Aegean RPG Review

21 February 2024
Become the epic hero of Greek mythology in Aegean, a roleplaying game that sees you build a new city, and adventure in the time of gods and monsters. Our reviewer takes a closer look.

Written by Richard Jansen-Parkes

When thinking of solo-developed indie RPGs, we usually picture slim little books with a light ruleset that prioritises storytelling over mechanics. Aegean manages to defy every one of these expectations, being big, bold and bursting with confidence. 

Aegean’s hefty rulebook is packed with options for characters and monsters alike, revelling in crunchy gameplay. When the party's long-term planning plays out just so, Aegean can tickle the "I'm so clever" portion of the brain that normally only fires during strategy-heavy board games. 

How do you play Aegean?

The game's simple premise combines two distinctly Grecian principles - mythic heroism and city-building. Rather than the roaming adventurers found in so many other RPGs, Aegean's players take the role of the champions somewhere in the Mediterranean. This means that one session might see them chasing out bandits from the nearby hills, while the next could see them questing on behalf of Poseidon's priests in the hopes that the sea god protects the city's trading galleys. 

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Aegean Adventures

In truth, the day-to-day adventuring of Aegean isn't too far from what you might encounter in any of the countless other RPGs based around heroes doing heroic things. You still hunt monsters, solve riddles and generally try to fix more problems than your party causes. The more you play, however, the more you realise just how much impact the city-building rules have on your experience. 

The city itself is almost like another character in your party, as you collectively choose which buildings to erect, advisors to hire, trade routes to forge and allies to make. While a GM can absolutely plan out long-term story arcs, the main thrust of your weekly sessions will be dictated by how the players manage their city and what random events are generated during the Agora phase. 

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How Complex is Aegean?

If throwing around terms like 'the Agora phase' makes you feel a little nervous, your anxiety is probably warranted. Aegean’s gameplay relies on several subsystems all working as one harmonious whole; if you want to get the most out of it, you're going to need a thorough understanding of all of them, which given the rules section covers nearly 200 pages, this is not a simple task. 

It's important to draw a clear line between complex (which Aegean definitely is) and fiddly (which Aegean definitely is not). The core mechanic that drives the gameplay is straight forward: whenever a hero needs to make skill tests, they roll d10s equal to the total of their most relevant skill and stat (so hiding in a thicket would add survival and cunning). Each eight or higher is a success, with tens providing extra-special benefits. 

The combat rules are certainly on the crunchier side of things, with its variety of action options and melee attacks being impacted by the relative reach of the combatants' weapons, but they're still smooth enough once you get a couple of battles under your belt. 

The complexity only really bleeds in when you start to consider the full scope of the gameplay. You have all the typical stats and skills to keep an eye on, but there are also values for your character's resolve, risk, endurance, standing, wounds, hubris, glory and fate, all of which must be tracked and managed individually. 

If the rules were badly designed, these interlocking systems would suck the fun out of the game in minutes. Fortunately, Aegean was created with a huge amount of care and forethought. Things are complex, but also intuitive and work beautifully. Aegean requires and rewards a good knowledge of its systems, using them to deliver a unique blend of city management and mythical adventuring. It's hard to think of anything else that compares. 

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Is Aegean Good?

Yes. Mythical city-building with delightfully crunchy rules. Some groups might struggle with the ambitious scope, whilst others will be enchanted by them. For being the brainchild of a single author, Aegean is an incredibly ambitious and impressive game, with an epic scope and a solid, expansive ruleset.  

You can buy a copy of Aegean on Drive Thru RPG

Games Like Aegean

Pathfinder: Kingmaker 

Did you love managing your own city, but wished it was baked into the core ruleset? Well, here you go! 


Designer & Publisher: Stoo Goff

Pages: 300

Ages: 11+

Price: £45

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