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Warlock! $12.48 $6.24
Average Rating:4.9 / 5
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Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Lee R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/30/2020 20:19:42

An awesome blend of most of my favourite elements from British fantasy.

Great book with a nice clean layout and aesthetic.

Yes it is heavily influenced by two well-known British RPGs but that's definitely a feature, not a bug!

I did a more indepth review here: https://youtu.be/-JKBfuR5PN8



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by KEVIN D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2020 04:03:09

POSITIVE ELEMENTS:

Simple, Unified Mechanics:

It's an interesting mash up of two of the older British RPG systems hacked together. If you're a fan of either system or looking to have the feel without overcomplicated mechanics, and boasting a unified system this book will serve you well.

The Author had managed to achieve a simple mechanics system that still retains some of the traits beloved in both systems. Do not discount a simpler system for not having depth: The system satisfies a lot of that traditional feel both derived systems have without overcomplicating things.

Character Creation Easy and Unique:

The characters, while simple to create, have some nice random options to give them some distinction to avoid them becoming clones of each-other, while the simple skill system gives a player a mix of point-buy and dice rolls to make their character more unique.

Characters can Try Anything:

Like the more traditional approach with OD&D, characters can try anything and are not hampered by their class choice. Every character a player uses will have some skill in the usual challenges they will face, depicted succinctly on their character sheet.

This system relies on a simple skill list to indicate to the player what chance of success they may have, rather than relying on DM fiat and interpretation of their signals for the success.

This style may not suit all readers who prefer a huge list of skills or a more fluid style of Gamemastering but it works quite well, hearkening back to the system's influences.

Careers, not Classes:

One of the best things about the system is the progression a player can make. Starting in their initial career, they can multi-class and delve into Advanced Career options, each providing unique options to attain expertise in certain skills.

By blending the concepts of skill and class, the Career system takes the best of both to allow players to define their characters easily, while still providing unique traits. As the characters grow, they can branch off in interesting directions, mixing Careers to produce memorable figures for the players every time.

Opposed Combat Tests:

Another favorite mechanic derived from the British style is the opposed roll. Allowing every combatant attacking to possibly receive damage from their opponent in melee makes things very active and dangerous. It allows a player to pull a Conan, mowing down weaker creatures in one round but also makes other, more powerful creatures far more dangerous as entering conflict is always dicey.

It's a good system that keeps players and the Gamemaster actively involved in the combat rounds without playing the 'wait till my turn to do something' game that can kill the excitement of many encounters. The result is a great approach to the chaos of combat without overburdening it with complicated rules.

Attrition & Criticals:

I'm not a fan of having a player who has done everything right, receives an critical insta-kill, due to a bad dice roll result.

The system uses Stamina as hit points but does have critical results that worsen once the player's Stamina amount run out. It's a good blend of strategy with the potential for players to be tactical but also potentially hobble away at the end of combat with lasting scars or worse. There is also a rare potential of the player or opponent achieving a Mighty Strike for double damage, to keep everyone on their toes with unexpected consequences.

Players can be somewhat heroic but will be faced with times when running for their lives is the smart choice. No safety nets here like some more modern systems. Players should approach combat more creatively than just wading in every time and whittling down the monsters which can get quite boring.

This is not D&D:

It's nice to see a system that breaks away from being yet another D&D clone. Employing unfamiliar characteristics and mechanics could be a welcome change, paying well-deserved homage to some of the less known older British systems.

POTENTIAL DRAWBACKS:

Details, Details:

While the writing is very evocative, do not expect a full set of rules for wilderness travel, journey rules, etc. and tables to roll for tackling every occasion. There are no elaborate tables of treasure or a fully fleshed out world. There is certainly some flavour and a semblance of the world and how it works, but the many details are left up to the reader to elaborate upon.

There is some Tolkien influence, but it is somewhat sparse. Don't expect pages of detailed history, elaborate treasure tables and a descriptive, established game world. The Bestiary is also decent but not overflowing with hundreds of choices like other systems.

No Mechanical Distinction for Player Races:

Surprisingly, while the Careers and Advanced Careers are plenty, the same cannot be said for this trait. In the system, depicted as 'Communities', the traditional classic choice of races, based on older B/X D&D are depicted. Humans are the most common and established, Elves and Dwarfs can see in moonlight, and Halflings are quiet and stealthy; a traditional fantasy approach.

However, there is no system mechanic differences between them. There are no rules or similar bonuses to dice rolls associated with any class, rather it is descriptive and left up to the Gamemaster to decide.

While this may be liberating for those wishing to avoid players who choose a character's kin, solely for its potential bonuses and not for how they fit into the fantasy landscape, it does again leave it up to the Gamemaster whether to incorporate the flavour text as specific rules.

Unexpected Class Archetypes:

The system breaks away from some of the stereotype traditions of the fragile Wizard and the healing Cleric archetypes. There is no real distinction between the two, other than some extra skill limits and are essentially interchangeable. The spell list is unified where a Wizard could be the one that heals and banishes undead, rather than the Cleric, which may confuse new players.

While a somewhat brief pantheon of Gods is described, again there are no bonuses involved with which a Cleric-style player chooses to follow so it really doesn't matter. However, it does mean that if one wants to be a sword-wielding, armour wearing Wizard, they are free to do so. Indeed, one of the advanced skills for a Wizard is 'Brawling' which I found unexpected but amusing. I suspect the Author may also be a bit tired of overdone Class tropes.

CONCLUSION:

Solid Framework to Build Upon:

The system is tight, unified, and simple. While it lacks in detail in some areas, it shines in many others. Thankfully, the areas it crucially shines are the core rules and a solid foundation to build and customise a framework upon. It will take an adept and creative Gamemaster to get the most out of the system for a campaign but it it is flexible enough to simply serve as an entertaining one-shot night with minimal preparation needed to get playing.

The flexibility of the system allows one to graft on as much complexity and house-rules as one desires, without breaking the core rules. I think those that like tinkering with systems mechanics and enhancement designs will enjoy making this system in their own distinct style.

I feel Warlock! certainly deserves 5 stars for breaking from the OSR traditional options, delving into new areas of Old-School play, producing an enjoyable core system with great potential for expansion.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Hi Kevin, thanks for the review, much appreciated!
Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Matthew G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2020 07:03:35

I've always been interested in things that where non-D&D old school games. I looked at games like Troika! and found it trying to reinvent something that wasn't really broken( that's just me though.) and the setting/style wasn't for me. Warlock! however, was something special, and while not perfect, it is pretty close to a copy of old school gaming.

with that said, I loved what I read so far, and I'm willing to run this game at some point for a group of friends as a one night dungeon crawl or a short campaign.

Good job here.

Edit: Fixed the error once Greg pointed it out about professions, that was my mistake and I corrected it. Once everything is edited and squared away, I will buy a P.O.D. version of this game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review! To clarify, you don't roll a d66, you roll four d6 which gives you four selections (one from each of the d6 lists). You then choose the one you like. So there's a random element, but of the four randomly-generated careers, you get to pick the one you fancy. I hope that makes sense!
Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/19/2020 17:54:04

Obvious from the most cursory reading:

  • A solid, elegant, and easily hacked skill-based game written with clarity by Greg Saunders and illustrated very well by Mustafa Bekir, Denis McCarthy, JM Woiak and Heather Shinn.
  • Rock-solid layout with clean lines, ample whitespace and an excellent choice of font (some species of the typewriter font Letter Gothic). Well done by designer Paul Bourne.

Great work. This game is based on several of the more ancient games popular in Britain in Roman times or something. The only knowledge of FF or WHFRP I come to this with is that I own and have read Zweihander, and I am itching to play this. Right now my friend is running a game using a system we're not too crazy about and I've been recruited to choose the new system. I'll likely be choosing Warlock.

The single resolution mechanic, the Skill Roll, is simple. The Skill Roll is executed by adding your rating in Skill X to a d20 roll and try to match or beat the number 20.

What gives a lot of flavor to this simple mechanic is the Career system, with which many will be familiar. There are 32 Skills which will initially range from 4 to 6, whatever way you choose. After that, you choose a Career, which choice dictates the skills package you have, and thus which skills, and their maximum value, you can increase during the Career. And a design bit I love is that the Career itself is a skill, with a rating of the average of all the skills under its rubric. So if I am a Soldier, and I have ratings of Command 8, Bow 6, Dodge 10, Large Blade 8 and Polearm 6, that's 8+6+10+8+6 = 38/5 = 7.6 or 8, for a Soldier skill of 8. What's that good for? Well that's for when your Skilly skills don't exactly apply but you think for example "I'm a Soldier, I should be able to judge the worth of this unit tactic" or whatever. If it's important and another skill doesn't cover the act, and most importantly if the GM agrees, your "appraise tactic" skill is 8.

It's hard to describe, I guess, why this game balances (on a read, at least) so well on the simplicity - challenge axis. For those of us who tend to more simple frameworks upon which to erect our game stories, this is just plain good simple design, both in the game and in the book. Still too many typos in it for me to buy the hardcover just yet, but whatevs. 5 Stars, easily.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Chad K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/19/2020 17:35:15

Really fun, evocative game. Rules light- 2 stats - Luck & Stamina, and then Skills. Flavors of Warhammer, Fighting Fantasy and "choose your path" adventure books. Different bits in the character creation process really spark the imagination with d6 lists of " What you have seen" and " Who is after you" along with others. Wizards Apprentice (Magic-user), Initiate (Cleric) and many other flavors of the "Thief" (Beggar, Footpad, others) and "Fighter"(Mercenary, Militiaman, more) types. Open to hacking. I would add basic firearms and give more style to Wizard/Priestly magic and some other small twists. But this is a great game to add your own house rules to. Five stars from me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Sean W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/19/2020 01:46:24

Well done Greg, it’s not just a well-blended greatest hits of British gaming rules (AFF stats, WFRP careers), it’s that you've got a simple but sound task resolution system and lots of neat ideas throughout (like the initiative system, the background flavour for the careers), written with an appropriate and appealing tone. Also, great cover, good choice of interior art, fonts etc. Really fits with the old school British gaming aesthetic.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review Sean, much appreciated!
Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Nick K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/18/2020 11:10:51

Warlock! was a practical insta-buy for me. The name and the subtitle (inspired by british tabletop roleplaying) drew my attention and the price was really low. At worst I would be bying the creator a beer. At best... Well this is actually what happened.

Warlock! is a love letter to both warhammer fantasy and the fighting fantasy playbooks. My love for fighting fantasy is great, my only concern being the clunky damage dice and the fact that skills are increased without any thematic consistency. Warlock! fixes both issues. Damage is based on regular expressions as in most rpg (1d6, 1d6+1, 2d6 etc) and advancement is based on careers, which the player is supposed to actually change over the course of his adventures.

Furthermore, every career has interesting bits of information for the character which provides hooks for a more sandboxy campaign and also vaguely outlines an implied setting which has my attention.

The only disadvantage in the system lies in the way it handles shield. Personally I would advice everyone to use the rule from Dragon Warriors (another lovely British rpg) On a roll of 6 on a d6 the attack is ignored.

I rate the game 5/5 and encourage everyone to purchase, hoping that the creator provides further support for it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review! Yep, one of the things I tried to do with Warlock was make it easy to hack, so if the Dragon Warriors (great game) shields rule works for you, go for it!
Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Ilias L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/18/2020 09:07:58

AMAZING work, as usual, from Greg Saunders. I don't know why I came to this with so few expectations. I have enjoyed immensely every one of his books so far. This might prove to be one of my go-to systems, especially for medieval stuff.

A nice amalgam of ideas and systems from AFF, WHFRP, and others that seems to solve most problems of the old systems. This looks like it will run like hell.

Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review, much obliged!
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