Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crimson Blades of Ara Review

My friend Carter Soles over at The  Lands of Ara has graciously posted the game system he and and friend Dave Miller wrote in 1989. You pick up the rules for "Crimson Blades of Ara" over at his blog. Although the author claims these are rough notes they are a dam site more impressive than my pencil scribbles on lined paper I call notes. As with many youthful endeavours it is chock-a-blog full with novel ideas and concepts, despite Carters claim that he was reinventing Runequest without knowing it (actually about all that Runequest and His system share are a use of a list of skills to determine abilities and percentile dice to resolve actions). Actually his character point chart with its exponential increase cost as skills move towards 100%, solves one of the great shortcomings of Runequest. Runequests advance system based on dice rolls against skills you use rewards lucky rather than skillful play, and results in great silliness amongst the power gaming crowd of continual weapon switching and trivial skill checks. All in all I was quite impressed, although I have not completed my analysis of the combat system which seems to exude a strong preference for some weapons over others. I am unlikely to attempt to run the whole game as written, but will likely borrow pieces for my homebrew rules. The crown jewel of these rules are the skill and trait level cost chart. I also enjoyed the eastern school mages who cast spells by "the creation of small,
animated beings called golems"; Orge player characters which are immensely strong but forced take quirks to compensate; and the two strikes per round combat system which allows you the ability to drop your chance to parry a opponents blow and counter attack instead. I thought having the agility stat determine who goes first, while dexterity and strength determine (for the most part, longsword is agility based) your chance to hit was wise; Fantasty trip and its successor GURPS put dexterity on both who goes first and your chance to hit biasing their games to uber dexers with nothing else. I am intrigued by the concept presented of different weapons having different caps on how much skill one can apply to ones attack, but I'll want to finish my math analysis before I can say I am in favor of it. A big thanks to Carter and Dave for sharing. Pick up a copy and check out for yourself. If you are unhappy you can always ask for your NO MONEY back.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thanks for the insights here, sorry it took me awhile to comment (have been out of town all week). I particularly look forward to your mathematical analysis of some of the weapon skill caps -- we kind of just intuited that stuff without any statistical analysis at the time. We did intend swords to be particularly powerful in CBoA, but perhaps we overdid it.

    And thanks for the praise of the skill and trait point buy progression chart -- I agree that that worked very well for us in play.


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