If you are looking for an RPG that combines the Role playing game love for the books, you have to read Biblioversum, storytelling role-playing game made by Marcello Bertocchi and published by Supernova Studio in collaboration with XV Games.
A small but rich manual that will allow you to create stories through narrative ideas and the pages of your favorite books!
The Biblioversum review
Biblioversum is a storytelling game for 1-6 players or, as the manual itself states, reading lovers who want to play with books. This is the new title in the series Short & cultured by Studio Supernova and XV Games, short but intense role-playing games, which has already seen Beyond by James Wallis and Don Quixotesque by Helios Pu published.
The peculiarity of Biblioversum is that no dice, cards, stones or anything else are needed: in this RPG i books themselves are a game tool! The basic assumption is precisely the Biblioversum, that is a plot of literary universes that are created every time someone writes a new book. Players take on the role of the Bibliomancers, characters who develop a special bond with a book and who manage to exploit its “powers”. We talk about powers because it will be the pages of the books that will give us the ideas to give shape to our shared history. But now let’s take a closer look at the world of Biblioversum!
How to play Biblioversum
To play Biblioversum you start, needless to say, from books! The game group will choose a common book, a text that will be the starting point and the indicator of difficulty of the various Chapters (the scenes) of the History (the game session). In addition to this common volume, each player will then choose a personal book which will serve to face the tests that the Bibliomancer will encounter.
After choosing the books, players have to define three other elements: the Incipit, the Literary Genre and the Excipit (I’ll keep calling it Explicit or Epilogue, sorry!). L’Incipit it is the starting situation, so we define where the story starts from, why the Bibliomancers have gathered, and so on. The Literary genre sets the tone of the story (comic, romantic, horror, etc.) and does not necessarily have to match the genre of the reference book chosen for the game.
L’Epilogue instead determines the situation in which the Bibliomancers will find themselves at the end of History: it does not necessarily have to be an unshakable conclusion (the death of someone, the discovery of something, etc.), but rather an open situation as if it were the conclusion of an episode of a Tv series. An excellent method to make a one-shot compelling, but also to create a possible “hook” for a subsequent Story.
Subsequently we proceed to the definition of the Duration of history. In Biblioversum, in fact, the players immediately decide how long the game session will last because about 15 minutes from the end of the Story, the last chapter, the Epilogue, will be faced. This last element is very interesting because it allows not only to define the playing time, but also to know with certainty that the Story will have a conclusion.
At this point we can start with the first Chapter. For each Chapter a player is defined who will be Writer and another player who will be the Hero. The Writer provides the starting situation of the Chapter, chooses the Protagonist and defines the value of Challenge opening a random page of the reference book. This value, between 0 and 9, will determine how difficult it will be to overcome the situation of the Chapter. The Challenge is calculated based on the page number in which we opened the book (if there is only one digit, that value will be our Challenge, otherwise we calculate the difference between the highest and lowest digit).
The protagonist, on the other hand, will be the player who will have the main role within the Chapter and who, after listening to the others, will decide how to resolve the situation, also thanks to his favorite book.
When the Protagonist wants to use the powers of his own volume, he reads an excerpt aloud, declares how this passage helps him to solve the situation and on this page of the book he inserts many Bookmarks (which you can physically find in the manual) how much is the Chapter Challenge value. Keep in mind that there are only 15 Bookmarks for all players and therefore you can choose to Fail (with a total failure or with a “success but”) to avoid using all the Bookmarks in a short time.
The Story ends when the allotted time has come to an end or when a special bookmark (the End Bookmark) arrives at the end of the manual.
The power of books and stories
Biblioversum is a storytelling game that starts from a very interesting idea and that will surely pique the curiosity of many players: theuse of books for role playing. The basis from which the author starts is, in fact, simple but full of ideas: the books, whether they are our favorites or novels forgotten in the cellar, through the stories of Biblioversum are rediscovered and offer new narrative plots, completely unrelated from their literary universe but functional and consistent with the story that the players create together at the table.
We’ve always talked about books, but in reality you can play Biblioversum using any type of text: from novels to non-fiction books, comics or graphic novels, even getting to any text you can think of, including your fifth grade theme or the Monopoly regulation. Everything works fine within Biblioversum because the read passages come reinvented and shaped by the players within the shared story.
This is why Biblioversum is an excellent product for stimulating curiosity and for exercising creativity And storytelling: the most exciting stories can arise from the most varied ideas and ideas. It is no coincidence, in fact, that Biblioversum can be played, with the use of specific rules that you will find in the manual, even alone.
Last but not least: playing, I found this RPG an excellent opportunity to discover new books and understand more about the literary tastes of the players. It may seem trivial, but for me it wasn’t like that… and I obviously took the opportunity to mark new titles to add to the wishlist!
Conclusions to the Biblioversum review
Right from the start I found Biblioversum a very interesting title due to the possibility of combine books and role-playing games: Reading extracts from the book to other players to reinvent them within the Story creates new narrative possibilities for the chosen texts.
However, as also pointed out at the beginning of the manual, it is a title in which all the players at the table must be aware of the type of narration that is being undertaken because if someone wants to play fights, fights, tactical or simulation games, then Biblioversum is not for you.
The narrative approach of Biblioversum, the simplicity of the rules and the big one system flexibility make it an RPG suitable for both newbies and more experienced players. Perhaps, less experienced players may have a bit of difficulty in approaching the manual because the fact of being a flexible and free game system could confuse rather than make clear the management of the Story.
While playing I noticed an element that I had not considered when reading only: the Chapters are, in essence, managed entirely by the Protagonist who, although not always the same person throughout the game, is the one who actually holds thenarrative authority and other players may sometimes find themselves passively watching scenes. I emphasize that in the manual it is indicated that, in addition to the Protagonist and the Writer, the other players can interpret NPCs, give advice, help the Protagonist, but in fact the choice of how to conduct the chapter is up to one person.
Speaking of the physicality of the game, Biblioversum is really well done: a small manual, attention to detail, excellent quality of materials, excellent editing, fantastic illustrations (made as if they were ancient lithographs!) and with the presence of Bookmarks to be cut out and ready to be used in session.
In conclusion, Biblioversum is a storytelling game that combines love for RPGs with that of books. Definitely recommended for those who (like myself!) Have a passion for both areas, but also for those looking for a simple narrative game, which does not require preparation and whose rules can be read immediately before starting to play.
Biblioversum: the roleplaying game review for book lovers
Biblioversum is a storytelling role-playing game for 1-6 players created by Marcello Bertocchi and published by Studio Supernova in collaboration with XV Games. It is a small but rich manual that will allow you to create stories through the narrative ideas and the pages of your favorite books, because in this game you will not use dice, cards or stones, but only … the books! An interesting and stimulating game, recommended to all passionate readers and to those looking for a narrative game that does not require preparation and whose rules can be read immediately before starting to play.
Storytelling game that combines role play and love for books: the songs read in session acquire a new “life” within the Story created at the table
Excellent quality of the physical edition of the manual: quality of the paper, illustrations, editing and game tools included
The scenes revolve around the protagonist alone, a role that is dressed in turn by all the players