So now it’s available in English, and you can get it for something like ten bucks.
But what is this Ultima Forsan thing that is bound to sweep the world off its feet after its huge success in Italy?
Is it worth your ten bucks, and your team’s time and die rolls?
Ultima Forsan is a Savage Setting designed by Mauro Longo and Giuseppe Rotondo.
And here a disclaimer is in order – I know both gentlemen, and have been knowing them for ages.
They are good friends, and Giuseppe is my Guy with the Rules – I play fast and loose when designing scenarios and settings, but he’s always there to set me straight – the man’s knowledge of the Savage Worlds rules and mechanics is staggering.
He’s the Pope of Savage Worlds – I consider him infallible.
So, yes, I like the guys and I like their work, and I’ll be biased.
You have been warned.
Back to Ultima Forsan.
What’s the deal?
In the world of Ultima Forsan, the zombie apocalypse took place in the late middle ages.
The causes – they are shrouded in mystery.
So, the world was swept by the undead – and humanity fought back.
Ultima Forsan is not a zombie apocalypse game – it’s a zombie post-apocalypse game.
Yes, the dead have been pushed back and civilization is struggling back to its feet.
The political map of Renaissance Europe has been redesigned – new powers and alliances were born during the years of chaos.
Technology took a leap forward – gunpowder, clockworks and alchemy have transformed the battlefield, but also everyday life.
And yet, the contagion still lingers, the undead wait in the wild, and many dark plots threaten the new world.
Now, I’m not particularly hot about zombies – not in movies, not in literature and comics, not in games.
I can make an exception for deadites, and I’m quite happy about ghouls and animated skeletons… but zombies bore me.
Ultima Forsan defuses this aversion of mine by placing the game after the boring part.
The endless hide-and-seek and shoot-them-in-the-head… that’s all in the past.
Granted, the characters will face the undead and other foul creatures in a standard game of UF, but there’s more than that.
It’s not a matter of surviving to build, maybe, one day, a new world – it’s about fighting to defend and expand the new world.
In a standard zombie scenario, everything’s lost but the lives of the heroes.
In Ultima Forsan the heroes have something more worth fighting for, the stakes are higher, the situation is more complex.
Truly, this is a renaissance game, because the world is being born again – and the heroes are helping the world survive the birthing pains.
So, here’s what I like – the world of Ultima Forsan is a renaissance world with weird science, and political intrigue, and groups and organizations and characters – from Vatican-sponsored knights hunting the horrors to Arab sword-dancing maidens, to a maverick Italian inventor who built himself a suit of armor that can fly…
It’s a living world, complex and complicated, with its balance of power, its shifting alliances and its conspiracies.
There’s danger, mystery, and a modicum of tongue-in-cheek.
That I like.
Just as I like – a lot – the idea that the new Renaissance world that emerged from the plague of zombies developed a culture of undeath.
There are alchemists and proto-scientists studying the abominations.
There are extreme measures any hunter knows will give him a chance of survival in case of contagion, or a quick way out should everything else fail.
There are noble families that embraced their intimacy with the plague, and are evolving into something else.
This is not your father’s zombie apocalypse.
There is horror, and beauty, and hope, and fear.
Also, I like the lay approach Mauro and Giuseppe took to the setting – the supernatural is strange, and lethal, but there is very little magic as such in the setting.
This is a science fictional take on the zombie apocalypse – and indeed, one of the possible explanations of the plague that started it all is… no, I won’t spoil this for you.
But there’s a lot of Richard Matheson‘s I Am Legend in the background.
The English language edition of Ultima Forsan supplements the already hefty Italian setting book with extra material from the first Italian UF supplement – Italia Macabra – plus stuff about the larger world… stuff that’s printed here for the first time.
This is a blockbuster of a setting book.
Yes – the book looks like a million dollars – courtesy of the great artwork that graces its pages, giving it a strange period feel.
So, to answer that question – is Ultima Forsan worth your ten bucks, and your players’ time?