Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Game of the North Review

Note this is a friend of mines fantasy heartbreaker, so I may not be unbiased. I am also reviewing the deluxe Lulu print edition so it may not be same as the drivethrurpg .pdf (although the table of contents in sample file seems the same). The game is very old school in including a number of random roll charts. The game back story and name derive from travelers from the southern continent exploring a newly discovered northern continent. The book is illustrated with out-of-copyright clip-art. The author has graciously placed the work in the public domain. Things I liked best about it are its sense of whimsy, its random roll-up charts, and the experience point buy system. The parallelism between character, party, stronghold, and god attributes is intriguing. Things I like least are the free form negotiation for spells and the subdividing of the chapters.  I would have also liked a bigger map of the northern continent. Take a look! The drivethrurpg .pdf is only five bucks. Check out the Book of Ten Trillion Things as well. Chapter by chapter review bellow:

Act one Origins
This is a series of random roll-up charts to generate facts about your place of origin followed by a series of questions to answer about how you feel about your country of origin.

Acts Two Creation
This starts with the basic statistics (the standard six) number of dice you roll is determined by your race nominally 3d6. If you roll more than 3 dice you just keep the best 3. Stat descriptions are pretty standard although bonus cap out at +3 and there are no entries above 18. Next are race descriptions the standard lot plus orcs and goblins. Each race has experience point buy numbers to activate racial abilities. Next are adventuring skills everyone gets to pick seven of these. Mixed amongst the standard fare are a few intriguing ones including eat anything, overlooked, whistling, and my favorite atavism (the ability to build items out random trash and have them function as normal items). Alignment follows choices are chaos, law, neutrality, evil, and good. Astrological signs are next. Every One has five signs one sun sign and four moon signs. Experience is required to open each of the signs. The effect of the signs is undisclosed, but left to GM discretions. There is a long section of languages which is an interesting read, but kind of campaign specific. Wealth is based on a silver piece standard. Starting gear is based on random roll up charts. Although the charts themselves produce some interesting results, I am a bit concerned that random nature may leave some characters rather handicapped.

Act Two part b Rules System
This is a new section in the tab system but no new act heading. Attack is a d20 roll versus armor class. Damage is based on weapon rating from none (1d4) to heavy (1d10). Confidence is a charisma save. Defend determines armor class. Encumbrance is based on constitution, 1 equipment point per point of constitution. Impairments include blindness, deafness, lameness, fear, poison, unconscious, defeated. Mostly standard stuff ,but defeated allows you to accept permanent lameness, deaf or blinded instead of being killed. Initiative is based on your dexterity plus a d6. Influence determines your ability to persuade NPCs 2d6 plus charisma. Leadership determines how many henchmen you can have and their loyalty. Maneuvers introduced here but covered later, no more maneuvers than hit dice. Reactions base attitude of encounters to players, like Influence also 2 dice but ranges from 2d4 to 2d12 dependant how much they like you to begin with (I’d have lumped it with influence and used a d20). Spellcasting more later, note that’s spells take a full round to cast and don’t happen until the beginning of your turn after you cast them. Survival, how long you can last without food, water or sleep con based. Travel and speed, table by race speed in hexes per day. Visibility normal value is two hexes, obstruction of vision adds to ac, determines awareness, unaware characters when attacked must make a death save. More on maneuvers here, a negotiate with GM system ( I hate that).

Act Two part c Magic
This is a also new section in the tab system without a new act heading. Five types of magic prayers, shamanism, wizardry, tinkering, and glammers. Access is restricted by race. Dwarves and Halfings don’t get anything. Each section has base spells plus level modifiers and some samples. Glammer bas spells include:  Phantasms, and Compulsions. Prayer base spells include: Supplications, Invocations, and Benedictions. Shamanism includes: Shaping and Callings. Tinkering includes: Augments, Endowments, and Inventions. Wizardry includes: Transformations, Cures, Curses, Summoning, Animations, Motion, Perceptions, and Imbuements. Some alternates to the main magic include dwarfsmithings and whistling.

Act Three In the Party
A bunch of reputations and traits based on the overall party. Party reputation is gained in Glory, Reputation, Secrecy, Influence, Membership, and Devotion. Party reputation and alignment allow it to gain traits which provide some advantage in the game. Badges, Banners, Codes, Emblems, Initiations, Mystery, and Rites may be purchased to gain special features.

Intermission Followers and allies.
The usual stuff.

Act Four the stronghold
Build a base. Bases have the following: Diplomacy, Fortification, Reconnaissance, Development, Might, Justice. A good list of hirelings is here as well.

Act Five Apotheosis
Ascent to Godhood. God attributes include Compassion, Patience, Grace, Authority, Wrath, and Peace. Once you are a God you must act indirectly through other characters
Coda Alternate Character types
A bunch of Character archetypes (best for NPCs and Quick Characters). Rules for monster adventurers including Vampire, Werewolf, Zombie, and Elementals. A series of monster abilities similar to adventurer skills.

The book ends with a bunch of character sheets.

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