This thread is 24 posts long and I still have no idea what anybody thinks of the book!
I'm not sure why I would ever want to use these rules for a heist, to be honest. But this review is pretty good! Thanks!I think it is a good start, but has some confusing bits and some parts that are just not really going to work for me as written.
I actually had to go to the Reddit thread and ask a clarifying question on how the specialization bonuses are applied, because the level up system for the domains, while cool and inovative, left me confused on how the bonuses were meant to be used. Only one person responded, and we kind of reached a point I think worked, by going backwards and reverse engineering the organizations and how they are built.
The lore in this book is amazing, but also... that is sort of a problem. Using Zaar Anathema, the Shackled King, the King in Gold as a big bad creates a massive adventure that could be a blast to run... but it requires a lot of reworking or just trying to run in Matt's homebrew world.
Additionally, I once again find myself kind of disappointed by certain thematic choices. I am actually planning on using this for a 1v1 game I'm running where the PC is making a cult, because they are a warlock and their patron is a pretty big deal in the story. Well, if I used the "Hidden Cult" specialization for the Religios Order organization, then one of our abilities is going to be blood sacrfice, murdering an entire unit of our own troops to empower the others.... and that is 100% wrong for the flavor of our cult and our PC. And one of our domain features is "spreading the word" to get Crusaders... but we are the start of the cult, there aren't any other people to call to our banner.
Other things like his goblins, well, they all have an ability called "AUUUGGH!!" that is meant to represent them scattering in a panic and injuring every unit around them. But that... doesn't fit the goblins I'm using at all.
Now, on the positive side, reskinning, retheming and even reworking these elements isn't hard. The system is a bit complicated, but the math behind it is easier to figure out, and making your own versions of these things doesn't look to be tooo hard. So, that major frustration of mine is just having to go in and make the rules my own.
Though, there is another concern. Again and again he lays out and says that the only way to destroy an enemy organization is via Warfare, and the major parts of the Intrigue rules like the Defense Levels are explicitly tied to warfare rules, affecting units and positioning.
Which is great if you are a holy order fighting a vampire kingdom, or a noble lord and his court fighting a draconic empire. It is less great if you are say, a cult trying to oppose and weaken the churches so you can gain legitimacy. Or a thieves guild planning a heist against an order of mages. Because the plan is never to go to war, so a lot of the rules end up being less useful the further from the "expected" playstyle you get
Which is understandable, but still kind of frustrating.
I understand the impulse for companies to go hard on their own lore --
I would love it if it was at least in a boxed-off sidebar. As it is, some companies will sell products as "can be used in any campaign" without conceding that means 20+ hours of work to disentangle it from their setting.As someone who likes a lot of examples in his RPG books (and who loves examples of play), I think lore has its role in that framework (rather than some generic thing). This way we can see what a creator has in mind in action and we can make use of, re-skin, or ignore that lore without throwing the crunch away with it.
I would love it if it was at least in a boxed-off sidebar. As it is, some companies will sell products as "can be used in any campaign" without conceding that means 20+ hours of work to disentangle it from their setting.