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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Magpie Quick Play Rules. Capsule Review

Magpie is a 3e variant rules set under the OGL. The quick play rules for Magpie are more like a sampler of the full rules system, one that seems to stray fairly far from the 3e rules they are based on.

Skills and feats are replaced by 5 Feats that are linked to the 6 base stats. These 6 feats are bonuses to saving throw. There are a total of 8 saving throws - 5 feats, attack, defense and magic. Need to pick a lock? Cast a spell? Smack the gobbie with your mace? Roll the appropriate save. The target number you need to roll runs from 5 to 30, but the degrees of difficulty run from 0 to 5, with a difficulty of 0 needing a 5 or better and a difficulty of 5 needing a 30 or better. Wouldn't it have been been easier to name the degrees of difficulty after the target number you need to roll?

Combat requires one to roll a 10 or better to hit, adjusted my your target's defensive bonus. Armor class is subtracted from your weapons damage, it does not effect your chance to hit.

Character power advancement appears to be slower then core 3e as a level gain allows the player to add +1 to a single save. Hit points are higher, with fighters having a d12 and barbarians having a d12 +4 for HP per level (as examples). Almost every class gets some sort of spell list and class balance may be an issue to some (the core 4 classes are to be used by beginners, the subclasses are more specialized and more powerful).

I appreciate the authors releasing the quick play rules so that prospective players can see if the rules are for them or not. They are not for me. The attempt to simplify game play by the removal of 3e's feats is admirable, but a think the "Siege Engine" mechanic used in Castles & Crusades is a smoother solution over all. Then again, it did take me a while to really understand just how flexible the "Siege Engine" is thru weekly game play. No play test of the Magpie rules, just a read thru and my impressions.

I'm going to give the Magpie system, as much as I've seen in the Quick Play rules, a 3 out of 5. They aren't my choice of rules, and I don't quite agree with the direction they went in, but I'd be surprised if there aren't others that will like what they see. For free it's harmless to check it out

DX-ability rating - The typeset is fairly small and there is an annoying shading to the pages that really makes this difficult to read on the kindle without turning it sideways - 2

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