Vaults of Vaarn Deluxe Edition RPG Review

27 March 2024
A vaast world to explore together, this gorgeous indie RPG from Games Omnivorous takes us into an eclectic world mixing Dune with Fallout, for a game you don't want to miss.

Written By Christopher John Eggett

What is Vaults of Vaarn?

‘Blue Dune’ is one way to introduce Vaults of Vaarn. This frankly beautiful blue book from Leo Hunt (with layout and design from Gontijo, a favourite from Haunted Almanac) offers us a ruined and shattered world that draws on the mysticism of something like Dune, but with healthy doses of goofy Fallout-style humour. There are synths, mutants, fungal peoples and the Faa – a nomad group who work a little like Frank Herbert’s Fremen. There are also forms of beastmen wandering about, so it can get pretty eclectic. Vaarn, the world itself, is all blue sands and fallen peoples. One can easily be lost in simply how much there is to this book.

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Play Vaults of Vaarn RPG

The game’s system is one of roll-a-D20-over target, health-draining magic, and Into The Odd style rare items that can be potentially game breaking. Levelling up in the game is about collecting these powerful artefacts – termed Exotica – and selling them or handing them over. There’s a certain amount of ‘get better and keep cool stuff’ here, and it all leads to classic treasure hunting within the loose science-fantasy constraints.

It’s a flexible system that can create all sorts of interesting scenarios. There’s dungeon delving for these items, or inter-tribe conflict available to the GM. With careful prep, the GM could make something that feels exactly like Fallout 3, Dune, Troika, Alien, Star Trek, or even Planet Of The Apes. At first this range of stuff is a bit overwhelming, until the GM finally sits down to actually generate an adventure using the seemingly myriad tables to create regions, factions and adventure sites. Within a few minutes of flicking between tables and chucking some dice on a piece of paper to create locations you’ll soon have a defined region of this vast world. Vaarn does this very well, mostly because of the way it winnows down the vast amount of options into the bit you’re going to muck about in.

Vaults of Vaarn RPG Gameplay

The included city adventure site is once again huge enough to risk being daunting. Its rich factions, fighting and weird layout make for interesting adventures in a place that does feel alive. For those that get flustered by too many options, this isn’t the game to be running. Being on the other side of the GM screen, you find a huge amount of intrigue and adventure. Because there’s almost always some dense factional strife within whatever you create, Vaults of Vaarn generates moments where it feels like something is always going on.

Playing the game is smooth enough, with plenty of fun to be had with the weirdos your players create. Once you delve into the depth of what Vaarn has to offer, you’ll be rewarded – but our advice is not to rush.


Should you play Vaults of Vaarn RPG?

Yes. It's a great entry point to weird sci-fi roleplaying, but one that requires careful study before diving in.

Buy your copy on DriveThruRPG

Play this if you liked Troika!

If you wanted something less fantasy and more sci-fi, the blue sands of Vaarn beckon.

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Designer: Leo Hunt 

Publisher: Games Omnivorous 

Pages: 142 pages

Age: 12+

Price: £30 

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