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Another new mini review on RPGNow

Postby Galloglaich » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:28 pm

Many moons ago, a man named Gygax put the 'Advanced' into D&D. While not nearly the on the same scale, Codex Martialis similarly puts advanced techniques into standard D&D combat. While I cannot comment on how the system actually plays (we have yet to use the book around the table), I can and will comment on how the system reads: in a word, excellently. My group tired of d20 combat and decided to look around for a different, yet familiar, system. CM may be just that. The product is filled with Old World quotes, excellent 1E-style art, and packed with information within a two-column format. CM adds an interesting dimension to combat, quite literally, by adding a "third" range into d20's standard ranged and melee attacks. Combatants can now close one another to enter grapple range, wherein weapon speeds (remember 1E?) are more critical. This is offset by reach attack bonuses for hitting enemies at range, when they first close your position. No short review can do the material justice, because it *is* complex - but it's *not* complicated. If your players are the ones who have tired of the standard Improved Trip and Disarm routines, this book is for you. It allows you to play the game you know, but on a new, exciting, and extremely deep level. At least - that's my hope! We intend to try the system at our next session.

In summary, CM is highly recommended for those folks who need just a bit more variety and tactical complexity in their d20 combat.

http://www.rpgnow.com/product_reviews_i ... s_id=19501

I wish I could get someone on RPGnet or Enworld to review it, but I'm happy with this one and the other two. Interesting that they seem to see the game slightly differently, and I'm particularly glad he liked the art. I hope it goes well for them this weekend...

G.
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Re: Another new mini review on RPGNow

Postby zarlor » Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:11 am

Nice. I'd like to see the review after he plays it, though.

I'm always tempted to review it myself, but I know I would just be too biased to write on it credibly. ;)
Lenny Zimmermann

"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

- Systeme D'armes, New Orleans, Louisiana
http://www.sdanola.com
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Re: Another new mini review on RPGNow

Postby Galloglaich » Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:41 am

He emailed me privately yesterday, he told me he and some of his friends who are out of town tested it out online using a program called Fantasy Grounds and they loved it. They are now going to try to convince the rest of their group to try it but they won't be getting together with them in person for several months.

I asked him to post a more detailed description of their playtest if possible to the Enworld thread where we were talking about it, or here on the codex site. I don't want to bug him too much but as you say the review kind of begs for a follow up.

G.
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Re: Another new mini review on RPGNow

Postby zarlor » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:17 am

I have Fantasy Grounds, actually. It's pretty interesting. Mainly aimed at creating a virtual tabletop for D&D, but I have the version with the Savage Worlds rules built in. I was thinking about running a Necessary Evil campaign with it, but I really need to dig into using the program a lot more to be able to have any real capability at using it effectively. The learning curve on the GM side seems failry steep and I haven't invested the time into it. It looks pretty good from what little I've used it, though.

Since it does try to handle a lot of the papwerwork for you, I wonder how they integrated the Codex into it. It may even be worth it to try to contact some of the folks at http://www.fantasygrounds.com/ to see if they would be interested in working out something with you on it.
Lenny Zimmermann

"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

- Systeme D'armes, New Orleans, Louisiana
http://www.sdanola.com
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New Review Submitted

Postby Ace » Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:10 am

Howdy. I finished my read through and review of the Codex.

Its been posted on EN World, RPG.net and on Steve Jackson Games forum.

The text is reproduced (minus some minor tweaks I used on the fora) below


I had pretty much sworn off any more 3.5/OGL products. Its not that there aren't quality products coming out, there are, but its that I have so many more than I can use..

Still when I saw Codex Martialis I knew I had to have a look at. A supplement that adds the coolness and realism factors of Riddle of Steel and GURPS Martial Arts 4e to D20 was more than I could pass up. Thanks to the generosity of Gallogliach I won't have to.

The PDF itself is unassuming, 48 pages, all black and white. Its copiously illustrated with very realistic art in a historical vein and punctuated with intriguing historical quotes. A very complete biography and a superb index are included Interestingly a complete list of quotation sources is also included, something I thank that adds a bit of educational value to the product.

The system is different than most of the alternate systems I've seen for D20 games as it relies on a “martial pool” of dice. Each point of base attack gains 1 die, up to a maximum of 4 . These dice are used instead of the standard “move/attack” action set up common to most D20 games and can be used to move , attack or more than one can be used on a roll to increase the odds of an attack or defense . This adds a very fluid feel to the combat system. Some DM's may find giving 4th level characters multiple attacks disconcerting but since the system also uses a defense bonus system based off base attack with modifiers for weapons and armor as well as armor as DR I do not believe it will be unbalanced.

The system also handles weapon lengths easily with three different range bands that benefit different kinds of weapons , dagger are great at close, spear at long and so on.

This looks as if it works quite quickly in play.

One omission I find rather odd was despite the cover art of a horse archer there was little discussion of missile weapons or how to apply the martial pool system to them. Its a minor oversight that doesn't detract from the usefulness of the product.

The “martial pool” system is modified by two, count them, two chapters of what the books calls martial feats. This name choice was very unfortunate. The martial feats do play off of some of the basic feats in D20 but they are not feats in the normal context. They are more like maneuvers that each character gets at a rate of 1 per BAB.

Let me see upfront I love this system. This adds enough well researched tactical options for almost any circumstances in any kind of game. There simply are plenty of cool things to do, none of which horribly unbalance the game.

There are a few minor bugs with the chapters however,

1st, while there are a few nods of the head to Samurai movies with such martial feats as Inscrutable Countenance and Nukitsuke little attention was paid to alternate names. The book mentions the Meisterhau (Master Cut) as being used in Japanese katana styles, yet no alternate name was given for it or almost any of the other martial feats. This makes it harder for kendo stylists to understand how they should use the rules and pushes what can be a “generic” sourcebook too far in European Martial Arts direction something the text of the book leads me to believe was not the writers idea.

2nd The book really needed style packages. Now if you have read your Agrippa (which I have) figuring out which fighting style used what maneuvers is not too difficult but DM's or players coming in from an Eastern fighting art or no arts at all will find the interaction of feats and swordplay styles rather opaque. Its very difficult to choose which martial feats a character should have in reference to real world or fantastic styles .


3rd Nein Mordschlager? Vas Ist?

The final section of the book is the appendix which contains weapons, shield and armor data, a little bit on integrating magic, a range of animal attacks, missile weapons and of course the OGL.

Really this book suffers from one major problem, that of ease of integration. While there are bits and pieces in the 1st chapters that explain how to use the book I never really got a feel as to how this would easily fit into my campaign.

It seems to designed for grim and gritty games and even includes some suggestions on capping hit points but this is far from the default play of most d20 groups but the sparse text and paucity of suggestions seem especially daunting for Game Masters who are not accustomed to shoehorning variant rules into their own campaigns

Let me add that this in no way makes the game unplayable or unusable with most D20 games. I'd have little trouble integrating the rules into A Game of Thrones D20 with its gritty rules , Standard Dungeons and Dragons, or Since the martial pool in this system already works something like conviction does in True20 it would even fit there

About the only product it wouldn't work well with is the homebrew E6 since E6 game tops out at the minimum level needed to take advanced maneuvers

However if you like realism and or western martial arts and have some experience and background you will find it a quality purchase.
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Re: New Review Submitted

Postby Galloglaich » Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:25 am

Edit: Ace I found your review on Enworld, and responded to it there:

http://www.enworld.org/forum/reviews/25 ... ost4667822

To put your review in context, here is a little insight in how the Codex came to be. I've written in the industry for about six years now as a sort of hobby, including for The Riddle of Steel, D20 and some other games (notably the Dying Earth RPG out of the UK) but everything I'd done in the past was for medium sized publishers who had all their own marketing, editing, and layout resources. The Codex is my own baby and the first thing I ever tried to do on my own.

It started from my own house rules which had been developed on the basis of the Martial Arts I was doing. I started tinkering with them more seriously as a result of some arguments I got into with people on The Forge back around 2004, on whether it was possible to have a realistic but fast paced RPG combat system. According to their Sim / Nar / Gamist theory, it wasn't possible. I decided I wanted to prove them wrong, and give something back to DnD specifically, for those players who liked the kind of (low fantasy, low-magic) game I did.

Unfortunately I was completely lacking in resources, had no idea how to do layout or how to use Adobe InDesign, and no artistic ability to speak of to make artwork. What made the Codex finally possible was my friends Reynard Rochon and Ian Plumb agreed to do the art and the Layout for the Codex respectively in exchange for a share of whatever it makes (so far very little!). Reynard is a local sculptor and painter here in New Orleans, and Ian Plumb, based in Australia, runs the Trosfans Riddle of Steel website and Griffin Grove Gaming.

The general 'density' of the Codex and overall lack of fluff are a function of my very limited resources to some extent, but also because it's such a radical new idea, I wanted to test it out before I really went wild with it. That's why it is an $8 PDF instead of a $30 hardback book. I believe the Codex is a major new development in the RPG world, I'll put it's combat system up against any other RPG developed to date, (and this one works with 3.5 OGL) but I really wasn't sure how it was going to be received, and frankly, I wanted to test the idea in the crucuible of the gaming community before I committed a huge amount of time and resources into developing it further myself. As it is that little 48 page document you read took me four years to finish! I also feel that there is so much potential in this basic core system that ultimately it should be developed it in a kind of open-source approach with a lot of external feedback. I don't think any one person can encompass it all.

The current Codex document is intended for serious gamers looking for something new. Anyone interested in improving combat in their game and willing to experiment with new rules, interested in borrowing ideas etc. should like it. Quite a few people have cherry picked things like the Martial Pool from the Codex already without even buying the PDF. I'm fine with that. I wanted these new ideas to get out there and people to start playing around with them.

Thanks to Ians providing us an excellent web forum we now have the ability to expand upon the basic ideas in the Codex and that is what I have tried to do there so far, introducing Martial Arts from other parts of the world, creating Monsters converted to Codex stats, NPCs, Magic, new weapons, all kinds of stuff. From ideas developed there new add-ons can be created for the core system, I hope that is what will happen.

Re: the Japanese MA and non-European names for the various Martial Feats, I did not include those because unfortunately I do not personally have any expertise with Japanese (or Chinese etc.) fencing. I have done Western Martial Arts for ten years now but I barely know one end of a katana from the other. I have books but I didn't want to make any amateurish mistakes, so I only included the one or two basic concepts such as the Nukitsuke from Iaido. I have been wanting to create a table of alternate names for some of the same concepts, such as the Mastercuts, which I know do also exist in Japanese fencing, but I haven't found anyone who could help me with that yet.

You'll notice we did put a section in the back with Filipino Martial Arts at the end of the book. This was thanks to help from a fan who came on our website and helped explain several interesting concepts from the FMA which we made into Martial Feats.

Re: Skill packages this is also something I've tried to do on our website, I have made 6 NPCs so far with different archetypal fighting styles, a 15th Century German knight, a 16th Century Samurai, a 17th Century Gaelic reaver who uses a Charisma based fighting style using feints etc., a very dangerous Elf maiden with only a 9 strength who is specialized in fighting with staff, a dwarf specialized in fighting with axe and shield, and a rogue specialized at fighting with daggers. These are essentially archetypes of different Skill packages, I'll probably further develop these (and a few others) more explicitly as such on our website.

I think the Martial Feats actually are similar to Feats. Some of them are like maneuvers (Changing through or Counterstroke say) but some are more permanent changes to your character, false-edge cutting for example (boosts your speed rating for certain weapons) or inscrutable countenance. I think the regular 3.5 feats also break down this way, some are essentially maneuvers (Improved disarm, Spring Attack, Cleave) some are more general (Improved Initiative)

I actually wanted to work with E6. I talked to the author about it a little, I think Codex would be a good fit for E6 all you would have to do is change the BaB6 pre-req for the Advanced Martial Feats.

Finally, regarding the Mortschlagg and all those other strange German terms, yeah they can be quite a mouthful but you do get used to them after a while. Unfortunately the Fiore tradition lacks the kind of granularity of detail that can easily be translated into RPG concepts, otherwise I would have used more Italian terms since they roll off the tongue a little easier!

Anyway thanks for the great review and I hope you will try out the Codex in your game soon, and join us on our website to help us develop it further. Maybe you could help us come up with some alternative Japanese names for our Martial Feats
Galloglaich
 
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Re: Reviews

Postby Galloglaich » Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:36 am

Another review came out, so far just in this blog. Seems very enthusiastic:

http://www.enworld.org/forum/blogs/jack7/1559-review-codex-martialis.html
Galloglaich
 
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Re: Another new mini review on RPGNow

Postby davout1805 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:25 pm

zarlor wrote:Attack’s Damage Bonus


I don't know of any rule sets where someone has implemented it into Fantasy Grounds II. If you hear otherwise, PLEASE let me know. Until then, provided:

1. I get time
2. able to learn how to modify a rule set
3. turns out that my group needs to play remotely which unfortunately seems most likely

I will modify the D&D 3.5 rule set to integrate the Codex. But who knows when that might done.
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Re: Reviews

Postby Galloglaich » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:44 pm

Another short but good review of the Codex:

http://www.rpgnow.com/product_reviews_i ... s_id=58045

This is now one of the essential books in my toolbox. You can use this book in many different ways. You can use the book in it's entirety, and practically turn your D20 games into a totally new tactical game. Or, you can simply pick and choose the parts you like the most and plug them into your game. I'm falling into the latter. I'll be using the martial pool mechanic (for both attacks and defense), and incoporating the rules for weapons characteristics (traits that make weapons work the way they were designed to work: i.e. damaging armor, etc.). If you want to add a healthy dose of "realism" and era appropriate combat to your games, this book is for you. If you want to seriously expand the tactical spectrum of your game, then this book is also for you. If you are just your average DM, happy with your game, but maybe interested in some interesting plug and play ideas and concepts to liven up your game a bit, then this book even works for you. If you are a 3E fan and a "rules tinkerer", this book is absolutely essential.
Galloglaich
 
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Re: Reviews

Postby Galloglaich » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:03 am

Another really nice review, this one by James Marwood of Schola Gladiatoria, one of the worlds top Bartitsu experts.

http://www.safeism.com/blog/index.php/2 ... ying-rpgs/

G
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