Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City


Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City by Luka Rejec is, for me, a beautiful paradox. It's a setting so dense with lore and locations and interesting art that it took me a couple of months to make my way through it. Part of that was me savoring the material, taking in only a few pages (or a single location of the setting) at a time when I was alone and the the weather was perfect so I could really appreciate and understand it all. It's a massive setting, with more locations than you could probably explore in an entire campaign with an RPG group, and yet I wanted more, because I love what's in this book. It's complete. It's more than a gaming group would probably ever use, but it's also a wondrous journey, and I'm hoping hard for a supplement or a sequel. 

Artwork from UVG ©2019 Luka Rejec

UVG, as a setting, gives you the guiderails of a caravan making a point crawl across a psychodelic world very much inspired by Moebius and the Heavy Metal / Ligne Claire movement. It's everything I wanted out of something like Monte Cook's Numenera RPG that I didn't get because, as wondrous as that setting is, it just didn't hit the mark for me. Both settings feature a world that has had countless great civilizations rise and fall upon its surface, leaving their remnants in enigmatic layers that sometimes appear as recoverable assets and interesting characters, but only UVG makes it pop in the same way that Moebius could make something mundane like the storyline of La Plan├Ęte Encore pop. It's unique, it's interesting. It's not a re-skinned Pathfinder clone trying to sneak technology in at the edges. UVG is its own thing entirely and I love it.

Artwork from UVG ©2019 Luka Rejec

Even though most of the book is setting, a small chunk of it is dedicated to a minimalist RPG system that reminds me a lot of the OSR style of rules. Judging from some of the names of spells referenced in the book, I think it's meant to piggyback onto any larger OSR ruleset as much as it is meant to be modular and easily adapted to any system you might choose to experience it with. Personally, I'd love to play this with RISUS. I think it would adapt easily to that system and I think that the simplicity and unconventional nature of RISUS as a system would add a layer of playfulness and quirkiness to a UVG campaign that would really serve the setting as a whole.

Artwork from UVG ©2019 Luka Rejec

Without giving too many details or spoiling the adventures in here, I can say that it seems like Luka Rejec has throught of everything. There are places in the setting specifically designed as so vast that you can drop in your own custom areas. There are places where your adventuring parties can set up bases to operate from, and places that can easily serve as megadungeons (one inside a hovering moon that is absolutely insanely beautiful.) There are caravans, raiders, nobles from other times and rifts that allow travel through space and time, and to other universes. There are nations that have clearly defined borders and politics that you can pass through and there are disturbing sentient wildernesses capable of corrupting and devouring even the brightest souls, but also, always, there is hope. There is a goal to keep you moving, reading and adventuring. The Black City is the final destination of the setting, the furthest point of civilization on the shore of a great sludgy sea, and when I reached that point in my read through, I couldn't help but feel like I had achieved something myself. I had seen so many wonders of the UVG world and survived it all somehow, crossed lakes full of biomechanical crocodiles, passed the Spectrum lands, braved a lung infection of sentient moss and crawled deep into a chasm packed with the remains of lost civilizations to finally arrive to see The Black City itself. 

Artwork from UVG ©2019 Luka Rejec

This book is perfect. I have no suggestions or problems with it, only praise, and yet I still feel this void of want and need upon finishing the book. I want to know what else is in this amazing world that Luka Rejec has created. I want to explore the forbidden lands beyond the caravan tracks on the map and see what wonders are out there. I think more than anything, I want to find a group of people who share the same love for this niche genre as I do that I can experience this world with. Sadly, the long, regular RPG sessions of my college days are probably all behind me now, so I'll have to be content with merely reading this book and imagining the journeys I could have in this tragically beautiful neon landscape.

Thank you, Luka Rejec, for making the book I always needed, but never knew I needed.

Artwork from UVG ©2019 Luka Rejec



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