I'm going to be editing this as I dive through the book.
summary - Talisman Adventures RPG is a faithful representation of the board game, extending its rudimentary mechanics and transforming into a robust RPG system for longer term play. The mechanics are modern and streamlined, with elements that encourage Player Agency. The game looks to be easily hackable, without undermining too much of the implied setting or mechanical workings. It doesn't feel too difficult to expand ancestries and classes to any of the character cards from the boardgame, its expansions or your homebrew. The starting values for Strength and Craft look like they're taken directly from those cards and maybe the special abilities as well. Character creation is fast.
Why 5 stars? - Concise character sheets. Simple mechanics. Min-maxing. Easily hackable. Interesting mini-games. Good use of bookmarks. Great index. Note: At this time, the PDF is not optimized and will parse slowly regardless the platform. I didn't ding the rating because that problem is imminently solvable whereas an unbookmarked PDF is a load of additional work for the publisher.
Task Resolution Mechanics
3d6 v. Target Number. Players make all the rolls. Players and DMs alike have meta-currency to affect rolls or trigger additional results.
There are two attributes, physical and mental, or in game speak: Strength and Craft. Each attribute has 3 aspects, such as Agility and Brawn and Mettle (Strength) or Insight and Wits and Resolve (Craft).
You either have a skill or not. Each skill is tied to an aspect. If you are skilled in a task, you may add its linked Aspect to your die roll.
Degrees of success are measured by the number of die results that match. A success beats the target number. A double and Triple are degrees better. One die (the Kismet die) is a different color and on a 1 or 6 generates Dark or Light Fate. This is meta-currency the DM and Player can use to activate special abilities, influence dice rolls or change degrees of success. This is very similar to other games with Fate/Doom/Momentum mechanics and is great for groups that like more collaborative story telling or Player agency. It is also great for DMs to control the narrative as well, because they can choose when to spend this currency, instead of letting dice derail a plot or tpk a party.
Character creation is a 5 step process.
Pick an ancestry. The game offers familiar ancestries like Human, Elf, Dwarf and three for those familiar with the board game: Ghoul, Leywalker, Sprite, Troll. Ancestries provide background skills and may cap the maximum of Strength or Craft.
Pick a class. Several classes are available. They set your starting Strength and Craft, Life (Hit Points) and Starting Skills.
Pick an alignment. Good. Neutral Evil.
Increase Strength or Craft by 1. Then distribute a number of points equal to twice the Attribute's value to their Aspects.
- Pick a two additional skills or elevate a skill to a Focus. Then write down your starting gear. Focused skills provide an additional +2 to your dice rolls with that skill.
The game has a 10 level progression chart, with every level improving multiple values on the character sheet and adding additional special abilities. Most special abilities are activated when rolling a 6 on the Kismet die or when the player decides to spend Light Fate. Ancestries may limit the maximum value of either Attribute. Attributes are always half the sum of all its aspects. The game doesn't explicitly say whether an Ancestry cap means you have an Aspect cap as well, but the wording in the advancement rules implies this might be the case.
[5 of 5 Stars!]