One of my favourite games from my early RPG days, which I sadly never got to play, was Skyrealms of Jorune. It was one of those games that, were I bit older when I came across it, I likely would have appreciated it more. At the time, though, I loved it because it featured none of the races standard to other games of the era, and reminded me very heavily of the Barsoomian novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
What made it particularly special was how you advanced your character. Unlike most other RPGs of the time which focused on killing and looting as the mains paths to advancement, Skyrealms of Jorune took a different path. In order to advance your character in SoJ you needed to be…a good citizen. Yep, you heard me. Each character was on a quest to increase his/her/its standing in the community. You carried with you a tablet, and as you did favours and tasks for current citizens they would mark off so many tallies on your tablet. If you did something particularly impressive, the citizen might make the journey to the main temple where these tallies were eventually stored, and permanently record your deeds (which counted as a considerably large number towards your tally total). Once you reached the necessary number of marks on your tablet, you became a citizen. Of course, if were found to be a poor candidate, or failed often enough at tasks, citizens could mark against you.
It was an interesting departure from the standard “explore, kill, loot” model of most RPGs of the time. And being a teenager when I first encountered it guaranteed I wouldn’t appreciate the game for what it was, and so it languished on my shelf, often read but never played. I mean, it also suffered from issues many other games had; a plethora of made up vocabulary in an attempt to show its uniqueness, an interestingly flavoured but clunky magic system, and randomization which could derail encounters pretty quickly. But I do wish I had played it more.
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