I’ve written this without looking at other people’s feedback yet, so there is a good chance of things being repeated. And I realize now looking over this again, that the page numbers I used to reference are the PDF page numbers not the numbers printed at the bottom of each page. Subtract 4 to convert from PDF to book page if necessary.
I haven’t yet really crunched the numbers on Character priorities, Trait tables, advancement and Karma tables yet, they will get their own separate posts when I get there.
Also, for this first wave of feedback I’m going to do my best to look at S&S for its own merits rather than comparing it to BOB. At some stage I'll go back and compare BOB and S&S side by side and try to figure out why some things were dropped.
In general, I found a lot of the questions and comments I had as I was reading were pre-empted very well by the book and they were usually resolved on one of the next few following pages.
Love the layout, font, cover, table of contents, bookmarking, and headings.
I like the Footer boxes instead of the sidebars. It more efficiently fills the page (no empty margins on pages with no comments), It fits the flow of the page and you have more space when you need it.
What’s up with the huge number of partial sentences? Is this a stylistic choice, or sloppy editing?
For example, reading through the skill list, almost all the descriptions start with a partial sentence. Eg
The character’s knowledge of horses and horseback riding.
The full sentence is “Horsemanship is the character’s knowledge…” or "This skill covers..."
I thought it might be a stylistic choice trying to read the descriptions like they looked up in a dictionary, but some skills actually do start with “Mercantile represents…”. If it is intended to read like that, consider putting a colon after each heading "Horsemanship:" and be consistent throughout.
There are also a huge number of partial sentences in the social class sections, particularly under Possessions and Lifestyle sections. I figured this was because these were either converted from a list of bullet points or because wordcount was at a premium here for some reason.
Even outside of social class and skills sections, there are an awful lot which I can’t really think of reasons to have left like that.
Conflicts and Core mechanics:
p7 Second paragraph says only Player-characters can create conflicts. Surely an NPC can instigate or provoke a character?
It seems strange to me that for Ties we have “aggressor wins” and “escalate” in that order of priority. Just because the more complex rule is the least used one. Usually you have the complex mechanic up front and eventually devolve to “just flip a coin or whatever” as it becomes less likely. Why not just use Escalation all the time? It fits thematically with Resort to Violence. If the idea is to just make a choice and move on ASAP, keep aggressor wins and then flip a coin and drop the escalation mechanic.
There’s a lot of references to complications and compromises, without a clear definition anywhere.
Getting more dice:
Does getting dice from a trait count as tapping? Ie, does it count towards my 2 sources limit for tapping? Tapping says only “abilities” can be tapped, which excludes traits. It also says it is “treated in the same way” as tapping and is listed separately in the “down to earth” rule, so it implies that they are different but functionally the same (but wouldn’t count to the limit). (p14-17)
This is contradicted by the Traits section p48 that says “they can be tapped for a value equal to their dice”. Also, if traits count as tapping and I have a limit of 2, do I have a choice of using my trait in a conflict if I have 3 possible sources to choose from? Even if I haven’t hit the limit, is it optional to NOT tap a trait that would decrease my pool? Could a tap in 2 positive sources, and make it impossible to tap in a negative trait?
I like this Books mechanic a lot. It makes a really cool incentive and reward for intellectual characters. An Engineering manual could actually be a legitimate reward or be worth bothering to carry around.
Tapping proficiencies instead of defaulting. Smaller bonus, but then the proficiencies have far less overlap and we have more points to spend. Also cleans up defaulting and unifies with tapping mechanic. I like it.
Nice little nod to Giorgio, Cirillo, Ferran and your own group on p17
I like how much you pushed “be your own fan” here.
Naming the levels “Tiers” is a little confusing since usually “Tier 1” is the best. Consider Rank, Grade or Level perhaps?
Have you considered dropping down T1 to MAX 6 for skills and attributes? It doesn’t seem like T1 is really giving that much up, generally. T1 is meant to represent someone really below average in an area, but they can still be an exemplar of a field at rank 8?
My OCD wants the T5 bonuses to be the same increase proportionately to the tiers, but I can see why you wouldn’t. The value of each attribute or trait point changes as a function of how many you already have.
The first sentence of Greater noble is written as if the PC is the greater noble. The remainder of the first paragraph, as well as the first paragraphs of every other social rank all describe the ranks in the theoretic general case. Rephrase to be consistent?
Why don’t nobles have a listed income? I get that they don’t work, but why do take a cut from the money they make as tax. How does a lesser noble make his maintenance rolls with no income?
I like how we now have Expertise, Trade and Lore that basically act as “catch all” skills for anything someone might think is missing.
I like the push your luck mechanic for cheating at gambling.
How do the money traits (Poor, Wealthy etc) work with Assets and Coin? Is the idea that you can tap your Wealthy trait to your maintenance and purchasing tests? That seems to weirdly interact with the social classes, especially at the lower end. It’s effectively a kind of Asset that never disappears, no?
Is there any reason to take a negative trait for more than 1 dice? If I get the same reward for failing to climb a wall because of 1d Bad Knee and 3d Really bad knee, why would I pay more for a bigger penalty and no additional benefit?
It would be nice to have the trait tables sorted a consistent way. Ie highest to lowest cost. I get that it breaks up some otherwise similar entries though. How they are now though, really don’t have any rhyme or reason.
How do I make an enemy? Relationships are only phrased in a way that the character will help. Why not add a negative relationship option? Is it intentionally removed because enemies have a habit of dying, and relationships are meant to stay stable?
Retainer seems insanely strong. Why is it so incredibly cheap? It’s cheaper, and better, than taking a Relationship with someone willing to take “great risk” for you. I’d probably atleast bump the costs up to 2-6 and reduce priorities to 9-13.
Relationships and Claim seem too easy to purchase at max effect and buy off down to 1 point with complications. Especially since Relationships can be tapped; all the other traits that can be tapped cost 1pt per tap or more and can’t be bought down with complications. Relationships can get you tap3 for 1pt.
I like the hack friendly approach with Special Traits. I’m surprised more BOB edges and flaws didn’t get ported over to here though.
It’s great seeing Tapping turn out this well. I was worried how it would turn out, but the traits section really makes it great.
All of the examples in this chapter have quote marks around them, but they don’t in any other chapters. Also, half of the quote marks on p61-62 are “pointing” the wrong way.
Again, the “or make it up, or throw it out or whatever” attitude shines through.
I liked the earlier definition for Drives in the More Dice section “any time one of the character’s drives is the subject of a conflict, they gain that drive’s value in bonus dice towards resolving said conflict.”
But here in the Drives In Play section, we have gone back to the wishy-washy “in a conflict that would directly further, uphold, or defend a drive they have, it fires, granting its current value in bonus dice to the pool for that roll.”
That’s just too broad for my liking. It lets you fire in just about any conflict incidentally. If I have some drive like “loyal like a dog”
and the king commands me to go on a quest to kill some outlaws, should my drive fire for every challenge along the way? I would say no, it should only fire in a situation where loyalty
is the subject. Ie It shouldn’t fire during the combat with the outlaws, but it should when they try to bribe me to let them escape. The definition of “furthering or upholding a drive” could have my loyalty drive firing on literally everything along the way.
When I’m getting a new proficiency, there’s still that weird situation where rank1 in a proficiency can be worse than rank0, similar to untrained skills versus rank 1 skills. Ie, if I have brawling 7, tapping 2 to sword is better than purchasing sword 1 and losing the ability to tap brawling. You could fix this by instead of reducing the cost the way you have, you have a flat cost of 4 to open a new skill, plus the new rank you are going to and allowing tap to skip ranks. Ie, if you are opening with 0 tap, it costs you 4+1=5 to get a new proficiency. If you already have tap2, it costs you 4+3=7 to start at rank3. Compared to your method, it only costs 1 pt less for tap2 characters but it pushes you over that “hump”.
I need to think more on the restrictions and options around spending drive points on trait advancement, I’m not really understanding why so many exceptions and caveats are needed.
Is there any major reason Karma is counted when Drives are Burnt, as opposed to Eared? It seems like it would be easier to remember and do the bookkeep for during earning (at the end of each scene) rather than when spending (which might be in the middle of combat). It would just mean you get a few extra points form the drives unspent in your pool, but it would be trivial to just adjust the karma table up by 5 to 10 to compensate.
Alternate retainer advancement rule: just let the player spend drives points on their retainer as if they were advancing themselves.
Not sure why you aren’t using capitalisation (“Req” and “R3” over “req” and “r3”) like you do for other mechanics (TN, MoS). Also might want to throw a bold over the first time you use Requires in the second sentence to make sure the first time reader makes that connection on p10.
In untrained ability checks (proficiencies) refers to Tap Value, needs a note to see tapping pX (hasn’t been mentioned yet).
P9 5th last line uses “base TN” instead of BTN
Bottom of p12 refers to “sidebar”, should refer to “footnote”
p14 first sentence missing “a” before tap value
P15 Should mention that cascading needs to set the number of checks in advance and can’t make it up as you go.
P16 Drives first sentence is strange. It reads that you are rewarding them for choosing, when it should indicate rewarding for following through on what was chosen.
P16 Tools: 3rd line “the the”
P19 should be “themes to the campaign”
P19 first time mentioning PCs should have Player Characters (PCs)
P19 misplaced comma. Should be “The choices you make in character creation, the traits you buy and the drives you write, will become the basis of the campaign ahead.”
P19 First time GM mentioned, should be Game Master (GM)
P19 “deciding in what kind” should be “deciding on what kind” or “deciding what kind”
P19 remove unnecessary “, though,”
P20 first 2 sentences read clumsily to me. Consider rephrasing
P20 “Ask who the character is as well as what they are.” Rephrase as on website. “Ask who as well as what the character is.”
P21 “movers and shakers a setting” missing “of”
P23 consider dropping the 0d and 1d in the traits bit, since this is the first time its mentioned and it’s not explained. Just saying you get a character and background trait for free makes sense.
P24 under drives references player-characters should be “PCs”
P25 missing “and a” in description between “stubble, limp”
P25 missing “with” in description between “hair, curls”
P28 first line “possessed of” implies they are owned by the land. Use Possessing titles and land.
P28 possessions should read “several pairs of fine”
P29 last sentence first paragraph of High Freeman shouldn’t have the , after “oddly enough”
P32 3rd line agility should have a colon not comma “all types: from”
P36 Command: “organized and lead” > led
P37 gambling uses “Base tn” instead of BTN
P40 blank line missing between end of medicine and start of mercantile
P40 navigation uses “Base tn” instead of BTN
P42 survival uses “Base tn” instead of BTN
P42 teamster “manual skill at driving” > “manual skill of driving”
P43 trade missing “are” between “functions” and “a”
P45 longsword. Remove “and” from last sentence, second paragraph. Also, referencing “Europe”? could just end last sentence after culture.
P45 Mass weapons, second sentence doesn’t make sense. Rephrase
P46 polearms, third paragraph first sentence. “and in time” > “and the time” and missing full stop after employed.
P49 missing blank line between last line of upgrading free traits paragraph and character traits heading
P52 claim table not formatted like others. Needs subheading separating base price and modifiers.
P52 relationship is (pick one) needs to be left aligned. Add “+” for modifiers below
P54 missing “are” between “and” and “generated” in first line
P54 “needs to” repeated twice in second paragraph under factions
P55 PC is… +1pt delete “of”
P56 second sentence, Patrons missing capitalization at start of sentence
P56 second paragraph, retainer says “A Priority” should be “a Tier 5 priority”
P57 Examples like those given in the Reputation table are usually italicized
P58 first line, delete first “the”
P58 examples in second paragraph should be italicized. Likewise examples in table and on next page
58 last line in table has “.,”
P60 the “characters child murdered” > “characters child is murdered”
P62 first line under choosing drives. Insert “want” between “you” and “your” and delete “is”
P64 first line under drives in play. “whch” missing “I”
P64 missing full stop end of second paragraph under drives in play
P64 in fourth paragraph under drives in play, “but only can” > “but only one can”
P65 under Burning drives replace second “any given” with “one”
P65 last line of narrative effects. “effect be” > “effect can be”
P66 first sentence “have plausibly have” > “have plausibly”
P68 missing blank line between proficiencies text and traits heading
P68 proficiencies “couple exceptions” > “couple of exceptions”
P69 first line “physically-based” doesn’t seem right. Consider “physical”, “physically grounded”, “primarily physical” or “new character traits with a physical basis”