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Ironclaw StC worth getting? Two books or one book?

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  • phoenixstormknight
    So, now that Ironclaw: StC has been out for quite a while...any opinions and comparison reviews between it and the original? If we liked the original, but
    Message 1 of 7 , Feb 15, 2012
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      So, now that Ironclaw: StC has been out for quite a while...any opinions and comparison reviews between it and the original? If we liked the original, but found it a bit clunky (mostly for the GM, not for the players) will we like the new one more, or just keep playing the old one anyway?

      And, opinions on whether its better to get the separate player/GM books (sounds more convenient) or the single book (but the single books has full color!)? Are there any actual differences?

      Yeah, I know its been a long time since it came out. This is the first time in a while we've got the spare cash to justify an RPG book that we may not use much but would like to have anyway :)
    • Anthony Demetriou
      There are a lot of rule differences in the new book, plenty of fun gifts (with prerequisite gifts) and in general the system has been streamlined. It s still
      Message 2 of 7 , Feb 15, 2012
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        There are a lot of rule differences in the new book, plenty of fun gifts (with prerequisite gifts) and in general the system has been streamlined. It's still not super-slim, but more streamlined than the previous version. So that might be a win for you.
        Combat is streamlined so that every round something should happen, to help drive the story at a reasonable pace while still giving lots of options for the players.

        It covers much of the same setting information as was found in the original book and supplements, but is nice to have all the world information gathered into one book. Also nice to have all the types of magic gathered.

        The artwork is lovely, if you like the cartoony style they use. I really like my hardcover book, it just feels *nice* to read through. And the colour pictures, especially the illustrations of the different races, are really nice. So that's the pro for getting the hardcover. I'm not sure if the single books have full colour.

        The pro for getting the separate books is that it might be more useful at the gaming table, and also you can lend the one book to players so they can prepare their characters, without giving them the GM information. I believe that you get the same contents, either way.

        For me, I picked the single book, and I'm happy with my choice.

        Cheers,
        Tony

        On Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 2:53 PM, phoenixstormknight <BriPhoenix@...> wrote:
         

        So, now that Ironclaw: StC has been out for quite a while...any opinions and comparison reviews between it and the original? If we liked the original, but found it a bit clunky (mostly for the GM, not for the players) will we like the new one more, or just keep playing the old one anyway?

        And, opinions on whether its better to get the separate player/GM books (sounds more convenient) or the single book (but the single books has full color!)? Are there any actual differences?

        Yeah, I know its been a long time since it came out. This is the first time in a while we've got the spare cash to justify an RPG book that we may not use much but would like to have anyway :)


      • phoenixstormknight
        Thanks for the answer Tony. So, have you found that the contested attack rolls make it very hard for a character with lower skill in combat? It seems like a
        Message 3 of 7 , Feb 16, 2012
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          Thanks for the answer Tony.

          So, have you found that the contested attack rolls make it very hard for a character with lower skill in combat? It seems like a "bruiser" (low skill but high strength and toughness) would have a very hard time.

          Also, any info on what's split out into the player and GM book? I wasn't worried about "hiding" info - just thinking it would be nice for two of us to be able to use the books at the same time. But now that I think about it, I doubt there would be much for mechanics in the GM book anyway.

          Brian
        • Ian Borchardt
          Disclaimer: *If you found the original rules kludgy you ll probably like the new rules.* Personally I think the old rules were much better. A) The original
          Message 4 of 7 , Feb 16, 2012
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            Disclaimer: *If you found the original rules kludgy you'll probably like the new rules.*

            Personally I think the old rules were much better.

            A) The original system was a lot simpler and more coherent if you understood the logic behind them.  Given various conversations I've had with people I don't think many people actually did so.  They saw the surface skin, but not the skeleton it was built on.  This allowed the system to get readily repurposed; for example, I run my Glorantha campaign using it quite easily.  It's very robust.

            It had a much greater tactical flexibility.  I liked being able to Strike Hard, Strike Fast, and Strike Normal, for example.  Especially in combination with the Jadeclaw Martial Arts Gifts.  It made the game interesting for "fighters" as they could tailor their responses to their opponent.

            B) The StC system relies extensively on exception-based gifts.  As in, the StC system works normally until you hit a gift, at which point it breaks in some manner.  This is usually quite fine for the player, because they will be having to deal with very few gifts, but I find it is a problem for the gamemaster.  Especially when each Species and Career come with three Gifts each.  Most of the skills they have gotten rid of reappear as Gifts.  It's also a problem when people wonder what Gifts they should take.  To borrow from a recent discussion, it requires a player to make a bigger social investment in the rules to play the game, rather than just being able to pick up the rules and play.

            A lot of the streamlining in reducing the rules down reflects designer decisions in how things should run.  Most of the game information is presented with very little context which has made it difficult for some people to work out how the game should work (especially, for example, where Advanced Magic works).  If you are familiar with v1 then you probably won't have this problem.  As a result the game is much more closely tied to the default universe and much more resistant to repurposing.

            Counterattacks work well if you are fencing (which is why they were an important part of UY), but are nowhere near as effective if you are not.  Speaking of which, the armour/damage rules as written tend to be broken, especially for knightly combat on a historical model.  [I recommend using v1 armours and have the Gift of Armoured Fighter
            a straight bonus d12 to compensate. YMWV..]  Again I think all of this was this was to push a specific play philosophy and in doing so to speed up combat.  Although they now consider this standard I don't know why you'd use it when you can Parry.  Except for the fact that shields have been massively downrated  to encourage this (a Staff is actually a better Parrying Weapon than a Shield, in the game as written).

            Exploits have been integrated into the weapons, which are now specifically named.  One of the biggest forms of confusion in v1 was the difference between the weight of a blade and the furniture that converted that blade into a weapon.  Thus a 1 stone blade might be a Heavy Weapon for a  low Body character, an Awkward 1H / Easy 2H for a medium Body character and a Easy 1H Weapon for a large Body character.  In the first case it could be outfitted as a Two Handed Sword,  in the second as a Bastard Sword, and in the third as a Long Sword.  That's all gone.  A Two-Handed Sword is a Two-Handed Sword regardless of the body of the wielder.  Damage is now based on the number of successes you get in the skill test, plus a bonus for the weapon.  Much simpler, but also much less cinematic.  Morale is innate in the damage system by making Afraid a damage result, possibly requiring a leader to rally troops (or a leader to rally you).

            A few of the nice ideas from UY were includes.  Lower starting Traits and the fact that Traits are limited to 1 dice.  Flat costs for Gifts and the ability to retrain Gifts. Bonuses and Penalties being more dice, not modified dice (although you now have minor bonuses/penalties of a d8 and major bonuses/penalties of a d12 instead of just the d12).

            Also included was the UY idea that gifts can be exhausted and refreshed.  Although this is now automatic (UY used tests of Traits to see if a gift was exhausted, but while this system was much more realistic it was also much more complicated in play and was something that most people didn't use).  This is the heart of the new magic system.  Instead off keeping track of magic points you will be constantly keeping track of whether your magical Gifts are refreshed or not.  Instead of lots of individual skills learnt to Adept status you now have lots of Gifts.  One of the result of this is that characters start as better magicians, as they start eligible for Journeyman Magic Gifts.

            Finally Flaws have been eliminated, which is a pity.  I like Flaws.  Not all flaws though.  Some - like Pacifist (a d12 defence bonus provided you don't fight) and Coward (you run away faster than others) - still exist as Gifts.  I've always felt Flaws help give definition to a character and these failings are often stronger parts of character.

            There are also a lot of irritating things that make you suspect copy and paste and other markup errors.  Some are obvious, like the Gift of Secrets of Thaumaturgy requiring a White Robe and refreshing Holy Gifts, others like a Fusil, described as "a light musket," having more range, doing more damage, and being heavier than a Musket.  And no errata as yet.

            Still, despite these faults it does work. 

            Ian
            --
            Ian Borchardt    (iborchar@...)
            Philosoph, Fool, and Magician
            "That is not dead which can eternal lie,
              And with strange Ians, even death may die."
          • phoenixstormknight
            Wow! A long and thought out response Ian - thank you! ... When I said the system was kludgy , I mostly mean that it slows the game down a lot to be
            Message 5 of 7 , Feb 17, 2012
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              Wow! A long and thought out response Ian - thank you!

              I'm curious about what you mean by:

              > A) The original system was a lot simpler and more coherent if you
              > understood the logic behind them....

              When I said the system was "kludgy", I mostly mean that it slows the game down a lot to be constantly figuring out which set of dice you need to grab for a task. Not to bad for a player, who only has one character to manage, but when a scene includes a lot of NPCs, or a lot of different skills in action, it can get pretty tricky. I often to just giving NPCs stats like "Social 2d8" to try to simplify things!

              The other areas were damage (lots of rolls to make with all of people's consciousness and death tests) and spells. Players pretty much required a full extra page of character sheet for every college of magic, and I was usually reluctant to give NPCs spells.
            • Ian Borchardt
              ... The biggest complaint I ve heard from other local players and gamemasters has been the large number of dice that need to be rolled. Especially for things
              Message 6 of 7 , Feb 17, 2012
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                On 18 February 2012 11:53, phoenixstormknight <BriPhoenix@...> wrote:

                > When I said the system was "kludgy", I mostly mean that it slows the game down a lot to be constantly figuring out which set of dice you need to grab for a task. Not to bad for a player, who only has one character to manage, but when a scene includes a lot of NPCs, or a lot of different skills in action, it can get pretty tricky. I often to just giving NPCs stats like "Social 2d8" to try to simplify things!
                >
                > The other areas were damage (lots of rolls to make with all of people's consciousness and death tests) and spells. Players pretty much required a full extra page of character sheet for every college of magic, and I was usually reluctant to give NPCs spells.

                The biggest complaint I've heard from other local players and
                gamemasters has been the large number of dice that need to be rolled.
                Especially for things like damage tests where highest die roll wins.
                StC fixes this to a degree by introducing the Rule of 4, and that is
                in rolls where individual dice count (not just the highest roll), each
                die counts as a success if it equals of exceeds "4." Which is a lot
                simpler.

                The second complaint I've heard is that people dislike the large
                number of skills (which starts getting complicated). [I have to admit
                that I vastly reduced the skill set in my games (along the lines of
                UY, so a lot of skills simply became "Trade: [whatever]" or "Craft:
                [whatever]" because players will generally not need much more
                definition). If you broaden "favourite weapon" to cover a specific
                type of weapon then having a single Melee and a single Ranged skill
                works well too (because people will stick with the weapon they
                generally carry, so you don't need the individual weapon shop lists).
                Some exotic weapons might require a special Gift to use if they are
                too alien. Similarly, and this is where play styles comes into it, I
                reduced social interaction to an Influence skill with the different
                modes being favoured uses along the lines of "favoured weapons." In
                this regard I actually went further than StC which keeps separate
                skills for social interaction. However I did not simply convert these
                skills into gifts; I just sidelined them (although most ended up
                coming back into play via Career and Cult ("Race") Traits, but that
                was OK, as people had little problem picking those and I didn't have
                any problem assigning them into play).]

                And yes, the magic system was rather kludgy, but I thought it gave a
                smoother evolution of the magician.

                This is what I took as being "kludgy" about the old system in your
                comments. <grin>

                However a lot of this was in the details, the underlying system was
                quite simple and elegant and could be modified very easily to suit
                your kind of game.

                My two major complaints about the new system is the exception-based
                rules created by the Gifts, which means you really need to understand
                how the gifts work and interact to understand the intricacies system,
                since it is the gifts that now power the game and define the character
                rather than the skills, and the absence of flaws (which I consider a
                serious failing mainly because that's the first thing I look at and
                see how it can help generate characters - it's not a point-balance
                issue for me but a character definition one). I'd already been using
                many of the mods they used in StC in my own games.

                Given what you have said you will probably enjoy StC. After all, the
                simpler magic system is worth it by itself. But it _is_ quite
                different in play and requires more work to understand.

                Ian

                [And there is absolutely nothing wrong with what you were doing. I
                mean the default scheme for NPCs is basically to choose a level of
                difficulty for dice and roll all of them. So a town guard for
                example, would roll 3d6 to hit doing 3d6 damage and soaking on 3d6.
                NPCs don't have to follow PC rules, especially in shorthand.]

                --
                Ian Borchardt    (iborchar@...)
                Philosoph, Fool, and Magician
                "That is not dead which can eternal lie,
                  And with strange Ians, even death may die."
              • phoenixstormknight
                Thanks for another detailed response. Your idea of trimming down the skills a lot and using favored uses to diversify them is interesting. I m a fan of smaller
                Message 7 of 7 , Feb 20, 2012
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                  Thanks for another detailed response. Your idea of trimming down the skills a lot and using favored uses to diversify them is interesting. I'm a fan of smaller skill sets in games, though I don't think the number of skills in Ironclaw ever bothered us.

                  Skill not sure what to think. A lot of your points about why you don't like StC seem like stuff we'd agree with.

                  Still not sure what you mean about people not "getting" the system though :)
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