Monday, January 7, 2013

A First Look at Blade Raiders (still in Beta)

I was part of the Blade Raiders Kickstarter, and thus got my "first 75 pages" preview of the game, which contains the rules for character creation, combat, and magic.  I think I'll hold off on a detailed review of the game until the final product comes out, but I wanted to touch on a couple of quick rules mechanics that caught my eye.

First, there are no stats.  None. There's four background options, from which you pick three.  You then pick three talents, which represent broad abilities and skills (e.g. "fighter" or "water magic") and then there are specific skills that are developed through play.  Use your sword often enough, you'll get points in that skill.

This is an interesting aspect of the game, because what tends to be reflected in stats ends up reflected in talents.  For example, rather than have a high Charisma or Dexterity, you have the "Charmer"  or "Quick" talent instead.  But these same types of qualities share the same roster as magical spell schools or some skill-based notions like "Blacksmith" (which is a big deal, as you will see below).  I read Noism's comments regarding the use of stats in games, and immediately reflected on this game which has no mechanism for a discrete description of physical, mental, and social attributes.

The other aspect of game mechanics I found intriguing had to do with how they handle armor.  In most games, armor either reduces damage by a certain number of points (ala Champions) or reduces it completely (ala D&D).  In Blade Raiders armor is instead another pool of hit points from which the player can affect damage either in addition to or in lieu of the personal hit points of the PC.  For example, a PC hit with 6 points of damage can take 3 points to his armor, and another 3 points personally.  The 3 points taken off the armor are gone until the armor is replaced or repairs by a blacksmith (hence their value as a PC option), which personal hit points are healed by nature or magic.  This is a bit of tactical wrinkle.  Are you likely to be able to affect repairs easily by either being close to an NPC blacksmith or having one in the party, or are you more likely to be reliant on natural and magical healing?  You decide.

There's some other interesting tweaks in the game like only being able to play humans, every PC can access magic as a character build option, etc. but I will save that for my more detailed review.

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