I really wanted to like Arduin having invested 80 bucks and firmly believing that people learn from their mistakes. However Arduin is a baroque, complex, half complete edifice. Its sits like some ruined catherdral to an unknown saint. If you have a fondness for the orginal Arduin Grimoire rules, it is better organized than the orginal nine volume set. However be warned it contains no monsters, no magic items and little campaign setting (buy the World of Khaas for campaign setting). Buy this book if you want to be inspired by strange spells of wonder. Buy this book to raid for unique and novel concepts you would have not come up with on your own. Do not buy this book for clear consice game mechanics, or simple games that are easy to understand
And now to the contents
It’s not bad explanation of the book contents. I like the little inset legends (but then you can tell from all the parenthesis in my blog I am just an aside kind of guy [She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed says when I reach the second tier I am over the limit]). I skipped the long winded history of the World of Arduin, it’s a good read but I’ve seen it before. The character creation section is clear and makes it look easy
Chapter 1 Character stats
Arduin has eleven rolled stats:
What to roll is different for each race which is given in chapter three
Arduin has eight calculated stats
There is also Dodge, Movement, Saves, Defenses, Resists, a Recovery rate and a Healing rate. Whew that’s a lot of math! Considering the stats are randomly rolled I think that averaging them to calculate the values you’ll be using in play is a good idea, but eleven stats is kind of a lot.
Chapter 2 Races
More races than you can shake a stick at including my favorites Deodanth, Praint and Throon (just perfect for wielding my infamous three handed swords). I have yet to determine the difference between Hobbits and Kobbits but I am sure a sharp blow to the knee cap in some dark alleyway will begin my instruction in the finer points. Every race gets to select from a Chinese menu of optional bonuses. If that’s not enough there’s a hundred (just right for rolling a d100 to decide) general bonuses in the back.
Chapter 3 Cultures
Various regions of the world of Khass with various options I’ll try to pursue this in depth later but it’s a lot like other campaign guides
Chapter 4 Professions & Paths
Character classes new ones include Courtesan, Medicine Man, Rune Weaver, Sage, Techno, Trader, Rune Singer, and Star Powered Mage
Chapter 5 Skills
Skills are checked on a d100 and range from 0 to 150. Races learn skills at an average rate of about 7 skill points per experience point 1. However some races are as low as 1 skill point per experience point, so if you want to be a skill monkey choose your race wisely. Most skills are the same old same old, although many have special tricks available as you advance. Skills a little less ordinary include Beast ken, Business, Ceremony, Channel, Entreaty, Gnosis, Lorica, Noetics, and Underworld. One bit of interest are the several martial and caster skills which although similar are based on different stats.
Chapter 6 is missing. Perhaps it contains some deep secrets only revealed in full moonlight. Perhaps it is bad editing.
Chapter 7 Equipment
Stuff to buy. Except for some weird race weapons and armor nothing much to see.
Chapter 8 Faith and Religion
Faith points are apparently accumulated like experience and expended to cast spells. Dogma is a big stick to make you roll on the transgressing table as well as the crisis of faith table. A list of Gods of the Arduin World each with their own dogmas and spell lists. Nobody is spectacularly different from the standard fare.
Chapter 9 Combat
Wow nine chapters in and finally a combat system. Initiave is determined by CF. Those with high CF get extra actions up to 6 for the highest. Note to players pump your CF up or you’ll be dead before you can do anything. If your CF drops to zero all you can do is try and boost it back up. Every one gets one quick action (I’m not sure when because that is not explained. Hopefully it interrupts the attack you’re trying to dodge, block, or parry). Combat is resolved by a d100 roll. Roll the dice add your bonuses, check it against the opponents defense; if it’s higher you hit. Roll your damage dice (usually based on weapon type with stat adds). Subtract your opponent’s damage resist (usually from armor) and voila he loses that many hit points. Grappling is a d100 athletics against defense and can pin, restrain, or slam. Many other combat maneuvers mostly the same old same old, but wield creature as a weapon is kind of cute.
Chapter 10 Adventuring
This chapter is a giant hodgepodge of stuff; including wealth checks, experience, lifting and throwing, overland travel and lighting. This is followed by a collection of martial arts feats which is the longest part of the chapter (perhaps this is the lost chapter 6 it sure as heck didn’t belong here and one had more than enough martial arts in both the professions and skills chapters).
Chapter 12 Social Dimensions
Ah hah the weird martial arts stuff is actually chapter 11 (it’s just not labeled that). Here we get lifestyle, social motifs, contacts and connections. The contacts and connections actually look interesting sort of like a long term diplomacy check
Chapter 13 design and manufacture
Making stuff. Way too short and badly explained
Chapter 14 Schematics
The stuff to make. Laid out like some giant spell book, but probably too techno to make into my fantasy campaign setting
Chapter 15 herbs
Magical herbs! what else!?
Chapter 16 Alchemy recipes
For those who prefer brewing their gizmos rather than manufacturing them
Chapter 17 Spirits and Animate powers
For calling on the forces of nature. Short and confusing
Chapter 18 fetishes
For those who prefer spirit powering their gizmos rather than brewing them
Chapter 19 magik and pychic
Well the fighters got their bonus background chapter in 11 so here’s a pile of extra magic feats and backgrounds for mages.
Chapter 20 Runes
Perhaps it isn’t really just for magicing gizmos instead of spirit powering them. The things runes do seem slight different. I’ll have to pursue this chapter more to know for sure
Chapter 21 Rituals
For those who like their magic slow.
Chapter 22 Spells
The list up to level 20. Each with its own little paragraph of obtuse text arranged neither by level or alphabetically for maximum game slowness and rules lawyering (brings back memories of the old days especially the house rule banning rules discussions after midnight).
Chapter 23 Mental Powers
Like the spells only it’s mental
Chapter 24 Prayers
Spells for Clerics
Chapter 25 GM Assistance
Here’s the place for the stuff they forgot to mention earlier like moving, climbing, swimming, starting age, language, knowledge, handling time between adventures, generating NPC (perhaps the one thing that belonged in this chapter rather than something earlier) and critical hit tables. Not content with critical hits for combat they have added them for skill checks, power checks, as well as fumble tables as well
Some great ideas However: Too many stats. Information too dispersed around the book. Too many different ways of doing about the same thing
Imagination 5 stars
Organization 2 stars
Art work 3 stars (4 if you are an affectionato of black and white ink work)
Playability 3 stars (some sections seem quite useable)
Overall 3 stars