Why a multi part review? Because I've found myself bouncing around this 192 page PDF in the bits and pieces of my spare time, finding new shinnies in it before bouncing around again. Yeah, it's been that kind of a week. The review will be piecemeal, as that's how I've been reading Arrows of Indra.
Anyhow, what you get is an Indian themed OSR style RPG when you open up Arrows of Indra. If you are comfortable with other OSR games (and if you read this blog regularly, you should feel comfortable with OSR games) you'll feel right at home mechanically with AoI. In some ways it reminds me of Spears of the Dawn, in that it takes real life culture and history as the thematic base of an RPG that otherwise would have been Western European based. There's a whole other post on that topic waiting to be written - I'll get to it at some point.
Because of the setting, the game has a Caste System, that is part of you character generation. It is rolled, not chosen, and offers bonuses and penalties to stats and a kinda steers you in you class direction as certain classes can only come from certain castes. Although there are other races than human, they are pretty much outcasts in human society. The caste system is either going to be a strong part of one's campaign or fairly glossed over and ignored - I don't see a middle ground.
If you like random tables, you have such for authentic sounding names and their meaning. I guess no "Bill the Barbarian"s need apply.
Some of the classes have nice twists to them for the setting. We get Priests and Priest-Shamans instead of Clerics, Fighters, Virakshatriya (pretty much a Paladin reskinned), Scouts (Rangerish), Siddhis (Magic-Users), Thief, Thugees (Assassins - and is this the root of "thug"?) and Yogis (Monks).
If I have a problem with this section it's that the ability and advancement charts are often not with the actual descriptions. I suspect this was an attempt to do away with "white space" in the layout, but fuck it, give me the white space and put the charts with the class description it goes with. It's a minor gripe until you try to refer to it in game. Well, not that I've had to refer to it in game yet, but you know what I mean ;)
Skills. This game has skills beyond the usual thief skills. Crap, not just that, there's more than just background skills, there are class skills for certain classes. Why you would roll randomly to determine your skill I can't yet explain, but apparently you do. I'll need to read this section more in depth before the next part of the review...
The Minotaur for Old-School Essentials
*Requirements:* Minimum STR 9, Minimum CON 9
*Prime Requisite:* STR and CON
*Hit Dice:* 1d10
*Maximum Level:* 8
*Armor:* Leather, including shield...