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Chronica Feudalis
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/11/2014 02:18:37
http://www.teilzeithelden.de/2014/06/11/indiespotlight-chron-
ica-feudalis-das-echte-mittelalter-rollenspiel/

Echtes Mittelalter erleben: Mit dem Indie-RPG Chronica Feudalis kein Problem. Immerhin stammt das Werk aus dem 12. Jahrhundert – oder etwa doch nicht? Burgen-Fan Dirk wirft einen Blick auf das preisgekrönte Lese-Rollenspiel.


Indiespotlight: Chronica Feudalis – Das „echte“ Mittelalter-Rollenspiel
Der Sommer naht und die Temperaturen klettern über die Dreißig-Grad-Marke. Zeit für ein Indie-Rollenspiel, um mir mit guten Freunden die warmen Abende zu vertreiben. Etwas Leichtes und Kurzweiliges soll es sein: Chronica Feudalis von Cellar Games, LLC vielleicht? Mittelalterliche Schrift, ein Ritter auf dem Cover und nicht mehr als 130 Seiten? Dazu hat es 2010 einen ENnie-Award abgeräumt … soso! Werfen wir mal einen Blick hinein …

Die Spielwelt – Direkt aus dem 12. Jahrhundert
Bereits auf den ersten Seiten des Vorworts („Translator’s Forword“) gerate ich ins Stocken. Übersetzer, wie bitte? Jeremy Keller, der Autor von Chronica Feudalis, beschreibt hier nämlich, wie er das historische Manuskript zum Spiel entdeckte.

“Ich fand das erste Fragment auf einer Englandreise im Jahr 2005. Ich war in Oxford und dieses Ding, dass wohl nur als Abfall bezeichnet werden kann, stach in meinen Augen aus anderen alten Pergamenten heraus, die ein Kollege mir zeigte.“ [Teilzeithelden-Übersetzung]

Was der fiktive Übersetzer hier gefunden haben will, ist natürlich kein echtes mittelalterliches Rollenspiel, sondern ein charmantes Versteckspiel mit dem Leser – literarische Vorbilder wie Don Quijote oder Die Brautprinzessin lassen grüßen. So gibt sich Chronica Feudalis als im 12. Jahrhundert geschriebenes Spiel, das von einem Mönch eines vergessenen Klosters erfunden wurde, um sich die Zeit mit seinen Brüdern zu vertreiben. Ist ein solches Verwirrspiel nötig, um ein Rollenspiel zu präsentieren? Sicher nicht. Aber es ist sehr unterhaltsam zu lesen!
So wird der ganze Text des Buches nach dem Vorwort aus der Sicht des fiktiven Mönchs präsentiert. Der fühlt sich zu diesem Spiel durch einen anderen Mönch inspiriert – Gary of Geneva (fünf Sympathiepunkte für diesen Fingerzeig!). Chronica Feudalis spielt dabei im England des historischen Mittelalters, anders als Pendragon oder Nights of the Crusades ganz ohne Drachen und Feen. Dass auch sowas interessant sein kann, zeigt die Weltbeschreibung mit Erwähnung von zeitaktuellen Geschehnissen, von den Kreuzzügen bis zum Streit um Englands Krone. Eine vollständige Beschreibung des Mittelalters zu dieser Zeit ist das natürlich nicht, doch wer die Säulen der Erde gelesen und den Geschichtsunterricht nicht ganz verschlafen hat, kriegt das auch so hin.

Ganz schön Indie, die Regeln …
Chronica Feudalis hat kein sonderlich komplexes Regelwerk und ist deutlich von narrativen Erzählspielen wie FATE inspiriert. So werden Tests mit „Skills“ (etwa Strike als Kampfwert) plus des Werts eines hilfreichen „Tools“ (z.B. ein Schwert) gegen eine vom Spielleiter festgelegte Schwierigkeit gewürfelt. Komplexe Modifikatoren und minutenlanges Herumgerechnet gibt es dabei nicht.
Die einzelnen Skills kommen dabei, je nach Können des Charakters, in unterschiedlichen Würfelgrößen von einem W4 bis zu einem W20. Je größer der Würfel, desto größer natürlich die Erfolgswahrscheinlichkeit. Dazu können Charaktere über den Ardor-Wert eigene Aspekte auslösen und Würfelboni erhalten. Wird ein Charakter getroffen, verliert er Vigor – quasi die Lebenspunkte des Systems.
Das System ist übersichtlich, schnell und sicher nicht jedermanns Fall. Denn gerade eine realistische mittelalterliche Welt verlangt manchmal nach Regeln, die von Chronica Feudalis nicht abgedeckt werden – Handwerk zum Beispiel oder Seuchen. Hier muss der Spielleiter notdürftig improvisieren. Löblich ist aber, dass die Regeln in jedem Spielbereich gleich funktionieren, sei es bei Verfolgungsjagten (Chases) oder Sozialer Interaktion (Parley). Gerade bei letzteren gibt Chronica Feudalis gute Beispiele, wie Regeln und Erzählung miteinander funktionieren.

Charaktererschaffung mal anders
Während Das Schwarze Auge 5 und andere Systeme damit kämpfen, Helden ohne Tabellenkalulation in unter einer Stunde zu erschaffen, liegt die Charaktererstellung von Chronica Feudalis klar am anderen Ende des Kompliziert-und-Aufwändig-Spektrums. Attribute? Gibt es nicht. Jeder Charakter wird durch seine Skills (etwa Reiten) ausgedrückt. Die 20 Skills von Strike (als bewaffnetem Kampfwert) bis Climb sind dabei recht grobe Kategorien. Interessant wird die Charaktererstellung durch den Einsatz von Mentors, drei Personen, die das frühe Leben des Charakters stark beeinflusst haben. Diese verleihen bestimmte Fertigkeiten und sogar hilfreiche Gegenstände und machen die Hintergrundgeschichte gleich viel lebhafter.
Aspects differenzieren den Charakter aus und können vom Spieler frei formuliert werden. Auch das erinnert stark an FATE und funktioniert ganz ähnlich – samt Auslösen und entsprechende Würfelboni. Backgrounds als weitere Hintergründe des Charakters, von Religion bis Familie haben gar keine regeltechnischen Auswirkungen und dienen nur dazu, die Rolle auszumalen. Dann werden noch schnell Ardor und Vigor (3 für Charaktere, 2 für normale Schergen) notiert. Fertig.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielersicht
Spieler haben in Chronica Feudalis große Freiheiten, da weder System noch Metaplot sie zu einer bestimmten Charakter-Rolle zwingen. Ein Mönch, ein Dieb und zwei Ritter als Gruppe? Warum nicht, so lange der Spielleiter mitspielt. Diese Freiheit wird durch die strengen sozialen Regeln des Mittelalters aber wieder etwas zurückgenommen: Wer nicht in die Kirche geht oder dreist einem Adligen gegenüber ist, landet bald im Kerker. So ist der Handlungsspielraum der Charaktere oft beschränkt und ihr Einfluss auf die Geschehnisse der Welt eher gering. Spieler, die lieber „Helden“ spielen, werden von Chronica Feudalis enttäuscht sein. Wer aber das „echte“ Mittelalter erleben möchte, wird das Spiel lieben.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielleitersicht
Ohne Metaplot oder besondere Ausrichtung ist Chronica Feudalis für Spielleiter vor allem ein Mittelalter-Sandkasten, um eigene Geschichten zu verwirklichen. Dabei liegt der Fokus des Spiels jedoch klar auf den Charakteren und einem kleineren Rahmen. Die vorgeschlagenen Antagonisten und Schauplätze geben davon einen guten Eindruck. Persönliche Lebensgeschichten wie Der Medicus oder kleinere Abenteuer à la Der Name der Rose entsprechen deutlich mehr dem Sinn des Spiels, als große Schlachten. So ist die Beispiel-Kampagne „Banquest of Warwick Castle“ auch eher ein Kammerstück, wenngleich natürlich weit mehr als „nur“ ein Bankett passiert.


Erscheinungsbild
An dieser Stelle ein großes Lob für Miguel Santos. Dessen Illustrationen sind im mittelalterlichen Stil gehalten und unterstützen die Illusion, man habe mit Chronika Feudalis einen wiedergefundenen Schatz aus längst vergangener Zeit in den Händen. Zusammen mit dem edlen Cover in Rot und Gold wäre das Spiel sicher ein Hingucker in einem Rollenspiel-Regal, wenn … ja, wenn es eine Print-Version gäbe. Dem PDF fehlt eine Navigationsleiste, doch Inhaltsverzeichnis und Index lassen in den Text springen, was die Benutzung auf einem Tablet erleichtert.


Fazit
Ein Rollenspiel, das so tut, als sei es im 12. Jahrhundert geschrieben worden – wie charmant! Chronica Feudalis ist schon etwas Besonderes in der Landschaft der Indie-Rollenspiele. Das Regelwerk könnte schlichter kaum sein, erfüllt aber brav seinen Dienst für Spieler, die eine gute Erzählung einer komplexen Simulation vorziehen. Dabei schafft das kleine Rollenspiel etwas, woran manche großen Regelwerke scheitern: Es ist unterhaltsam zu lesen. Ich habe die 130 Seiten geradezu verschlungen und werde mir sicher auch die nächsten Rollenspiele von Autor Jeremy Keller kaufen. Als reines Lese-Rollenspiel kann ich Chronica Feudalis bedenkenlos empfehlen.

Das einzige Problem liegt paradoxerweise im konkreten Spielen und der Freiheit, die es Spielern und Spielleitern lässt. So dürften gemischte Gruppen aus Mönchen, Bauern, Dieben und Rittern einige Plot-Probleme erzeugen. Hier wäre eine klarere Ausrichtung, Metaplot oder eine begrenzte Charakterauswahl besser gewesen. Als charakterzentrierte Sandbox für historische Mittelalter-Kampagnen oder Oneshots ist Chronica Feudalis aber richtig gut zu gebrauchen. Man muss halt nur das Feeling eines „echten“ Mittelalters mögen; und das war nun mal garstiger, als viele Spieler sich das vorstellen …

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Chronica Feudalis
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Technoir
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/24/2012 09:01:17
Overview
One of the early RPG successes from Kickstarter Technoir is a cyberpunk styled game heavily flavoured by hard boiled detective fiction and film noir. The game is presented in a compact and beautifully laid out form, small enough that its easy to just slip the book into a bag just in case you get a chance to play it. If you're looking for long sessions of planning, stealthy infiltration and stats for an endless list of cybernetics then I suggest sticking to Shadowrun. Technoir is about bold and reckless action, its about causing trouble because you can and flinging accusations just to see what sticks.

Rules
Technoir uses a lightweight rules system built around the use of Adjectives, which describe the result of actions, properties of objects and relationships between characters and their connections. Want to shoot somebody? Then you might apply the adjectives of Suppressed, Bleeding or even Scared; it all depends on how you want to affect the target and how long you want the Adjective to last. In a similar fashion Adjectives may be applied to represent emotional or situational (Distracted, bored, lustful etc) effects, describe the properties of items (Sharp, Rapid-fire, Expensive etc), and define the relationships between characters and their connections (Respectful, Loyal, Indebted etc).
Actions are attempted by generating a pool of d6's, formed from characters attributes (Action dice), positive adjectives they can draw on (Push dice) and negative adjectives affecting the character (Harm dice, of which a character has a limited number). These are rolled together, with Harm dice cancelling out any positive dice of equal value, and the highest remaining die then compared to the target number. If successful the adjective is applied as desired.
It is here however that the Push dice really come into play as by default Adjectives applied through a successful action don't last for long. If you wish to extend the duration of the effect, for example upgrade a 'Suppressed' to 'Bleeding', it requires that a Push die be spent, transferring it from the Player to the GM. In this way the game brings in an ebb and flow of power that fits well with the noir genre implied by the games title. At the start of each adventure Push dice reside with the PCs, allowing them to quickly investigate and get the information required to work out what is going on. As the dice flow to the GM the balance shifts and the PCs start to run up against larger challenges, difficult to overcome without the boost provided by Push dice. Here the GM can then start to really hurt the PCs, applying longer lasting adjectives (which confer Harm dice) but in order to do so must once again spend the Push dice, returning them to the control of the players. Finally the PCs, bruised and beaten but in possession of the Push dice, are in a position to uncover the truth and take out the bad guy at the centre of their troubles.
All in all the system works well and finds a good balance by bringing together traditional mechanics (rolling dice), player narrative (adding adjectives) and genre (the Push dice economy) into a single cohesive system. My experience with the system so far is that it works best when an adventure is spread over 2 or 3 sessions, one shots limit the impact of longer lasting adjectives on NPCs as they don't appear in enough scenes. Longer adventures however and the PCs build up too many negative adjectives, severely limiting their effectiveness. The only real issue I've had with the system is getting to grips with the focus on character versus character conflicts, as the GM is advised to avoid rolls that don't involve manipulating / affecting another character in some way. This makes sense from both a genre and system perspective, as applying adjectives to say, pick a lock, doesn't make a big impact if that lock is never encountered again. I suspect part of my issue with this is that my NPCs are probably the weakest aspect of my GMing so only time will tell as to whether I can get a handle on this aspect of the game.

Transmissions
Transmissions, which make up a substantial portion of the book, are a system for the generation of on the fly adventures which are generated as information is uncovered by the characters. Each Transmission forms a small setting, something which is mostly absent from the main game, however even these settings leave much up to the imagination of the GM. There are 3 Transmissions included in the book itself and each contains within it a series of contacts (NPCs who can provide favours to the PCs), locations, events, factions, threats and objects. At the start of the adventure the GM takes 3 of these elements and uses them to form a story seed, as the PCs explore and investigate they draw in further elements which the GM connects to that initial seed. For example if a PC goes to a contact to borrow some money that NPC is added to the plot map and suddenly they may be connected to a spate of kidnappings the PCs are investigating, maybe she's involved in laundering the money of the gang involved or her son is one of the individuals who has been taken. The plot map, generated from each of these elements merely provides the links between points in the adventure, its up to the GM to decide what those connections are.
The Transmission system works extremely well, allowing a GM to generate a plot as it unfolds and as the PCs are drawn into the adventure. Of course this requires the GM be comfortable with working out details on the fly but even if you're not comfortable with this the framework provides an easy to use, pre-generated set of points which can be used ahead of time to plan an adventure. There are a number of Transmissions which are already available and with their simplicity its easy to write more focused around your city or setting of choice.

Customisation
While the game is written from a cyberpunk perspective the relatively limited nature of the setting material makes the system extremely easy to adapt to other settings. As part of the Kickstarter project the author has already released MechNoir, which shifts the focus to Mars and adds in rules for the use of Mecha and is planning to release HexNoir, a magic / fantasy based adaptation for the game. From a personal angle I've been working on an adaptation for running games within the Dresden Files universe (which can be found over on my personal blog). This coupled to the compact size of the book and ease of writing new transmissions means the game is on my list of systems I'm happy to pack in my bag while travelling just in case I can slot a session of it in.

Wrap Up
Technoir is a game that I would definitely recommend to those who are fans of the cyberpunk genre, especially if they'd rather focus on the motivations and conflicts of characters as opposed to the stats of a particular piece of cyberware. The system underlying the game is distinct, easy to learn and encourages the styles of play expected of by the genre, with the added bonus of being easily hacked to fit other noir influenced settings. All in all definitely a game that I am glad to have taken that Kickstarter gamble on.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Technoir
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Technoir
by Ubiratan A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2012 13:58:29
This is a blast to read, and it gets the feel of classic cyberpunk just right. The system seems pretty fun and workable, centered around building a story the whole table can agree on while following the game's main themes. If you don't want to use it, though, the game's mechanics for generating a plot on the fly based on the PC's connections are more or less independent from the rest of the rules, and could easily be lifted for use in other games.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Technoir
by Sean D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2012 11:44:41
This is the game that you want when you want to emulate Blade Runner, Neuromancer and almost any novel of the cyberpunk genre. This game brings the idea forth that characters are not created in a vacuum and without relationships are little more than wannabes walking the street talking to themselves.

Technoir has a simple tool for game masters to create a plot and allows the player characters to get involved quickly once the plot map has been completed. This very same plot map is used to show the web of relationships within your individual game and how it relates to the city guide (termed as Transmission in the game) your group is using.

The book is simplistic in its layout and structure. It's art is stock standard except for the chapter dividers which beautifully evoke the cyberpunk/noir feel by showing active life in each of the cities described in the Transmissions. Much like the cover of the book.

One of the major flaws of this game is its focus on character-character interaction and that it only wants scenes to develop towards conflict with two living things. You cannot roll the dice to affect a lock, you simply pick that lock to get into the building, but you will have to face off against the guards inside if they catch you. This is something for players to get used to and can detract from the first few games.

Long term play could also be seen as a flaw but this game would be excellent in a convention or for a short campaign with regular players.

I would recommend this game to anyone wanting to play a cyberpunk game and especially those who have played Shadowrun or Cyberpunk for a long period of time to see how this game uses the tropes of the genre differently.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Technoir
by VileTerror E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2011 12:25:46
Overall the system looks very promising as an interactive storytelling medium, although an errata to clarify some of the ambiguous rules would be appreciated.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Technoir
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2011 22:33:51
Overview: Technoir blends the concepts of cyberpunk with film noir with a tight and flexible game system that rewards play within the conventions of both genres. The system is easy to learn, allows for all sorts of strategic play within the fiction of the world, and ties the characters into the setting using a system that lets a GM build a plot-line as play evolves, if desired. The game is very customizable and developing new content is extremely easy.

Rules: Technoir's rules system is based on verbs and adjectives. The verbs are the things the characters do in the setting and you will see all the cyberpunk/noir regulars featured: Fight, Hack, Prowl, and Operate (drive drones and vehicles). These verbs are the WHAT you and your opponents do, the adjectives are (as you would expect) the HOW. Characters, equipment, and contacts all have adjectives that allow the player or GM extra resource options in the games fast-playing resolution system.

The effect of every contentious action from combat to verbal sparring is an attempt to put an adjective on your opponent. Use your "Fight" verb (and maybe help it out with your 'accurate' gun and your 'steady' personal adjective) to place the adjective 'shot' on your target. How bad the effect is and how long it lingers is based on a dice resource called Push that gets traded as adjectives are made to linger longer on the target. The PCs start with the Push advantage, but as they get embroiled in the plot, they start to give it over to the GM, whose NPCs start making life tough on the PCs, giving the dice back. The ebb and flow of Push keeps the game's pitch dead-on as the plot resolves to a good climax.

The game also has a system of favor trading with NPC contacts that keeps the PCs tied into the community they live in and beholden to players that become more involved in events the more they are consulted. Money is always tight and favors help get the right tools in your hands. The gear system is very intuitive and many cyberpunk classics are represented as well as some new takes on the cutting edge.


Presentation: The game is very cleanly laid-out and attractive to the eye. There are some full-color images in the text, but most of the art is very tasteful tri-tone images that set the tone for each section, demonstrate game-play, or show examples of the equipment in the game. As an added bonus to those of us who like a printout at the table, the raster graphics are on a layer in the PDF that can be switched off to save toner./ink. The text is clear and has clear examples of play close to each section of rules.

Portability: Similar to game like 'Fiasco', Technoir comes with setting bibles called "Transmissions" that make game setup and prep easy and organic, even during play. These setting manuals allow for the fan community to create and share their own Transmission with others and integrating other people's transmissions into your own game is a snap. Also, the system hackers out there will recognize that a few tweaks to the starting verbs and training programs allows a group to run a number of other genres.

I recommend the game for fans of cyberpunk gaming who want a more streamlined system or a system that is less about the shopping list and more about the motives of the characters. I also recommend the game to those who like modern noir movies like "Blade Runner" or "Brick" (both obvious inspirations for this game) or the classic noir films. Story gamers will find much here to love, as the game centers on the character's and their goals, even while keeping that cybernetic edge you need for good cyberpunk.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Chronica Feudalis
by Justin P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2011 19:28:31
An excellent game by Jeremy Keller, Chronica Feudalis is both an entertaining read and a fantastic system. This is one of those games that seems to straddle the line between 'story game' and 'traditional game' very well.

Chapter 1 - Imagine. This is your fairly standard introductory chapter that tells you the mechanics of the system and what you'll need to play. The writing here is pretty fantastic as the whole book is written from the point of view of a monk who is telling you about the game he and his brothers play. The system uses a die step system of Skill + Tool, which I found interesting. Someone could have Strike d6 and a Tool (Spear) d8 for their die pool. My only complaint is that it sometimes feels like the Tool matters more than the Skill and is far easier to raise/earn.

Chapter 2 - Create. Character creation is found here as well as Skill descriptions.

Chapter 3 - Play. This is where you get into the meat of the game. Aspects, Tools, Ardor, Sorcery and Witchcraft, Actions, Maneuvers are all found here.

Chapter 4 - Conflict. Combat is detailed out here, explaining the way a fight works and the different options when it comes to social combat. I was very happy that a social system was worked into this game as the whole tone of Chronica Feudalis seems to be less about the combat and more about the characters. This is not to say that combat isn't fun, just that it is nice to see good support for playing a courtier or charlatan instead of everyone being a knight in shining armor.

Chapter 5 - Explore. As I pointed out toward Chapter 4, the focus of this game doesn't seem to be about combat but the scenes and situations that the characters find themselves in. This chapter is all about putting those situations together. Building a setting isn't always easy but this chapter gives you plenty to work with and includes an example in the form of "The Banquest of Warwick Castle". Each step is covered here, from the Situation you decide to go with to the Setting to the Political Backdrop... While a small chapter, it is one heck of an idea farm.

Following the five chapters you'll find some appendices. Mentors, Antagonists, Animals, and so on, including a Character Sheet. Truly, everything you need to play Chronica Feudalis is found in these pages, which is a huge value for the $10.00 price tag. Jeremy Keller has definitely earned my respect and I will be watching what he decides to do next with eager interest.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chronica Feudalis
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Chronica Feudalis
by Simon S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/27/2010 03:06:06
A breath of fresh air. A simple system that trades rules complexity for imagination on the part of the players and GM. The skill system is simple, though perhaps too simple if you want a complex living world with crafting, starvation and other mechanistic things. Task resolution system is simple and unified - also check out the rules addition that simplifies the system even more. It is also a system that is easily expanded on with your own setting, though the default setting is based in feudal europe (setting is only superficially detailed).

uses a step-dice (pool) system which appeals to me without the numerous modifiers that ruined Savage Worlds (for me) and the Burning Wheel (not step-dice but dice pool). Mouse Guard was a touch too abstract for me but CF appeals more too me. Overall this is a game that I wished I'd come up with because it's how games that are meant to be rules light should be made.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Chronica Feudalis
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/11/2010 09:07:53
The Introduction - or "Translator's Foreword" - sets the scene magnificently. This is not, we are told, a modern game of mediaeval times but a role-playing game written in mediaeval times by some monks seeking a pastime, an imaginative entertainment. This delightful conceit is continued throughout the entire book, complete with mediaeval-style illustration.

The first chapter, Imagine, describes what the game is about. Beginning with a series of pen-pictures describing dramatic scenes from mediaeval life, the author explains how a group of young monks play a game of 'Imaginings' wherein they pretend to be other people: a brave knight or a cunning thief, perhaps. They claim inspiration from David son of Arne and Gary of Geneva too (I wonder who they might be?), but now have decided to write down their own game. It goes on to explain the basics of the step-die mechanic, and how characters - 'protagonists' - are described by their Skills (with assigned die values) and looser descriptive Aspects, again with die values but which are made up by the players to describe what is special about that character rather than picked from the skill list. Backgrounds are an even looser descriptive tool and not quantified by dice, they serve to add flavour. Two pools of points are also assigned: Ardor (gained in adversity and used to add to die rolls) and Vigor (basically hit points). And each character can have Tools, items in his possession that assist him to do things. When you are going to attempt a difficult or dangerous action, you form a dice pool with the die type of the appropriate Skill, add the value of a Tool if applicable, and if you can see a way to do so, invoke one of your Aspects by spending an Ardor point and add its die as well. Then roll against a GM-set target, the higher the better.

The next chapter, Create, gets into character creation in detail. Once the focus of the game has been decided, each Protagonist's player needs to select three Mentors who influenced his early life... and from whom they learned at least some of their Skills. The Mentors can also bestow Tools as gifts. This provides an interesting instant background to a character - taught by a monk as a child in a noble household, perhaps, then trained by a soldier in the arts of war and maybe then falling into bad company and learning the skills of a thief. Plenty of examples are given, as are basic assumptions about all characters - you need to use Aspects of Backgrounds to counter them if you want to be other than of peasant stock or not to be a Christian for example.

NPCs come in different types, from those as well developed as any Protagonist, to the Simple - bit-part players who are merely capable of whatever it is that they need to be able to do. Mentors are a special case in point, as you need to know what skills they are able to teach. Of course, Protagonists can themselves become Mentors. The most developed NPCs are Antagonists, the major players whom the characters will meet - not necessarily in opposition, they could be allies. Animals are also dealt with here, then follows a detailed list of available Skills.

Next comes Play, a chapter in which the focus is on how the game is actually played. Naturally, much can be covered in simple conversation between GM and players. It's when someone wants to attempt a difficult or dangerous task, or one where the outcome is uncertain, particularly when someone else is acting in opposition, that the dice need to come out. The whole process, briefly touched on earlier, is gone into in detail, followed by the uses of Ardor and Aspects to influence the course of play. Then come sections on sorcery and witchcraft, and on curses - like any God-fearing mediaeval soul, the 'author' believes magic is probably the work of the Devil, but may well be real. So are diseases and sickness, the topic of the next section. Next character advancement - i.e. improvement of existing skills and learning new ones - is covered.

The normal progress of game play covered, the next chapter is Conflict. While the main focus may be actual combat, the game mechanics are designed so that any contest - be it with words, fists or edged weapons, or a chase - is handled in a common manner. The key factor is that one individual is attempting to outdo another. Naturally the rules get a bit more complex at this point, but they are well-explained and easy to follow. Combat is fairly straightforward. The rules for Parley are interesting, while role-playing of the arguments is still required the die rolls are used to determine reactions to what you say, how good a liar you are and the like, rather than as a substitute for actually having to come up with the points you want your character to make. Likewise, Subterfuge (or sneaky infiltration) still requires description of what the character is attempting before the use of die rolls to judge the outcome. With an example of prisoners sneaking out of captivity, it is no surprise that the Chase rules follow to wind up the game mechanics part of the work.

The last chapter is titled Explore and discusses the world in which the game is set and the sort of stories that can be played out. Some contemporary mediaeval issues are discussed to provide an historical backdrop, with the important note that the game is about the protagonists and their actions, not historical accuracy. Fascinating stuff, though - including why the College of Cardinals was established, the Order of the Hatchet, the Crusades and the long-running debate over whether Stephen or Maude is the rightful ruler of England. Whether your characters wish to get embroiled, or have such events as background, depends on the stories your group wants to tell. There are also ideas for the kind of locations available and some of the things that might be happening - or tasks given to the characters to undertake. This ends with an entire campaign concept ready as example or to be used in its entirety - a banquet at Warwick Castle where there's a lot more going on than dinner!

Appendices contain full details of a range of Mentors, of Antagonists for the banquet adventure and of animals that might be encountered in your travels.

This is a charmingly-presented simple role-playing game which holds together well, sound mechanically (provided you're not a rabid min-maxer!) and sustains the voice of a mediaeval monk throughout. Even the illustrations would not be out of place in a manuscript (although mediaeval manuscripts are more gaudy!). If your aim is a gentle game recreating the feel of the mediaeval world, this is a good place to start.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Chronica Feudalis
by Jimmy P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2009 01:32:29
For quite a long time, I have been on a quest to find the ultimate gaming system. With this book in my collection, it seems like my quest is almost coming to an end. It's that good.

If you like a character creation system based on "lifepaths"; if you enjoy a rules light but effective system; if you like the idea of "aspects" à-là Spirit of the century; if you enjoy real-world medieval games; well this game might be for you.

At $10, there is no good reason not to pick up this game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Chronica Feudalis
by Rob B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2009 15:59:06
Positives:

1. Clever integration of step-die mechanics a la Earthdawn and aspect mechanics a la FATE/Spirit of the Century.

2. Mentor-based chargen replicates medieval cultural beliefs about education (i.e., superiority of ancients, learning by example). Also immediately generates 3 NPCs for plot hooks, character connections, etc.

3. Use of same conflict rules for combat, parley, chase, and subterfuge appreciated--but equally welcome are venue-specific guidelines for how conflicts play out differently in each of those four areas.

4. Excellent appendices providing sample stats for mentors and animals.

Negatives

1. Sample adventure feels too bare-bones. More guidance would have been welcome.

Overall Assessment

A wonderful game. Author says he plans on adapting it to other historical periods. I eagerly await the news that he has done so. :)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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