The Game: REIGN
The Publisher: Schroedinger's Cat Press
Degree of Familiarity: I've spent the last two weeks devouring every morsel I can, but that's about it.
Books Required: The REIGN corebook to start with, plugging in one of the generators from Supplement 7. Which isn't a bad thing for reasons elaborated in the review.
REIGN is a game I knew I was going to like. To start with, it's written by the esteemed Greg Stolze, a man gifted with an incredible talent for writing excellent and readable RPGs. The game offers a rather unique fantasy setting, including a world in the shape of two half-submerged lovers, and continents at war.
The focus of REIGN is "lords and leaders", the default party consisting of a bunch of people who head up a larger organisation (a "company"). These people may be charming nobles, battle-scarred veterans, tested generals, or powerful sorcerers. Unlike certain other games, they don't go out into the wilderness looking for ancient ruins to rob and "monsters" with oddly-coloured skin to kill. Instead, the stories REIGN tells are stories about the rise and fall of nations, and how a few people can influence much larger groups—and how those groups can support them. Four distinct regions received detailed writeups, from the harshly meritocratic Ulds to the nomadic Truil tribes to the Dindavarans who live for conflict and the declining might of the Empire. The world feels really different to generic fantasy, and yet ready for anyone to dive in. Where The Secret of Zir'an differentiated itself with a truly unique setting, REIGN doesn't go that far—it's recognisable, but still distinctly its own game.
Beyond the unique setting, REIGN has interesting mechanical tweaks. The game uses the One Roll Engine, but with a couple of changes. The first is the inclusion of One Roll Character Creation. Anyone who doesn't want to spend time optimising a point-buy build can roll eleven dice and boom: a character. Every die is five points; something that other random character generation should learn from. The randomness isn't in how competent a character is (the number of points), but where he is competent.
The other tweak is the inclusion of Esoteric Disciplines and Martial Paths. Much as Sorcery has spells to make it unique, almost every skill in the game has either a combat style (a Martial Path) or a set of unique "special cases" (Esoteric Disciplines) that make every skill as mechanically significant as any other. Esoteric Disciplines are a wonderful idea that I'd love to port to other systems—the Storytelling system springs to mind. Likewise, Companies have their own set of rules that play out in months rather than rounds, with plenty of suggestions of how the PCs actions on the personal scale translate into useful bonuses on the Company scale. Again, the Company rules are pretty much portable into other games, and show just how simple a whole change in scale can get.
The final notable thing about REIGN is the supplements. Unlike other books, Greg writes them and then holds them to ransom. When people pledge $1,000 (through fundable.com) he gets the cash and releases the supplement to the world for free. Each one is 10,000 words of goodness covering everything from the Ob-Lob seafarers to expanded Company rules to new One-Roll character generators.
Anyway. I know I want to make a sorcerer, and a Stormtongue comes to mind. Mostly because they can fly and spit fucking lightning. I also know I want to make an Uld, a member of the Guild of Sages who has started to branch out. Uld is pretty much unique for being a nation that used to have a ruling class that had said class all murdered. Rather than investing more nobles, they simply set up fifteen Guilds to run the country. Anyone can have a say in how the country's run—as long as they're willing to work and trained in a field that has Guild representation, of course...
Supplement 7 contains the One-Roll Ulds, but I have a problem: the Ulds teach two main schools of magic, the Stormtongue and the Flame Dance (dervishes who act as firey artillery on the battlefield). Only the Flame Dance gets any love, if I want to be a Stormtongue I have to hope to be a failed apprentice. Sod that. The joy of One Roll Chargen is in hacking it, which is so doable because every die reflects a fixed number of points. My replacement sets are included below:
2x7 Stormtongue Apprentice: +1 KNOWLEDGE, +2 Sorcery, +2 Spells, +1 Language (Uldish or Imperial)
3x7 Expert Sorcerer: +ED Sorcery, +3 Spells
4x7 Flies in Winged Glory: Stormtongue Full Attunement
5x7 Master Enchanter: Upgrade Sorcery ED to MD
Anyway. To make a one-roll character, I start with eleven d10. I know I want a sorcerer, so I set two of them to 7's and roll the rest. In the end, I get
4x3 Personal Protector:+1 BODY, +1 Fight, +3 Parry, +1 Intimidate, +2 Heal, +1 Sight, +2 Sword, +1 Expert: Throw, First and Second levels of a Parry path
1x5 Incident in the Woods: +2 Counterspell, +3 Animal Companion
1x6 Political Imbroglio: +2 Lie, +3 Stealth
5x7 Master Enchanter: +1 KNOWLEDGE, +2+MD Sorcery, +1 Language (Uldish), Stormtongue Full Attunement, +5 Spells
Now for the fun part: turning that into a character. I need a nice solid name, and Holm fits the bill. In his youth, Holm saw a falcon fighting a dog. Something about the whole thing didn't feel right, and knowledge sprang to his mind unbidden. With a sudden flex, he freed the animals from the ancient warding spell and has kept them with him ever since. Shocked after his first encounter with powerful magic and possessed of a need to learn, he enrolled with the Stormtongue Academy in he hopes of learning more. Still a young man and very willing to learn, he devoured knowledge at an unprecedented rate, and was soon a seasoned sorcerer. Unfortunately, that came at a price: he grew distant from his family, none of whom belonged to a guild.
When he tried to use his status in the Guild of Sages to draw his family into the Cultivators, he had no idea that the Sages were under intense scrutiny by the Lawyers. To make a long story short, Holm got off with little more than a slap on the wrist (compared to some of the others), but he still thought it better to lay low for a while. Though he couldn't disguise the wings sprouting from his back, he could disguise his guild affiliations. He signed on with a mercenary guild, and received training as a bodyguard—not because he needed to know how to fight, but because his magics left him without any options to protect other people.
|Body 3||Coordination 2||Sense 2|
|Fight 1||Sword 2||Sight 1|
|Parry 3||Stealth 3|
|Knowledge 3||Command 2||Charm 2|
|Counterspell 2||Intimidate 1||Lie 2|
Animal Companion 3: A hunting falcon and a vicious dog
Parry Path 2: Iron Parry, The Superior Interception
Spells 5: Greater Lightning Stroke, Fog Cloud, Weather Change