This work provides a good overview to a new fantasy game system. Aimed, or so the authors proclaim, at those who wish to focus on the story of their game rather than the game mechanics, it still has comprehensive rules to allow characters to fight and accomplish other tasks, evade attacks and - when unlucky - get hurt or killed.
The core system allows each character to have certain abilities - defined as skills and other capabilities - which are reflected by increasing die type, from d4 to d12, as their ability increases. Not only that, but there are 2 levels of additional focus that can be taken so that someone who likes swordfighting may roll an extra die if they have chosen to specialise in a particular type of sword (only, of course, when they are using that type of sword!). Some physical characteristics also have a die assigned, but 'intelligence' is left to the player's own choice rather than one being written down for the character. In combat, characters match their skills against those of their opponents, with a range of 'dodge pools' (each against a different form of threat) to use to evade damage when an apparently successful attack is launched against them.
Interestingly, when not making an attempt to do something that is opposed by someone else, the roll is made against a 'difficulty' which is only broadly assigned by the GM - the GM decides the die type of the difficulty, but then has to roll it to get the precise difficulty against which the character needs to roll to succeed, in a fairly normal 'the higher the better' style.
The first part of the book gives an overview of how a character works, showing how an individual character is described in game terms with plenty of examples woven in to show it in operation. Then a few sample characters are given, followed by a basic adventure in which a group of players and a GM can try out the system. There is an interesting 'adventure flowchart' used to describe the progression through the adventure and the locations involved, making it easy to move from one plot-significant place to another.
Naturally, in a 22-page 'quick start' a lot is left out - for example, there is the opportunity for level-based advancement of characters which is not even touched upon here. Magic is glossed over as well, although it does occur in both the example characters and the adventure. More detail is promised when the full rules are released.
Despite claiming to be a 'story' based system, it does - at least in this admittedly basic introduction - come over very much as focussed on combat over and above any role-playing or interaction save that at the point of a sword. Hopefully the full rules will bring potential for a wider range of activities than prowling around hitting things! Still, a promising start for those seeking alternate fantasy systems, well worth taking a look.
Return to Eldritch High Fantasy Quick Start Guide page.
Reviewed: 11 June 2006