I REALLY wanted to love this game. They have an excellent grasp on the genre and they designed it so it could fit into many different S&S worlds. My initial idea was a "Thieves World" campaign.
Then I really dug into the rules. Much can be customized with in its frame work. That framework has problems.
They really tried to break out of the conventional mold, even stating "Don't loot the bodies". Perhaps a gaming first.
It is a VERY detailed man to man combat system. It is actually more detailed than an Avalon Hill board game called "Gladiator". The smallest move counts for something. Instead of normal "rounds", they have two square off and duke it out until something happens. Then its the next players turn. Combat is deadly and something will happen soon enough; but with more than a couple of players, they might want to bring a book.
Character generation is suppose to be dynamic but it really didn't do anything that FATE or similar games did. Yes, the combat options are super intense; but they are geared to man to man, not man to lion, tiger or bear. And it losses a lot if a group off characters are trying bring down a beast.
Perhaps the part that annoyed me most was the "Passions Attributes". You can have a great background and still have no real "Passion" besides "Going to the Big City"; but you are suppose to have 4 and one will add to your dice to and then one from anything related. Big City: 1 die, Survive: 3 die; become best swordsman: 1 die; defend my honor: 1 die. Power gamers just got 6 die in every combat! 4 "Passion Attributes" were just to many.
Another problem is that skills can default to attributes to easily. No point putting just a couple of points here and there, just stack Attributes. The different styles of combat were neat; but way to complicated for anyone but wargamers.
The book looks good but rules are flung all over the book. Out of 370 some pages, 40 are devoted to a recycled campaign world and the rest are pretty much charts. YUP! That's how many charts go into a one on one battle.
I really liked their philosophy. That is why I rate this as a 2 instead of a one. Useful for some ideas and maybe parts of the combat system.
One last interesting note. I read their forums to see if I was missing something. I really wanted this game to work. They provide no equipment list.
They have detailed attack zones and just list things armor is made of. You fill in the blanks. I might have been less bothered by this except THEY ARE WRONG about the types. They spent so much time trying to "break stereo types" and they are just as guilty.
This game is not all bad. A Gladiator campaign could work really well.
They didn't list armor to avoid the Middle Ages trap. Yet they pulled every Middle Ages melee attack straight from fantasy fiction.
They claim a sword is a sword. They all work the same.
Yea, they sure do...
[2 of 5 Stars!]