HビnWorld 2nd Edition

Reviewed By Joseph Teller

Originally Published in Interregnum APA

HビnWorld 2nd Edition, written by N.R. Crossby and published by Columbia Games, Inc. is the first book in the Hビn series. It is written in such a way that it can be adapted for use with many other mechanics systems for roleplaying on the market or with Columbia Game's own HビnMaster Game mechanics. HビnWorld 2nd Edition is ISBN 0-920711-00-6 (product #5001 from Columbia Games, Inc.).

Hビn, it must be said, has in recent years become one of the great secrets of the gaming world. This in part is because of distribution problems that have affected not only Columbia Games but several other small companies that do not publish large quantities of books, supplements, modules and scenarios each year. There were a number of lean years for the company where almost no new material was made available, and this caused many distributors to drop the line, and thus it disappeared from store shelves. Thankfully the staff of Columbia have kept working along and producing material, and the appearance of the new 2nd edition is now readily available to interested folks via mail order, and in conjunction with their Internet World-Wide-Web Site. This seems to be the future of the smaller gaming publishing houses, and as the Internet expands we can expect to see a richer range of gaming potentials available.

The packaging of HビnWorld is impressive. A neat black plastic sleeved folder with a very sturdy design and a 4-color display showing the world globe seen from space of the world that Hビn is set in. The back holds a standard back-cover style 'blurb' about the contents. With are two staple bound books : Hビndex and the actual HビnWorld, and one of the highest quality production value maps that you can get in a roleplaying game, with full terrain information and standard Hexes. Also included is three-hole punched pages that are intended to be stored in a binder (like much of the earlier Hビn editions) that compose a comprehensive description and layout for Quimen, a feudal Fief.

The HビnWorld book is 70 extensive pages of maps, world background, histories, calendars and other basic descriptive sections on the planet Kethira, its three major continents and the Island of Hビn which lies off of the major inhabited continent of Lythia. Hビn is a primarily medieval place, the wild frontier of the larger continent, where a number of Feudal societies exist in a state of flux and change (as well as a small Republic, a Dwarven Kingdom, a reclusive Elven society, nomadic tribesmen and goblin tribes). It is hardly a small island, and is a rich environment for roleplaying and exploration. {The author specifically warns readers that it is intended for roleplaying not 'dragon bashing'}.

The Hビndex is a master index for Hビn, an alphabetic collection of information in encyclopedic form, including extensive black & white maps and artwork showing numerous features of the world to give a game master a better understanding of the worldbase. It includes notation so that described locales can be easily found on the map. It appears to be another 70 pages in length (but has no page numbering).

Hビn is in many ways obviously inspired by classic literature sources, both ancient and modern and has been updated quite a bit from its initial release to reflect the authors own growth as a gamer and reader of such literature. It is a rich environment, one that can be expanded on to suit specific desires. It has much in the way of a connection to medieval Europe, but with many elements of the supernatural and metaphysical that are unique unto itself. It is designed as a low-power game, but for those who prefer mid or high fantasy it can be easily modified to suit without harming the authors intent.

What HビnWorld is not is complete. It gives a nice overview of the world and plenty of detail to build from, but there is much missing from the package. Part of this is obviously because of marketing needs - numerous Hビn related books and materials exist or are planned to expand the information and environs of the game world, which means more sales for the company. On the other hand the author has done an excellent job, and it is the devotion and love for the worldbase that has resulted in the long publishing delays and detailed efforts. You could play in the world without the supplemental books and materials and still get plenty out of HビnWorld, but enriching your game with the later materials would be worth the financial investment.

Some of the detail missing is not yet available, but is promised. A separate volume is planned to cover the unusual religions of Hビn, another to cover the magic system and a beastiary is also planned. These are intended to take the light detail on each of these areas and expand them to a much greater depth. Other books, such as HビnMaster give mechanics to use for those who do not already have a favorite game mechanic or who would have interest in trying a new one that better captures the authors intents.

Overall I would recommend HビnWorld to other Game Masters. Columbia Games has a WWW site at www.columbiagames.com that includes previews, pricing and some fan created additions to the game. The company can be contacted via phone at 1-800-636-3631 and is based in Blaine, Washington.

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