Jon, Robbie, and I are three sessions into Forge out of Chaos. Jon is the game master; Robbie is playing a Merikkii (humanoid bird), and I chose to play a Jher-em, which are weasel humanoids. This situation Jon has come up with for us to engage with is some fantastic sword & sorcery fare. I think it helps that neither Robbie nor I are humans and we are outsiders in the current situation. That plays to our benefit.
Before I get too much into that, let me talk about Wrosk, my Jher-em outcast. I knew Robbie was going to be a magician before I had too many details for my character, so I decided to not choose magic for myself. Against my typical choice, I wanted to play one of the animal-hybrids and I chose the Jher-ems. The Jher-em are a weasel-like race of humanoids who are short, misshapen, and have lung ailments that prevent them from running. They also have poor eyesight as you might have guessed. In compensation or this, Jher-em have a spiky tail that can be used to attack those behind me. Ironically, this is my most proficient weapon. Due to being misshapen, a Jher-em has a -1 on its AV or Attack Value for weapon use, so with all of my weapons currently I am at AV 0, except my tail, which is AV +3. The Jher-em also have a telepathy that allows them to communicate with, I think, any humanoid like creature. Essentially anything with a similar brain. This has proven to be an interesting ability and I will get to that in a moment. The heightened sense of smell gives bonuses to tracking.
Jher-em are described as peaceful and Wrosk, my character, has a number of useful skills. However, a peaceful Jher-em, if I am reading it all correctly, would not likely become an adventurer. So I decided to arm Wrosk with weapon skills and a bit of an attitude related to his older age and fear of heights, which was a disadvantage I took. Almost everyone is “too tall” for Wrosk, with Cyir being an exception. The people who invade Jher-em lands are too tall. Their buildings are too tall. Even their children are too tall after a time. Their stupid fortresses high in the mountains are just unnatural and no one should build things like this. So he is an old man with a bit of PTSD and this has lead to Wrosk shedding his peaceful nature.
I tend towards being a player who tries not abuse an ability, especially if I worry it might overpower the game. In some ways I worried that Forge might be like World of Synnibarr, with some character races being wildly out of balance with the others. However, this has turned out not to be the case. Wrosk’s telepathy has allowed Cyir and Wrosk to have a way to communicate out of earshot from others and has proven of tactical use. I think Jon is doing a great job letting us have fun with it, while not letting it subvert every situation by reading minds. Wrosk only gets surface thoughts; it is advantageous for sure, but not game breaking.
At the same time the fear of heights let’s me comment on everyone we meet and their unnatural tallness. And the enhanced sense of smell gives a different perspective on the world around us. Cyir can see; Wrosk can smell, and together it offers us advantages in dealing with this dangerous world.
Everyone is Lying
Cyir and Wrosk were part of a caravan that arrives in a town, whose name escapes me (It was not in my notes). They are summoned before the mistress of the town and she asks them to retrieve her child from the clutches of a necromancer and her cult. Our presence as outsiders does not sit well with everyone as the previous person to take on this charge never returned. But after asking questions and getting equipped, Cyrir and Wrosk set out to the old temple of Nercros (sp?) in the company of three locals. Eventually the youngest son of the magistrate shows up too, declaring that his brother will never come to them, only to him. This is (I think) the first inclination that things are not exactly as the magistrate / mistress said. Also, Wrosk likes the boy because he is “not too tall”.
After dark we snuck in and discovered some the strangeness in the temple, which is built into a mountain, with a dome peaking above ground. There was some secret doors, a magic effect that I think we saved against but one of the NPCs did not, a zombie that was chasing us, and a bit of treasure and provisions. Worried that the treasure would slow us and intending to come back for it, the group moved on and ran into a cultist who is digging up the old temple with the help of a skeleton. In exchange for not cutting him into pieces, the cultist takes us to meet the necromancer, who is a young woman, and the magistrate’s oldest son, who is no prisoner. My impression is that they are “together” in some way as he has some influence over her.
Cyir is a likable sort who people react well too. We listen to their story and it’s a bit different than the one we were told, but myself/Wrosk and I think Robbie/Cyir does not quite believe them either. All the necromancer wants is to find her father’s resting place. The father, former cult leader, was executed by the leader of the town. We manage to get out of the temple without a fight, but also without any of the people we came for.
On our way back we decide to ambush three figures who had left the temple earlier in the day. Turns out it is a cultist and her two zombies. We interrogate her, and again Cyir having favorable reactions from folks helps us. She tells us a little more of the story, which leads Wrosk to the conclusion that no one is telling them the truth. Some bandits show up near the end of this and we fight them. They are dinosaur riders and this is our first combat. It is bloody but we drive the bandits off and by saving the cultist, we may have curried some favor with her.
The system is a curious mix of influences. A little BRP here, some D&D there. Add in a heavy dose of heartbreaker seasoning and Forge is a recipe that, frankly, works. At least it has so far. The game shows itself to have been played hard during development, though there is the occasional loose end not explained by the rules. One of these happened during the battle. A few folks dropped their weapons and there is a stomp skill that lets you step on a fallen weapon, preventing it from being picked back up. But otherwise there does not seem to be anything preventing you just picking your weapon back up and not losing an action.
Combat itself went smoothly, even with what amounted to three sides fighting one another. It was exciting, tense, and I especially like that damage goes to armor, with a little chipping away at hit points. But this could produce longer combats, which is fine with me but may not be everyone’s taste. Overall, I like the system as it is present when you need it and stays out of the way when you do not. I am having a great time playing.
Link to the original Forge out of Chaos post