I've actually had this game for a little bit, and since my game time has been odd to say the least it's gotten a bit of use in the "what are we going to do now?" shuffle. I'd meant to post this review awhile back but real life has taken a toll. In short though, on with the review.
Primordial Lands is an RPG Product from Mouse Games. It's available as a PDF for now, and right off the bat, is a good product that takes advantage of the PDF format, for circulation and purchase ability.
In Short, Primordial Lands is the first element of an expandable game system. For Starters, Primordial Lands covers your typical Fantasy game Requirements. Elves, Dwarves, Knights in Armor Damsels in Distress, and of course, folks chucking spells at you.
We put this game through it's paces in several situations. It's Rules Light, and guided by structured frameworks of progression, and various charts here and there. Dice Use is a must and therefore ranks highly in my regard because as a gamer, I like Dice.
It follows a fairly standard route, Statistics, Classes, Races, etc etc . We've all been gaming a long time for the most part, and if we haven't we certainly think we have, so there are a lot of familiar stepping stones in the structure of this game. Much like other "simple" systems, say, Dream Pod 9's Silhouette Engine, it keeps the base numbers LOW. Character generation provides you with a range of numbers from the Negative to a Positive, after that, it's a d20 Roll, adjusted by sheet info, hit a target number and away we go, we're adventuring.
Primordial Lands fit's well in the Beer and Pretzels league. It's a SIMPLE system, but not so simple that it handicaps itself or requires you to simply pull effects out of the game masters backside on the fly. We had a no difficulties, sitting down in a hurried environment handing out sheets and away we went.
A Complete character sheet, pretty much speaks for itself. Any Gamer that's had about a year in the hobby can pick it up by looking at the sheet, and those that can't, pick it up with minimal explanation.
The Game performs very well in it's intended design. A Light High Fantasy game, or a Grim and Dark Grimm's Fairy Tale tribute. While there isn't a lot of pages of material to dig through, all the necessities are there, and you can see the foundation that allows for expansion down the road. Like many light rules systems it can be broken and broken badly, but NOT if you stick within the parameters of the genre and game you as the GM have set up. It's flexible where it needs to be and rigid likewise as well. In the prescribed Genre. Hopefully later supplements build On that solid foundation without blowing the scale as seen in a few other systems that shall remain nameless for now.
A Light game, such as Rules Light or Genre Light, should present the atmosphere of the game one wants to play. There are many games that do this nowadays, Systems such as Savage Worlds and Games that use that system, or things such as the Fate Engine (Like Spirit of the Century), are good examples. Primordial Lands fits in there as well, on the slightly Lighter side of things like the before mentioned Silhouette system from Dream Pod 9. It does what it set's out to do, using mechanics familiar to both d20 players and the like, as well as varies mechanics that are familiar to those that ply the more difficult realm of gaming where systems like HERO 6e and such lie.
It does that, without coming off as a copy, or an intimidating system such as say, HERO, or even Chaosium's BRP material. The Game scales well, and it's tightness in structure will help keep it from wandering to far afield.
My only real complaints, were those related to it's format. Contrary to the popular belief of the computer inclined society, Most Gamers, are not wed to something that can display a PDF. They enjoy BOOKS. Now, that being said those same folks did point out this was a PDF that they actually enjoyed. It's not to large, works well on various devices, and allows them to do what they really want to do, Print It, without going bankrupt. Hence even those put off by the PDF format were satisfied with the product.
Some solid good points of the game do need to be mentioned as well. The Game provides you the ability to make new classes, Races, Abilities and so forth, in addition to it's existing foundation. It lays out some solid methods for expansion, and over the course of it's own "growth", maintains a nice scale between the different Race/Class combo's one could cobble up.
We took the time to play with the basic set up within the game itself, your typical Dungeons and Dragons-esque Adventuring group, and it worked very well. In fact it worked better then a few 4th Ed DnD games I can think of that were a table or so away. I even twisted it up into a customized scenario, basically having a bit of fun with Fables (yes the comic), and running amok a bit to see what it takes to break the game. It's actually, tricky to do so, in part because of it's simple nature, but also because it's foundation is tight and solid with the minimalist approach to statistics and target numbers.
Very Easily Modified, inexpensive, fun, easy to learn, and has elements that will appeal to many a mainstream gamer. Does it need a bit more refinement and polishing, sure, but who's material doesn't. Primordial Lands stands well in the company of other Simple games, and would be a nice addition to collections that include the liked of Dogs in the Vineyard, Savage Worlds, Fate, and some old classics such as Pendragon and The Fantasy Trip. Good Solid game that doesn't try and inflate itself into some sort of pretentious marketing monster.
Future Supplements will be a welcome addition to this game. It has enough Fantasy Weapons to get the job done, but we all know, fantasy gamers like add on books of stuff, and critters as well. Very good entry level game, I rank it 3.8 out of 5, ranking it slightly behind a few, but ahead of a LOT.
We look forward to seeing more down the road and hope to see it maintain the level of consistency presented in the initial product.
~Eric "Rex" Petersen
So many games, So little time...
Big E LTD, in Scope, Unlimited in Potential