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Good evening, afternoon, or whatever time it happens to be there, ladies and gents! I happen to be Andy, who happens to be a freelance web designer, musician, writer, and whatnot.

Roman Catholic, student of tabletop gaming, and someday soon I'll have my own designs in the field!

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Wanderer's Romance: Quick Review

A Wanderer's Romance (henceforth abbreviated as "AWR") is something I talked about previously, in my free RPG post. I've had a chance to actually experience it in play, so now I've got a much stronger perspective on what the game does and how well it does it. Sneak preview: it does pretty darn well.

What It Is
AWR is an RPG heavily inspired by the wuxia genre of fiction. Americans may be familiar with it because of movies such as Hero or (more famously) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The game accomplishes this by using a Four Elements-based attribute system, coupled with a simple dice mechanic: roll two dice and add two elements.

The game also has a very fleshed-out collection of martial arts styles, and a short but intriguing section on elemental magic in the world, as well as a brief mythology for the rather unique setting: a world of islands on the sea.

What It Ain't
It's not a terribly elaborate system, and it requires a bit of creative thought to use well. Mind you, the game does a fabulous job of providing examples of how to adjucate various tasks. However, it still lacks a dedicated skill system. It also doesn't differentiate between weapons, save in the fact that each weapon gives you access to different combat styles.

It's also definitely not a narrative-driven system like FATE. No meta-currency, no plot manipulation; it's straightforward pass-or-fail dice-rolling, along with whatever spin you put on successes and failures.

In Play
I've had the opportunity to try AWR out in a solo game with a friend...and it works splendidly. Splendidly. For this game, we were both interested in trying out a system, but I knew that my player wasn't keen on having a rules system that overshadowed the opportunity for free play. We needed to be able to ease the system out when we wanted, and to seamlessly bring it back in when we needed.

It worked.

I was actually rather astonished by how well it worked, but it really did. The four element system is rather ingenious, because it requires some thought and immersion into the task. Each element embodies certain qualities, and so the GM must consider which qualities are tested by the task. Along with the immersion of the system, its simplicity also showed. If I wanted something to be a test, I didn't have to struggle to figure out which skill was most appropriate. I just looked at the trait descriptions of the Four Elements, and decided which two fit best. It was seamless. I even was able to, out of nowhere, call for an etiquette test, when the protagonist found herself in a very unfamiliar culture with strange eating utensils. It took maybe all of ten seconds to think of, call for, and adjucate the roll.

That's pretty cool.

Download Link for A Wanderer's Romance

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