This is the corebook. Did anybody mention that this game is pretty?
The Codex - Fantasy szerepjáték
(Codex - Fantasy Roleplaying Game) is a Hungarian tabletop RPG published in 1996, which never was successful but is considered a Cult Classic
It was created by a disillusioned part of the MAGUS
development team, that game had a turbulent history
, in an attempt to create a system free from all the problems that plagued the other game and a world more to their liking. How much they succeeded is still up to debate.
The lack of recognition could traced back to several factors from lacking (read almost nonexistent) marketing and promoting literature to the rise of the trading card craze.Connected publications:
- GM kit
- Grimoire: a Rule expansion dealing with the magic system.
- Codex Imperialis: A Hegyi Királyság (Codex Imperialis: The Mountain Kingdom): a Nationbook dealing with the Nadir.
- The next one Codex Imperialis: Árnyháborúk (Codex Imperialis: Shadow Wars) about S˙tis and their Secret Waring and scheming habits forever stuck in Development Hell.
Tropes used in Codex:
- And Man Grew Proud / Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!: What happened to the Empires preceding this one, they mostly dabbled in the demon thing (guess where the sealed evil comes from).
- Background Magic Field: This is what the magicusers of the outer power (Külsőerős mágiahasználó) use to power their spells. For added weirdness it also gives a base Magic Resistance to the world against any spell, which is lower on the continent of Abr˙ss than on any other part of the planet. (The planet itself has something against the can apparently.)
- Ban on Magic: Full ban on Demonology (because it perverts the harmony of nature), and partial ban on Time magicnote (because of the Butterfly of Doom) as both endanger the world. Also the Imperial Bureaucracy would like to remind you to get your registration and permit up to date for anything else too just in case.
- Character Level: Strictly just for measuring progress. You go up a level at every 100 exp. which then can be spent or saved in a Point Build System.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe / Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Wishing or to be more technical Soul Magic. Which makes the characters Soul / higher self bend the odds of material reality to the user's favor. Comes with a price though, this is one of the skills that can actually go down in the game.
- Culture Chop Suey: It's world (Abr˙ss) is East meets West with some actual historical justification as Abr˙ss was a Far East island continent until then an invasion came from the settings equivalent of Europe, which at the end failed (there are some invader settlements in the south) but resulted in a cultural mash up.
- Deadly Decadent Court: The city of S˙tis (think Renaissance Venice meets Imperial Japan meets a Snake Pit)
- God Emperor: The Sun Emperor, who rules over Abr˙ss and is actually a Physical God so it's not just PR. Or to be precise he sits on the can to not let the evil escape and rarely meddles in the lives of mortals.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Defied (and Discussed) in the Magic supplement. You got a super power / extra organ / arms / wings / etc. through divine blessing, transformation magic or something? Then you also got the required knowledge and secondary powers to use it to the best of your abilities, because it works through Platonic Ideas. Maliciously subverting the law is in the realm of the demonic so if that happens you probably already have bigger problems... like Everything Trying to Kill You.
- Layered World: Material world, astral, mental planes and several other on top of that.
- Loads and Loads of Rules: The core mechanic is simple (don't roll between your relevant skill and the difficulty number with a d100). But because The Devteam Thinks Of Everything there is supplementary stuff for almost everything, combat and magic are the worst offenders.
- Magical Underpinnings of Reality: From the gods and demons entry this could be guessed. Worse. If you don't understand how this and the Layered World thing works you won't be able to wrap your head around the magic system... which is important and complicated enough to have its own supplement that is more of a door-stopper than the corebook. (Like how on Earth did Shapeshifting end up under Mental Magic right after Telepathy.)
- Magic Music / Magic Dance: Actually any art on high enough levels can produce effects that are considering magical in the system (mostly the emotion/thought manipulation kind).
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Most imperial bureaucrats are this way. This is a far eastern influenced world so bureaucracy is one of your worst enemies... or your best friend, if you know who to bribe. Bothering by the Book is also a viable strategy.
- Our Demons Are Different / Paradox Person: Well yes. These two are the same. If your existence is against the natural order (like a My Own Grampa situation) you are considered a demon. The really powerful demons are little more than sentient concepts for things like nihilism or solipsism so for everything that tells people that the world is not real or isn't worth it.
- Our Gods Are Greater: As demons personify discord, gods are the personification of harmony (this doesn't make them always nice though) and because of the eastern influences everything has gods / spirits.
- Platonic Cave: The physical world is just a mere shadow of the upper levels of the Layered World. Not that this will mean anything to your character if he/she isn't a magicuser or doesn't meddle into the godly (or gods forbid the demonic).
- Point Build System: No luck involved in either the character creation or progress.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: All of the Nadir.
- Religion is Magic: Subverted. There is one that believes in the divinity of magic and on higher levels requires people to use magic (the Zorawa religion, which is also state religion in the empire), but it's perfectly possible to be a wizard without any religious conviction. On the other hand all religions grant some (mostly low level) Psychic Powers.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Several in short stories and one in the setting material that states that the continent IS the seal on such a can. The Ley Lines forming a pentagram are a dead giveaway.
- Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: Quite literally. The more power you have the less choices you got. Like the most powerful entities don't destroy the world because its not their fate. In contrast a mere mortal, basically has no fate at all (the universe doesn't care about them). Until they become powerful rulers or mighty wizards that is.
- The game demonstrates this with two overlapping triangles: One points up △ representing freedom and one down ▽ representing power, where they intersect ◇ are the things anybody actually can do. It also shows that any being is best off if he/she/it can find the balance where his/her/its choices and abilities overlap.
- Spiritual Successor: It was meant to be this for MAGUS. As Codex was made by people who shared the copyright to that game it inherited many things like most gaming terms.
- Sourcebook: Had precisely three before it got discontinued. See main description.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: According to setting material this is a side-effect of being a magicuser of the inner powernote (Belsőerős mágiahasználó). In contrast the magicusers of the outer powernote who stand out whatever they do for better or worse (good if you intend to lead, but good luck being on a stealth mission).