Review: Ambition & Avarice
This FREE game was pitched to me as an OSR retro-clone. That’s usually enough to get my attention. What I was introduced to when given an early draft was a game that reminded me of Basic D&D with a few extra, very cool, options.
I started to write a review, but I could quickly see that it was going to be too long. Here’s my like/dislike or pro/con list:
Pro: Dungeon Throws. These are similar to some well-known thieving skills, but everyone has them. How good you are varies by race, class, and how you spend discretionary points character points at each level.
Sad Panda: When I first was exposed to Dungeon Throws, they were in percentiles. Greg has apparently changed them to a d20 roll instead. I know it’s 6 of one and half dozen of another, but I really preferred the percentile rolls. (I’m sure that’s the WarHammer Fantasy Roleplayer in me talking.)
Pro: Races. There are a great variety of races to choose from. They are categorized as Civilized and Uncivilized. In this game, you aren’t really playing heroes. Ten playable races is a very good start for an old-school type basic RPG. There are some very neat individual advantages for each race as well.
Pro: Classes. The standard Fighter, Cleric, Thief, and Magic User are out. Instead you have ten gritty classes that really build up the theme of the game with 5 mundane and 5 magical classes. Like the races, each class has its own individual advantages. The discretionary character points I referred to early allow for some individualization even among characters of the same class.
Pro: Encumbrance. As long as your DM keeps you honest, there is no more loading up on so many items that it would be physically impossible to move in real life. This has always been something that could be adjusted in a home game, but more strict rules are built into this one. (As a player, I probably shouldn’t consider this a “pro”. As a GM and someone who likes a little realism in my fantasy, I do.)
Pro: Item descriptions. Encounter rules. Combat rules. Healing rules. Hazards. Survival. Retainers. Experience. Some of these categories I’m used to from other games of Greg’s (Novarium and Cascade Failure, most notably). Some are new and welcome additions since he was creating a retro-clone.
Sad Panda: Ascending AC. I don’t have a lot of grognard in me, but I never understood the hesitation to use descending AC. I learned AC descending, didn’t have any problem figuring out THAC0, and then had everything changed on me after many years of play. Bring back my descending AC! And get off my lawn!
Pro: Spells. I haven’t had the chance to play a spellcaster yet, but I did get an early look at some of the spells and spell descriptions. These spells really encourage roleplaying over battle magery. It’s like getting Ventriloquim and Grease for spells instead of Magic Missile and Burning Hands.
Seriously, my complaints are few, and I wouldn’t even categorize them as complaints, just preferences. My love is strong, and this has already become a favored retro-clone. I’d love to hear what you think. Spout off in the comments or link me to your own write up.