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Ex Novo comments

A topic by Sharkbomb Studios created Apr 28, 2020 Views: 337 Replies: 76
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Excellent game... Actually it's more than a game :-) Tested, and truly enjoyed!


Thank you! Very happy to hear it. I just ran another playtest session and collected a lot of cool and useful feedback. An update will be incoming in a few weeks. Want to collect more stuff!


I posted a picture of our settlement on Tweeter. I might create a polished map of it on Inkarnate. If you are interested in my feedback I could give it via e-mail...

Developer (1 edit)

Man! That looks super dope! Please do send your thoughts! Did you run Ex Novo solo?

I've already collected a bunch and as said, we're planning to revisit the rules later this month. Just want to collect some feedback first.


Hi Martin, thanks but it's just a humble first try! :-) No I didn't go solo: we were with my wife and her daughter (15 yo). They are not found of indy/board-games like I am, but do appreciate some 'mainstream', classical or simple/middle complex board-games (Mah-Jong, Takenoko, Scrabble to name a few). The interesting thing is that they both appreciated the process of creation, despite the fact that the game is rather low paced and that there are no competitive goals. All in all, we had a great time building this together. I'll write you an email with my thoughts. Again, congratulations for this great piece of work!


Oh, this looks absolutely brilliant! Thank you !


You're too kind :-). As I said in the post above, we had a great time with ExNovo. I surely will experiment further with the rules. Congratulations! And thank you for this great work.


We really do aim to further develop the whole concept. Give you more stuff to experiment with :)


I sent an email to Martin about my thoughts about the game. Keep the game going!


This is super helpful; thank you once again!


just sent a link to my friend! we're trying to find a map generator thing for a universe we're creating and this might help especially since we can play together :D


Happy to hear that! If you run a session, let us know!

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I played to the Founding Phase and im having fun. Dont realy know if im making all the steps right and i realy wanted some youtube gameplay to see how it works.
Leaving my map.

ps: i have 2 factions/groups but i only have one District drawed... is this right? Well the one group that had no District are a group called "Free", they are homeless people if it is wrong the way i played maybe is just half wrong.
pss: typo on page 12 in the Example of Play it says in Discussion Phase that the Village was picked from the table and is number as a 2 but Village is nr 1. Another on pag 23 that have Events: Warfare D666 (111-166) instead of D666 (111-666)


And this is how it ended.


Hello! Sorry for the belated response; it's Konstantinos and I absolutely love the map you came up with. Also, though a rarity having 2 factions and 1 district is actually possible, and, besides, Ex Novo not being a competitive game always allows a bit of freedom when it comes to interpreting rules.

Thanks so much for trying out little game though :)

Developer (3 edits) (+1)

To follow up: Konstantinos is right, that you generally end up with more than 1 district, unless you're aiming for a very small village.

However at the start of the game (after founding, before development) it is in fact pretty much the norm. You always start with only 1 district and between 1 and 3 factions.

And the Warfare (111-166) is not a typo. The event table goes from 111 to 666 but every first digit has its own theme. 111-166 is Warfare, 211-266 is Politics etc...

But the one about village is right. Good catch!

And lastly: Great drawing!


Saw you featured on Dicebreaker's channel on YouTube.  I'm absolutely diving into this tomorrow!


Why, thank you so very much; hope you enjoy crafting your cities, and please do let us know how things went!


yes! We love looking at everyone‘s maps!

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Saw this on Dicebreaker, immediately got the game... needed it so much as a newbie ttrpg game master, and youtube dropped this on my lap. As a student of Geography, this is also very impressive. Thank you, thank you!

Developer (1 edit) (+1)

Thank *you*, and you'll be intrigued to know that my PhD is for the most part in (urban, unavoidably) geography! Really appreciate the kind words and would be fascinated to see what you come up with :)


Whoa, hello Senior! My focus is on cultural geography via popular multimedia (I'm a wimp at physical geog) and I'll for sure share what we come up with! More power to you and yours!


(bows while wishing the very best)


Same deal, saw it on Dicebreaker. I'm extremely short on money thanks to a huge shift in my finances starting this month, but I'm in the process of sorting through which of the many games I've been curious about that I want to buy with my budget, and Ex Novo is now right near the top of that list. I expect I'll be buying it soon.


Like some others, I saw this featured on Dicebreaker this morning and had to buy and download. Very excited to make some cities and history when I get the chance! Hopefully then I'll have some better feedback than "this looks really really cool."


Thank you, and really looking forward to your input; and your creations!


Yes! Share your cities! I love seeing maps :D


Finally got around to trying this out. Ran it solo and it's a bit of a mess (with a few placeholder names) and I bent and outright broke some rules since I realized that I was building the history of a small city with the resources of a town. But it was a blast and I will be doing it a lot in the coming weeks.


Look very cool actually! Thank you so much for sharing your city. Breaking any rules you choose is usually a wise move, mind you.


I've just dropped in to say, I've had an absolute blast playing this after getting it in the Racial Equality Bundle :D 

After about two hours, I've got not only a map, but several ideas for stories for either roleplaying with my friends or writing up - this was a brilliant way to get the brain juices flowing, thank you so much for making it!

Fort Lanza  Rockwood Occupied West Arandia attached (they had revolutions, counter-revolutions, plague, extinction, bandits moving in... it's all gone well! :P )


That's wonderful to hear! And thanks a ton for sharing the delightfully serene, uhm, (checks history books) West Arandia! 

Did each regime change the town's name btw?


Yeah - it started as a military research base, was the subject of a revolution from the growing Free Trade Alliance in it's economic sectors, then the very next year the Royal Guard was sent in to quash the secession - so things are somewhat tense on the streets currently, and the name of the city changes depending on who you ask!



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Superb game! This does exactly what I wanted it to and does it OH so smoothly. A friend and I used digital software for a very rough first run at the game, making this little hamlet for our Song of Ice and Fire RPG run. We're eager to sit down with it tomorrow and try a more serious run (with a more uniform format for labeling)!


Why, thanks a ton fro the kind words, and for giving our little city builder a go! If this is your rough try, we can't wait to see what you come up with next!

Started off excited and I'm stuck on 2.1 - what the heck is a quadrant in game terms?

My guess is it's "roughly a quarter of the total map space". That's how I interpreted it.

Then the entry for 'Hills' fills the entire map I guess?

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Oh damn, that's a good point. My other guess would be "a zone created by the lines your drew". In fact, a deeper search of the book I did just now found me this:

"Quadrant size
If you have relatively equally sized quadrants
you can consider them to have an area of about 1
square kilometer."

That definitely seems to imply that a quadrant is meant to be one of the zones formed during step 1.3.


Ah man! Quadrant is a holdover. I guess I missed those when we changed from the quadrants system to the regions. Will be fixed in the next update!

Good to know, thanks! For now I'll just have to mentally sub "region" for "quadrant". :)


Sorry for this... a quadrant is the older name for regions. Seems to have remained in a few entries; will be fixing this in the next update :)


That makes sense - thanks!


And sorry for the confusion!


We've done it. A serious, proper run. (Though my art is still terrible, I wish I was as good drawing quick and rough as I am drawing slow and careful.) The resource icons and such aren't my doing, unfortunately, they're found things from the internet.

Behold Vixenwood, seat of House Liskfield (with a couple little tweaks we'll be making to suit the Song of Ice and Fire ruleset). It sits in the Westerlands of Westeros. A brief history of this hamlet:

Vixenwood was founded by a convergence of scouts who camped on the secure little peninsula, in the time during the latter days of Aegon's conquest of Westeros. After the war, these scouts decided collectively to make it their home.

The four terrain features that dominate the landscape are the river that cuts the peninsula in two, the Vixenwood (home to many foxes, and origin of the village's name), the hilly land east of the river, and Deadmire, so named for the bones discovered beneath it some time after the founding. The Vixenwood yielded many edible rootplants, which were available for mass foraging after hunters drove the dangerous predators out of the forest.

After settlement, the ruling house sent knights to see to the newly formed peasantry. These knights ruled over the village for decades, adorned with silks that put even some lords to shame (another gift from the Vixenwood!). When they got too big for their titles, though, their lord sent a small army to demand his tribute. When the knights defied the army, they were slain in a violent little skirmish.

After that point, the populace was left to more or less govern itself. While the farming folk deferred largely to their elders at first, it was the hunters, with their weapons and martial expertise, that filled the void. Without armed knights to rule, the task fell naturally to those with bows.

Unfortunately without lords to demand they wash their stink, the earthy hunters stopped caring for their hygiene and fell ill. This in turn contaminated the rootplants they collected, resulting in a new fields popping up all over across the river to fill the need for meals. Eventually the disease forced the to burn their own dwellings in a desperate attempt to stem the decay, and for a time, the village was divided in two, hunters disbarred from crossing the river.

It took another 30 years or so - and the advent of herbal medicine in the village - for the hunters to reclaim their former glory. A booming boar population in the Foxwood yielded leathers, and clad in iconic cuir bouilli, they once again became the undisputed leaders of the settlement.

Some time after the end of our Ex Novo phase, a keep was constructed over the ruins of the old knights' hall and would serve as a home and fortification for House Liskfield, who would seize power by scheming against another Westerland house and being elevated to nobility themselves during the Blackfyre Rebellion.

.... Okay, not as brief as I'd intended. But that's an excellent sign! Just goes to show how much engaging lore can come from Ex Novo so quickly. This was only a 10-turn run, too! Really loving this thing, best $5 I've spent in a long time. My friend and I already have our next session in mind.


Wish you could realize how happy this makes us! Thank you, really, and here's to the lovely city of Vixenwood!


I've been playing this solo, attempting to make a city for another RPG campaign. It's been really fun and has given me some great ideas! I do have a question. If factions lose all of their citizen tokens do they effectively no longer have any influence in the city? Could they have been driven out?

For example, I had my city occupied in the very first development phase. A few phases later a faction led a propaganda campaign against this faction taking the one citizen token they had their. Is that faction done? Would it make sense to have the propaganda campaign lead to the ouster of the occupying force? I could see this being a "what makes sense for the story" but I was just curious if there was a rule for this I was missing.


Hey, and thanks so much for using Ex Novo to enrich your RPG campaign; really do hope it will help you! 

As for the question, well, there isn't a specific rule in place, but I would argue that the faction probably remains in play, albeit completely powerless. If though --narratively speaking-- it'd be more appropriate to have it vanish I'd say go with that instead. 

Either way it really is up to you to decide what feels right. playing loose with the rules is part of the experience anyway :) 


After watching a video on youtube about solo rpg I discovered EX Novo!

It's a REALLY good game to create a amazing city!
I gave it a try and i end up with a very interesting setting for a maybe future game!

First a little settlement of hunters struggling with the druids of the region and the royal guard, then a long winter + war nearby + plague and hunters became lumberjacks with a flourishing industry of magic wood... but in the shadow grows a cult who adore a coven of witches and the army tend to become a bit more expeditive with weapon which  spit fire...

Welcome to Riverwood, a great place to start your adventuring journey!

(i maybe retake the map on inkarnate, to make it real!!)

Thanks a ton for the kind words, the support, and above all the shadowy cults of Riverwood :)

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I'm joining the crowd, that heard about Ex Novo from Dicebreaker.

I have to say, it's amazing for world building, even if in a smaller scale.

I have a few questions: On my third phase I had 616 which wants me to remove 2 Districts or Landamrks. At that point I only had one district and one landmark + 3 faction-landmarks.

I chose to remove two faction-landmarks, without removing the factions. Was this within the rules?

Also Event 643 says "change something". I Just added more ocean. I think that was not meant with "something" (I ignored the new life).

I had to bend' the rules, because my "city" is actually a space station. So the factions had to be all within the districts. Ocean represented uninhabitable space, due to deadly radiation or something.

Here is the city "Miner's Grave" in the beginning.

The three factions are:

  • Star: Law/Goverment
  • Wings: Smuggler
  • Drill: Miners

The outpost was formed by mainly the miners, looking for freedom of the rather suppressing Goverment. Of course the government could not let this pass and established a command center. The smugglers just went for the ride.

After five phases:

After discovering that the protecting nebula was weakening, new collectors (surge) were constructed to power the station. However the nebula continued to weaken and the radiaton destroyed the collectors. Continuing to weaken, the raditon almost destroyed the station causing the smugglers to flee. For the goverment this no mans land became a post, you were sent for punishment.

The miners however stayed and invested in robots for mining (box with circles) and soon were able to build the northern district 2, gaining access to the special minerals.

Like sharks smelling blood, the smugglers smelled profit and came back. (I ignored the plague, and just gave a faction power).

And in the end:

The smugglers were not the only one to hear about the valuable resources. The goverment came back and they came back with force. After, what can only be called, a war of attrition the goverment established a stronghold in district 2. District 1was bascally inhabitable (not shown) except the area surrounding the miners main building.

As things were cooling down, a reaction in the nebula caused parts of it to disperse, allowing more radiation to break through. The new hole in the natural defense barely missed the northern district.

Up to this point, the people of the northern district supported the smugglers, however an attempt to get rid of the goverment, failed spectacularly. Without the minerguilds support, who were busy otherwise), the government drove the smugglers back to their stronghold.

Meanwhile the miners used the distractions (paired with the events above) and rebuild/ reactivated the robot minig facilites and adding another district 3. Neither the goverment nor the smugglers could stop them, due to their ongoing skrimishes.

The constant fighting between the two factions in district 2, drove the people to the minerguild. This made it impossible for the goverment to attact the miners without attacing the civilians. Using the plenty ressources, and the 'immunity' given by the people, the miner rebuild district 1.

The miners guild held control over district 1 and 3, while the Law-fraction held the northern district 2 with access to the most valuable resource. The smugglers only managed to get hold of a port.

I quite liked it, but this was not the outpost I had imagined. :)


Hehe. Yeah, you have to be open to discover the city. It can turn out really surprisingly. Happy to hear you managed to make Ex Novo work for a space station! We did some cyberpunk and sci-fi colony tests on our end and found that it works really well. Something as constrained as a space station might be tricky, but good job!

As for the rules: Yeah, removing the landmark does not remove the faction. It may have story consequences tho as these factions have no "headquarter" anymore. Also change something generally refers to district/resource/landmark but to be honest, that was perfectly fine!

Thanks for sharing!


I am really stuck I want to play this game but it does not tell me all of the stuff like entry


That does not give a lot of information, to help.

If you mean you don't understand 'entry' means, for example in 'explain how that entry relates to the current situation' or in 'Pick an entry from the Scale-Size table', than I can tell you, you are overthinking it.

I'm not one of the creators, but I'm willing to provide some pointers, if you can specify what you don't understand.

Still, in the ExNovo_1-1.pdf, there is an example starting from page 12. That could give you some pointers.


Hey Naghan, Smoky82. I'll be happy to help - and update the text to clarify things. To that end it would be helpful to know what exactly is confusing or unclear.

In this case, entry simply is the word entry, not a game term. It refers to an entry in a table. Each table consists of multiple entries linked to numbers. I'm not a native speaker so if there's another word that would be more easily understood, do let me know!


Also here from the dicebreaker video and looking forward to building a small city for a homebrew campaign!


let us know how it goes! Also do pay special attention to the rules for power. They seem to be a bit intuitive. At least that's what I get from watching some YouTube playthroughs  and we're considering some overhauls. If you have some feedback there, please let us know!

I had a blast and am very happy with how my city turned out.  The development phase creating a real history  is exactly what I wanted, though the power didn't come into any of my rolls; my city had a lot of hardships: predators, famine, pirates. I  spent a lot of time losing and gaining resources.  One thing that did happen was the famine had me remove a district when I only had one district.  I wasn't sure what to do at that point. I just took a phase for natural growth and considered the district loss/growth a wash and moved on.  Again, very happy. Thank you!


Heh. Yeah, that's an interesting corner case with the district. I think your way of resolving it is perfect. You could also go differently and say the city was extinguished, and then with the next "natural growth" you just have people coming in to claim the ruins :D


I am here from dicebreaker video as well. I am looking forward to designing some towns or cities that ! can have in my back pocket. It will be nice to have some background history for the odd town that my character visits. Who knows I may even build a castle or fortifications as an ongoing plot hook.


That's just what Ex Novo is meant for! I hope you enjoy building. Also I can really recommend playing with others as that adds a whole dimension to the game that I really enjoy.

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I have a new solo gaming live-stream, and have part 1 of Ex Novo for my latest episode. I spotted a teeny tiny typo in the manual 😆. I am a tech writer by day, so always happy to help people edit manuals if you need a hand. Part 2 next week…

Twitch -
YouTube -


Why, this is wonderful! Thank you very much; off to watch it :)




Another here from dicebreaker's video. I had a blast building the toppled theocracy of Gorga. I was being fairly silly with it at first, and ended up surprisingly invested in the power transfer when it happened. Love how this gets the creative juices flowing! Also, don't build religious monuments near swampland, it could topple your theocracy 🤣


*a moment of somber silence for the toppled theocracy*

Thanks so much for sharing this! A crucial tip indeed, and also the kind of story we love hearing :)


I feel like there is something I am not understanding. Is the only time you move tokens from the Pool to the City when you add a District (or increase its density)? That is the only place in the rules I see other than the Topping Out Phase at very end. If this is the case when making a Village or Town it is possible to end up with only a single District and thus only one Citizen Token on the map while having two or three Factions which all say they are supposed to draw their tokens from the City or another Faction note card, not the Growth Pool. If you don't randomly roll an Event that adds a district, every Event that changes a Faction's Power just slides the single Token around constantly. Can a Faction exist with no tokens? If not, does Rolling two Factions when you only have one District mean that one of the Factions is instantly removed? Or can relatively powerless Factions just exist and they just keep playing hot potato with the only Growth Token in play?

Aside from these questions I am loving this thus far, both as a single player game and a tool for designing places for games/fiction. Just a bit confused...


Alright, so...

yes, you only add tokens to the city when a district is added or made more dense. This can happen during events, during the natural growth part of the event turn or in the topping out phase.

It is possible to have multiple factions and only one "citizen token" for power to go around. Then they do in fact squabble over what little power there is. This also is a yes on your question: Factions without power still exist. They just don't have a significant power structure or support to really affect too much.

You may also want to check out the devlog I posted the other day. I'm thinking about changing the power rules and the new set of experimental rules can be found there:


So the optional Natural Growth step isn't something that happens after the Events, but that you choose to interject at any point(s) during the history? I think that's the biggest thing I missed and I was lumping Natural Growth and Topping Out together in my head. 


natural growth can happen after EVERY event, if the active player wants it. 


It's been a fun game to play, so much so I've made it my first python program. :) Thank you for the inspiration!


Thank you! Would love to see your python take on it too :)


I'd be happy to send it out, I'll send you a message when it's uploaded for y'all's review.


Sounds like a brilliant plan :)

Bit of help required please. Just played through this for the first tme.  I have my map but I mainly rolled disasters that had me remove resources / districts. For a "town" with  potentially 20 regions I only ended up filling 4 of them. I wonder if I was doing something wrong or is this par for the course? Thanks.


Don't forget that you can do NATURAL GROWTH after each event!

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