Monday, July 18, 2011

Tommy's Take on Resolute: The Splintered Realm

I have reviewed one or two of Michael T. Desing's products in the past, and I think he does a GREAT job of cramming a lot of material into a low cost, no frills product. With Resolute: The Splintered Realm, you get everything you need to play the Resolute game system in a fantasy setting.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The PDF is 20 pages and $3, and jammed full of text. There is a tiny bit of art, a little cartoony but certainly nothing bad. The character sheet is included right up front, and is pretty basic but functional.

The premise is pretty cool: people decided, rather than just be happy with the protection from their goddess, to get greedy and they killed her...which had very nasty, chaotic effects around the world. Now, Bad Stuff is happening and new heroes need to rise up to save the day.

Abilities are rated from -1 to +13, with 0 being average. You use points to buy your abilities up, with the amount depending on how powerful the GM wants the game to be. The basic mechanic is roll 2d6 plus the relevant ability and determine the margin of success (which is +1 for every five points beyond the target number). Optionally, instead of rolling, you can take a "Static 7"...this is particularly helpful for speeding up gameplay with NPCs. For 2 points, you can also buy an Application, which is kind of like a specialization.

Abilities are fairly wide open, but a large list of commonly useful abilities are provided, like Might, Resolve, Arms, Leadership and Burglary. In keeping with fantasy tropes, however, you can pick an Archetype with four provided: Disciple, Fighter, Magician and Scout (covering the Cleric, Fighter, Mage, Rogue mix of D&D)...note, however, these archetypes are optional, and largely there to help you pin down the fantasy basics. However, the downside to not taking an archetype is that they have Unique abilities that you can only get if you select an archetype.

There are four races to choose from: Chosen humans, forge gnomes, moon elves and storm dwarves, again hitting some of the common races. The magic section provides some basic spellbooks for Magicians to start with, as well as covering magic for non-mages, such as Valor Magic (which, incidentally, covers most of the basic Paladin abilities).

29 monsters are included in the bestiary, along with guidelines on how to shift them up into "bosses" or down into mooks.

Lastly, the book includes a basic dungeon crawl adventure.

WHAT WORKS: Plenty of information for 20 pages, more than enough to get your game rolling. There are also some decent benchmark guidelines for character point totals actually mean, as well as ability benchmarks. The author does a great job of conveying a lot in a few words. Nice setting premise.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: While cross-referencing with the Resolute Book of Beasts, I noticed a bit of overlap in the contents of the two bestiaries, which was disappointing. It is also hard to call the archetypes "optional" when you basically penalize someone for not taking an archetype. Given the size of the book, there is virtually no setting information once you get past the blurb that sets up the premise.

CONCLUSION: Unlike some other "low-end" or "budget" RPGs, this feels very much like a complete game (like the Resolute supers game does before it), even if it doesn't feel like the premise is executed quite as well here. I would also have liked to have seen even the minimal crossover with the Book of Beasts avoided, as the small size of the books basically means that every page matters. That said, there is plenty of room for microsupplements that could expand it out, both within the setting and the realm of generic fantasy. If you only buy one Resolute RPG, I say stick with the supers version, but this is definitely a fine product on its own merits.