Saturday, 5 September 2015


Sorcerers of Ur-Turuk - RPG Review

A lifelong love of roleplaying.
A life changing trip to Thebes.
An ongoing attempt at co-writing Herbertian Dune fan book 7 ‘Sorcerers of Dune’.
A few seasons in Al Raqis (SecondLife) helping develop the Desertborn culture.
An ongoing attempt at writing the ultimate magickal fantasy role-playing game to explore a world where ‘mind-over-matter’ type magick (manifestation of intent at quantum level) is used daily by the mainstream and how rapidly things could change in such environment.

A .pdf copy of Sorcerers of Ur-Turuk (justified as a birthday present to myself for breaking my breadline budget).

I feel qualified to write a review for this one. I glossed over the rulebook, struggling through dry heat to ignore the whispering that I should own slaves and train my party in seduction, possibly including a snake cult priest as one of my five starting characters.

People and Place

Character creation is intricate and complicated, requires study. I have seen versions of these and the system rules so many times that I will learn them more easily as a player rather than by GMing this rpg, at first. As a single-parent dad who introduced my 5 year old to dice-based Wizard and Warrior role-play only yesterday (he’s addicted), I simply do not get the time nor state-of-mind to dedicate to taking on something of such magnitude.

Having made that decision I sat back and enjoyed reading and admiring the art which reminded me of watercolour pictures I have seen made by explorers of ancient Egyptian sites during the late 19th century. There should be more art of Ur-Turuk. In creating any custom world, art which greatly enhances the atmosphere for a game, can be the most expensive and time consuming aspect to produce.


It seems imperative that a Vahnam (a collective of all the Wizards and their small retinue to which all players belong) should get their players heads together before they create their characters, to discuss the Vahnam, its nature and assets. This approach would strengthen the Vahnam’s holdings and potential future development due to foresight. It would also avoid glitches, for example; what if major player characters are from rival factions?

The chapter on creating the physical base for the group is succinct and well done, as this is one of the important aspects of the game. Developing the city of Ur-Turuk for home based adventures is necessary but scant, suggestive. I have a lot of questions and ideas from the summary overview.

There needs to be a lot more about home-based campaigns. The factions are easy enough to understand and improvise with. Activities which the players engage in will affect the life of the city they inhabit.


By contrast to the character creation process, the rules for artifacts themselves seem very basic and limited. While this might not be a bad thing, it is certainly mechanical.

How many artifacts are out there and why are they not already all acquired by sorcerers? Surely Ur-Turuk has a stockpile of such artifacts waiting to be disassembled by different Vahnam. Is there a council of all the Vahnam? A meeting site in the desert for the festival of the eclipse once every few years?

Since the core of the game is the Artifacts, why is there so little gone into this aside from some very limited random creation tables? At the stage where artifacts description is irrelevant and they become reptilian number crunching. The real excitement of role-play is outside of game mechanics, it is the story. A more elaborate backstory involving the source of the wizards power is befitting of this classic. I feel a well thought guide for GMing this rather than a few paragraphs of tables is necessary addition.* I can't wait for the expansion modules, my imagination filling with promise of eastern splendor.

Personal Experience
Create situations regarding integration of all the characters as the story develops. A simple rule that you cannot play the same character in two consecutive seasons / adventures would do this, and make for a busy Vahnam!
The big question; what did each individual character do in that time while the main ones were actively pursuing some adventure? As they are all living communally in the same Vahnam this is the secret flavour of the game. How does each character relate to the other characters in the Vahnam? Make it personal, this is the best way to squeeze the living juice out of this game. Force the magic to take a background role, albeit the ruling force of the groups lives. Game Rule; role-play a scenario of what every character is doing during each season, or at least make vague cover-notes outlining it. The Vahnam journal.

Description is everything. With this game, everything possible should have at least one adjective. This should be a game rule. Play to all the senses. 


One question I had hoped to find out more about during reading the rulebook is:

What temperature is the desert at night? What temperature are the cities?

I was inspired by walking bare-foot on cold crazy-paving slabs, thinking about how easily converted to a heated under-floor system they could be with a shovel and a few bricks. The space should be large enough to crawl under and would make an excellent hiding place in any home or ancient temple. That's not to say I thought about burying Sorcerers in the garden.


There are some creatures here which changed my view of the world; riding reptiles! No mention in the rules for the simple exchange of mule packs and horses into raptor-racers and giant lizard mounts trained by an animal trainer. These should not be left to the cliche of ‘the vehicles used by the snake cult as alternative to equine mounts’.

Elephant In The Temple

I am disconcertingly saddened by the situation of facing that the wizards know magic to be a limited and dwindling force in the world. This is immediately the driving force of any wizard character I will ever play; to find out how to make magic more permeable, other than by leaving artifacts in protected storage for the future generations.

What does a Wizard do once having mastered all aspects of magic and maxed out in their ability at it? Surely by then their personal insight into magic might help to answer such questions. If it does, the GM is left entirely to his own devices as to how this might emerge. It does not have to be beyond the canon material. 

A belief that the Alulim will ever return is a religion which the wizards cannot invest energy into relying upon, and yet they must in case it should ever happen. They have to accept their lot; to choose between living a humble and forgotten life of research, a glorious and ultimately mythic life of legend or die trying, or the more altruistic approach to work hard toward the effort of making magic permeable. How else can we truly understand the study of magic than to pursue that specific goal? Learning more about the Alulim becomes imperative. The core rules limit the available knowledge of the Alulim to a few charts which do not even mention the possibility that they left decipherable texts behind; and to the GMs discretion.*


The players invest a lot of time and creative focus into designing their Wizard, retinue and how this integrates with the other players characters, in the formulation of their collective home address.

Personally I cannot put this amount of this type of work into a project without also becoming immersed in aspirations I have for my characters and the group as a whole; “what are the common objectives?”. Although it can be entirely left out of the game with no loss of enjoyment, to my way of thinking a lot of time must be dedicated to discussing this between the group and the GM. There is epic amount of scope to build on the foundations of this books simplicity. For that I like it.

This my sort of a game. It needs expansion packs which twenty years ago would have been integrated into the core rule book; a sign of how the rpg industry is developing.


The book is a rules system, complex to learn but easy once you know it, set in a promising world which requires a lot from the GM. It seems that the more experience and romanticism a GM has toward understanding and developing the setting is crucial in what will define memorable campaigns. It could be of the realms of 'card-quest permutations the board-game' or it could be Sinbad. It could be even better. 

A collection of proverbs which will characterize the culture begins with the famous;

“What is the world?”
"It is what we bring to the table."

Wizards of Ur-Turuk houses brilliant ideas which will benefit greatly from developing further, integration of some of the ideas; the world and its features. I cannot wait to see the expansion modules. I want to know more about the 7 Lineages. I want to work on the 2nd Edition.*

Next on my reading list is The Thousand and One Nights (again).

To address this; I intend to write Enchanted Dawn, a fan based book to re-create the Artifact creation table by giving Artifacts an ‘Original Purpose' which affects the progressive campaign by means of karmic continuum. It is an expanded rules series.

Artifacts are magic and they call to their owners, those who are to learn from them, ultimately unbind them and destroy them, to re-work their energies into their own. [i]But which way around does this flow?[i] Symbols of these connections are multi-sensory, worked into several levels of the storyline. Without making effort to do so, they are simply a pacman pill won at great risk.

What are the long term effects of using magic? In a world where limited artifacts exist and are regularly destroyed, their magic used up by a sorcerer but dies with that sorcerer; the game is established at a time in history when magic is still available. It will not always be so.

Finding out more about the Alulim, is this even possible? Is it possible by using magic?

A Council of the Vahnam meets to address these issues. The Council of Vahnam Library contains a lot of information regarding Artifacts and their origins. Different Vahnam also function as Factions; for and against one another.

Sorcerers of Ur-Turuk is available from The RPG Drivethru

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ADDITIONAL: 21.9.2015

Sorcerers of Ur-Turuk is ©2015 Arion Games. I make no claim of ownership to this properties. It is common sense that online role-playing games for purposes of roleplaying may be utilized as such. Any apparent or alleged copyright infringement is to be regarded as fan fiction.

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