Nibiru is a new science fiction roleplaying game, set in an ominous space station. The players take on the roles of Vagabonds, persons that are slowly recovering their memory. Niburu uses a skill-based system, where the d4 is the main die.
As I get older, I tend to favor games where character development is at the fore front. Games that are either combat-heavy or rely heavily on game mechanics is something that, when I have the opportunity, I try to avoid.
Of course, in all games there is a certain amount of character development, however in my experience it tends to come down to the game master. You can have as tactical games as D&D where character development is something all players enjoy and strive for.
There are, however, few systems that actually emphasize this. Yes, all systems have mechanics where the characters earn experience, adventure or character points, that you can spend to buy new powers, more abilities or become more skillful. Most systems just assume that you gain these abilities “off-screen” though many game masters like to play out scenes where player characters learn something new.
In Niburu roleplaying the character development is integral to the system, a part of the narrative, something I find very interesting.
Niburu roleplaying game
Niburu is a science fiction roleplaying game that is set on an ominous space station. Humans live in many huge and different habitats, which some resemble large cities, while others are little more than slums. The space station, called Niburu, is a monstrous, steel-clad vulture feeding off of a collection of unborn planets, Nibiru’s purpose is unknown—at least, for those that reside in it.
The characters portrayed by the players are different from the rest of the peoples of Nibiru. They come from strange places called Habitats, each functioning as an archetype that changes not just the backdrop of your memories, but the mechanics of how you recall them (see below).
From Dreamlanders—people that only seem to remember the lives of other individuals—to Vagabonds of the Machine—who share the memories prompted by a sentience-inducing computer virus—each of the five habitats holds mysteries of their own, as well as unique mechanics that make them all the more exciting to play.
The setting is highly inspired by ancient Mesopotamia. The setting is focused around the themes of memory, nature and artificiality, something the player characters face almost every day. The player characters are Vagabonds, that are piecing together their own fragmented memory.
The game mechanics
Niburu is a skill based system using a d4. When a character attempts some action that requires a roll, she rolls usually 3d4 and every roll of 4 counts as a success. In many ways this mechanic is similar to the Storytelling system by White Wolf or Year Zero system by Fria Ligan.
There are no hit points, but each character has both a physical and mind status tracks, each time you suffer damage or mental stress, you move down one or more steps.
There are two things that make this system especially interesting. The first part is the effect of gravity. Gravity plays a huge part in an enormous space station like Niburu and as the characters travel to or away from the core the gravity changes and it has mechanical effect in the game, making rolls harder or easier.
The second thing is the MEMO’s system. In a way this is the experience system in the game, player characters are awarded memory points after each session. However, instead of buying skills, you need to craft memories, which your character is recovering.
Each character sheet has a journal entry, where the memories are noted down, and once a whole page has been filled, that character receives a revelation (which is a more powerful form of a memory). Memories can have both a positive and a negative effect of the character.
Niburu roleplaying game
Niburu is an interesting game and one that is more than worth checking out. I especially like the fact that it delves deep into character development. Another thing that I like about the core book, are the short tale-sparks. These are great for both game masters and players alike, when fleshing out stories and characters.
I can imagine that players that are used to fantasy worlds or more space-ship driven science-fiction might find Niburu, with it’s endless steel roof, a bit too much to handle. It takes time to get a good grasp on the setting.
If you like games where character development is paramount and your character‘s story is just as important as the game master‘s narrative, you should check out Niburu.
Modiphius provided a copy of the core book.