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Eldritch 2nd Edition is well into editing now, and a brand new cover by Eric Bergeron underway!
Malcolm Bowers, the author of Gary Gygax's Book of Extraordinary Names, has returned to edit.
Here is the new introduction!
Eldritch 2nd Edition is a streamlined version of the award-winning Eldritch role-playing game, designed to be the fantasy genre for a multi-genre system. It keeps the innovative mechanics of earlier editions but is simplified to be easier to learn and quicker to play, with the focus on narrative and fast action.
The game is story- and action-focused rather than tactical or “realistic.” The rules encourage immersion where everybody gets into the storytelling groove. They allow tremendous flexibility in the creation of unique characters. Although the book presents packages to build races and character classes common to epic fantasy, players will find it easy to build their characters with any imaginable combination of skills and background.
Players are not forced into strict archetypes, but can choose from character classes as presented in whole or part, or may make up their own concept in collaboration with the Game Master. Furthermore, no rolled personality traits or moral “alignment” dictates the players’ choices in gameplay. As such, player character personalities and talents evolve organically over time. Heroes start rather powerful yet are vulnerable without good teamwork, and the same goes for villains and monsters. The Game Master (GM) will find improvising random encounters or implementing ideas during play is easy.
The realms of Eldritch showcase the tropes of fantasy and the epic fantasy milieu as a familiar sandbox while allowing the GM to personalize the experience. The Eldritch Realms of Ainerêve further expands player choices with an interesting setting for the GM to make use of. Ainerêve is the official setting for the game, “available both in this book and separately through Crossroads Games on DrivethruRPG and elsewhere, written by Peter Schaefer, Jon Creffield, and Dan Cross.
Miniatures and a battle mat are not needed, and narrative is emphasized, but the game is not diceless. It may look like a lot to learn at first, but once the mechanics are understood, they serve the story and fade into the background. Once familiar with the basic rules, the GM can drop improvised events or opponents into the action without a single reference to this book’s pages.
Some role-playing terms are probably known to most people these days, but a full list of both common terms and those unique to Eldritch are defined in the glossary in this book in case you find something unfamiliar. ”
Eldritch is a fantasy role-playing game, a social pastime where players assume the roles of characters seeking adventure together in an imaginary world. In fantasy, this will be a world of warriors and wizards, dwarves and dragons, magic and treasure. The Game Master (GM) describes the situations that the characters experience. The players tell him what their characters want to do and the GM adjudicates the results of their actions impartially using the game rules and common sense. The game proceeds like an interactive story or screenplay where you choose the path to take.
Players do not need to know all the rules; the GM takes care of that. It does help to have a grasp of the basic game concepts and mechanics, though, so that you can make better choices. That is what the next section covers. Later chapters go into more detail, and cover special cases, elaborations, extra rules, and so on.
Polyhedral dice are a staple of role-playing games, used to generate numbers in certain ranges to determine various outcomes. In Eldritch, dice are not only rolled to produce random numbers, but are used to define proficiency in a skill, the protective value of armor, or the difficulty of a challenge or casting a magic spell. The maximum value that can be rolled on a die or dice for a skill defines several values in the game as well, such as your ability to survive combat. Standard dice notation uses “d” then the number of sides, such as d6 for a six-sided die. d4+d8 means the sum of a four-sided and an eight-sided die, 3d6 means the sum of three d6s, and so on.
In Eldritch you provide the personality and motivation of the character you play in the game. What your character can do well in game terms is defined by his or her skills — whether brandishing a bloody broadsword or wielding mighty magics. These skills are chosen at character creation, and gained or improved through play. For fast character creation, Eldritch offers bundles of skills and traits (advantages and flaws) that define common fantasy races and classes. Simply choose a race and class then modify the skill set to suit the character. Once familiar with the game, you may want to opt for a custom character with whatever skills you think suit the concept (if the GM agrees!).
In Eldritch, skills are divided into three basic abilities, each of which has three specialties. Your proficiency in either is rated by die rank, from d4 up to d12. When attempting an action, you roll the dice suited to the task, from a basic d4 if you have minimal skill in that area up to d12+d12 if you are fantastically talented. There are also two focus areas for each specialty that add a bonus if they apply. The ability + specialty + focus applied to a task is called an ability branch. Generally, the value thus rolled is compared to another rolled value that depends on the nature of the challenge or the opposed skill of a foe. If you get a higher result, you succeed.
Eldritch abilities, specialties, and focuses are as generic as possible so as to cover the widest possible range of actions, rather than having a huge list of very specific skills. They are supplemented by special skills called feats that are usually restricted to a class and have special rules.
Character points and levels
Character points (CPs) are used to buy or upgrade skills and so on, both in character creation and as a campaign progresses. They are gained by adventuring. Character levels are a measure of the character’s overall capability, and depend on the CP total.
Eldritch combat is divided into rounds (of about 10 seconds). Attacks within a round usually take place in order of the basic Prowess ability, highest first. The attacker rolls dice for the ability tree that applies to the attack form. The value is the potential harm (threat points) that could be inflicted. Shield and armor can negate some or all of the threat. The defender can choose an active defense (dodge, parry, etc.) to negate more threat points until too fatigued in that combat. The defender’s passive defense is affected last. This is how much punishment the character can take before falling unconscious, at zero hit points, or dying at a negative number equal to the basic Fortitude ability. Active and passive defense pools are the sum of maximum values of several abilities and specialties, defined in the Character Creation chapter.
In most cases, only the Gift of Magic advantage lets one cast spells in the game. Practitioners of magic fall into two categories, as defined by their focus: spellcrafter (using magic from arcane sources) and theurgist (using magic granted by the gods). A character can normally learn spells from one school of magic per character level, and can learn only spells of his own level or lower, so a Level 1 mage could only learn Level 1 (Common) spells from one school. You can spend character points to overcome this limitation, expanding depth and breadth of knowledge. Known spells and their descriptions are listed in the Magic chapter. Once familiar with the game, you can use the full magic rules to have your character create unique spells and magic items.
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