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Bastards

Bastards is a booklet game (A6 in the physical version) with the author's take on what they call "Dragon Games".

It is based on d20 rolls under 3d6 stats (Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom) and over an opponent's Hit Dice rating or Armour Class in combat. Advantage and Disadvantage, is used; examples include weapons conveying Advantage and Disadvantage on Reaction rolls due to reputation.

The game uses relatively low hit points (your character might be able to take two hits it seems in combat) but also a pretty generous temporary refresh and all health is restored by a rest period. It feels relatively deadly in the reading but probably a bit more satisfying than games based on "Into the Odd".

The interesting ideas

Classes

Your starting hit points determine your class. Roll 1 HP and you're a wizard, roll 6 HP and your a barbarian. Each class has some special abilities but the thief and assassin could do with a few more options to help differentiate players rolling the same score.

Luck

Luck can be spent to essentially add narration to benefit your character or as a save against undesirable outcomes. After a save Luck reduces by one and you regain it each morning.

I loved this "push your luck" (no pun intended) mechanic and in some ways this could be the bulk of a rules-light system on its own. The more you push the narrative, the more at risk your character becomes. The reset trigger (and I would have been tempted to make the condition when the character awakens rather than morning) puts a limit on the amount of action you can risk in a way that is more satisfying than say spell memorisation or fatigue.

Gear

The more words (the game suggests syllables but gives an example in the more logical words) an item has then the more expensive it is. However how this relates the economy of coins is not clear. I liked the idea of how this could make both mundane and magical modifications easy to model.

Spells

Spells are level-less and can be randomly generated, spell slots are related to your Wisdom score and is different from the number of spells you know. Spells duration is standard across all spells and damage is linked to caster level. It feels like a decent balance between mechanics and more freeform interpretation of rules. Spells consist of an Action and an Object, when a character gains a new spell they can create new spells by combining Actions and Objects they know in new ways. I feel this creates a great motive for exploring dangerous and forgotten places which might contain new spells or magical words.

Some of the randomly generated objects are a bit weirdly specific though.

Overall

This looks like a decent OSR-inspired set of mini rules but without playing them it's hard to really know what works of doesn't work. The balance between GM interpretation, player-centric mechanics and crunch seems to be well-honed so I'd be interested in giving it a go.

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