All For Me Grog is an RPG of piratical adventures on the high seas by Ryan Shelton of Mount Zion Press, and it's become one of my recent favorite games -- not just because of the theme and genre, but because of the incredibly simple system that powers this game. (And the other things it can do -- more on that later...) AFMG is less-concerned with reality, taking its cue instead from the swashbuckling, high-adventure pirate movies you'd see in a Saturday matinee, i.e., Treasure Island, Captain Blood, and (sigh, OK) Pirates of the Caribbean. The rules (only 32 tightly-constructed pages) is sprinkled with quotes from various buccaneer tales as well as plenty of illustrations straight from Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates. Just a quick thumb-through is enough to get your timbers a'shiverin'.
Characters in All For Me Grog have three primary attributes: Bloode, Skull, and Grog (effectively representing your physical, mental, and spiritual aspects, respectively). You have 9 points to divvy up amongst the three. Your character also starts with 9 points of Salt, which is more than just "hit points," but rather an overall score of "well-being." You can lose Salt when injured, sure, but you can also lose Salt in a battle of wits, if you fail at a task, or any number of downfalls. (But you regain Salt fairly quickly depending on how it was lost.) Finally, each character starts with 15 more points to split amongst a handful of Vocations (a general description of what you know or skills you have) as well as 3 final points to apply to any Embellishments (items you possess or secrets you know). So your new seadog (my ship's doctor, for example) could look something like this:
Doctor's Bag: 2
As for the game's resolution system, it's very simple. Anytime there's a risk or challenge involved -- whether swordfighting, lockpicking, moving stealthily past the city guards, etc. -- you need to roll as many dice as you have for the appropriate attribute plus any appropriate vocation. For example, for ol' Sawbones above, if he was trying to open a locked cell door, he'd roll 4 dice (Skull) plus 2 dice (Lockpick) for total of 6 dice. If he was trying to stop someone from bleeding to death from a gunshot wound during a pitched sea battle, he'd roll 2 dice (Grog, due to the pressure of the situation) plus 5 (Doctor) plus ANOTHER 2 for his ever-present doctor's bag, for a total of 9 dice. (You can never roll more dice than your current Salt level though, so the more you fail, the fewer dice you may have in your pool.)
What are you rolling against? Well, this is where it gets simple: you only need three "successes" to pass a task, and you're only concerned with dice that come up EVEN (in other words, a 50-50 shot on each die). So, if three dice comes up with even numbers, you succeed. The more dice in your pool, the better your odds. You can use six-siders, four-siders, anything with same number of odd/even sides. Personally, I like to use toy pirate coins (or "doubloons") for a heads=success; tails=failure randomizer.
There's much more to the AFMG system, but since the rules are fairly brief, I don't want to spoil the entire system in this review. There are rules for using Panache (like bennie points allowing you to reroll or change a scene for a more positive outcome) as well as contested risks, assists, healing, mass assaults, and ship-to-ship combat. (It's a pirate game, of COURSE there'll be broadside cannonfire!) Several tables in the back help you name and outfit your newly minted ne'er-do-well, plus some pre-created pirate NPCs, samples of treasure to be dug up, and names for your home ship.
And if you don't want to play pirates? The system is easily re-skinable! Wanna play a pulp '20s adventurer game? Rename the attributes something like Guts, Brains, and Moxie. Superheroes would use Power, Intelligence, and Reputation. Add some appropriate Vocations and Embellishments, and you're off and rolling. The flexibility is very appealing to me.
AFMG is a rules-light, but incredibly evocative RPG of pirate adventure. Plus the resolution system is incredibly simple and encourages players to roleplay a situation so that they can add more dice to that ever-important dice pool.
[5 of 5 Stars!]