Azamar Core Rules Review

This is part 1 of the review. It mostly covers the options available to players. Part 2 will be more for the GM.

I have been waiting a long time for products built on the OpenD6 rules. Some time ago, a group of folks got together and formed Wicked North Games. From the beginning, their stated goal was quality products based on the OpenD6 rules. Their efforts led to their own set of base rules called Cinema6 with the promise of many worlds yet to come. The first of these worlds is a high fantasy setting called Azamar.

History

Readers are introduced to a group of friends traveling together. The vignette provides a look into the world of Azamar. It features half of the races, magic, beasts, and much more. Instead of explaining what an RPG is, it demonstrates an introductory story before moving into the world's history.

After providing a sweeping history of the past 5000 years, the reader is directed to information about why Azamar works the way it does. In addition to the history that set the stage, the nature of the realms and magic are explained.

I appreciated that the introduction wasn't the standard "this is an what an rpg is". The world of Azamar is introduced like an example of play. In a couple of pages, the how and why the world works is explained quite well. The rationale of magic is important to the feel and rules of the game. It was explained clearly and concisely. When I get a chance to play this with someone, I will probably print out the how and why section for the players as a mnemonic aid during play.

Rules

The core mechanic is simple, roll a number of six-sided die against a difficulty rating. If you roll the difficulty rating or higher, you are successful.

Players also get Cinema Points to use as a measure of experience, perseverance, and personal growth (quoted from the book). They are used at character creation for purchasing skills or features, during the game to activate a character feature and/or improve rolls and between game sessions to increase abilities, skills and features.

After this comes the list of skills by attribute. The list is comprehensive offering lots of choice to players. The descriptions are pretty straight-forward. I didn't get the sense that a GM would be weighed down by trying to remember what each skill would do. Character wants to use a skill, assign a difficulty rating determine the number of die to use (attribute plus level of skill) and roll for success.

Races

Azamar features eight new races. This is an area where Azamar shines. One of the measurements of a good RPG product for me is whether or not there is inspirational material I can use right now. In a page and a half, each race is described by their Homeland, Main Attribute, Restrictions, Background and Outlook. The background provides just enough information to help a player get into the role of playing one of these races. The Outlook section demonstrates how other races view a specific race. The unique aspect of the Outlook section is that the other races are described in a series of quotations instead of block text. I found this a refreshing way of describing a race's place in a given world.

Characters

The next section details character creation. After the nine steps are listed, the text goes into more detail about the effects of magic, rules for rolling for background and options for starting play as a more experienced character.

After this, we get the meat of the book, lists of character features categorized by features available only at the time of character creation first. After that the categories cover features by types of magic. Character Features include spells, something I didn't pick up on at first. However, I understood later why spells are treated as a feature instead of its own separate entity.

Magic is described as rare and potentially dangerous - the effect is maintained in the rules by requiring a Cinema Point to be spent to activate a spell. This focuses players to use magic only when necessary, a stark contrast to the fire-and-forget spellcasting in other systems.

Gods

The Gods and other powerful spirits are presented as something for all characters. Worship of a particular deity provides one or two benefits activated like a character feature. Worship of a deity does, however, require some behavioral guidelines. In other words, if a character is not faithful and staying on the path, the benefits won't work.

I like this because it provides a "Hail Mary Prayer" for a character that may result in a game action. The benefits aren't game-breaking, but a few of them could keep a character going during critical parts of the game. This isn't just combat abilities, but things like withstanding supernatural amounts of pain, escape through a trans-dimensional gate or inducing temporary madness against a target.

Conclusions

If you like games that provide a lot of choice to a player, Azamar has it. I enjoyed thinking of the myriad types of character that can be created. There are eight interesting races, various forms of magic, numerous skills, even a meaningful benefit to choosing a deity. If that isn't enough for you, there's even a  free mini-campaign and expansion that adds more options.

There are pre-generated characters at the end of the book. For a quick session, a group could use them to get started quickly. It's true that lots of options can make character creation an hours-long chore. If you're concerned about this possibility, create a few archtype characters to serve as models in addition to the pregen characters in the back.

Some folks may be bothered by the long lists. I didn't find them as long as lists in GURPS. It feels like they are about the same length as Savage Worlds, maybe a bit longer. Features cover 23 pages and skills cover 6 pages. The character creation summary and the core mechanic combined cover less than a page. Skills are listed by governing attribute, so a player won't be poring over all six pages to pick up skills. In the same way, magic skills only cover one or two pages by type of magic. The only place where character creation may get bogged down is in the almost 19 pages of features available only at the moment of character creation. Having said that, the mechanical benefit takes up less than one line of text. My only suggestion for improvement would be to provide a page with the name of a feature, cost, restrictions and mechanical effect of each character feature.

All in all, this is a lot of fun to read. For this part of the book (pages 1 - 85), I would give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Open D6 PDFs

UPDATE: June 6,2011 - About a dozen folks come here a day, so I want to provide the most up to date list

UPDATE: Four new files now available as of today.

The pdf files for OpenD6 are now available. Thanks to a user that goes my Temprus, the OGL has been added to the original PDF files. As of July 28, 2009, not all links work. I've marked the ones that are not currently working. Let me know if a pdf comes available, the link is correct for the file once it is available and uploaded.

Default Complete OpenD6 OGL Books Links + Mirror Sites

Hosted by West End Games

D6 Adventure (weg51011OGL.pdf)
D6 Adventure Locations (weg51016OGL.pdf)
D6 Fantasy (weg51013OGL.pdf)
D6 Fantasy Creatures (weg51015OGL.pdf)
D6 Fantasy Locations (weg51020OGL.pdf)
D6 Magic (weg51024OGL.pdf)
D6 Space (weg51012OGL.pdf)
D6 Space Ships (weg51017OGL.pdf)

Hosted by Polgarus Games

The D6 System: The Customizable Roleplaying Game (1996)
D6 Legend (1999)
D6 Adventure
D6 Adventure: Creatures
D6 Adventure: Locations
D6 Fantasy
D6 Fantasy: Creatures
D6 Fantasy: Locations
D6 Magic
D6 Space
D6 Space: Aliens I
D6 Space: Ships

Hosted at The Game District

The D6 System: The Customizable Roleplaying Game (1996)
D6 Legend (1999)
D6 Adventure
D6 Adventure: Creatures
D6 Adventure: Locations
D6 Fantasy
D6 Fantasy: Creatures
D6 Fantasy: Locations
D6 Magic
D6 Space
D6 Space (rtf)
D6 Space: Aliens I
D6 Space: Ships

Hosted at Critical Press Media

http://criticalpressmedia.com/publications/open-d6

Open D6 OGL Related Sites

Age of Enlightenment D6
Cinema6 RPG Framework
Mini Six
Open D6 Resurrection Wiki
Preternatural RPG
RPG Library Open D6 Page
Six-Sided Fantasy Reference Document

Am-Kahir, Alchemist

Am-Kahir spent a few years studying magic under an adequate, but wholly unremarkable teacher. Much of his time was spent creating scrivened versions of simple spells and cataloging ingredients used for various potions, spells, and assorted creations. Through cataloging various potion recipes, Am-Kahir discovered that creating potions and elixirs has more to do with the application of energy to the ingredients instead of us of magic. Eager to research his findings, he left the employ of his teacher and set up his own laboratory.

Although self-taught, Am-Kahir is very skilled in making potions, charms, and amulets. His research has led him attempt acts of takwin, the creation of artificial life. His early attempts followed standard arcane formulas and rites to create golems. However, he quickly moved to other ideas as he considered golems to be possessed and not created.

His experiments with takwin have not been well received by local townspeople. Many fear his 'mad' experiments and complain about the sounds of explosions and scent of sulphur coming from his lab. Although he has more his lab from place to place, he was recently attacked by a mob during one of his experiments. Desperate to defend his life's work, he employed his various creations to defend his property. No one was killed, but city officials expelled him from the city for his use of "unauthorized magicks".

Am-Kahir found a cave that opened to a steep cliff face. He decided that such a location would keep him safe from townspeople and local officials. He then secluded himself to resume his study of artificial life. His first successful creation was a roughly human-shaped mass of rope. Unlike a mindless golem, this creature, called an anthroparion, was able to understand complex instructions, adapt to variable conditions, and learn simple tasks. Encouraged by his success, he hired an assistant, Zemud, to expand his work.

Together, Am-Kahir and Zemud have expanded the initial success to create other anthroparion (parion for short). Their greatest known success is the creation of Wahed, a true anthroparion. Wahed is human in all respects, capable of independent thought, and learning new tasks. Unsurprisingly, Wahed has an affinity for alchemy, though he is extremely poor in social skills.

Zemud, however, is impatient with the time and effort involved and uses elemental spirits to speed up construction. Technically, this means that he is creating golems instead of anthroparion. To this end, Zemud has made a deal with a dao: the dao provides earth elemental spirits, the golems Zemud creates mine for gems.

Am-Kahir (for D6 Fantasy)

Agility 2D
Coordination 2D: sleight of hand 2D+1
Physique 2D
Charisma 2D+2: mettle 3D+2
Intellect 4D: reading/writing 4D+2, scholar 5D
Acumen 2D+2
Magic 3D+2: conjuration 4D

Spells: Cantrips, Countermagic Ward, Glow Stone, Relocate Person, Feast, Stun Senseless, Create Golem, Create Anthroparion

Advantage: Eidetic Skill Bonus +1
Disadvantages: Infamy (R2), blowing up things in nearby towns has not endeared Am-Kahir to local residents or city leaders.
Equipment: A fully equipped laboratory for two persons. Included in the lab are the materials to create at least two true anthroparion, many different types of potions and wards.

Strength Damage: 1D
Move: 10
Body Points: 25

Fate Points 4
Character Points 0
Funds 4D