The preface informs us that this is not a retroclone, but more of a simulacrum, harkening back to the older games, and even attempts to evoke this feeling through a less crafted presentation, as well as reproductions of mediaeval woodcuts and paintings. It works. From the cover fonts, which remind me of Dimension Six, Inc,'s The Compleate Fantasist, to the physical presentation of the rules, this feels like it is from the earliest Seventies of wargaming-RPGs.
Character generation involves rolling three dice and choosing the best two, as well as a few figured characteristics. We are then presented with three classes: fighting, mystical, and roguish. Each of these has several stages of development each of which has its own rolled additions to the character's statistics. Next come the brief descriptions of kit-like professions which do a lot to customise and differentiate characters from the basic classes. Equipment is added from a few of the professions, but not all.
Next is the Addendum, which opens up more individual customisation of characters, further removing the sense that a fighter is a fighter is a fighter.
The presentation of armour, arms, and combat provides a wonderful addition of details that matter based upon choice of kit and in just a few statements (asterisk notes), we understand how to apply these modifiers to conduct one on one, melee, and ranged combat. Initiative is modified by both armour and arms employed, and armour provides protection points to reduce damage.
Beasts and Humans are presented with enough statistics to perform combat, but so much detail as to become cumbersome.
The Referee or GM's rules section is intended to be Eyes Only and with good reason.
There are no spells, no lists of magic items, but there are great random tables, and some are very creative, and all are useful for games of this sort.
Is this a modern, multi-gendered take on Perilous Ages? No. GMs expecting non-binary gender, heterosexual brothel visits will be undeservedly disappointed. This game is not intended to emulate the present enlightenment, but rather, the Perilous Ages it makes clear through the tables is a rough, merciless world and era. Is it multicultural, no, again, not surprisingly considering what it is emulating. Can a GM run it in a more enlightened, multi-gendered, multi-cultural version of mock-mediaevalism. Of course. Just don't expect it to be part of the base text.
What I like most about it is that is feels both fresh and forgotten, like the non-mainstream published gaming supplements of my youth that called out from the shelves of the Davie, FL. Compleat Strategist of yore, and from the amateur gaming mags of a bygone era. It feels like it belongs to the world of my gaming history.
[5 of 5 Stars!]