, heavy pages and a well worn looking cover making it look like an in-game item more than a sourcebook.
Beyonder has impressed me more than I can possibly state in words. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the setting and become completely absorbed in the game’s world. It’s an RPG that certainly belongs on any gamer, or fiction lover’s, shelves.
A copy of each of the Beyonder books was provided free for review by Flying NightBear Games.