Saturday, July 16, 2016

Test played Reviews: Radiance

In depth Reviews
Starting a more in depth review series.
Test played Reviews: JAGS Revised
Test played Reviews: Hackmaster
Test played Reviews: Dungeon World

Radiance's official website which has a link to the free players guide is

Rolemaster Unified and GURPS placed next in my search for a game. I wont include Rolemaster Unified until it is released and available for sale, so that I don't get mixed up in any user agreement mess. GURPS I didn't actually play, so I wont include it in this batch. Maybe if I have time, I might test it out in the future.

Radiance was the game closest to d20 games (D&D and PF). I like many things about it. The combat nor order of information presented isn't one of those things. Maybe I do like it better than the games that influenced it.

Looking at available material and scoring the availability of material
Radiance - A - Impressive full players guide all in it's entirety. This is beyond my expectation. If I choose this game, buying the Master Guide will be easy and without hesitation.

Phase 1 - First Reading Evaluation

Radiance - this game is very intriguing despite the D&D & PF sources. The combat including a prime attribute bonus (based on one's class), the equal level-based vitality and racial wound hitpoint system that is pretty much set for the entire gaming series, the DR damage absorption of armor, resistance as defense, and skills based on attributes + abilities holds my attention. I would probably want to tweak the turn based system into something else. The themes, deities, cultures, and factions I would consider more optional in my game. The ability system seems different than the traditional magic systems. Equipment is steampunk: melee, guns, and automation machines. Symbiotics seem cool if used sparingly, sort of like cybernetics. The game only has one encounter in the PHB, and creatures are in the GMG. I see that the author is still making material, which is a big plus. This game is definitely going to be a strong consideration for a main core gaming system.

Initial investment would be a Players Handbook book edition and a Game Masters Guide

I've seen mention of using pygmy as a pejorative term. The author claims it is based on mythology. In day to day life, when speaking of the tribes that that term has been used, I would rather use their own terms like Aka, Baka, Mbuti, Twa, Bajaka, Bambenga, Batak, Aeta, Semang, and Tgapukau - tribal and local names - instead of the European term.

Phase II - My Criteria Evaluation
I was very disappointed that the authors main work, psychology and personality types, had a minimal impact on the game itself - mainly in the alignment section. As a result, the B I gave was only based on the influence of factors such as deity, theme, and a little bit of the alignment. Personality and character influence is mainly external factor based in the game, unlike the personality type systems from the other Radiance House books.

The biggest hit I gave it was for combat, because it only slightly modified the d20 system. For understandable rating, the book just front load dumps everything and doesn't explain everything until later. It's hard to imaging playing the game, when a wall of information dump is sent my way first - all these numbers and words that mean something. So I assume it was written for D&D or PF game players and game masters - where knowledge of one of those game is a prerequisite. 

Magic is not explicit in the game. Rather it is blended with abilities, themes, and deities.

Once again. I could not find any gameplay public. I did find record of sessions both at d20 and scheduled at a game store. 

Game makers: Play your game and show it! Write it or video record it. Or have someone else do it. Even a 1 encounter confrontation. 2 out of 3 games don't show any game play so far - Runequest being the exception where the maker has on a podcast a sample 2 encounter gameplay.


10 Major Criteria & 10 Sub-criteria for RadianceGrdPts
1. Depth -B3
a. Meaningful -B3
b. Utilized Functions -B3
2. Flexible/Adaptable -B3
3. Consistency -A4
4. Understandable -C2
5. Character -B3
a. Behavior tied to character -B3
b. Unique Character -B3
6. Combat System -C2
a. Turn/move/action -E0
b. Attack speed/ hastened/quicker -D1
7. Spell System -C2
a. Spell Regulatory -C2
b. Spell Breadth -B3
8. Creatures -B3
a. Standard Fantasy -B3
b. Creation -C2
9. Content -B3
10. Aesthetic -B3

Grade B
Reviews read or watched 3
Set of reviews from product pages 4
Gameplays read or watched 0

Key to Criteria

10 Major Criteria & 10 Sub-criteria1. Depth - how meaningful and utilized are the data & functions are used?
a. Meaningful - does data recorded makes a difference in the game?
b. Utilized Functions - are there multiple uses for data recorded?
2. Flexible/Adaptable - how usable is it with other custom settings?
3. Consistency - how many different systems are there within the game?
4. Understandable - are concepts defined before they are presented, Or is it just a rule dump without explanation?
5. Character - how is behavior explained and can characters be unique?
a. Behavior tied to character - how well does the data determine how a character behaves?
b. Unique Character - can the characters stand out from other characters of similar nature?
6. Combat System - are the mechanics interesting and innovative?
a. Turn/move/action - does the game use the same boring turn based mechanics?
b. Attack speed/ hastened/quicker - will having higher quickness make the attacks go faster and multiple times?
7. Spell System - does the game use the boring overused spell set?
a. Spell Regulatory - how does the game use data to limit magical powers?
b. Spell Breadth - is there a wide variety, yet coherently grouped collection of spells?
8. Creatures - how many provided creatures are available?
a. Standard Fantasy - does the game provide the expected common monsters and creatures?
b. Creation - are there creature creation rules so that I can add my own creatures?
9. Content - is the overall content presented in the core detail depth and have variety. Do elements differ in sufficient degree among other data?
10. Aesthetic - does the game have a subjective coolness factor?

I plan on using the A, B, C, D, and E again, this time tying them to points so I can convert it into a total value for the game.
For each criteria
 = 4 - beyond my expectation
B = 3 - great
C = 2 - sufficient
D = 1 - below my expectation
E = 0 - horrible, unusable

Total evaluation = sum of criteria/20

Phase III Testing the game.

1) total grade from phase 2 2.55
2) character creation test 2 (it would have been a 3)
3) skill system test 3
4) combat system test 1
5) magic system test 2
Total score 10.55 (it would have been 11.55)
Average 4 pt scale 2.11 (it would have been a 2.31)

I studied Pathfinder PRD for one hour before making a character. I studied how abilities, skills, feats, and magic fit together which is different than most of the games that I have studied so far. Certainly the Radiance differs in some great ways from PRD, but only in minor ways when comparing Heroquest, Dungeon World, Hackmaster, Rolemaster Unified, and even Unchained Heroes to Radiance. Then I could create a character knowing an overview of d20 systems. Because I did so, I docked 1 point from character creation immediately.

Character creation took just under 2 hours, after the one hour PRD study - 3 hours all together.

Once I knew the basics of d20, I thought it the character turned out great with pretty good depth, but then docked it down to mediocre considering the PRD reliance. Wiluwichi was a human bard from the primal tribal culture, 

The skill system was extremely easy once a spreadsheet of my character had tallied up the bonuses. I tried several skills at different difficulty. Very nice!

Combat system .... I'll just pass on that. I only had Ergo the robot who began kicking my ass after one round where I damaged it for 2 vitality damage.

The magic system is interesting with the intertwined abilities, heroic and magical powers. Themes expand the system. Alignment is a nice form of divine intervention. The magic items are really good. I also like the vitality based power system. I do wish for some general magic used by everyone, but I guess that's what the magical items are for in this game.

Character Sheet
Level 1
A bard is a muse, performer, lorist, and jack of all trades.
wound points 9 Vitality 5
size Med Attack:  d20 + ½  level + Cha Mod
speed 30'  

Fortitude 11
Strength 11 0  
Reflex 13
Dexterity 13 1  
Will 15
Constitution 11 0
Intelligence 15 2
Charisma 16 3
Artist: You are skilled at fine arts, music, and writing. Boost
Craft, Literacy, and Music checks by +3.
Lightning Reflexes: You are quick and agile. Boost your
Reflex by +2.
you gain at 9th level instead. This ability does not grant access to
advanced tier boons, which you access at 9th level, as usual.
Fortitude 10
Reflex 16
Will 15
Core Abilities
Bards start with the following abilities at 1st level.  
Reflex by +2.
Fascinate You distract non-allied persons and animals
within 15 ft if you beat their Will. Affected targets
do not move or attack and suffer a -5 penalty on
Perception checks. However, if an attack roll occurs
within the area, the effect immediately ends. Otherwise,
the effect lasts only as long as you play music or speak as a standard
action each round to a maximum of 5 minutes. Costs 1 vitality.
Jack of All Trades As a move action, apply a +2 bonus to
a single skill check you make that same round. Costs 1 vitality.
Performer:  You enjoy a +5 bonus on 2 of the following skills:
Acrobatics, Bluff, Craft, Disguise, Literacy, Music or Trick.

Ability Perform Artist Total
Acrobatics Dex 1 1 Acrobatics
Appraise Int 2 2 Appraise
Arcana Int 2 2 Arcana
Athletics Str 0 2 2 Athletics
Bluff Cha 3 3 Bluff
Craft Int 2 3 5 Craft
Diplomacy Cha 3 3 Diplomacy
Dungeoneering Int 2 2 Dungeoneering
Endurance Con 0 2 2 Endurance
Handling Animal Wis 2 2 4 Handling Animal
Heal Wis 2 2 Heal
History Int 2 2 History
Insight Wis 2 2 Insight
Intimidate Str 0 0 Intimidate
Literacy Int 2 5 3 -5 5 Literacy
Mechanics Dex 1 1 Mechanics
Music Cha 3 5 3 11 Music
Nature Int 2 2 Nature
Nobility Cha 3 3 Nobility
Perception Wis 2 2 Perception
Pilot Dex 1 1 Pilot
Religion Wis 2 2 Religion
Streetwise Cha 3 3 Streetwise
Survival Wis 2 5 7 Survival
Trick Dex 1 1 Trick
Warcraft Int 2 2 Warcraft
Armor: All Light armors.
Weapons: All bows, crossbows, light
blades, subdual weapons, small projectiles, and
the longsword and whip.
Starting Gold 318 400 100 30 20 2 130
Alignment: Any nonlawful.
Special: All your magic abilities require a verbal
component (you must sing, orate, play an instrument, or
otherwise make noise). Otherwise, apply a -2 penalty on
your attack roll.
Training: 4 years.
Max Encumbrance 11 slots 11 used  
Elven mailmwk 4DR 400 gp 12 lb Metal 30HP
Longbow, composite1 100 gp Heavy 1d8 110 ft 3 lb Piercing
Longsword 15 gp Medium 1d8 — 4 lb Slashing
Sword, shortx2 10 gp Light 1d6 — 2 lb Piercing
Dagger 2 gp Light 1d4 10 ft 1 lb Piercing or slashing
Expert Pack (130 gp, 25 pounds, 5 slots)
On top of a basic package, consider an expert package with these
items: 50 ft of silk rope, 2 pitons and a grappling hook, a flask of oil
(1 pint), a second sunrod, 2 more days of rations, a flask of alchemist’s
fire, a vial of antitoxin, a flask of holy water, a small mirror, a
10-ft pole, and a journal book with an ink vial and ink pen. This costs
130 gp, weighs 25 pounds, and occupies 5 slots.
Familial Vengeance: Select 1 specific foe that has harmed
or killed 1 or your loved-ones. You enjoy a permanent +2 bonus on all
dice rolls and saves involving this creature. If and when you defeat this
creature, you may replace it with a different foe provided it too has
harmed or killed close kin of yours.
Neutral Good, “We Help”: A neutral good character
does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping
others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel
beholden to them and may skip them if necessary.
Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means
doing what is good without bias for or against order.
The Eternal Reveler
Chaotic neutral Charm, illusion, music, traps,
and trickery
You are hearty and comfortable in nature. Increase maximum
wound points by +1. Also, modify Survival checks by
=+5, Literacy checks by -5, and Athletics, Endurance, and
Handle Animal checks by +2. Finally, use barbarian, druid,
and shifter as your multiclass options.

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