Forward to Adventure! by PurpleXVI
Part 1Original SA post Forward to Adventure!
So this thing is made by the RPG Pundit of "STORYGAMING SWINE"-fame. Which is to say this is a great look into what we'd get if these groggy fuckwads were actually in charge of the industry.
And what we'd be getting certainly does not include anything resembling good art or layout. Jesus.
It comes with a small foreword which we've already had in the thread, but can be summarized as follows: RPG Pundit declares that the game was delivered to him by DREAM INSPIRATION, ponders why he'd get that instead of his usual dreams about tits, and then explains why he thinks the game is a great idea. The basic concept is actually not bad, it's about making a simple, dungeon-crawly game, a sorta beer-and-pretzels thing with simple chargen that was all about fun and, while it could be used for something deeper, wasn't really meant for it.
Of course he's going to fuck that up completely.
The basic mechanic is that we roll 3d6's to decide things. Not a bad idea, we all love bell curves and the d20 has gotten kind of rusty by this point. We then add "all applicable bonuses" to our 3d6 roll and either try to beat an opposed roll or over some success-number decided upon by the GM.
The very first "system"-related page here also gives us a good look at the often-awkward layout. We've got two columns, but instead of going down vertically, then back to the top, and down the other column, we go halfway down the page on one column, then back to the top of the second, then to the second half of the first, and finally on to the second half of the last.
Oh and the chargen system is also... yeah, kinda groggy. The first option isn't so bad, it actually gives us, gasp, some control over our character! The second, on the other hand, is even more malicious than 3d6-in-order, since it's literally possible to roll so badly on a stat that it makes another stat worse. Still, it's not completely incompetent, as the system does instruct us to reroll if our negatives outweigh our positives, and instead of having stats and derived modifiers, we literally just roll for the derived modifiers.
After rolling our stats, we then decide on a race. Going back to the GOOD OL' DAYS, there's a bunch of arbitrary decisions about what races are good at what classes(which is a mystifying combination of "this race simply cannot be this class" and "this race will advance at only half speed as this class"). Now, in some games, this might make sense because there'd be some sort of attached world and fluff... but FtA has no attached world or fluff! Orcs just can't be pure mages, dwarves are just plain bad at being anything but warriors, "barbarian humans" are a subrace of standard humanity for some reason!
So it's all just a bunch of arbitrary, groggy bullshit longing for the Good Old Days.
The only difference to the generic set of races provided in, say, 2nd ed AD&D is that half-orcs are now full-orcs, there are no half-elves, gnomes are gone and the new addition is half-mermen. Even if slightly adapted for FtA mechanics, almost all their racial stuff is practically the fucking same. Dwarves have their Tolkien-knockoff "HATE GOBLINS" stuff, halflings are thieves, etc. etc. etc.
Classes... actually contain a few things I have to admit to liking. Instead of making separate classes for tiny variants, a Fighter, for instnace, gets to choose at level 1 whether he wants his ranged or melee attack bonus to advance faster. And whether he wants his ACT(skill-usage) or PAS(saving throws) bonus to advance faster. Of course, then we dive right back into Grogville with Fighters getting basically no abilities beyond SWING SWORD, while mages get piles of tricks to play with. Speaking of mages, there are three mage classes(Mage, Mage-Warrior, Mage-Rogue) and the only alternatives are Warrior and Rogue. No clerics, you might notice, that's because "Curing spells" are now simply another pile of wizard tricks.
Despite this ostensibly not being a system for roleplaying, there are also alignments. Law, Chaos and Balance.
I'd also like to note that by this point we have pretty much no idea how the system works except "roll 3d6 and hope it goes high," yet we're getting bombarded with dozens of minor modifiers, advancement to pick, classes to choose, etc. Magic's banished to several lists in the back of the book, etc. and we have nothing to compare with to try and conclude whether a given number is sky-high or rock-bottom. Not helped by the lack of any sort of generic target number for unopposed tests.
And instead of giving us some of that, we get ambushed with the equipment section. It starts off by telling us that all weapons are either: Light, One-Handed Melee, Two-Handed Melee or Ranged. And that anything in a given category is exactly the same, stat-wise, as something else in that category(the exception seems to be if it has Reach). Then the equipment list. Light weapons: We can either get a free club for 0GP or buy a shortsword for 10GP. But since neither has reach and all Light weapons are the same, it would be completely fucking pointless to ever buy the shortsword except for aesthetic purposes.
Armor gets the same stupid fucking treatment, with three categories of armor which each have exactly the same stats within them. So I can either blow 250GP on Plate Armor or 750GP on "Lorica" armor. But since they're both Heavy Armor, they both have exactly the same fucking stats .
Despite a list of equipment that would take up maybe two decently-formatted A4 pages, we also need exchange rates for Copper Pieces, Silver Pieces, Platinum Pieces, Electrum Pieces and Nickel Pieces. Oh, yeah, and your starting money? Not determined by class or stats or anything you might have control over, but instead by a single fucking "Social Class"-roll. It's a 1d6 roll, and if we get a 1, we're a slave. The table then instructs us that the GM may have this rerolled! ...not to determine if we're actually a slave, but to determine if we're a runaway slave. Now, all characters, even normal slaves, get to start with a basic weapon and other really basic stuff. Runaway slaves? They don't even get that! Oh Pundit, you stupid motherfucker!
Also this brings up the question of how the character is even fucking adventuring at all if he's a normal slave. Is he enslaved by one of the other PC's or what?
Wow, this stupid fucking system ended up taking more space than I expected. I guess I'll have to cover the rest of the retarded in a second post. Look forward to...
Part 2Original SA post Forward to Adventure!
Skills & Stunts
Skills are pretty simple, you use ACT skills to do stuff after the GM decides what's appropriate for the situation. You apparently also use them to resist stuff despite the book earlier telling us that PAS is basically for any "responses to stuff done to you." We also finally get a list of DC's(10 is easy, 15 is average) and a list of ACT skills which... are basically the skill list from 3rd edition D&D. Stunts have nothing to do with Exalted's stunts and are in fact just a term for using skills to do stuff in combat, as far as I can tell, why the hell that needed its own term in FtA I have no fucking clue. But then again, I have no clue why most things in this game are as they are.
Is written in an overly fucking verbose way despite being reasonably simple. You roll 3d6+modifiers vs 3d6+modifiers(with more modifiers if the defender is dedicating his turn to defending), and whatever's left over is the damage you do. For some reason your weapon's damage is also added here, instead of after determining whether you actually hit.
Or wait, that's the reasonably logical way of handling ranged combat. Melee combat is a lot stupider. For melee combat, both sides just roll all their attack rolls together, and then whichever side has a lower total gets the difference spread among them in damage however the GM sees fit. This firstly means that fighters are even less distinguishable in combat than so many other systems and secondly that numbers matter a hell of a lot more than skill. In fact, someone mobbed by a swarm of mooks won't even get to do any damage because he'll get outrolled by them every fucking turn, which cancels out his attempts to do any damage.
Oh yes, and just because we don't want players to have fun there's a table for permanent injuries resulting from combat, several rolls of which can produce a -1d6 to a given stat. And remember that stats now only range from -5 to +5, so if you get one of these, your character is probably permanently useless.
I'd also like to point out that the foreword jerked itself silly to how TACTICAL COMBAT was VITALLY IMPORTANT when it turns out that melee fighting in this game is just "AND THEN YOU ALL RUN INTO EACH OTHER AND SWING YOUR SWORDS A LOT."
And I apologize for saying this game hates fighters, it also loathes casters. They have an inexplicably large number of fucking useless spells, like, "Song of Stunning" in the Bard school, which stuns everyone... including your own goddamn allies . Mages also need to make rolls to manage any spell, which they can quite plausibly critfail(with hilarious fumble results like "caster explodes! Instant death!"), though at least the saves required to shrug off their spells are at least somewhat difficult to pass if you don't have good stats.
At best, most of their combat spells can dish out an amazing 1d6 points of damage, when an arrow or sword-swing can plausibly provide three times that much, maybe even more. There is literally not a single inventive or interesting spell to note in here, either, pretty much everything is a straight rip from D&D or completely useless, like the top-level Illusion spell, which makes you create an "Intelligent Illusion." Meaning a sentient illusion that you have no control over and which will disappear after a few days.
I don't see what the fucking use of that spell is except for the fucking extraordinary cruelty involved in casting it at all. "HEE HEE I MADE A TEMPORARY SENTIENT BEING THAT CAN'T INTERACT WITH THE WORLD AT ALL. HEE HEE HEE." What the fuck. What sort of troubled person would ever fucking cast this?
The appendixes contain what we expect, first there are premade monsters.
Half of which are renamed standbys like Owlbears and Mimics(mimes) and the other half of which are just blurry photos without the benefit of a renaming. Staying true to attempting to be a brainless dungeon crawl, literally the only thing we get for most of these creatures is combat stats. Nothing about what the fuck they actually are. Just: "This thing looks scary and will attempt to kill you this way."
Then there are the requisite random tables for rolling up monsters to kill your PC's and the loot they get out of it. What's amazing is that they then proceed to be even lazier by providing a random dungeon generator at the end. Don't want to be bothered sketching out some lazy passages on graph paper? Don't worry! Just make a random roll for whether the PC's encounter a door, a corridor, a room or a dead end every time they go somewhere! It even comes with the chance of randomly generated traps to kill them off! Or shrines where they can try making sacrifices that are 50-50 whether they instantly get killed or get a nice reward.
I almost have to give the book a bit of credit just for how much stuff you can randomly generate so you never have to provide any effort. Of course, it may end up producing something like "save or take 20d6 damage from the roof falling on you." For the record, a starting character has a maximum of 17 HP, if he's a fighter with pumped CON who rolls as high as possible.
So yeah, this is an incredibly fucking lazy "RPG." Despite supposedly being about the combat, you could probably do more, and more fun things, with the skill system, sparse as it is, than the threadbare combat rules.