Featured Product: Clockwork & Chivalry – Final Verdict (Part 5)

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Clockwork & Chivalry Part 5: Final Verdict
By Aaron T. Huss

Welcome to the finale part 5 of the Featured Product series for Clockwork & Chivalry, published by Cakebread & Walton. Part 5, Final Verdict, is a wrap-up of the series and final thoughts on the system, setting, and publication.

There are many different aspects of any tabletop role-playing game that one could love, hate, or something in-between. Without defining every single aspect that one could potentially rate in that way, I’m going to discuss the highlights.

SYSTEM FAMILY

The Renaissance system comes from a family of d100 products including RuneQuest, OpenQuest, and Legend. Each one is a little unique, but the underlying principals are pretty much the same. Renaissance simplifies some things while removing other options to coincide with its black powder fantasy design. When I look at the family of products that includes Renaissance, it is definitely one of my favorites… for what it does. However, if I were to attempt a game outside of the Renaissance comfort zone (such as modern, sci-fi, or magic-heavy fantasy), I’d most likely have to either incorporate mechanics from one of the other systems, or come up with my own. Not that this is a bad thing as Renaissance does what it’s designed to do very well.

One major thing to keep in mind, however, is that some of these options that are simplified by the Renaissance system are personal taste. For instance, Renaissance removes the combat styles (such as 2H Sword and Sword & Shield) and replaces them with a significantly reduced number of skills. For some, this makes creating your character easier. For others, it may seem as though their character is too similar to other characters because they can all wield the same weapons (except polearms). For historical-styled settings, this really isn’t a problem. But for epic fantasy (or even sci-fi) this could be a problem as you may not want everyone to have access to almost every weapon available.

Another simplification is the use of hit points. Renaissance utilizes a single hit point attribute instead of the hit point reading for each “section” of the body. The overall quantity of hit points is less, but you don’t have to worry about the upkeep of multiple hit point values. This helps keep the action moving quickly, although could result in faster character death, but those who like an in-depth measurement of hit points may prefer the other method.

When it comes down to the basics, all of these systems are generally compatible with each other and you can freely pick and choose aspects from other systems and houserule them in. The overall gameplay shouldn’t be too broken, but a little bit of tweaking will likely be necessary. However, there is a definite advantage for having systems that are generally compatible with each other. For instance, if you want to play Legend, you can use the hit points system from Renaissance, or vice versa.

SETTING

Clockwork & Chivalry, and Renaissance for that matter, are very much setting-dependent. Not that they require the Clockwork & Chivalry setting, but they are very much in-tune to the early modern era and lots of English flavor. If you want to use it outside of this era, just keep in mind that you’ll have to do some playing around with things to get them exactly where you want them (such as the different professions and factions that are available and the titles use for spells). This isn’t a flaw, rather it is an interesting design decision that makes Clockwork & Chivalry and the Renaissance system feel like it truly belongs in the early modern era.

The final result is that if you want to create your own setting that happens to take place in the early modern era or utilizes a unique setting that reflects the early modern era, the the Renaissance system and Clockwork & Chivalry have loads of flavor already built into them. At its most basic, the Renaissance system truly performs up to its design standards when you consider the setting.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Would I recommend Clockwork & Chivalry, Clockwork & Cthulhu, and the Renaissance system? Absolutely! Would I recommend them over RuneQuest, Legend, and OpenQuest? It truly depends on the gaming experience you’re looking for, the setting you’re playing in, and the amount of crunch you want in your games. I think a better answer is that this system and these settings fill a niche very well and sit quite nicely next to their d100 relatives as another option for those who enjoy this family of d100 systems. The familiarity that passes along between these four systems (and their predecessors) means coming into the Renaissance system is that much easier. You won’t have to completely learn a new system, you’ll just need to understand what changes have been made. And many of these changes are directly tied to the black powder / early modern age design of the system.

That’s it for this edition of Featured Product, featuring Clockwork & Chivalry from Cakebread & Walton. My next Featured Product series will kick-off in June with a look at the FateStorm system powering Rogue Marshall and Shattered Moon published by Broken Tower.

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4

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