The Hardback copy of Renaissance Deluxe arrived today and this review is based on this version of it.
This is the first Print on Demand from CAKEBREAD & WALTON since they decided to leave the Cubicle 7 stable and make their own way in the world.
First things first : It was well packed in a cardboard sleeve which ensured no damage in transit. A big plus to start with
Second thing that stuck out was the quality of the product : The binding is excellent as is the quality of the paper used and the clarity of the print itself. It actually feels good to hold it in my hands. I am confident that the book will survive many gaming hours at the table as well as being carried and transported around. Much kudos to the printers - Lightning Source based in Milton Keynes UK.
I also need to comment on the speed of printing and delivery. I collected the book from the Post Office today (Saturday) but the card for it advising of attempted delivery had arrived on the previous Tuesday. That means that the order would have arrived on the 6th day rather that the expected 14 days. Now, that is FAST !
Now a list of the contents but before I start on this section I do need to state that I do actually write Adventures and Supplements for this system and regard it as one of the most flexible and easy to use D100 systems on the market. So far I have used it as a base to write Cthulhu Mythos, Heroic Fantasy and Historical Adventures set in the French Indian War.
The book consists of an introduction, 12 Chapters plus a very comprehensive Index.
Introduction : This is what it says. It provides background as to what a RPG is but does give some thoughts on how to use the rules in a variety of settings and historical periods which means that, unlike many such commentaries in other games, it is useful and worth reading even by experienced gamers. It also includes a handy glossary of terms used.
Chapter One : Character Generation. What it says - How to create your Adventurer set out in a logical and ordered step by step way which refers you to other parts of the book as required. It also includes a great way of connecting the Characters together and giving them a base reason as to how they know each other via a useful Connections & Events table.
Chapter Two : Professions. A list of 26 (yes ! 26 !) different careers to choose from covering the Dark Ages through to the Victorian era.
Chapter Three : Factions. Now, I really like Factions. These are social, political and religious ideals that the Character may belong to. These really help with fleshing out the Character but also provides extra options and some great hooks for the games master. A variety of generic, customisable, factions are presented along with four fully fleshed out examples.
Chapter Four : Skills. Skills are split into Common which everyone has to some degree and Advanced which require some level of training or expertise. The lists are comprehensive, without being overly specialised and allow the creation of well balanced characters that can positively contribute to a game session.
Chapter Five : Combat. Comprehensive rules for ranged and melee combat. The chapter is written in such a way that you can include or leave out what you want resulting in either a quite complex system including hit locations etc. , a fast and furious ruleset or something in between. It works and works well but just be warned - Like most D100 combat systems, it can be very deadly. Just make sure the odds are in your favour before launching into a fight ! The Combat Reference Sheet on page 61 is well worth copying and keeping close to hand.
Chapter Six : Rules and Systems. This covers all non-combat activity and has a stack of optional rules covering aging, vehicles and encumbrance. Like all the other sections it is easy to read, logically set out and comprehensive.
Chapter Seven : Equipment. The currency used is the old English pounds, shillings and pence which some may find confusing at first but when equated to the D&D copper, silver, electrum, etc method you soon get used to it. The lists and descriptions are well researched and pretty much complete covering clothing, services, melee , firearms, armour, etc.
Chapter Eight : Alchemy. This is an example of a magic system for the game including spells, potions and familiars which is easily adaptable and expanded upon.
Chapter Nine : Witchcraft. Another magic system with its own distinct flavour and further options complete with spells.
Chapter Ten : Bestiary. 14 pages of natural, un-natural, fantasy creatures and races. Using this as a base you can create Elf, Dwarf, Orc, etc. characters rather than the standard human ones. The artwork provides some interesting images of goblins and orcs in historical dress which fires the imagination as to pseudo-historical fantasy worlds (French Orcs, German Elves, Dutch Goblins anyone ?)
Chapter Eleven : Sanity. A set of optional rules for the inclusion of sanity in the Renaissance game. This opens up the way for dark fantasy and horror themes, including Lovecraft's Cthulhu lore, to be effectively added into a more traditional setting.
Chapter Twelve : Games Matering. A superbly written chapter on game worlds and adventures as well as thoughts on how to run a Renaissance game. My only complaint about the whole book really is I would have liked to have seen more covered here as Ken and Peter obviously have a wealth of experience on the subject. I am hoping that a Gamesmasters Guide is released at sometime in the future as a standalone product.
Overall : A great product and very recommended in the hardback format. I still have the paperback version of the rules from their Cubicle 7 days and that will certainly continue to see use as well but this hardback will be reserved at the table for me and will provide many hours of reference and reading. My best RPG acquisition of the year for the writing and quality (As a pointer this list includes: Traveller 5th, Achtung Cthulhu !, Rocket Age, Swords And Wizardry, DCC Core Rules and The Dark Eye RPG amongst others).