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Spelldancer; Revised $7.91 $6.59
Publisher: Gethsemane Games
by Tia M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2011 12:19:44

Spelldancer is the fantasy RPG by Gethsemane games, set in their “Elizium” fantasy setting (although you don’t need to use the setting if you have another you would rather use).

Character generation is points based and the number of points you start with depends on your age.  Old characters get more starting experience than younger ones BUT they also have more disadvantage points.  Disadvantages are handled differently to other games.  Here you don’t buy disadvantages to gain more experience points. Instead you start with one quarter your age in disadvantage points you have to buy off or else you lose some of those experience points.

There are a lot of skills to chose from, but you don’t always need to roll to check a skill when you use it.  If the circumstances are ideal, you pass just by owning the skill.  You only roll  if you are under pressure or circumstances aren't ideal

Combat is skill based, and there are a lot of special manoeuvres you can use to get advantages to your chance to hit, or the damage you do.  The better you are with a weapon skill, the more damage you are probably going to do, which I like. Damage is handled by comparing your Killing Power to your enemies Resistance Factor.  Killing Power is made up of how much you passed your skill roll with your weapon by plus any Killing Power Adjustment you have from your Strength and that the weapon itself has.  It is possible to score a hit then do no damage if your final KP was too low - this represents the minor bumps and bruises.  The system also builds results like being knocked out, having your arm broken, being stunned or knocked over and even concussed into the basic combat and doesn't seem to slow play down much at all but adds a lot to the game play.

Magic is split into types, called “Arcaniums” and each arcanium has it’s own spells that relate to an idea, like Necromancy (death magic), Vivamancy (life magic), the 4 elemental magics, Dracology 9magic relating to dragons) and so on. there is also a “minor” arcanium which you must learn before you can take the specialist or “major” arcaniums.  

The races of the game are very interesting.  they are split into Wyrm kind (several types of dragon), Beast men (that have evolved from animals), Corporeal spirits (that are a sort of minor demon that takes on a permanent physical form, Umbra spirits (demos that have to be summoned to enter the world), Undead, giants and animals.  Humans are considered beast men and get on best with other beast men races.  The standard fantasy staples like elves and dwarves are Corporeal spirits which makes them feel more like the Elves and goblins of old European mythology than the standard RPG interpretation.  It also makes them feel a lot more alien.  Sprits have a hard time understanding death - because they can’t die - they just go “home” to the umbra.  This means even the “friendly” ones are likely to kill you if you are in their way, because they don’t realise what a big deal death is to other races.  Demons are very nicely done, they are quite flexible and the GM can use the demon creation rules to create just about anything!

Magic items are also very fixable, and are built on a points system that lets you make customisable items.  Oh and the rules for mages creating familiars are nice and flexable too.  If I’m reading this right (and I think I am 0 there is no real limit to how many familiars a mage can have.  Be careful though, the bigger and more powerful an animal you select for your familiar the fewer points you will have to give it special powers.  In our game we had a mage with 2 familiars, one was a cat the other a snake, and they had very different powers and abilities.

I like this game a lot, and it is great for customizing and making it into what you want.  the setting material is really cool to, although I would have loved to have more of it.  The town of Tolar is a great place to get started, right between the civilized empire and the wild, unclaimed lands to the south.  the town “feels” alive and is bursting with ideas.  The culture of the Empire is just different enough to feel like it wasn’t lifted from the authors favourite period of history without finding it hard to get into.

Skills are percentile based, combat is deadly, magic even more so, a lot of the monsters are quite powerful 9but not impossibly so).  So if you like realistic combat and percentile based systems this is for you, if you don’t, it isn’t.



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Spelldancer; Revised
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