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Jordon lives in Bloomington, IN with his wife, two crazy cats, a chubby beagle, and his feisty Jack Russel mix. He has been a life-long lover of board games, film, books, and video games. Topics such as Lovecraftian horror, Tolkien-esque fantasy, Star Trek, Batman,Star Wars, and Heavy Metal might cause him to ramble for hours on end. He got his first taste of RPGs about 15 years ago and hasn't looked back since.

Written Review – The Universal Storytelling System

Hey there everyone! I’m here to talk to you about a new RPG system I’ve learned about and I think you’ll all enjoy. The Universal Storytelling System (or U.S.S.) was created by Derek Knutsen and published by Palegain Press LLC.  It is a roleplaying system developed to use playing cards instead of dice. Recently, I got a rare chance to play in a U.S.S. game at Who’s Yer Con 2017 in Indianapolis, IN and it was being ran by Knutsen himself. As he passed out the playing cards, I grew curious as to how the system would run. I had never seen a system quite like this, but to my pleasure, the game ran quite smoothly.

The game itself is highly narrative and focuses on a range of skills that each character possesses. When you use those skills, you draw cards according to your skill rank or the total of combined skill ranks (For example: If a character is using their Agility skill of 3, combined with their Nerve skill of 4, then the total cards drawn is 7). Once a player then lays out their cards, they count up their total successes. Success is determined by the number on the card. If the card is an 8 or above, then it counts as one success. A 7 or below equates to nothing. Aces cancel out successes and Jokers are Wild Cards. These wild cards can determine massive success or failure. Once all Aces have been drawn, then the player’s deck is reshuffled.

As we played U.S.S. in one of the ballrooms of the convention, I found myself delving into the hysterical world of adult themed super heroes that Knutsen had created. I played Arganus (from Uranus), a curious alien traveler who lacked in knowledge about human customs and mating rituals. He was surrounded by compatriots with names like “Captain Codpiece” and “The Marvel”, who possessed an array of strange and inappropriate powers. It was a great time and Derek has a good handle on what makes a good story and he has shown this with a system that focuses more on storytelling and gets less bogged down by complex rules lawyering.

Overall, it was a fun time and I give the Universal Storytelling System my seal of approval.


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