BONES the Role Playing Game

Game: BONES the Role Playing Game
Publisher: Vincent K. Raven Games
Series: BONES
Reviewer: DungeonDweller
Review Dated: 11th, October 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10   [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00

What it is:

A fantasy role playing game with a conflict resolution system based on the rolling of custom dice or “BONES”. Makes every effort to be unique, original, and rules-light.

What I liked:

For folks who truly love dice, this Yahtzee-meets-Merlin style game is for you. For the casual RPG’er who just wants to get together with friends and play a game that is simple yet involved, I can’t think of a better system to use.

Also, the simplicity of the system (after the learning curve of memorizing the different symbols and such) lends its self to easy customization. Porting this game to another genre, such as anime, science fiction, kung fu, or whatever, is simply a matter of putting together a symbol set of your own and using the pre-existing resolution rules as written.

Probably the best compliment I can think of for this system is that it’s truly original. I know a great many gamers whose primary concern with existing role playing systems is that they endlessly recycle old ideas. For those folks, BONES is an absolutely “must have” game rife with the “new and different” factor they most desire.

What I didn’t care for:

I am constantly qualifying this review with such statements as “…for the folks who…” and “If you’re into…” because I personally prefer “tried and true” RPG systems with depth of play and hopelessly complex architecture. While BONES is good if you like uniqueness for its own sake, it’s not particularly earth shattering in approach. Conflict resolution is generic and, by definition, gets clunky at times. But I do urge you to take my complaints in this regard with a grain of salt, given my preference for established, streamlined methods over the “universal” approach.

Formatting is a problem with BONES. It’s a little late in the indie publishing game to be putting out products that look like they were crafted in Microsoft Word with little to no budget for art. In the product’s defense, the work of the primary, credited artist is good, but a lot of the game illustration falls flat. After all, half the point of illustration is to inspire your players and clunky, low resolution icons don’t fill that purpose.

Lastly, the price is steep for a 51 page product requiring a lot of custom work (preparing dice), especially when only half of the page count is spent with game mechanics. The other half includes a startup adventure and a small campaign setting.


If you’re “one of those folks” that I’ve been talking about, those who primarily seek original approaches to role playing, this game is definitely worth a shot. On the other hand, if you’re seeking a more traditional game, this product is likely to disappoint.

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