Monday, 1 August 2016

Review: Perdition

Disclaimer: I was one of the editors of the product, so I'll try to keep it brief.

Perdition is a game whose release I have been waiting for quite some time. It is an OSR game with a very specific setting in mind. The player characters are built of roughly the same mechanical widgets as in other D&D-esque games (attributes, skills, classes, levels, hit points, and armour class), and they will do very similar things (exploring wildernesses, looting dungeons, etc.). The setting is a sort of post-apocalyptic fantasy in a sense: the devils have conquered the material plane and become its rulers. Instead of barons and kings, it's now devil lords people owe fealty to.

What really sets Perdition apart from other D&D-esque games is its idea of introducing the setting through mechanics alone. Even though it is not entirely a new concept (cf. Bliss Stage, Rookvale, or Ghost Lines), it is certainly something no published OSR rules set has attempted (I mean, there is literally no setting description in Perdition; most thematic OSR games do include at least a page or two devoted to describing the setting).

Mechanically speaking, there are a couple of new things introduced, such as the following:
  • Hit points are split into physical and mental pools with matching armour classes. Thus, aside from charging and standard melee/missile attacks, taunting and intimidating an enemy are pre-defined actions.
  • Social situations are handled with a system similar to but much more simple than what On the Non-player Character has introduced (although it is trivial to use with Perdition).
  • Skills are handled with The Middle Road system.
  • There are detailed rules for summoning hellish entities and signing contracts with devils.
  • Magic uses an elegant dice pool mechanic instead of simple fire-and-forget.
  • Characters gain special abilities as they level up; they can be chosen from class-specific lists.
  • Characters also gain character points that can be spent to improve numerical stats (such as attack bonuses, hit points, skills, etc.).
  • Despite all the different mechanical bits, creating a character is very straightforward (the number of choices made at this stage is intentionally kept low).
  • Stats for unique creatures sorcerers can summon.
  • Devil patrons warlocks (or other foolish characters) can make a pact with.
  • Critical hit tables.
  • A variation of Brendan's overloaded encounter die.
It would be a fool's errand to go further into the mechanical bits and pieces Perdition offers, especially since devil's in the details (my bad). Suffice to say, if this has got your attention, you might want to check it out to see for yourself.

You can purchase a PDF at OneBookShelf, or a print copy at Lulu (available in softcover, casewrap hardcover, and dust-jacket hardcover). You might also want to check the Google+ community for further information on upcoming releases.

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