Warrior, Rogue & Mage – Elegant!

Recently I came across a set of RPG rules that made me fall in love with gaming all over again. The game is Warrior, Rogue & Mage by Michael Wolf. It is concise, simple to learn, and yet affords ample opportunities for epic fantasy games. In short it is elegant.

I wont bore you with what is covered in most of the other reviews you can find on this game but wanted to highlight some things that aren’t covered as much.

Warrior, Rogue & Mage (Wyrm for short) is a free, yes free, 41 page PDF you can download from stargazergames.com. The actual rules run just over two dozen pages. The text is in a font I personally like but some find distracting and the writing is very clear and concise.

Wyrm boasts a simple game mechanic: roll a die six (yep, the most common die on the planet), add to relevant attribute, add skill if you got it and compare to a difficulty number. While you might find a d6 doesn’t add as much granularity as you would like it helps keep the numbers small and the math fast. I personally find the larger dice just swing way too much and luck more often rules the day than the skills of the character build.

Characters right out of the gate are competent and while not having much staying power (hit points), have enough skills and spells at their disposal to reach a sweet spot right away that you don’t usually see till a handful of gaming sessions have been played in other systems.

I like magic. Let me get that out there. I want everyone to be able to practice magic in my fantasy games. Wyrm does not disappoint. In fact, and this goes for Wyrm in general, the rules do not punish players. What I mean by this is if the rules offer something. They just offer it. They don’t say, if you take this, than you can’t do that. Nearly every other rules system that deals with magic ties the number of spells to the class/skill what-have- you. What if you want your casters to have more magic? Or less? Now you are adding house rules onto things that should have been left open to personal gaming tastes.

Wrym allows anyone with a modicum of magical talent to have as many spells as they want, provided they can pay for them. A great way to govern player power in any game system is by how much treasure is given out. Tying spell acquisition to a cost allows game masters to regulate how much or how little spells their players have access to. Brilliant!

Now this doesn’t mean that a character can cast all those wonderful spells. If he wants to cast those more power and thus more difficult spells he is going to need to invest in skills and attributes that make it easier for him to do so. Even if he has trouble casting a more powerful spell, he can use a ritual to reduce it’s difficulty and get help from others to reach the mana cost. Yes, a ritual casting system built right into the main rules (although found in an appendix).

The equipment chapter is inspiring and even has examples of magic items that characters might find to whet their treasure seeking appetite. It might have been nice to see prices for such items but this is a rules-light game and a quick look at prices of spells and other equipment will give GMs a rough idea of what would work.

The GMs section is nice and even though it is only a few pages long it does set aside space for a paragraph on the value of music as mood setter in your game. Thank you. This often is overlooked and adds much to any game.

Then two pages are spent on a campaign seed. The back cover says, complete campaign setting. Hmm…I don’t get that, but it does give you enough to spark ideas and that is what counts. While I like the setting and had no trouble coming up with adventure ideas, the setting does limit many fun fantasy elements. Perhaps what would have been better is a separate supplement that included two page campaign seeds like the one included. Although, really that could be game system independent. Perhaps a more generic setting that used the standard fantasy tropes (elves, dwaves, etc.) would help more game masters get started.

The bestiary is over 3 pages long and includes NPCs, Animals and Magical Beasts. Thank you for the regenerated common NPC types! That doesn’t happen enough in RPGs let alone rules-light ones. It is nice touches like that that let GMs start running games faster.

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