Review: The Marvelous Children Of Inang-Uri
It has been far too long since I have properly reviewed a game, and it is absolutely time that I rectified that! Luckily, I have been lucky enough to get hold of momatoes's very recently released The Marvelous Children Of Inang-Uri and I cannot express how excited I am by this game.
If you read my review of Caro Asercion's i'm sorry did you say street magic, then you will know that games that involve any element of world-building or map-making are right up my street. Check out the synopsis:
The word that leaves your lips when you behold the colossal chimera known as Inang-Uri—atop which your civilization lives!
But time is running out, fast. She lies at the cusp of death, and world-shaking events only threaten to accelerate her demise. It is up to you, the marvelous Children of Inang-Uri, to work together and save the cradle of your civilization.
But watch out! A traitor may lie in your midst! Will you work together to save Inang-Uri, or will selfish priorities take over?
The most immediately striking thing about this game is of course the absolutely stunning visuals and layout that accompany it, and while flicking through the pages I've found myself more and more impressed by just how beautiful it is to look at. The artwork itself uses lush collages put together from images of natural science and I find that absolutely amazing, as they've been blended in such a gorgeous way! In addition, the game itself is just an absolute masterclass in thoughtful design mixed with a most intriguing concept. It just has that immediate feeling that you are playing something unique, and from beginning to end of my read-through I found myself completely besotted with reading and re-reading each and every page.
CONCEPT: So, exploring the concept of the game a little further, what does it have to offer players? Well to start with, it describes itself as 'a worldmaking game of tension, treason, and a living chimera you call home' which, quite honestly, sums it up pretty well! Drawing from and heavily inspired by Avery Alder's The Quiet Year, players will co-creating a setting using prompts across four in-game generations - collaborating to make the world together, but competing to gain prestige within it. There is a very clear structure to order of play that follows an engaging ruleset, and the prompts provided give plenty of scope for players to create a completely unique world, factions within it, and play experience.
SET-UP: The game is designed with 3-6 players in mind, and runs comfortably over 4-6 hours, though there are 'quick play' rules for a shorter session. I really enjoyed this, as it means players can take control of the depth they wish to explore when playing. In order to play, a few things are needed - a set of dice (d6, d8, d10, and d12), around 5-6 tokens per player, some index cards for each person, and a communal drawing board and writing tools. Momatoes recommends an online whiteboard for digital play which I thought was a useful tool as many people play games online now! The order of play is summarised nicely for reference, and then there are various sections of the book dedicated to exploring them in more depth! To begin - players must collaborate on facts about Inang Uri, and decide upon details regarding their individual factions. I shall provide a more detailed example of how setting up the world looks.
To start, we rolled to DETERMINE THE MYSTERIES of Inang Uri. Our rolls determined that she had the head of a Slug, and the body of a Tiger. She was a Child, lived in the Air, had a diet of Time, and a Human Voice. We then BEQUEATHED HER LIKENESS on the communal drawing board so that we could better envisage this colossal chimera. Next we DEVELOPED THE FOUNDATIONS of our civilisation - once again rolling dice to guide this process. Our rolls determined that we were inhabiting Inang-Uri to wage war on an enemy civilisation, our primary shaping force for development was magic, and the greatest threat to our civilisation was ecology. To expand upon this, we had to UNFOLD THE KNOWN TRUTHS by each contributing two details about our civilisation. Next, we were each the MASTER OF OUR OWN FACTION. On our index cards, we named it and wrote a few sentences describing its role, where on Inang Uri we lived, and what made our faction unique. We then BEHELD EACH OTHER'S NATURE by sharing these characteristics, and determining relationships between factions. Finally - a TRAITOR HID AMONG US. We each secretly rolled a d6. Any players that rolled a 1 were traitors.
GAMEPLAY: Once Inang-Uri's form, the truths of the civilisation, and each player's faction have been set up then players move onto the next stage of the game! Moving from the collaborative nature of the first section to the more competitive nature of the second felt seamless. The aim of the game is to play through four generations (or two, using quick play rules) and create COMMUNITY and FACTION projects for players to work towards, while earning prestige and keeping Inang-Uri alive (her health points are tracked) or not if you are a traitor. One of my favourite things about this game were just how clear-cut and easy to follow the rounds were, and the cyclical nature of each phase. Rounds were split into three phases - DISCOVERY, INITIATIVES, and RESOLUTION - with an optional fourth phase in which factions can accuse each other of being a traitor, or defend each other from accusation.
In the DISCOVERY phase, we rolled our WORLD SCENARIO first - that Inang-Uri's heartbeat was growing loud and erratic and causing small earthquakes - and took turns declaring details about this scenario, as well as details on Inang-Uri's rolled mood, which was Irritated. We then discussed and created our primary COMMUNITY PROJECT, and rolled for our individual FACTION SCENARIOS. In the INITIATIVES phase, we took action. We could each take one action per round, for two rounds. There were many actions to choose from, and from these we could find ways to gain Prestige, throw suspicion on other factions, steal or mine Inang-Uri for Resources, and essentially determine a strategy for how we might serve our Faction's interests. In the RESOLUTION phase, we resolved our individual FACTION PROJECTS first, followed by the COMMUN|ITY PROJECTS we had undertaken as a group. Based on the results of this, we awarded the Most Prestigious faction which granted them a level of control over the next round. The optional fourth phase of ACCUSATIONS allowed us to discuss the behaviours each faction had exhibited in each phase and decide whether we felt any of them pointed towards a traitor. Voting for a traitor resulted in that faction suffering a number of consequences for the next round.
This cycle plays for four generations and then move through a series of questions for ENDING THE GAME. I enjoyed the way the game ended in collaboration again, as players worked together to award extra prestige for good roleplay, deceptive skills, and created epilogues in honour of their faction and the game as a whole. This part of the game felt particularly satisfying in the way it drew everything to a narrative epilogue. CONCLUSION: This game is just superb in so many ways. It contains everything you could want from a fulfilling TTRPG experience - well thought out rules and structure to drive the game forward, interesting prompts to enliven the imagination, and a distinctive method of driving roleplay, collaboration, and competition within its players. You could to pick this up for its quirky artistic perspective alone, as it is a visual feast, but I encourage everyone to fully immerse themselves in this, and enjoy!
Impatient? Well luckily for you, The Marvelous Children Of Inang-Uri is available to purchase right now on momatoes's itch page. I'd thoroughly recommend checking out some of her other beautiful creations - including ARC (a timed game in which players seek to transform the world before its doom), Capybara Capers (which has all of the capybara chaos you might expect with that title), and The Magus (a solo journaling RPG that tracks a wizard's journey of ambition, delusions of grandeur, and power). The Marvelous Children Of Inang-Uri is also currently on sale, and fundraising! All proceeds from the sale of the game will be donated to Doctors Without Borders until 12th December. So best pick it up now!
Does this game sound like your kind of thing? Do you enjoy worldmaking games like this one? I want to hear!