Scroll to the bottom to read only the final rating and recommendations.
Starting at page 85, the geography of the world is provided. One unique feature to all the areas described are the Toponymies, or the history of names for a location. It's an interesting addition that adds flavor to a world that has its roots in True Name Magic.
As you read through the Geography, keep your thumb on page 186, the glossary. As you read through the all the areas, certain creatures and materials are discussed that aren't defined until later. For example, Zurn stones are a very valuable commodity for magic, construction, and currency. The first mention occurs in a Character Feature involving magic and several more references are made until Zurn stones are defined near the end of the book.
In a world with six continents, created in part due to a cataclysm in the past, there are numerous locations covered in twenty-nine pages. Read through them once to get a sense of the world and then pick one location for the players to begin play. A given location can cover a lot of ground, so there is a lot of potential to be in one general area for quite a while. Each location has a description of the people, creatures, commerce and a few notables.
After the geography, comes the Beasts and Fiends of Azamar.There are orcs and trolls, but there are also my favorite creature, the Gaunts. Gaunts are believed to be created when a sentient humanoid is mutated by evil forces. Interestingly, they are killed on sight despite this belief.
Azamar has a distinct lack of undead, except for animated skeletons called Sentinels. These powerful creatures have their own powerful abilities, including an anti-magic shell and often employ firearms as weapons. Although there is room to create vampires, zombies and the like, I think that the lack of undead make the sentinels that much more fearsome.
Fiends are equivalent to demons in other fantasy settings. They range in appearance from near-human to mutated to exotic. As stated in the last post, my ratings come from things that I can use now. One of the fiends that I can use now are the Agmai. They are part Lovecraftian horror, part slug, part starfish and all nasty. Anything that has a mouth on top of its head, attacks by crushing or puking up metal-dissolving acid and walks around like a scorpion is a great creature in my book.
Combat and Gear
After the beasts and fiends, comes the rules for combat and movement. The rules are basically group initiative with an ability to leverage initiative with GM approval. In four pages, the rules cover sneak attacks, magical healing, rules for differently sized opponents and more. There is also an optional rule for what is called Flexible Spellcasting. Essentially, Flexible Spellcasting allows a character to spend a character point and name the effect. The GM determines a Difficulty Rating and the player rolls to beat it. A chart provides suggestions for assigning Difficulty Ratings.
I could make a GM screen out of the four pages of combat without shrinking the text. This is a big deal to me as I get older. I have difficulty reading my 27 year old GM screen I made for my B/X games. I wrote in small print to cram everything in and despite a lack of faded ink, its hard to read. Thank goodness for straightforward rules in larger type!
Going into the discussion of gear called props in the book, make your way back to the Glossary on page 186. Most of the gear is mundane, but there are references to materials defined in the glossary. The new materials play two important roles in the game: the new exotic material determine physical properties of certain expensive weapons and magic. Tucked near the end of the gear section, are rules about casting spells without expending a Character Point. Items called Magical Foci are available for sale in many places. Magical Foci do absolutely nothing for character that do not already cast spells. Using a focus, a character can hurl a bolt of magical energy at a target. The range and damage the boly delivers is determined by the type of Foci used and the materials used in its construction. Rings are portable, but are limit the spell range severely, even if the ring is made from very rare materials. Wands are larger and are the standard focus of choice. A staff allows a character to wield great power, but the difficulty in construction rarely allows for them to be made of exotic materials.
Aside from Magical Foci, new flora and fauna are presented. Like other materials, each has a special power. The effects are relatively minor, your mileage may vary. Ground and air vehicles round out the gear section. Yes, there are massive airships on Azamar. One oddity is that vehicles have no stats, not even movement rates. Only a description and cost is provided. This seems like an oversight as the Cinema6 Rules provide stats and guidelines for using vehicles. This appears to be the only omission in an otherwise complete rulebook.
Miscellaneous GM Stuff
A few Gamemaster Characters are provided as allies or adversaries to the Player Characters. Each is presented with a bit of history, their place in Azamar and their stats. These, coupled with the Archtypes at the end of the book, can provide guidance for your players when creating characters. With both of these tools, character creation can be shortened to Pick and Archetype and choose a couple of tweaks. In a sourcebook with so many choices, this allows the GM to manage them without putting up arbitrary restrictions.
The sample adventure is a basic search and rescue, but it provides a great springboard for more adventures. Advice is provided on story arcs that can lead to more adventure. With all the possibilities given, it won't be too hard to tailor the story arcs to taste. As I tend toward gonzo stuff, you may not choose to have your own Azamarspace Crystal Sphere, but you can easily go from here to more urban adventures, swashbuckling sea adventures or more longer journeys to the six corners of Azamar.
COST: 5 Stars out of 5 Stars.
The PDF is $5. That's all. $5 for a complete game, campaign world, and a bunch of free extras. Even if you decide to adapt the material to your own ruleset, it is worth the $5. It is available for purchase at their store. They will be able to accept Credit Cards soon, but PayPal works right now.
CONTENT: 4.5 Stars out of 5 Stars.
There is a lot of content here. At first, it can feel like a lot especially with all the new vocabulary. I create my own languages as a hobby, so it doesn't bother me as much as it bothers some. Make good use of page 186, the Glossary to navigate all the information presented. As mentioned, vehicles are mentioned, but no statistics are provided. Download the free Cinema6 Rules for guidelines in using them. Another positive is the numerous examples provided for combat, using skills and magic. These are invaluable to understanding the setting.
The OpenD6 community is also provided content for Azamar. New character templates and another mini-adventure are provided in Issue 2 of D6 Magazine.
PRESENTATION: 3.5 Stars out of 5 Stars
Why so low? The primary issue is the complete lack of an index. This wouldn't be an issue except that everything you need to know about magic is scattered throughout the book. Spells are in the front, Magic Foci are in the back. Character Features are in the middle. I will create a handout that puts Magic rules and choices all in one place when I run it. Otherwise, the book is organized very well and one subject lends to another in a way that makes sense.
OVERALL: 4.5 Stars out of 5 Stars
The positives far outweigh the negatives for me. I can deal with a lack of an index because everything is explained well. Once I find what I'm looking for, it is easy to understand and simple to play. There is a lot of content that I can use right now in my own games, but I enjoy the ruleset presented. I look forward to the new worlds promised by Wicked North Games.