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Adventure Fantasy Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2017 07:19:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This game clocks in at 102 pages of raw content once you take away ToC, editorial, etc. (101 if you don’t count the index). My review is based on the softcover print edition, fourth printing, 10th revision to be more precise. The book, as usual for OSR-games, is in 6’’ by 9’’/A5-format.

This review was requested by my patreons.

Okay, so Adventure Fantasy Game (AFG) can be considered to be an OSR-game, but it is one that strongly deviates from the roots of the game. The tag-line is “New School Mechanics – Old School Adventure Gaming” – sounds interesting right? Well, the first and most obvious deviation from e.g. Labyrinth Lord, S &W or LotFP would be that this system only employs d6s – it is based on the 5MORE-design of David Bowman. Its goal is to teach roleplaying quick and one of the best components of this book is the organization: Whenever you find yourself looking for rules, the book tells you where to find them. This begins in the introduction and is used to great effect throughout the book – this is easy to use.

So, 5MORE is simple: Roll 5+ on a d6 and you have a success. You gain +1 for easy tasks, -1 for hard ones; +1 for good ideas, -1 for bad ones, +1 for high relevant stat, -1 for low relevant stat, +1 for good equipment, -1 for bad equipment. 1 is an absolute failure, 2 – 4 are regular failures. That’s the core of the system.

Characters are defined by 3 Stats: Physique (PHY), Craft (CRA) and Spirit (SPI). You roll 3d6 for each, but bad rolls are less important in AFG than in comparable OSR-games. These stats know three grades: All values of 8 or less are low (-1 to 5MORE rolls), all above 13 are high (+1 to 5MORE rolls).

Low Physique means you have to two-hand all melee weapons; high adds +1 Additional Hit to melee damage.

Low Craft makes reading and writing difficult, high Craft nets +1 spell known.

Low Spirit means that you’re likely to be hit by random effects (unlucky), while high Spirit nets you +1 Mana and a 1/session die reroll.

Hits represent how much punishment the character can take. They are determined by the Way (i.e. class level) taken.

Level is measured from 1 to 12 and is used to categorize PCs and threats.

Tiers are the character’s status in the setting; Up to level 3, characters are tier 1; level 4 – 6 = tier 2, level 7 – 9 = tier 3 and level 10+ characters are tier 4.

AFG knows three ways: The Way of Magic would be the caster class; 1d6 Hits per level. 1st level spellcasters know 3 spells: Unveil Arcana (AFG’s detect magic) and a spell of level 0 and 1. They start with 1 Mana and for each level gained, the caster gains an additional Mana and learns a new spell of one spell level higher – at 2nd level, you learn e.g. a second level spell. Spells may be researched, but more on that later. Mana replenishes after 6 hours good sleep, but each spell may only be cast ONCE per 24 hours. Spells are written down in Grimoires – while this evokes the traditional wizard’s spellbook, it make well take other forms. The caster engine also features two important items: Talismans allow a caster to cast the spell associated with the talisman an additional time per day, while Mana Vessels are basically Mana batteries. Casters can’t cast in armor and are not trained in armor and shields. Spells that require concentration only allow a caster to move 10 feet per round and any tasks beyond the painfully mundane requires a Stubbornness save to avoid breaking concentration. Non-instantaneous/non-permanent spells can be prolonged by expending additional Mana.

The Way of Steel nets 1d6 + 2 Hits per level in the way of steel. Hits are tied to fighting skill (more on that later) and way of steel characters may later develop or learn secret weapon techniques. These fellows are obviously trained in armor, shields, etc.

The Way of Arts would be the specialist/thief (called practitioner here), who gains 1d6 Hits per level and is trained in light armor, but not shields. As skill specialists, they can distribute 5 EXPERT letters per level. They also may actually earn a modest living without murder-hobo-ing. Characters can freely multiclass, which allows for e.g. armored casters, though there are limitations in play to avoid abuse.

At first level, casters and practitioners roll 2d6 and pick the best result; fighters roll 2d6, pick the best result, and then add +2 o determine the Hits at 1st level. (Yes, you may end up having just 1 Hit.) Hits are regained at a rate of 1 Hit per day, though spells and medical assistance may hasten that. Temporary damage is recovered as a rate of 1 Hit per hour of non-strenuous activity.

Upon gaining a level, you roll one die for ALL levels attained (fighter add +2 per fighter level) and compare the result with your previous maximum – you keep the higher version. The German old-school RPG Midgard employs a similar mechanic and it works remarkably well to even out the playing field, while keeping the power-curve relatively flat.

If your Hits go to 0, you keep tracking negative Hits. You roll 1d6, add your negative Hits and consult a table – on 14 you’re dead, otherwise broken bones, scars etc. can happen. If you’re staggered, you can’t act, defend at -1 and roll an extra d6 on that table when dipping below 0 Hits.

AFG assumes a silver standard: 1 silver thaler (abbreviated as “t”) is worth 12 silver pennies, is worth 48 copper farthings. Gold coins are uncommon and may be worth 4d6 t. starting equipment is provided in a simple manner. There you go, character creation and basic rules in 5 minutes. (Probably 10 for roleplaying newcomers.)

Now, how are tasks resolved? Well, 5MORE, as per the rules depicted above. However, there is an additional component that also reminded me of Midgard: When you succeed at any given 5MORE task, you roll a d6. On a 5 – 6, you roll an Experience Roll. If that roll comes up as 5 or 6 as well, then you add an EXPERT letter next to the task. First time an “E”, third time a “P” – until you spell out the word EXPERT. This means that the character gains +1 to all 5MORE rolls with that task. After you’ve become an EXPERT in six Tasks, you can claim the title MASTER for one of your EXPERT skills. You erase the EXPERT letters and instead write down MASTER – in this one skill, you get an additional +1 to 5MORE rolls. The book provides a variety of sample tasks, but encourages groups to come up with their own array of tasks – this allows you to emphasize or de-emphasize breadth of skills as desired.

If a task would require more than 6 to succeed, it requires a 6, plus an additional 6 for each point above 6 – so a task with a difficulty of 8 would require three consecutive 6s to succeed.

Saving throws are rolled as 5MORE-tests, but they are modified by the character’s Tier – 2. First level characters thus save on 6+. AFG uses 5 saves: Alertness, Awareness, Toughness, Stubbornness and Morale. Saves are Tasks and can accumulate EXPERT letters and you may become a MASTER in one of them.

AFG has two different combat-engines. Base damage in both is 1d6, +1d6 for each point of FC; wielding a two-handed weapon with high PHY adds +1d6. Armor comes in 4 categories and decreases your speed.

The first of the systems is called 5MAIL. Akin in structure to THAC0, this means that you need 5+ to hit chainmail, less against targets with less armor, more than versus better armored targets. Simple.

Skill at arms is measured by Fighting Capability (FC). 1st level characters have FC 0, and a character’s FC is equal to the character’s Tier minus 1. Additional Hits (the +2 Hits gained by fighters) also increase FC, as per a table. Every 4 additional Hits increase FC as though the character level is +1 higher. Melee, Block and Missile are Tasks like any other. A 5MAIL combat round takes 6 seconds grouped in 4 phases. It should be noted that each character can only act in ONE phase. Melee phase lets you attack, charge (move twice melee speed, attack at +1, but that bonus also applies to the target of the charged foe), shield block (negates a successful attack on 5MORE. Then comes the Missile Phase: Cover and Range decrease 5MAIL rolls. In the Manoeuvre Phase, the character can move up to twice their melee speed. Magic Phase is last – here, spells are cast. Spellcasting must be announced at the start of the round, one round in advance for spells that take longer, etc. If the spellcaster takes damage before finishing the cast, the spell and Mana is lost.

In 5MAIL, armor reduces the chance of being hit.

The second system is FIGHTMORE; it sports the same phases and basic structure, but melee is a contest of FC, with a potential for both contestants hitting their target. This makes the combat, obviously, not more complex – just more swingy. Charge in the system is also more volatile, adding a bonus damage die to damage dealt and received. In FIGHTMORE, armor reduces damage incurred by 1- 3, depending on how heavy the armor is. Personally, I think FIGHTMORE is a bit ironically named – if anything, players will want to fight less, considering that the results are more unreliable and not necessarily more complex or rewarding. Just my 2 cents, btw.

There are a couple of optional rules for shield smashes, morale or hacking through mooks. More rewarding would imho be the alternate rules for different weapons: Flails e.g. can’t be blocked by shields, spears inflict damage first, etc. – this aspect is probably the best component of FIGHTMORE.

The book also provides means to tweak the combat engines.

As a roleplaying game book, AFG provides values for hirelings, travel, equipment, etc. It should be noted that searching for hidden things is done EXCLUSIVELY by the players – no task is assigned to it, so if you don’t think of checking that chest for a secret compartment…well, though luck. That’s one aspect I really like.

Now, as faith is concerned, AFG uses the term Venerable as a catch-all for godlings, spirits, deities, demons, etc. Venerables are appeased by Worship, by Henosis (emulating them) and Charisma is the term employed for being favored by the venerable. Some sample cults, from Cthulhu to Dove (Queen of the Underdogs) and Saint Eleuther (savior of the lost) are provided and feature some nice, quirky and interesting angles.

As you may have gleaned by this aspect, we have now wholly entered the more complex aspects of AFG, with spell research and design rules being per se not bad, but rather complex – on the plus side, the system does emphasize the serious benefits of having assistants/apprentices – I strongly recommend spellcasters to invest in them when researching. Spells have a range, casting time and duration as well as a spell-level, which may reach from 0 to 12. 9 example spellcasting traditions are provided, most of which sport 1 spell per level, though e.g. Goetia only extends to level 6, while dendromancy only comes with a level 0 and level 1 spell. That being said, conversion from OSR games (and current games), should be pretty easy. AFG does emphasize magic as less of a damage dealer and more as a wondrous tool, which, in general, is something I applaud.

Now I did mention combat secret techniques – while also complex, something you design yourself, etc., these are much more basic than spells. They prevent you from gaining MASTER in a Task, but increase your Hits. Yeah, I was also rather underwhelmed. Neoclassical Geek revival has, system-immanently, a significantly more interesting melee system.

Experience is btw. gained by securing (and escaping with) treasure troves and by achieving character (and party) accomplishments. The book also features tier-based rules for holdings, a monster-generator and a brief magic item generator.

The final section of the book is devoted to a 14 page hexcrawl-y adventure sketch; the map is pretty small on the page and no player-friendly version is included, but its premise is interesting: What if Switzerland had volcanoes, a temple of Cthulhu and some messed up critters. The adventure, while featuring a cool premise, is ultimately just a sketch you need to expand and develop – as provided, it is a skeletal structure of a nice region to adventure in, but you can’t use this well for go-play style gameplay.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious accumulations of issues on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard, with artworks being a combination of a few original b/w-pieces and thematically-fitting public domain sources. The softcover is…well, a solid softcover. I can’t comment on the virtues or lack thereof of the pdf version.

Paolo Greco’s AFG is a weird little system and I frankly am not 100% sure for whom it was made; on the one hand, you have a really simple, fun, rules-lite foundation with 5MORE and its 5MAIL combat. On the other hand, FC calculation is, to me, a bit more obtuse than it should be – when I pick up a rules-lite game, I expect such a central aspect to be…simpler? At the same time, the system tries to account for more complexity for veterans, with spell research, FIGHTMORE etc. endeavoring to capture new-school options. In that latter aspect, the game, at least in my opinion, fails. Apart from the nice peculiarities of weapon groups, FIGHTMORE essentially makes me want to fight less – very swingy results can be very frustrating in the long run, and honestly, from shield-bashing to charging, the “tactical” options feel like they were jammed into a rules-corset that is simply not designed to account for vast complexity. That is not to say that it doesn’t work; that’s just to say that I fail to see the appeal.

When I want brutal complexity, I play PFRPG. When I want to play OSR with new-school combat that sports serious tactical depth, I wholeheartedly recommend Neoclassical Geek Revival. So yeah, the “New School mechanics”-component here…not that well done.

That being said, AFG does have serious value, as far as I’m concerned – at least for a very specific target demographic. When used as a rules-lite RPg for beginners, it’s easily taught, plays fast and is, ultimately, fun. And if you absolutely want to play a campaign with a d6-only system, it has the tools to make that happen without becoming bland. While I maintain that the more advanced rules feel a bit tacked on to the simple chassis, they do help to keep player interest in the long run. If you’re e.g. a fan of Kort’thalis Publishing’s offerings, but fear that their default VSd6-engine (which, I maintain, works best for one-shots and brief mini-campaigns) will prove boring for your players in the long run, then AFG will be exactly what the doctor ordered! Slightly more complexity, but not that much.

Now, as a person, this system ultimately did not resonate with me; I appreciate the components of flavor here and there and some aspects of spell research (if not the entire system), but, as a whole, this didn’t really do anything for me. As a reviewer, though, I can see the appeal this system can have for some groups out there and it is NOT a bad system! The organization etc. is simple, efficient and I can see people having fun with it. Still, the nagging feeling remains that this would have benefited from being two systems – one simple and one complex. The “complex” components herein tend to be underwhelming, also due to the space available. Focusing on one type of gameplay would probably have been the more prudent decision. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. Usually, I’d rate up due to in dubio pro reo, but considering the very specific demographics, I feel that this is closer to 3 stars than 4, also since fans of really rules-lite games will probably consider a couple of the more complex components…well…too needlessly complex.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Fantasy Game
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Into the Odd
by Kevin C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2017 17:21:40

This is the most inspiring RPG product I have ever purchased. I do not know how such terse, concise writing can infer and contain so much. If you want a taste of the style and content, visit Chris McDowell's blog at soogagames dot blogspot dot com (or google "Into the Odd Blog"). If you enjoy The Black Hack you will also probably enjoy Into the Odd.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Odd
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Chthonic Codex
by Cenate P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2017 11:10:46

It's a campaign setting! It's a bestiary! It's a whole new way to handle magic in your campaign setting! It's a low-calorie dessert topping! It's Chthonic Codex!

The DIY/manapunk aesthetic of Lamentations of the Flame Princess meets Potter-style wizard school shenanigans. The closest RPG supplement I can think of to the Codex is GURPS: Illuminati University, another book about students at a ridiculous university where hoary old traditions hold sway but limitless power and ineffable weirdness wait in the wings.

You get a couple of things suitable for plugging into any OSR-type campaign:

  1. About thirty new monsters, ranging from animated blobs of magical tar to origami golems to animated lecterns made from and powered by the corpses of dead apprentice wizards.
  2. Multiple new schools of wizardry, including the old standbys of "necromancer" and "fire wizard" but also some more interesting options like astrologers and artificers. Includes spells, research rules, etc.
  3. Pages upon pages of random charts to generate locations, quests, magic items, and the like.

If you're like me, and wanted to build a campaign world from scratch by bolting together a bunch of Weird OSR content that appealed to you, this is a must-get. The magic system is fantastic, the creatures are clever, and the general aesthetic of the thing is entertaining.

About the only real issue here is that the layout is kind of weird - bestiary up front, magic schools in the middle, everything else kind of shotgunned here and there.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chthonic Codex
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Macchiato Monsters ZERO
by Troy H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/28/2017 11:32:21

This tight little OSR-indie game combines the spiciest bits of The Black Hack and The White Hack, and then throws in some flavoring of its own to create a delicious stew of low-prep, quick-to-learn, quick-to-run, caffeinated fantasy gaming.

The two bits I like best about MM is the risk die and the way characters are built.

The risk die comes to MM by way of TBH's usage die, but the scope of the risk die is expanded quite a bit in MM. At base, risk dice are used for things in the fiction that are expendable, brittle, dangerous to use, etc. You assign a die, anything from a d12 to a d4, to an object. When the object is used/tested in play, the risk die is rolled. On a result of 1-3, the die is replaced with the next smallest die in the d12 to d4 run.

The second thing I like best about Macchiato Monsters is the way characters are built. No classes or races, per se! Building a character is like buffet shopping from a list of possible stat upgrades, traits, and abilities. This leads to character concepts you will see nowhere else in fantasy gaming. I mean, "weird" for a D&D game is a gnome illusionist or a dwarven thief, right? Weird for MM might be a living construct that has modular parts and electrical spellcasting. Of course you can still play the old staples too, but the system really supports your creativity in this regard.

All in all this is great stuff. I know it's an evolving work, which is a good thing. Eric Nieudan is still in love with it and is adding things like creative map generators and other tools to it on a fairly regular basis.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Macchiato Monsters ZERO
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Marvels & Malisons
by Tore N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2017 08:11:58

A collection of fun and creative magic, using the brilliant level-less magic rules in Wonder & Wickedness. Some of the magic schools are idiosyncratic, but is never silly.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvels & Malisons
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Macchiato Monsters ZERO
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/12/2017 23:13:19

Macchiato Monsters is a fun, lightweight system that captures the feel of classic D&D in just 34 pages -- and that includes the cover, OGL, worksheets, and 50 monsters! The classless system allows you to build a character that fits your concept, providing they live long enough, of course. Combat tends to be fast, and at low-levels it can be qutie deadly. If you're looking for an OSR game that welcomes players using their creativity rather than what's written on their character sheet, Macchiato Monsters is worth checking out.

While it's not the first game to use a risk die (roll a die of a certain size, if you roll a 1-3, the die size steps down the next time you use it), I believe it features the most extensive use of this type of die in any game I've come across. Personally, I like this mechanic as it provides for careful resource management without having to individually track every coin, crossbow bolt, and ration.

The spell system reminds me of Vance's Polysyllabic Verbalizations from 13th Age or the ritual system from that game. Players have a lot of leeway in what effects their spells will have. There's a risk to failing to successfully cast a spell, however. It's not quite as gonzo as Dungoen Crawl Classics' consequences, but it adds an element of risk/reward when casting spells.

I'm amazed by how much content is packed into this book. It offers these little rules that are only a paragraph or two in length and cover a broad spectrum of scenarios that come up in a typical fantasy game. Morale, mass combat, random encounters, NPC reactions, chases, wilderness travel, retreating from combat, determining the weather, hirelings, sanity, stamina, and other subsystems are all provided in a consice manner. Often, the rule can be written with few words thanks to the nearly universal use of the risk die.

Even when I run other systems, I like to use Macchiao Monsters as a quick reference for how to handle situations. For example, I wanted to provide a unique magic item to a player recently, and assigned the item a risk die, rather than a set number of charges. Watching him weigh wether or not each use is worthwhile adds an interesting strategic twist that wouldn't be there if charges were simply be deducted from a total.

In a sense, this book is like a minuscule Rule Cyclopedia. It covers a broad range of situations in a small package.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Macchiato Monsters ZERO
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Macchiato Monsters ZERO
by Ali B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/12/2017 19:00:39

(Disclaimer: I had the chance to do some playtests for the game and my name appears in the special thanks section.)

As many others tabletop gamers, I have a long history of love and hate with D&D. When OSR became a thing, I got really excited at the prospect of unearthing old modules and play the way our ancestors did.

But despite all the different rulesets available, I found myself still looking for the perfect fit for my tastes and GMing style.

Then came Eric Nieudan and his new game Macchiato Monsters. See, Eric is a smart guy and talented Game Designer: with his game, he managed to hand pick some of the best mechanics that came out of the DIY D&D scene these last few years, added some of his own, and blended them in a way that makes sense.

  • The game is expressive, thanks to its classless and Trait-based character creation system and freeform magic.

  • It's easy to manage, thanks to the "Risk Die" mechanic. Basically, the author took the "Usage Die" from The Black Hack, and applied it to almost every variable values of the game: Consummables, Armor Ratings, Money,...

  • It's fast paced, thanks to the player-facing, roll-under resolution system.

  • The game is easy to GM, thanks to the Advantage mechanic (à la The Black Hack/D&D5), and the Risk Die to handle states changes (weather, chaos, morale, troups, sanity...)

  • And the game supports Lazy/No-Prep or Sandbox GMing style thanks to all the tools provided. Random tables, drop tables, procedural hex-map generator, encounters, factions, plots, treasures... The game comes with batteries included : everything needed to play on-the-go, or to populate the map between sessions is there.

Of course nothing is perfect in this world, and the game comes with a few flaws : risk dice can be somtimes hard to track when you are using too many of them in your game. Also this ZERO version, despite being fully playable, is still a preview : some parts are still rough or missing, and some tables deserve a few more words to explain how to use them IMHO.

But fear not: there's already more than enough content for you to play with for months. And the author provides regular updates everytime he finishes a new part.

For the price of a cup of coffee (at least in Paris!), you definitely should treat yourself and purchase this game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Macchiato Monsters ZERO
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/11/2017 03:28:26

(Re-posted from https://oliof.blogspot.de/2017/06/quick-review-macchiato-monsters-zero.html)

Macchiato Monsters ZERO is a hack of hacks (Black Hack and White Hack, neither of which I know myself). It has some nice mechanics that a both tight and loose, comfortable in a word. The game is complete, has some nice mechanics (I like the death-spirally/doom-clocky risk dice, and the roll all the dice fast equipment generation method). I guess some people will take umbrage with the single-die-roll-combat resolution (players roll and do damage on success/take damage on failure), but I guess that is more about how that feels ... Dungeon World players might feel right at home.

The recently added Extra Shots has a number of referee facing tools that uses the resource die mechanic to have semi-dynamic encounter / event tables: The worse the circumstances, the lower the die size, the worse the result. It's nice that in the current work-in-progress the extra shots each fit one page.

There are also some in-progress die drop tables which are another bunch of tools for quick off-the-cuff prep in the macchiato-fantasy, which is described as "borderlands style" (i.e. exploration of dangerous mostly unknown area, plus safe havens/points of light to return back to).

The map generator deserves extra mention because it is not purely random but somewhat procedural. This promises somewhat more natural looking maps.

Macchiato Monsters is probably the system I will use for short-notice games (at conventions or similar). I am also seriously considering mashing it up with Wonder&Wickedness for a Principalities of Glantri vs. The Grand Schools of the Hypogea spinoff of my current campaign; i.e. Make Total Destroy with Nuclear Powered Lich Mages discovering Hypogean Mana Tar ...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mageblade! Zero
by Tore N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2017 13:57:01

A brilliant and light-weight fantasy rpg. While it owes something to THE fantasy rpg, it has flavor and interesting rules-choices, and does not feel like 'yet another OSR game'. Mageblade is pleasantly terse, and works well as a rules-reference, without being dry or bland. For me Mageblade strikes a balance between hardcore let-the-dice-fall-as-they-may old school gaming, and giving meaningfull and fun choices during character generation.

The game is built so that it complements Lost Pages' two brilliant magic sourcebooks (Wonder & Wickedness and Marvels & Malisons) but does not requre them. As I own these two (and recommend them as well) I see that as a plus.

(And I'd put that Joson Sholtis cover on my wall if I could).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mageblade! Zero
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Wonder & Wickedness
by Kevin W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2016 09:07:00

This is right in my wheel house: simplifying spells (I can't memorize hundreds of spells) while simultaneously making them more flavorful and more versatile.

I immediately ported them into my new OSR campaign. I love it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wonder & Wickedness
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Chthonic Codex
by Tore N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/16/2016 15:23:05

The Chthonic Codex is a cornucopia of creativity. Too often magic in rpgs is presented in a very pragmatic and bland way, but in this book every spell has flavor and adventure hooks for magic-users of all stripes. A vast and vibrant setting is indicated, without limiting or locking things in place. I would suggest that you read it cover to cover, with a notebook close by, as you are likely to come up with a wealth of uses for the ideas within. Greco's writing style is compelling and strong. It is colorful, without being too florid or verbose. The organization is not terribly intuitive though, and reading the Codex feels a little like reading a wizard's grimoire, I view that as a positive, but you may want a few bookmarks if you want to reference it at the gaming table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chthonic Codex
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Chthonic Codex
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/21/2016 06:41:19

An excellent source of strange creatures, weird spells, useful subclasses of magic-user and bizzare setting components.

You can read an indepth review on my blog: http://d-infinity.net/blog/derek-holland/review-chthonic-codex



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Odditional materials
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/23/2016 21:57:37

Great resource for ItO. Worth the ridiculously reasonable price of admission for Sean Smith's Cyber London hack alone.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Odditional materials
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Into the Odd
by Christopher T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/16/2015 22:00:51

This review is based on a single play as the GM. I bought the PDF, read it and immediately set up a game and ran it, which is probably the fastest purchase to play for an RPG I've ever had. The game rules are simple, but effective. Saves go against a stat, either Str, Dex or Will. Combat is rolling for damage only. This leaves lots of room for adjudication of odd situations on the fly without flipping through a book. Character creation is fast and interesting with only 4 stats and a matrix for equipment based on them. I'd love to see more matrices of stats to equipment as that is brilliant since you skip the horrible and long step where people buy all their crap during most of your first session for the ZZzzzz. We were off and playing within 15 minutes and the game runs at a good clip. I finished an entire adventure with about 6 encounters in just over 2 hours. Definitely a system to check out and try if you are interested in OSR as it's a boiled down D20 at it's core, and frankly, if you want to get into story stuff without all the annoying and confusing system crap in say Dungeon World or FATE, this will do it. Will make a very easy pick up game for nights drunk when you, as the hapless GM, get forced to run something as well!

Overall it is as if Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Numenera had a child.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Odd
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Into the Odd
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/28/2015 03:24:11
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Ein Old-School-Rollenspiel auf 48 Seiten? Into the Odd bietet Material zum Gleich-Losspielen: Alle Regeln auf einer Seite, Zufalls- und Generierungstabellen, eine Spielwelt voller Absurditäten, ein Magiesystem basierend auf Gegenständen. Was es taugt, was es anders macht, wo es hakt – hier ist unsere Rezension zu diesem Indie-Kleinod.

OSR-Spotlight: Into the Odd

Bevor die Bücher einzelner Systeme ganze Schrankwände füllen konnten, fand man oft alles, was man zum Spielen brauchte, in einem oder mehreren dünnen Heftchen. Die Beschreibung der Spielwelt ließ das Meiste offen und es war den SL überlassen, den Faden weiterzuspinnen. Into the Odd ist es ein solches Spiel. Wie schlägt sich ein so liebevoll gestalteter Dinosaurierklon in der rollenspielerischen Postmoderne? Die Spielwelt

Die vorgegebene Spielwelt von Into the Odd konzentriert sich auf die Gegend um eine Metropolis namens Bastion. In dieser Stadt konzentriert sich zunehmend das zivilisierte Leben, während Ruinen, verlassene Städte und entvölkerte Landstriche die Umgebung darstellen. Bastion selbst bietet einen Mix aus Steampunk, Fantasy und rein bizarren Elementen.

Dem Spiel beigefügt sind eine Beispielsiedlung namens Hopesend Port, ein Hexcrawl der Umgebung und der erste Dungeon, die Iron Coral. Beschrieben ist also nicht die Umgebung von Bastion, sondern eine Gegend nördlich hiervon am Polarmeer. Das wahre Highlight sind dabei die ausgeflippten Zufallbegegnungstabellen und Hexbeschreibungen, die dem Setting sein Flair verleihen. So trifft man beständig auf Kulte und Merkwürdigkeiten rund um die Star Men, die Leute entführen und durch die Luft fliegen. Auch ansonsten verstecken sich hier eine Dosis abgedrehten Humors und einige Popkulturreferenzen.

Den stärksten Eindruck von der Welt gewinnt man durch die beigefügten Tabellen, auch im Anhang. Vieles ist nicht lange beschrieben, sondern gleich in verwertbare Tabellen verpackt worden. Insgesamt wird das implizite Versprechen des Buchtitels eingehalten: Diese Welt ist merkwürdig und abstrus. Sie will nicht zwingend Sinn ergeben, sondern unterhalten.

Die Regeln

Into the Odd verwendet Altbekanntes leicht anders, um ein besonders schlankes und meiner Meinung nach durchaus elegantes Regelwerk zu erschaffen:

Es gibt nur drei Attribute: Strength, Dexterity und Willpower. Jeder Waffe ist ein Schadenswürfel zugeordnet, von W4 bis W12. Jeder Charakter hat ein paar Trefferpunkte.

Tatsächlich gibt es aber nur zwei Proben: die Rettungs- und Schadenswürfe.

Rettungswürfe stellen das Grundgerüst des Spiels dar. Würfelt man mit einem W20 nicht mehr als den Attributswert, wurde die Probe bestanden. 1 ist immer ein Erfolg, 20 immer ein Fehlschlag. Die Bezeichnung „Saving Throw“ ist hierbei historisch zu sehen, denn ähnlich wie die Saving Rolls in Tunnels & Trolls sind diese Rettungswürfe allgemein einsetzbare Proben. Im Gegensatz zu D&D und dessen Varianten gibt es keine separaten Werte für Rettungswürfe – die drei Attribute genügen für alle Proben.

Ebenso im Gegensatz zu D&D gibt es keinen typischen W20-Angriffswurf. Man würfelt seinen Schadenswürfel (durch die Waffe vorgegeben), zieht den Rüstungsschutz (Armour) des Gegners ab und der Rest verbleibt als Schaden. Eine typische Rüstung reduziert den Schaden um 1 Punkt, bei Monstern liegt dieser Schutz höher. Die meisten Attacken gegen leicht gepanzerte Gegner bewirken also direkt Schaden. Wird der Angriff in irgendeiner Weise behindert, sinkt der Schaden auf W4. Wird er durch einen Umstand begünstigt, steigt er auf W12.

Jetzt kommt der Clou: Trefferpunkte fangen zwar Schaden ab, aber das Absinken auf 0 ist noch nicht der Tod oder die Ohnmacht. Stattdessen nimmt man Stärkeschaden. Man muss dann auf den niedrigeren Stärkewert einen Rettungswurf ablegen. Schlägt dieser fehl, hat man kritischen Schaden erlitten. Fällt der Stärkewert auf 0, ist man tot. Das System simuliert also mit einfachsten Mitteln zunehmenden Wundschaden.

Eine kurze Rast von ein paar Minuten stellt alle Trefferpunkte wieder her, eine lange Rast von einer Woche alle verlorenen Attributspunkte. Die Trefferpunkte sind somit ein kleines Polster an Sicherheit, das den Charakter vor Schlimmerem schützt. Mit den Attributspunkten muss man hingegen gut haushalten, da sonst auch die lebensrettenden Proben scheitern.

Ansonsten gilt: Eine Runde (Turn) erlaubt eine Aktion. Deren Ausgang kann über die oben genannten Würfe abgewickelt werden.

Arcana

Spart sich Into the Odd schon den W20-Angriffswurf, so verlässt es die Welt der d20-Spiele endgültig mit seinem gegenstandsbasierten Magiesystem. Das Spiel dreht sich um die Suche nach besonders mächtigen magisch-technologischen Artefakten, den Arcana. Man kann ein Arcanum je nach seiner Beschreibung direkt anwenden, oder versuchen, es mit einem Willpower-Save zu einer ungewöhnlichen Anwendung heranzuziehen.

Das Spiel kommt hierbei mit drei Seiten Beispiel-Arcana von dreierlei Stufen an Mächtigkeit. Diese reichen von einer Art Portal-Gun (Space Folder) bis zur Wetterkontrollmaschine (Weather Altar). Viele Effekte sind vage beschrieben und erlauben es den Spielern, kreative Einsatzmöglichkeiten zu finden. Nicht alle sind durch Spielwerte definiert.

[box]“PHASE KEY: Phase through a wall or floor with any objects you are carrying.“

„GAVEL OF THE UNBREAKABLE SEAL: One door, window, etc. is sealed until you open it.“

„INFERNO DEVICE: Cause a source of fire to explode, causing D10 Damage to all within 20FT.“

„SPIRIT CHAIN: Swap bodies with another that you are touching. They can resist with a WIL SAVE. Retain WIL scores only.“[/box]

Bereits im Einstiegsabenteuer fand der Hitzestrahl (Heat Ray) reichlich Anwendung. Sobald Arcana im Spiel sind, erweitern sich die Handlungsmöglichkeiten der Spieler stark.

Der Rest

Das war es im Großen und Ganzen bereits mit den Regeln – interessant wird das Spiel durch die Ausrüstungsliste, die Vielzahl der Arkana und die ebenso merkwürdigen wie gefährlichen Kräfte der Monster.

Eine Besonderheit sticht noch hervor: Es gibt Regeln für das Spiel mit großen Gruppen, den Companies. Wie rekrutiert man, wie kämpft man untereinander, was kann man sich Schönes für sein neues Miniimperium kaufen – all das ist beschrieben. Wer also in seiner Sandkiste selbst zum Gestalter werden will, kann das über diesen Mechanismus tun und zum Krieg gegen ganze Kultisten-Organisationen ausziehen. Das Ganze ist zu kurz, um als voll ausgearbeitet zu gelten, aber man kann damit arbeiten. Charaktererschaffung

Ein normaler SC wird mit 3W6 für die Attribute erwürfelt. Hierbei darf man Werte gegeneinander austauschen. Zusätzlich erhält man 1W6 Trefferpunkte. Man ermittelt dann das höchste Attribut. Die Ausrüstung bestimmt sich aus einer Tabelle. Man sucht sich die Zeile mit dem passenden höchsten Attributwert und die Spalte mit den eigenen Trefferpunkten, schon kennt man sein Startequipment. Besonders niedrige Werte werden in der Tabelle eher durch die Ausrüstung und Sonderfertigkeiten ausgeglichen, besonders hohe durch leichte Nachteile.

Zusätzlich gibt es noch zwei weitere Arten an SC: Companions werden wie normale SC ausgewürfelt, haben aber nur ein 1 Trefferpunkt und ein Schwert. Damit kann eine Gruppe vergrößert werden, die nur wenige Spieler hat. Hirelings sind da je nach Situation schon besser, wollen aber Geld für ihre Dienste sehen.

Zu guter Letzt der Stufenanstieg: Pro erreichter Stufe erhält man W6 zusätzliche Trefferpunkte und darf für jedes Attribut mit W20 würfeln. Übertrifft man den Attributwert, steigt er permanent um 1 Punkt. Das Erreichen neuer Stufen bestimmt sich darüber, wie viele Expeditionen man bereits überlebt hat. Auf späteren Stufen bildet man zusätzlich einen Lehrling aus.

Auch hier ist das System sehr leichtgewichtig, reicht aber völlig aus.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielleitersicht

Das Spiel ist sehr einfach abzuwickeln. Man beschreibt, beantwortet Fragen, weist auf Konsequenzen einer Entscheidung hin und verlangt Proben. Es sind kaum Regeln zu verwalten, daher verschiebt sich der Fokus klar auf das Problemlösen. Der kurze Abschnitt für das Spielleiten ist völlig hinreichend und angenehm zu lesen.

Man kann sich der vielen Tabellen im Buch bedienen, ebenso gibt es einen vorgefertigten Einstieg sowie einen Hexcrawl. Danach bleibt es einem aber weitestgehend selbst überlassen, eine volle Sandbox hinzustellen. Man sollte sich dringend Drittmaterial zum Thema suchen. Der Spaß im Spiel entsteht vorrangig durch Absonderlichkeiten (Tricks), Fallen und ungewöhnliche Schätze. Gerade durch die Arcana-Liste erhält man hier eine entscheidende Hilfe, ansonsten wird man sich viel ausdenken oder aus Modulen von Old-School-Spielen zusammenklauen müssen.

Der Fokus liegt aber nicht so sehr auf dem Monsterverkloppen, sondern auf der Schatzsuche, der geschickten Spielanlage. Es gibt keine echte Belohnung für das Monstererschlagen, ja, nicht mal eine Motivation hierfür, da sie eigentlich nur im Weg sind. Daher muss der Fokus beim Abenteuerdesign auch darauf liegen, das Rätselhafte zu generieren.

Das ganze Spiel scheint auf das Generieren einer Sandbox ausgelegt zu sein, eine wirklich vollständige Anleitung oder Unterstützung dies zu tun fehlt jedoch – keine Checkliste, keine Generatoren, keine ungefähre Beschreibung des Prozesses. (Wer sich hier alleingelassen fühlt, sollte vielleicht mal bei Kevin Crawfords Sine Nomine Games reinschauen.)

Es gibt einen Stall Beispielmonster. Hierbei fällt besonders positiv auf, dass jeder Kreatur im Spiel eine Motivation (Drive) beigegeben ist. Diese ist in nur einem Satz beschrieben, erleichtert aber das Ausspielen ungemein. Schätze und die Generierung neuer Arcana haben ein eigenes Kapitel. Spielbarkeit aus Spielersicht

Es gibt hier nicht viel zu sagen: Das Wichtigste kommt nicht vom eigenen Charakterbogen, sondern ist das Interagieren mit dem SL. Verzögerungen und Lärm werden zumeist mit Zufallsbegegnungen bestraft. Eine Mischung aus Vorsicht und Eile ist geboten, und man muss selbst entscheiden, wann sich ein Raubzug gelohnt hat, und wann die Verluste zu groß werden.

OSR-typisch sind Figuren schnell ausgewürfelt, und mit etwas Pech fast genauso schnell verstorben.

Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis

Into the Odd ist ein vollständiges Spiel, mit dem man gleich losspielen kann. Für ein Werk unter 100 Seiten ist der Preis jedenfalls nicht untypisch. Man darf halt kein durchdesigntes Produkt erwarten, das wäre bei einem Indie auch zu viel verlangt.

Spielbericht

Bei Into the Odd dachte ich mir, dass sich dem Spiel am einfachsten auf den Zahn fühlen lässt, indem man es spielt. Also haben wir einen abwaschbaren Bodenplan ausgepackt und das beigefügte Beispielabenteuer The Iron Coral gespielt.

Da das nicht unser erster Ausflug in die Old-School-Ecke war, gingen Generierung und Einstieg flott von der Hand. Auch die Abwicklung der Regeln war ohne echte Lernkurve zu bewältigen, es geht ja immer nur ums Beschreiben, das Stellen gezielter Fragen und das Abwickeln der Würfe. Daher spielte es sich auch nicht anders, als wenn wir wieder Basic/Expert D&D gespielt hätten, nur mit noch weniger Regeln (und ohne Bedarf für Hausregeln). So weit, so gut.

Der Text am Einband des Buches verspricht Folgendes: „This is a fast, simple game, to challenge your wits rather than your understanding of complex rules.“ Das ist für das Buch selbst durchwegs richtig, nicht aber für das Einstiegsabenteuer! Zum größten Teil ist The Iron Coral ein nicht besonders kreativer Dungeon. Das steht leider völlig im Widerspruch zum dreiseitigen Spielbeispiel. Dort geht’s in einem einzigen, clever designten Raum völlig ab!

Nichts von dieser Genialität findet sich im Beispielabenteuer: Herausforderungen beschränken sich auf einige, wenige Räume. Für ein Old-School-Abenteuer ist es zwar okay, wenn es keine größeren, raumübergreifenden Zusammenhänge gibt, aber hier ist einfach zu wenig los. Mehrere Räume sind lediglich zur Spielerverwirrung da und kosten nur Zeit. Die Schatzkammern kann man erst betreten, wenn man mit den Türen das Richtige anstellt. Leider gibt es keinen echten Zusammenhang zwischen dem, was die Tür öffnet und irgendeiner Art von Hinweis. Die Spieler haben denn auch einfach eine der beiden Türen mit Hilfe eines Arcanums demoliert. Generell waren die meisten Räume schlicht uninteressant und zogen das Ganze nur in die Länge, wodurch das Abenteuer auch mehr Zufallsbegegnungen generierte.

Auch bei der Spielvorbereitung hatte ich gemischte Gefühle. Einerseits mag ich kurze, knackige Beschreibungen, damit ich schnell vorbereiten kann. Das hier dargebotene Format bietet für den Flavortext aber nur Schlagworte. Das war dann doch sehr karg. Ich habe denn auch zweimal über die wortkarge Beschreibung aller Räume drübergelesen, bis ich gemerkt habe, dass hier wirklich nicht mehr geboten ist. In Summe hat mich so meine Erwartungshaltung beim Lesen mehr Zeit gekostet, als ich benötigt hätte, wenn der Dungeon etwas stärker ausformuliert gewesen wäre.

Es verblieb der Eindruck, dass das Spiel selbst für Old-School-Abenteuer völlig ausreichend ist, und dass der Blick schnell von den Regeln hin zum Problemlösen geht. Das ist gut, das ist richtig, das macht mir Spaß. Als wuchtigen Einstieg hätte ich mir nur einen smarteren Dungeon gewünscht, wo die Spieler hinterher nach mehr verlangen. Als jemand, der gerne Dungeon Crawl Classics leitet, bin ich vielleicht inzwischen beim Dungeondesign etwas verwöhnt. In Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry oder den Modulen von Goodman Games haben Spieler mit Beobachtungs- und Kombinationsgabe immer etwas zu entdecken, und das hätte ich mir hier auch gewünscht. Erscheinungsbild

Im Großen und Ganzen ist das Buch hinreichend gut gestaltet. Die Tabellen sind gut lesbar, der Schriftsatz hat einen Hauch von Nostalgie, zumal auch Großschrift anstatt Fettdruck verwendet wird. Es gibt wenige Illustrationen, die meisten in Schwarz-Weiß oder Grautönen. Bei einigen fragt man sich, was abgebildet sein soll, aber das Buch macht einen guten, wenn auch einfachen Eindruck.

Die Beschreibungen für den enthaltenen Dungeon und den umgebenden Hexcrawl sind eher unübersichtlich und nicht wirklich ansehnlich formatiert. Zum Beispiel wurde eine Minidungeon-Beschreibung in den ansonsten recht kurz gehaltenen Hexcrawl hineingepfercht. Aber ganz ehrlich: Ich habe im OSR-Umfeld, gerade in Bezug auf Wildnisbeschreibungen, schon Schlimmeres gesehen.

Bonus/Downloadcontent

Wer nach mehr Spielmaterial sucht, sollte sich dieses Oddpendium ansehen.

Fazit

Into the Odd ist ein starker Indie mit einem hohen Nostalgiefaktor. Das Spiel beweist auch immer wieder Humor. Man kann damit schnell losspielen und Spaß haben. Es bietet dennoch das Potenzial, eine Gruppe für Wochen oder Monate zu unterhalten.

Während das Buch vieles bietet, bleibt es am SL hängen, die Gruppe auf Dauer mit Kniffeleien zu bespaßen. Zwar gibt es ein paar Tabellen, um merkwürdige Orte, Kreaturen und Gefahren zu generieren. Aber schon das Einstiegsabenteuer ist nicht besonders prickelnd und die Spieler werden schnell nach mehr verlangen. Die etwas chaotische Natur der Arcana erweitert die Möglichkeiten der Spieler stetig, so dass auf Dauer Herausforderungen nicht leicht zu planen sind.

Wer Into the Odd auf Dauer viel abgewinnen will, sollte sich mit Büchern wie Grimtooth's Traps oder Tricks, Empty Rooms & Basic Trap Design bewaffnen, um die Spieler weiterhin zu fordern.

Insgesamt gefällt mir Into the Odd gut, ich werde es wieder spielen, und man kann damit ohne großen Aufwand jederzeit einen Oneshot anbieten. Es bietet Old-School-Spiel in Reinkultur und funktioniert als Spiel trotz und gerade aufgrund seiner Einfachheit hervorragend.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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