I don’t usually write reviews but this game really sang to me. I ordered a print and hard-copy and my group had a Saturday that we were free and we decided to give it a shot. We printed up character sheets and got together around Noon and started the character creation process. I love highly technical/crunchy games but I also really like fast light systems as they allow for more roll-playing and character development which ROTA is. Another criteria I have is that the rules are intuitive and that the combat system doesn’t take 3 hours to finish a fight. I also don’t like feeling like a peasant at first level. This system really scratched all those itches for me.
There are 3 pieces to building a character; Species, Class, and Transformation. You simply pick one from each category in any combination and follow the easy character generation rules and voila you are done in no time and I must say I really liked the first character I built. I built an anime style swordsman and I wanted a few spells, some stealth, and some utility so I made a Human (Species) Operative (Class) Avatar (Transformation) and it took less than 40 minutes. What took the longest was deciding on what I wanted to build. I looked at a Demonoid/Warrior/Demigod or a Wraith/Magus/Half-Vampire or an Insectoid/Warrior/Juggernaut and all of them were very cool and flavorful.
This game really had that Thundarr the Barbarian and RIFTS world building feel with a dab of hard sci-fi and felt even more open in terms of character creation than games like GURPs or Savage Worlds. Our GM and I read through the rules the night before and he created a quick intro adventure that really challenged us all in terms of RP and Combat. The combat flowed incredibly well and allowed for characters to be super creative in the game play as one of our Shifter players turned himself into a ladder so we could climb out of a pit we had fallen into. When we were fighting opponents who were not bosses it felt very cinematic and I felt really powerful as a character and the bosses were really challenging and you had to think out of the box to defeat them. My Anime Swordsman was cutting down swaths of enemies near me and our Dragon (yes, you can be a dragon and it works and is balanced with other characters) literally killed an entire room of enemies. We played for about 9+ hours and I was ready for more at the end. It has just enough crunchiness and fists full of dice to make me happy and the combat was really fun and quick.
It is much deeper than it looks on the surface. The game master section is well organized and made it easy for our GM to build NPCs and enemies on the fly with a series of amazing matrices that scale as the characters level.
The leveling system is really fun too as you get experience as you play and can spend it anytime to gain new advancements in your class/transformation. You get experience from completing missions/quests, completing challenges (DM wrenches thrown in), and completing a session.
Our GM loved the fact that he never had to roll any dice. The players roll everything from their attacks and damage to rolls to evade enemy attacks and rolls on damage against themselves. The enemies have static attack values and defenses so the players roll everything against these values. This is brilliant because it frees the DM up to focus on the story and keeps the GM from getting drained and tracking everything and it keeps the players constantly engaged. As a bonus players are less likely to get upset with a DM who rolls well against them because it’s the players making the rolls.
If like you fast paced games that are easy to pick up and you want to feel epic right out of the gate do yourself a favor and pick this game up, you won’t be disappointed. I have been playing and running RPGs for almost 40 years now and this one is up there in my top 5. In fact one of my groups (the one that played ROTA) has already switched over to it as that groups main game.