TL; DR– DnD, Pathfinder, and Poker all mixed together! 87%
Basics– And now for something completely different! Today I have an upcoming Alarian RPG. It’s on the horizon, but not completely finished yet. Let’s look at the basics, and tell you what I think of the sneak peek I got.
Stats, skills and character building- Like most other RPGs, this one has a solid foundation for a few basic stats and skills based on each stat. When you build a character you choose which stats advance faster than others with some having fast progression, advancing every other level, and some advancing every three levels. Skills are a simple point investment as you level as well. What is interesting are the traits. Traits are similar to feats in DnD but they have stat requirements. These traits look like the main way you build a character. The basic builds so far either give you lots of stats and fewer skills and traits, while the other build lets you have more skills, slow stat gain, but lets you ignore some trait requirements. This lets you build a character that is not bound by a class but can dip into anything you think might be fun.
Using your skills and cards-Here is where this RPG takes a big leap. The game DOES NOT USE DICE! Instead players draw from a 54 card deck with jokers being wild. Players get 1 free card per test, then cards equal to their skill and half the associated statistic. The goal is to draw a particular suit either determined by the DM, the situation, or the player deciding before getting cards. Players attempt to get 1, 2, or 3 cards of the suit for a degree of success.
Combat- Combat is a mix of theater of the mind and tiles. Characters get a move and a standard action, but a stat called focus allowes players extra attacks, moves, or even determines how many attacks of opportunity a character can get. Weapons have three interesting features. First is simple damage to a character. Second it costs a character focus as they get smacked around and cant focus as much to do extra things. Lastly they cause poise loss meaning the defender’s armor won’t work as well as more attacks beat on that character. These are all amazingly technical things, but the game takes a bit of a departure as the game then moves to side based combat as one side and all its players go then the other side goes.
Ok, on to my thoughts..
Mechanics or Crunch– This is a new system, and I am intrigued. What I see is interesting enough to get me to kickstart it. I love some things, such as the novel card mechanic. Some things I don’t like as much. I would either lean more technical with movement and combat or less and have just sides smash into each other. The mix feels a bit off. That might be a preference thing from years of DnD 5e as well as years of PF1. Will it work? I think so, but it’s a new mix that’s interesting to me. 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff– I like what’s here, but I will need more. “Yeah, Ed this is a preview!”, so the traits are not a complete list yet nor is the world fully built. That said, what we have is an interesting mix. I’m intrigued enough to want to see the full list. And for a preliminary copy, the world guide is interesting enough to get me to bite. Perfect? No, but the hook is set. 4.5/5
Execution– More grading on a curve this week. This is a prepublish, not complete book. There is not fancy art on every other page, nor is there a PDF. What is here is a few books and art assets. Those honestly are impressive. The words need another pass of polish as a few things are pretty redundant in the verbiage. Also, some explanations seem a bit deep for how to play. None of that is a game breaker by any means, but all are to be expected in a preview. 4/5
Summary– The most annoying thing for me as the alpha geek at my gaming store is other geeks who don’t want to try something new simply because they have not tried it before. This is something new. It’s solid-new that is well done. It’s not perfect-new, but then again, I’m getting a sneak peek behind the curtain before it’s ready for prime time. And what I’ve seen means I’ll come back at prime time when things are finalized. There are small things at the core that are not my favorite, like group initiative and map combat at the same time, but possibly seeing the full suite of things will make me forget any misgivings. As things stand, I wholeheartedly recommend you also check this out when the public gets a look at this. 87%
Price 55 gp Usage worn ; Bulk 1 This belt features ten different loops that a character can put potions into as well as a long thin rubber straw that is placed into a potion and rungs under a characters armor to a their mouth. As an action, a character can put a potion into a loop. As a separate action, a character can move the straw to a different potion. As a free action, a character can drink the potion that the straw is currently in.
Item Level 5; Price 2,750; System one arm You have a custom built device into your arm that you can pour a potion, serum, or any consumable liquid as an action. Once done, you can set the device to deliver the liquid based on a specific situation like a readied action or you can use a swift action to cause the liquid to be delivered into your system.
Basics– Time for some 8Bit DnD! Heroes of Cerulea is as old school as you can get with a tabletop RPG that wants to be the 8 bit Zelda you remember. There is a bad guy who did a bad thing that brok the magic gold thing and he needs to go down in four dungeons. Yep, that’s the Legend of Zelda I remember! Let’s break this down.
Dice and Rolls- Characters have exactly three stats: might, bravery, insight. When you do a thing, you roll a number of four sided dice equal to the stat. Ones and twos are bad, three is success with a cost like damage, and four is outright success. If you roll two or more dice on an action, then you take the highest die. If you roll multiple fours, you get better degrees of success. Might covers physical things like attacks. Bravery is defense and physical things like climbing. And insight is mental things like range attacks or talking.
Combat- Combat is interesting as it’s VERY much like Numenera. The characters say the things they will do. I as the GM say the things the monsters do. And ONLY the players roll dice. Monster swings at you and you want to attack it back? Roll bravery for the defense and might for the attack. Bravery got a three? You and the monster both take a hit. Rolled two fours on the attack back and the monster took two hits killing the monster.
Ok, on to my thoughts..
Mechanics or Crunch– This is a very simple system, but that is not bad. If you need character building that takes 10 hours and endless customization that requires a computer to optimize then maybe this isn’t the game for you. The quickstart that the writers put out is honestly written on a trifold pamphlet-AND I LOVE IT! It’s quick, simple, and fun. Now, I need a bit more explanation to things, as does combat always happen at the same time or is there initiative? That I hope is explained in the full game, but from what I have seen, I like what’s here. 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff– Mileage will vary with the theme in this one. I’m getting older, and that’s not getting better. My cell phone has more processing power then the original space shuttle. My first games were The Legend of Zelda, so this simple world story of “bad guy did bad thing, get the gold thing from him” coupled with a retro art style and aesthetic makes me happy. If you need your hero to have more than 8 bits of color and 10 total polygons, then this won’t hit that nostalgia for you. That said, I love what’s here. 5/5
Execution– I’m going to grade on a curve here. The publishers put out a free(ish) pdf for everyone to check out. You can pay what you want, but I threw them a buck, and honestly, it was VERY worth it. It included a slick rules pamphlet, a slick GM pamphlet, a dungeon pamphlet, and a nice character sheet. My players were building people in five minutes, and we played for two hours. If the real rules are anything like this, I will be absolutely ecstatic. 5/5Summary– Some days you just want to play the classics, whatever that is to you. Get that hit of nostalgia on graphics that are honestly not amazing and may not have held up, and simple stories that don’t delve crazy-deep into world-building or fleshing out every minor character. This feels like that game. It’s a simple game from a simpler time for me, and I love everything here. You should check this out if you can. Get some buds and play a fun adventure saving the princess and macguffin while killing the bad guy with a simple-to-master system, fun art direction and story, and solid production. I’ve backed this thing, and I hope you do too! 96%
Saw Ranking of Kings, and I saw an item I want. You might want it too.
Belt of Potions
Wondrous item, common
This brown leather belt hold a number of pouches that can hold different potions and in addition to the belt there is a small leather tube. As an action, a character can place as many potions as the character wants, up to 10, in the pouches or remove as many potions as they want as well. As a bonus action, a character can place the tube into a potion and run the tube under their clothing and armor. Once done, a character can as a free action consume a the potion the tube is in.