Heirs to Heresy (2021)

Heirs to Heresy (2021) is all sorts of interesting. Where the previous Osprey RPGs provide toolkits for creating bespoke ongoing campaigns, Heirs provides a defined campaign arc: players are Templars fleeing the destruction of their order at the hands of the king of France. They carry something important and they seek sanctuary. The specific nature of their cargo and their destination is up to the GM, but the thrust of every campaign is the same: flee, survive, preserve. In this way, the game is designed to examine and re-examine both the history and mythology surrounding the Knight Templars (of which there is no shortage).

System is 2d10 based, and uses attributes and skills to beat an array of difficulty numbers. There is slightly too much figuring for me to honestly call it “simple” but it is certainly uncomplicated. It is a high-powered game, with mechanical bonuses, special abilities and a suitably esoteric magic system making player characters more than a match for most opponents. The problem is that the adversaries who are on their level are terrifyingly capable and require care, planning and luck to overcome, usually at great cost. That distinction in opponents is one of my favorite bits of the game. Another is that only 30 Templars escape Paris at the start of the campaign, giving the players a both a pool of extra lives and a countdown timer — if all the Templars die, their treasure (and their hope) is lost.

I also love how the game interfaces with Templar lore. The secrets of these Templars will be discovered in play, but the rules give you access to frameworks that make all possibilities feasible, from the most realistic to the most sensationally supernatural. As someone who has had a shelf full of Templar books since the ‘90s, many of which are in the RPG’s reference section, and who has played nearly all the Assassin’s Creed games, I appreciate Heirs to Heresy’s commitment to leaving the truth of the Templars an open question.

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