Friday, April 11, 2014

State of Beyond the Wall

Hi blog.  I'm sorry I neglected you.  It's been a hot minute since my last update and simultaneously a lot and not much of anything has happened.  I got very sick, had Christmas, worked a lot, roleplayed very little, bought a bunch of new dice, moved, and got a cat.  She's pretty.  The cat is partially blind and totally deaf, so her name is Hellen Keller.
Also, every picture of her looks like she's possessed by Satan...a definite plus.

On the gaming front, my group finished a half year long campaign in a highly unsatisfactory way, mostly because a lot of the interest in the game had waned (especially from the GM quadrant) and nobody's schedules seemed to be meshing well.  We had a one shot game of Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures over spring break (I'll get into that game later), and tried to play Legend of the Five Rings, but scheduling conflicts completely ruined that.  We also tried to play another game of Pathfinder run by my friend, Jacob.  It ended up being an extremely abstract game world with somewhat ill defined characters and we all got confused.  The game is now "on hold."

The one shot for Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures was pretty fantastic.  First off, the game is hands down my favorite Open Gaming License quasi OD&D retroclone.  It's dead simple (no attacks of opportunity).  Skills are handled by rolling under the applicable stat (with a +2 on the stat if you have the applicable skill), attack and defense are handled as normal with the D20 system.  There are destiny points to do things like re-roll, and the entire system is scaled back so that it is less complex and characters are far less powerful than most D20 games.  The two real pieces of genius, however, come from the magic system and character creation.  Magic in Beyond the Wall is not Vancian but divided into three types of magic: Rituals, Spells, and Cantrips (and is not broken down into Arcane and Divine).  Spellcasters can cast infinite Rituals and Cantrips per day, but have to roll under the appropriate stat (and spend time and spell components on Rituals) to make sure the magic doesn't go haywire.  Spells can be cast at the rate of once per level per day (so a third level character can cast three spells per day) before they are tapped out of their magical reserves.  
Character creation is the best part of Beyond the Wall.  There are three classes, Warrior, Mage, and Rogue, but each class has several "Playbooks" such as The Reformed Bully (Warrior), Witch's Apprentice (Mage), and The Young Woodsman (Rogue) as well as playbooks for hybrid classes such as The Young Templar (Warrior/Mage) and The Gifted Dilettante (Rogue/Mage).  Each Playbook has a packet of tables that you roll on to determine facets of your character's backstory, special starting weapons/equipment/allies/pieces of knowlege, relationship with the other characters, and skills and spells.  Almost every roll gives you a +1 or +2 on a stat so that you can't min max stats.  Each roll is dripping with flavor.  Your character could get the childhood trait "All children fight, but you never lost."  You could end up having thwarted a barbarian invasion through guile with "the help of the player on your right," or even end up with a pet bear (the Assistant Beast Keeper playbook is awesome) or a wife (looking at you, The Village Hero).  
The print version from DriveThruRPG is literally all the game packets jammed together in a hardcover.  It's possibly the only game I do not prefer in dead tree version.

It does have some wonky bits.  It uses oldschool saves (Vs breath weapon, polymorph, etc), but has rules to substitute Fortitude, Reflex, and Will.  It has race as class for Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings (in a seperate, PDF only packet), which I do not like.  However, those playbooks are really cool and flavorful, so I can almost give it a pass.  It also has a pretty awful print version.  The game is broken up into packets (character creation, monsters, spells, and a PDF for each playbook) which make it really easy to navigate in PDF form.  The hardcover is the core packets simply printed and put in a hardcover.  They are still paginated in packets, so there are like 4 page 1s and no index.  It's annoying.  Still, the book is small enough that it is navigable, but I'd recommend PDFs for this.  I did print out all the playbooks to pass around the table though.  

My one shot was a simple horror story, which this game lends itself to quite well due to the low power level and focus on spirits and unique versions of classic foes like goblins and demons in the small bestiary.  My group was pretty slap happy and goofy and ran amok.  Much fun was had by all.  It was a blast, but nothing to write home about or really inspire anything.  It did feature an aspect of the fantasy world I've been creating, but I plan on writing about that for future posts so that I can get back into this whole blogging thing.  
For now, I promise I'm back into this posting thing.  More will follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment