Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bloody Basic Sinew & Steel Edition [REVIEW]

Another version of Bloody Basic by John M. Stater meant to be an introduction to RPGs and the Blood and Treasure RPG itself. This basic set of Rules is setup to emulate medieval Europe without magic and monsters and as such the rules are a tad brief compared to other options but for a basic set it may indeed get the job done.

Characters are rolled in the familiar 3d6 for each ability in turn method and as in the other version of Bloody Basic I reviewed yesterday each ability score is given a descriptive tag for  low score and high scores with different tags begin used in this version from the more lurid Weird Fantasy version. Characters of high strength are Strong while those with low score are Weak as those of High Dexterity are Nimble and those of low Charisma are Repulsive. I like these tags as they make remembering differences easy and add as hooks tin describing and understanding a character.

Instead of races for player characters this version of the game makes use of Social Ranks and characters can be an Aristocrats, Bourgeois, or Peasant. Each rank has a positive and negative ability score adjustment and a perk that sets them apart from the other two Social Ranks.

The main classes amiable to players are Armsman, Scholar, and Villein with a significant number of sublcasses.

Armsmen are fighters with a number of special abilities broken out by level and number with a limited number of uses per day, i find this mechanic interesting but maybe a bit too limiting for the advantages of some of the related special abilities; as examples: ARTFUL DODGE as a special ability that allows one to avoid one enemies attacks in a round seems okay for a 1st level ability that can be used but once a day at 1st level but QUICK granting a +1 to initiative rolls for but one round seems far inferior. The Armsman is joined by Berserkers, Cavaliers, and clerics each of which have an ability score requirement that isn;t too significant and get a special ability or two to set them apart from other arms men.

Scholars are learned men who have attended university (or the equivalent) and have knowledge among their special abilities, they can blather, decipher writings and speech and make observations on the true nature elf others and their status. Scholars each must pick a higher area of study making them a Lawyer, a Leech, or a Theologian. Lawyers are handy if there are trials, Leeches are healers, and Theologians are steeped in the mysticism of the church and may bless or curse others (this requires belief on the part of the person being blessed or cursed).

The Villein is a sneaky adventurer that nay be good at several skills and trades not too dissimilar from thieves of classic RPG. Subclasses include Assassins that gain a bonus to damage vs unknowing victims, Charlatans are confidence men, Hedge Wizard are rural scholars that can curse others, Minstrels can fascinate people  with their performances, and Venturers are traveling merchants.

All classes may receive a randomly determined Retainer once the reach 6th level (the highest in these rules) which gives them a comment sidekick and second character.

Money in these rules is not he standard fantasy RPG decimal system but instead uses a pseudo-realistic system of farthings, pennies, groats, shillings and Crowns where characters start off with 10 shillings per point of Charisma to buy equipment.

Of note following the equipment section we see the importance of religion in medieval setting and each charter is recommend to choose a religion and how seriously they take their religion. Characters can be Zealots, Believers, Apostate, or Heretics. This is a good touch for the implied setting but I think it’s in the wrong section following equipment as it does and would have better served the rules in a section between Social Ranks and Character classes (i know form bitter experience few players ever read past the equipment section in an RPG,even a brief one).

The rule mechanics are simply laid out and clear. Savign thaws are broken down into three categories and each class is given at the score need to roll (or higher) to make a save based on level. Other tasked are rolled for in a similar manner with skilled tasks begin as successful as a saving throw and those tasks one is less skilled dwith are a tad less likely to be successful.

Combat is quick and easy with a d6 iniaitve roll for each side in group combat, a 1d0 for signle combat.  Initiave modifiers apply in single combat and are based on type of weapon and if a character is Clumsy or Nimble. The hit roll itself is 1d20 + attack bonus to meet or beat the foe’s AC score. When a foe is reduced to 0 HP the attacker gets to deice if the target is killed, knocked unconscious to subdued. A few minor situational modiers are mentioned but standard combat is wrapped up in under a page.

Jousting and Archery contests are given extra attentions fits the setting both sections are adequate and should get the job done in setting both types of tournament apart from standard combat.

Healing is slow at 1 hp for a nights rest and a charter’s level for a whole day of rest but if one takes 10 minutes immediately after a fight to rest they do regain half their hit points. Players that are careful and don’t push it too much shouldn’t have to overly worry about the lack of magical healing if they are careful about when they choose to fight.

Sieges get some attention with siege weapons getting some quick coverage align with a few siege related modifiers to regular combat. Walls are given defense ratings that act as hit points for structures.

Instead of digging through musty dungeons full of monsters characters are assumed to be storming castles and the rules for stocking ad exploring them are given cursory attention. Wandering Guards replace wandering monsters but I must lament the absence of a sample Wandering Guard table there’s room in such a short set of rules. for some odd reason the Npc reaction table is also hidden in this rule section. Wilderness and Civilization sections give both environments a little attention that should prove useful to the GM (oops sorry the Treasure Keeper).

the Creature section provides useful notes and statistics for a variety of Anmals that may be encountered during adventures and a brief variety of Human opponents.

The experience and Treasure section finishes off the rules. Experiecne points are earned for defeating foes and Experience points are earned for treasure; this exp section seems to be a copy and past from elsewhere as it lists coins as Gold Pieces, Silvee Picees and Copper Pices instead of using the denominations mentioned elsewhere in the rules, it’s useable as written but a little sloppy. Treasures are provided in a few charts that  while not amazing get the job done, I do like the treasure chart for Special treasures they fit the setting well.

Overall these brief 25  pages of rules would be useable for a straight up medieval setting. Given how much is not needed when there are no monsters, magical items, or magical spells it’s just going to be briefer. A few tables for Wandering Guards and Wilderness encounters would have surely fit in. I’d say this would serve a GM …i mean …Treasure Keeper in introducing people to RPGs but they are likely going to be left chomping at the bit for monsters and magic to be added to the game which isn’t bad considering this is a lead in product to a more expansive set of rules. A more experience group may still find this useful for a rules light option for their RPG fun.

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