Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, or RAG, was released early this morning for the whole world to devour.
This was a pretty cool surprise to me (I confess, I really didn’t hear anything about it until release) and I’ve spent a good portion of last night and this morning pouring over its pages. That doesn’t say much, since it’s only 36 Pages in length (including covers.) Still, at a time where my interest in WR&M was picking back up, it’s perfect timing.
RAG is a lightweight “Pulp Action and Adventure” RPG written by the guys at Blue Hex and Stargazer Games, and builds off the WYRM rules originally presented in Warrior, Rogue & Mage. The “Pulp Action” style presented here seems to target a broad range from 1900-1940’s style stories. Late “Steampunk”, 1920’s Mobster Crime drama, Allan Quartermain/Indiana Jones, The Shadow, Sky Captain…..all of these have the potential in RAG. Keeping in the spirit of the WYRM system, the game maintains the classless and level-less character system, and instead uses the Resolute, Adventurer & Genius as the three attributes that drive the game.
Mods Under the Hood:
This isn’t just WR&M re-skinned with mobsters instead of orcs. The system has been expanded in some areas, and in others have traveled down different routes that make it stand out from its fantasy predecessor. At the core, the game remains faithfully the same: task resolution is still 1d6+Attribute+Skill/Modifier vs. DL (difficulty level.) Anyone who is familiar with WR&M can look at a RAG character and figure everything out quickly. However, they will notice a few changes right off the bat, and as they dive into the character creation and the game system more changes will appear.
- Base Traits: Aside from the renamed attributes, things like Hitpoints, Luck (the replacement of Fate), and Defense now have different formulas for determining their ratings. HP is derived from your highest attribute here (instead of just “Warrior”), Defense is Resolute + Highest Attribute (where originally was Warrior + Rogue/2 +4….new version is a lot quicker to figure.) There’s also an individual Initiative rating now, where WR&M originally just used an unmodified d6 roll from everyone if GM Fiat wasn’t used instead.
- Skills: The Skill list has been trimmed down from 19 skills to ten. Added now are “Knowledge” skills which can be taken for every field of knowledge, and an “Interaction” skill for those craving a social skill. The 10 or so weapon skills have now been consolidated into “Melee”, “Ranged” and “Unarmed Combat.” I’m really happy with this skill list, as it covers pretty much the basics and trims out a lot of things I find excessive. And like last time, if there’s skills missing that are crucial to your campaign….the mechanics are sound that it should be very, very easy to add in whatever you need. But where the Skill list itself got trimmed, the skill system itself has actually grown. Originally, having a skill gave a flat +2 modifier. Now, skills are ranked Basic, Advanced and Master…..+2 to +6.
- Talents: Talents have been greatly expanded in RAG. There’s actually different categories, such as Invention, Mesmerism, Mysticism etc. RAG doesn’t use a spell/magic system like WR&M does, and instead treats any cool powers or abilities as Talents that are activated by the use of Luck Points. Very little flavor text and mechanics are presented with these on purpose, allowing the player (with GM approval) to fill in the flavor text of how or why the character is using these.
- Combat: Combat still plays out fast in this system, but a handful of mechanics have been changed for RAG. As mentioned, there’s now a formal Initiative roll in place. Distance is now covered in “range bands” like self, melee, short, medium, long etc. The combat mechanics themselves take a cue from WR&M’s supplement “The Art of Combat”, where now every point rolled over the DL on an attack roll deals additional damage. Interestingly enough, weapons no longer have damage rolls and instead have base damage values. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any listing for armor in the book except for vehicles, which use the Armor as Damage-Soak variant instead. Also, rules have been added for vehicle combat and chase scenes which were designed to take advantage of the abstract ranges.
- XP System: One more addition to the system is a formal experience point system. Since this is a classless/level-less system, it’s nice to see an XP chart where the points are spent to purchase advancements (sort of like Karma in older Shadowrun games, or World of Darkness’ advancement system.)
I’ve always seen the potential for the WYRM system to do more, and I’m happy that someone has finally built upon the foundations Warrior, Rogue & Mage established to demonstrate how flexible the system can be for different styles and genres. What’s interesting is how the two games are fundamentally the same, but have a different feel based on different design decisions between the two games. Even cooler, is how easy it is to rip mechanics out of one and plug into the other no sweat. And both games are completely, 100% free and released under the Creative Commons license…so there’s no reason for them not to encourage further expansion and mash ups.
As for the game by itself, it’s very charming. I would put it up there with the Savage Worlds core book in offering a great platform to stand on for one-shot games. Combined it with what’s already available for WR&M, and what’s coming in (such as Michael Wolf’s Sci-Fi iteration, and Dice Monkey’s “Pointman, Hacker & Thief)….WYRM is shaping up to be an exciting toolbox to play with. The tinker gnome in me is loving it.