Talisman is a classic board game where players work their way around a fantasy kingdom working their way through different lands on a quest to reach the center of the board and gain control of the crown of command. Pegasus Spiel is expanding this into a pen and paper Role Play Game. I received a copy of the playtest rules from the publisher and was able to run a session of the game for my friends.
I want to be clear, this is not a review. I have a beta test copy of the rules. They only allow advancement to the third level. Nothing in the book is final. I don’t even know if the art in the book is what will be in the final version of the game or is only being used as a place holder. I don’t feel it’s fair to offer a review style write up of the game because most everything in it is subject to change. Additionally, I don’t believe it’s going to Kickstarter and I don’t want to do a preview for the purposes of helping people be more informed for backing purposes. I could be wrong about Kickstarter, but I don’t think so.
Because of all of these reasons, I didn’t want to offer a review. This is just going to be an informal first look at how the game is coming along and how it stands now. I’m trying to fill in the blanks for anyone who may have heard about the project but hasn’t been able to find any information. With that said…
The game felt like Talisman. Player characters were steeped in the game. You could pick six races from Human, Dwarf, and Elf to Sprite, Ghoul, and Troll. The classes included Fighters and Wizards but also made Assassins and Minstrels options. Right out of the gate we knew we were playing Talisman.
The game has a wonderful follower system. You can have a collection of NPC’s attached to the different members of the party. These will all have a couple of abilities that they can use throughout the adventure to help the players. However, each of the followers has a Loyalty rating. Every time they used an ability their loyalty dropped a point. You can restore loyalty but it’s expensive and time-consuming. This limits how often players can throw around the abilities of different followers. Once their loyalty hits zero they leave. You get a little leeway to try and keep them, but you have to act fast.
Some pieces of equipment play into the notion of the game. A shield can offer blanket protection by reducing all physical damage taken by 1. However, you can stop all of the damage from an attack but have to roll a D6 and if you get a 5 or 6 the shield survives the blow and you can continue to use it. Anything else and the shield is destroyed. In addition to reflecting the board game, this also gave the players an extra level of choice. It’s also nice that sacrificing the shield will save your life and if you get lucky you might keep the shield. When and if you have to make this attempt is a nice decision for the players.
Different events in the adventure really nailed home the setting as well. A moment in a shop gives you a chance of finding things. There’s also a couple of spoilers and I’m not going to go into them here because it could ruin things if you’re going to get into the adventure at some point. For all I know, it could be included in the final product.
The core mechanic of the game revolves around rolling three dice. One die is a different color than the others and is called the Kismet Die. The kismet die is responsible for causing fate points in the game. If you roll a 1 or 6 then a point of fate is awarded to the player or game master depending on which it is. Fate has several uses, including offering rerolls, extra dice, and it can activate special abilities.
Beyond this, doubles and triples have an increased effectiveness when rolled. This makes rolling bonus dice more of a choice too. Getting a higher number might not be what you want when rolling. You might want the double or triple. Especially if it’s only a one or two-point difference. Sometimes three 4’s is better than rolling two 4’s and a 6 getting a 14.
Combat also has an interesting choice too. The players get to decide combat order. There is no initiative roll in the game. Players just decide who goes in what order. However, when you attack something if you only get a success without doubles or triples then right after the attack is finished the creature you were attacking gets to interrupt the turn and attack.
Which means that not only the order the party attacks in but the targets they go after is important. You want to drop the big bad, but if some of your party are attacking weaker enemies to clear them out they may want to go first to prevent the boss from bolstering the little guys or impairing a PC in some way.
On the other side of that, any enemies that don’t activate during your turn all go once the players are finished allowing them to gang up on front line heroes. Which means you might want to go for them early in order to limit their options if they survive.
I enjoyed the game as it stands. There were a couple of bits and bobs that we had problems with because some of the rules weren’t laid out very well. However, I filled out my beta test form and sent it in. This way they can iron out these little things.
In the end, I’m very excited to see where this goes. I can’t wait to get my hands on the book and see all of the enemies, treasures, lands, quests, followers, and NPC’s that we’ll come across.
Until next time. Be well.