Caveats: I know the people who made this game so I am biased. I am also really bad at FATE. This is also a quick review based on a few readthroughs, because I don’t really have time to playtest it right now.
I consider myself a rather jaded gamer in some regards. Yet-another-pseudomedieval-setting doesn’t do much for me. However, Inverse World was a setting that managed to surprise me with how innovative it is. To quote the introduction of the world of Invells:
The Inverse World – so named by outsiders, who
came from beyond the world’s crust. Inside, they found
a massive, windy void, with a glowing star shining in
the center. A ring of islands orbits this star, and far
above lies a ceiling of stone. The Inverse World is on
the inside of a planet, and could even be inside of an
already existing campaign world, if you dig deep
The locals call it a different name, however: Invells.
Invells is a mystical place, where an imprisoned god
casts light and rain up to the top of the world, and then
it all drains back down to the center. The great god Sola
is trapped in the center of Invells, a massive burning
star that created the light and rain from which all life in
Invells was formed. Well, most life.
Invells is a bizarre world, filled with all manner of
flying fish, strange monsters, wondrous machinery, and
Sola’s children, the three spirit-blessed races. Airships,
great chains, and winged angels bridge the open gaps
between the floating islands. Shanty towns of wood and
iron cling to the top of the world. Great cities of light
and gold are hidden within the sea of clouds
surrounding Sola’s cage. There is much to see, but all of
it is just out of reach.
This did get my attention. Hope it gets yours too, because it is very much worth it. In my opinion, far too many settings are created through someone getting an idea and then making a game setting out of it, without any real regard for if it’s even a good idea. What works in fiction doesn’t always work for games, and vice versa. Inverse World avoids this pitfall because it’s explicitly about creating a world for adventures. My rule of thumb here is “how’s it compare to Eberron” and Inverse World passes that test with flying colors.
I’ve never liked too detailed settings because those tend to feel more like straitjackets than inspiring. Inverse World is a beaut because it gives you ideas but doesn’t really tie you to anything. For instance, a lot of setting material is presented as rumors as opposed to facts, which gives any GM a wide latitude in how to run the world. It’s not presented as overly serious either which works well to it’s advantage. Instead, the game setting is extremely whimsical which I find a breath of fresh air.
Inverse World also doesn’t bring along the unnecessary cruft that many fantasy games do just because, so there’s just one sort of people but it’s an extremely diverse group, as the illustrations show. I like this a lot more than just having dwarfs and elves because it’s just the thing you do.
It gives you a pretty cool generator for creating random islands which is a definite plus if you’re a perpetually lazy and ill-prepping GM like I am.
Finally, lets talk about the rules for a bit. The original Inverse World was for the Dungeon World ruleset, and I have not read that version of the game. I’ve always been rather “meh” about Fate, which some people have blamed on the Dresden Files RPG because I read that book a few times and just could not get my head around how Fate works. Inverse World was a pleasant surprise, because it’s just not a Fate SRD copypaste but a lot of work has clearly gone into presenting the rules in a simple and straightforward manner. Before going through Inverse World, I could probably not tell you what an invoke or a compel is but right now, I could give you an explanation that maybe even would make sense. So, yeah, if this is the first Fate game you buy, it’s a good one.
There’s also a bit about how you can convert other Dungeon World material into Inverse World Accelerated which is done in a really cool way.
One thing which I loved about Dungeon World was that it did away with the traditional two-column layout for the corebook and happily Inverse World: Accelerated does the same. The PDF I have is extremely readable and on my less-than-optimal electronic equipment, I can read it without it turning into a hassle. So take note, elfgame layout people: this is how you should do. In addition, the illustrations by Scobble, Crossfrown, Mollie Bruce and Tom Miskey support the overall themes of the game well.
To cap this review off, I recommend getting this book. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to run a game for your kids, run a game for experienced gamers or just to pick up more toilet reading (which, after all, RPG collecting is all about), it’s a solid game and a good read. My only nitpick is that I’d actually like more setting material but I am fairly confident that we’ll see more later.
And you can get the book from here.