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Rogue Mage Roleplaying Game Player's Handbook $9.99
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Rogue Mage Roleplaying Game Player\'s Handbook
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Rogue Mage Roleplaying Game Player's Handbook
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Steve W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/06/2013 16:19:17

I have never been a huge fan of d20. The system is cumbersome, has way too many rules to keep track of, and is class based. About the only time I have liked anything d20 was Mutants and Masterminds. They took the standard d20 and turned it into a cool classless system that worked. Well now I have discovered something else d20 that I like. The Rogue Mage RPG fell into my lap and when I began reading it, I discovered a new d20 classless system that works.

Now I am NOT familiar with the Faith Hunter's alternate Earth but I am very intrigued by what I see in the game. You get to follow in the steps of others who survived the end of the world, a modern ice age, and worse. If you like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, d20 Star Wars, or Mutants and Masterminds, then you will find Rogue Mage to be a delight. As with any new game, you will have a small learning curve but once you overcome that small hurdle, you will be on your way towards exploring a new world with many possibilities

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rogue Mage Roleplaying Game Player's Handbook
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/12/2012 10:53:57

What if someone held an apocalypse and nobody came?

That is an over-simplification, but it is the jist of what I get from reading a little bit of the Rogue Mage series by Faith Hunter. Now I need to be upfront here about a few things.

  1. I have never read the Rogue Mage books, but they are something I have been aware of and I have been meaning to check out.
  2. I know Christina Stiles and have worked with her (somewhat) in the past.

That out of the way, lets look at this game.

Rogue Mage is a new RPG from Christina Stiles and Faith Hunter, published by Misfit Studios. It is a modern supernatural game, so I am already inclined to like it, but also inclined to be critical of it. I will work to balance this for this review.

The game is a d20 based one, but not 100% d20. There is a list of changes for those of us that pick up a d20 game and try to go as we always have. So no attacks of opportunity, no hp, no classes, no levels and so on. Mostly this resembles Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Ed quite a bit. The damage tracker is similar, but simpler. There is a Toughness save (like M&M) and Combat is a skill (like other games). So mechanics wise this is really an elegant system, but it doesn't add a lot of new material. So like M&M all you need is a d20 to play. Also this is the Player's book only. The Game Master's Guide will be out later.

Chapter 1 covers the basic rules of the game. I thought this was a touch odd, since we have not rolled up any characters yet, but I think the reasoning is that the rules are so simple that leading off with them allows you to read them once and then easily refer back to them as needed.

Chapter 2 covers the setting. You don't need have read the Faith Hunter books to use this game, something I think is very important. The books look good and I am looking forward to reading them, but I have this book now. Briefly the world changed with the return of the Seraphs on June 12, 2011. Day before my birthday. The war that follows engulfs the world and leaves it in shambles; in fact it is known as the Last War. The present day is 2117 (or 105 PA, post ap). Given Rush is in concert as of this writing 2112 would have been cooler for me, but hey. Immediately I am drawn to the parallels between this game and Eden's Armageddon. Except in Armageddon the war is still going on and it's 2018 (that seemed SO far away back when I was playtesting the game). The world though in Rogue Mage is more messed up with the new Ice Age and all the plagues. Tech is all over the place with advanced technology in the regions away from the ice to steam powered retro-tech.

Chapter 3 is Character Creation. There are abilities and skills familiar to most d20 games. Characters though have points in which to buy these similar to many other non-d20 systems and M&M. In addition there are Talents, Drawbacks and Magic. First up are the character races; neomage, third-generation kylen, human, seraph-touched, rogue daywalker, and second unforeseen (mule). These are detailed in the book and fit into the cosmology of the game. Races can be bought with character points, or in the case of humans, character points are awarded back to you. Attributes and skills are bought with points. Talents can either be normal, special or supernatural and have varying point costs. Drawbacks give you back points. There are also Luck points (think Hero or Drama points) and a virtue/taint tracker which is a new twist. There is a character creation walk-through and many sample characters.

Chapter 4 deals with abilities; Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom and so on and saves. Chapter 5 deals with skills. The list is a familiar one for anyone that has played a d20 game in the last 12 years. Of note though, Combat is a skill now. I rather like that to be honest. A trainable skill instead of a built in aptitude.

Chapter 6 covers Talents. Think of these as something similar to Feats or Qualities, or most like the Powers in True 20. Many of these are Feats from the SRD, but that is fine because they still work here. As you can imagine there are a lot of them here, a little more than 30 pages worth. Then we also get the Drawbacks. These are like negative feats. They take something from you, but you get Character Points in return. We get 10 pages of those.

ASIDE: While this game diverts a bit from the d20 mainstream, there is enough here that is the same to make you wonder if your other d20 resources might work with it. For that answer I would have to say I see no reason why not. Sure you are deviating from the source material more, but mechanically speaking, unless it relates to levels, classes or HP I can't see why it wouldn't work.

Chapter 7 is Magic. There is a lot here, not just in terms of rules for magic, but the spells themselves. Over 46 pages. Again some spells from other games could be converted and used here. One would need to figure out the point cost for casting them. I wonder if the spells from the d20 Call of Cthulhu would be compatible? Or even BESM d20 Advanced Magic. If so, then this game would open up a wealth of playing options.

Chapter 8 details Virtue, Money and Luck. Virtue and Taint stand in for the basic alignment system, but this also has more in-game effects. Virtuous characters are more resilient to some magics for example. Wealth is a score, rather than a track-able resource like gold pieces. And Luck Points, like I mentioned are like Hero or Drama points.

Chapter 9 discusses Secondary Characters, aka NPCS. Chapter 10 has equipment. It is an interesting mix of future and past tech and high tech and magic.

Chapter 11 details combat. Combat normally gets it's own chapter, but I would have figured it a little closer to skills. No matter, it is here and it tells you what you need to know. Of importance here is the damage track and conditions rules. Remember, there are no HP here, so this is how you know if you are good or about to die. This combat makes this game a bit more deadly than your typical d20 game.

We end with some fiction from Faith Hunter (each chapter had some too) and an Index.

The layout is clean and easy to read. The art is really good as well and really captures the feel of the game well I think. It is all black and white so it won't kill your printer.

There is a lot I really like about this game. First it has so much potential with things I am already doing. Secondly the fact that is also seems to fit in mechanically with a bunch of books I already have is also great.

I think I would have loved to have seen this as a Unisystem game. But I know there are a lot of reasons why that could not have been done. Plus the rules from Mutants & Masterminds, as I have done in the past, can be tweaked to give you a Unisystem like experience. To be 100% honest if there is anyone out there that could be trusted to do that it is Christina Stiles and Misfit Studios.

Something though is keeping me from absolutely loving this game though. I think it is because I have not read the books it is based on yet. I also think there is not enough information here on how to run a game. That is not a big deal for me really, I have 100s of books that tell me that. I don't know how to run one in this universe. But these are not the shortcomings of this book; only my understanding of the world of this book. I do hope the Game Master's Guide comes with a sample adventure.

Here is what I do know. Misfit Studios has done a a great job in the past with Unisystem products and Mutants & Masterminds ones. This rule set seems to be a perfect middle ground for them and I hope that we get to see it for more games.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rogue Mage Roleplaying Game Player's Handbook
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2012 21:36:51

WHAT WORKS: Here's the thing - I am not a big d20 fan. However, there have been some games that tweak it really, really well. I thought Know Your Role/Wild World Wrestling did and I thought Star Wars Saga Edition did. Rogue Mage does a very fine job of focusing the Mutants & Masterminds version on a specific power level, capping the skills to keep them from exploding into wild ranges and so on. The magic system has a lot of bells and whistles, but I mean that in a good way, given the setting. I like abstracted Wealth as I hate bean counting, so that's a plus, and the Virtue and Taint system is handled very well.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: My biggest gripes are organization and capitalization. Now, it may be a stylistic thing, but it sure would help me if the racial names were capitalized in the text. Also, I would have preferred the Talents section coming before the Magic section...seems like an odd organizational choice to me. Personally, I would probably have also combined the Secondary Touches chapter with Chapter One, but most of that is just nit-picky.

CONCLUSION: If anything, I just wanted More...which makes sense, as I am primarily a GM and this is the Player's Handbook. It also speaks well of the information in the book that I am genuinely interested as to what's in the GM's book. I can't say I wouldn't be more excited if this used a different system than a modified version of the Mutants & Masterminds iteration of d20, but they have done a really good job of modifying the system to fit what they are trying to emulate rather than just bolting it onto the existing framework. That's something I can certainly appreciate and I would be willing to give this version of d20 a shot as written. In my opinion, Rogue Mage is shaping up to be a very fine project with a lot of time and care going into it (and with the first credited playtest noted in the book as being in 2008, I should hope there has been). There's lots to like here, and Mutants & Masterminds has a track record of being particularly smooth among the d20 family, so the base is strong and tested even before the Rogue Mage team got to it.

For my full review, please visit

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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