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True20 Warrior’s Handbook Review
Posted By Megan On April 20, 2009 @ 5:45 am In RPGs | No Comments
The Introduction sets out the intention of this work – to delve more deeply into the ways in which warriors can excel and combat be handled under the True20 ruleset. It does this by presenting ways of enhancing Warrior character creation and development, and by providing a greater range of options for them to use when engaging in combat. It’s intended as a toolkit, from which you can pick the bits you want to use.
Chapter 1 looks at Warrior Creation. To start with, not everyone who can and does fight is a ‘warrior’ – it is a specific role embraced by those whose primary area of expertise is fighting, fighting to win. The focus of this book is anyone taking on the true warrior’s role – whether he fights with rocks or with a laser-cannon. Naturally you’ll have to select the bits appropriate to the setting in which your warriors will operate, beginning with a discussion of background. This covers both what the warrior did before he turned to the trade of arms and why he decided to do so. Most of the backgrounds sound contemporary, but with a little ingenuity you can twist them into one that is suitable for your game. Each provides a selection of appropriate bonus feats and skills from which to choose. Next a range of new core abilities is given, which can replace those of the main rulebook (you still only get the one!). There’s a couple of ‘warrior variants’ – the fighter and the mystic warrior – and then the discussion moves on to the development of fighting styles. This suggests combining appropriate feats to enable your character to fight in a given style – either a real world one or one of your own devising, and several samples are given to get you started. Comparing the listings of the fighting styles I happen to know, a good match of game feats to what you actually do has been achieved.
Next, Chapter 2 explores Skills and Feats. It begins with a selection of expansions for existing skills – novel ways of using them, complete with apposite rules, in ways suitable to the warrior state of mind. Next is a collection of new feats which may be taken to develop your warrior in the direction of your choice. Some are flagged as ‘general’ and so are accessible to any qualifying character, but the majority are warrior-specific. Most will be applicable whatever your setting, perhaps with a slight change of wording, but a few rely on the availability of specific technology – be it a vehicle, a weapon capable of autofire or a shield – so if that is not in use within your setting the feat will not be available.
Chapter 3 is The Arsenal, which looks at both armour and weapons. These having a tendency to be very much of their time, both sections are banded by time period/technology level to enable you to choose the ones most appropriate to your setting.
Finally, Chapter 4: Expanded Combat presents a variety of additional rules for combat. First comes a system for damage that allows for more realism than the abstract system in the core ruleset… it’s also potentially more lethal, so take care in deciding whether or not to use it! Next comes a system of free attacks, adding both complexity and realism to your fights, but creating the need for additional checks so liable to slow the actual play down. This is followed by a brief note on sending opponents flying and a discussion of the use of miniatures in combat situations, providing a set of rules for using them to best effect to model the fight that is taking place. This is followed by sections on vehicle and mounted combat, which are merged into more generally discussions of pursuit, the effects of terrain and the like. Next comes getting weapons stuck and breaking them in the course of combat, followed by a discussion on teamwork and the introduction of a system of ‘combat challenge’ where you can attempt a spectacular maneuver by taking an increased chance of the attack as a whole failing outright. Then there are ‘stunts’ – any action you want to take outwith normal combat actions.
A discussion of various methods of determining initiative follows and then a way of modelling events in the midst of a large battle – recognising that individual characters will be focussed on what is happening in their immediate vicinity, but may at times be affected by events on a larger scale. Moving on from fighting itself, the next section looks at infection, particularly that resulting from injuries sustained in combat. Finally a return to large-scale combat, with a system for resolving mass combats.
While it is interesting to have these additions, the core of the True20 game mechanic is its simplicity so some enthusiasts while receptive to the ideas may choose not to implement the actual rule modifications in their game. Many of the concepts, however, are well worth considering even if you prefer to hold true to the rules-light freeflow style of the core game mechanics.
Review by Megan Robertson
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