Dread the Books of Pandemonium
Summation: 7 out of 10 due to the fairly narrow scope, 9 out of 10 when considered solely in the ‘monster hunter’ genre. Strongly recommend (it’s free for goodness sake)
You can pick up the Dread RPG system which uses the author’s Disciple 12 system.
DIsciple 12 is your basic dice pool mechanic using d12s (as you might have guessed). I do have some issues with dice pools of the roll X dice and use the highest roll. The math behind them is shaky because as you add dice to your pool your average value very quickly approaches the maximum value. So with 6 dice for example your average value is around 11.5′ish.
But for the purposes of this game and it’s general mechanics it works reasonably well.
The setting is a fairly standard ‘monster hunter’ as I call it. Nothing wrong with that, it’s popular because it’s popular so to speak.
Mature wise, it falls heavily on the grown up side with the monsters being truly bad guys, people getting killed and the best end game is just revenge on the thing doing it and in general fairly dark from the character’s perspective. It’s basically Supernatural but with more magic by the ‘good’ guys. This isn’t a book you’re going to want your kids reading.
It’s got a lot of flavor if you like the genre, there’s a on-going novella at the start of each chapter which reads a little like a Raymond Chandler book but with less metaphor.
The mechanics are pretty simple. Each character has 3 attributes which they get 9 points to spend on but one has to be a five or higher and nothing can be lower than a 1 (it’s not specifically listed but I’ll get to that). This has the end result that your character is an expert at one thing in general in terms of attributes. The attributes are Strength, Sense, Soul which equates to body, mind, will but I guess he wanted all S’s.
As you might extrapolate out, these mean your character is an expert at combat, lore/research/puzzle solving or magic. You can do all three of course, but you’re focused in one area.
The reason is the value you assign to each attribute = the number of dice you roll to determine your success at something. Rolling 6 dice is almost a guaranteed success. This isn’t necessary a bad thing, it simply means you’re really really good at your job and dabble in the others.
As with most systems you’re trying to beat a target number whether it’s opposed or flat.
In combat/tactical mode you get one action and there are three ranges, adjacent, same room, same block. If you have move to affect someone, it drops your dice pool in dice counts.
When you roll your combat skill (Strength) your target makes a Defense roll. If you beat the roll you hit. The difference in the rolls is how much damage you do along with any damage added by a specific weapon. So no damage rolls per se.
As you can see it’s a light system that supports narrative play. You won’t really need miniatures and a tactical map at all although you could certainly use them to help give a sense of the area.
There’s a small list of skills that are picked up by taking professions. The basic pretty broad scope you’ll find in any light mechanic/ heavy narrative system.
It has a variant on Fate/Plot/Benny points called Fury that let you get some boosts or pay for specific maneuvers like ‘cockpunch’ which rather than what you might think it would be simply lets you swipe the GM’s highest dice roll in an opposed skill roll.
There’s a chapter on Sorcery/Magic which includes a biggish list of spells, each one gives a fairly specific effect. A character can cast a number of spells a day equal to their Soul and know their Soul x 2 in spells. So an expert knows around 12 spells and can cast 6. A dabbler knows around 2 and can cast 1. You can cast more than your allotment but if you fail the roll you suffer damage. A nice way to limit it and yet let the players use the ability when they really really need to.
Equipment is also light, you won’t find say a Morrowind Project list of weapons here. No point, no need with this system.
Dread is the first book and is the Supernatural / Monster Hunter International book. Spite is the second book and is a step up where angels and daemons are fighting. I’m more a small picture kind of person and would be using Dread primarily.
Mechanically the system is light, easy to pick up and easy to use. It supports and encourages narrative play. You get cool points for having good narrative which translates to bonus dice to roll.
The setting is flavorful and fits the system well enough.
The book is minimally laid out, nothing awesome there but nothing bad. The graphics are mixed bag, ranging from low end to mid range.
Most of the lists and charts are depicted as if on note paper using embedded graphics to appear as if they were pieces of paper stuck in the book and show heavy signs of jpg artifacting making them more difficult to read than they should be especialy when it’s grey text on grey backgrounds. The original document is probably fine but the pdf output should have been checked better.
The typography is serviceable, again nothing great but nothing bad. The novella is done in a typewriter font which helps to set it off from the rest of the book and gives you the impression it was the guys journal that the typed up after every mission.
Proofing / copy edit isn’t bad. Nothing that made me want to roll my eyes. There are some obviously missing things in some places that show a case of the author simply ‘knowing’ what he meant rather than writing it. The ‘minimum of 1′ in a stat mentioned above is one such example. It’s not stated but obviously you can’t have less than 1 in a stat based on the examples. I can see some player somewhere though going, I don’t want to do magic, I’m going for a 6/3/0 spread.
All in all I’d say if I’d paid $10 for one book, I’d of gotten a bargain. The fact that the both books and the two supplements are 100% free, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not picking it up.
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