Because it seems sensible to me, I’m not having overall review scores or anything of that nature. Instead, each review ends with a scorecard with multiple grades which consider how the RPG does at very specific, distinct things in isolation. This is basically a TL;DR summary of elements covered in the review anyway, but means people can scan down to the end and get an impression if they don’t want to read the whole review.
Setting: The richness of the narrative context that the book presents, both in terms of how good it is at inspiring stories and characters to set there, and how internally consistent it is. A core question that we ask is: would we want to use this book as a setting guide, even if we hated the system?
How Easy Is It To Explain The Setting To New Players: Does the game make the core concept easy to pitch, or do newcomers need to read 100+ pages of backstory before they can expect to come up with a useful character for the context of the game?
System: How good the underlying mechanics are. Is resolution fast and intuitive? Are there huge chains of if/then statements which bog things down? Are there circumstances where the mechanics produce weird results? A core question that we ask is: would we use this book for its mechanics, even if we hated the setting?
How Easy Is It To Explain The System To New Players: Is this a book with useful explanations to bring new players up to speed, or is it full of jargon and assumptions?
Ease of Character Generation: Is sitting down with players and getting a character built helped or hindered by this book?
Is Character Generation Safe? : How easy is it to produce an unfairly strong character, or to accidentally produce a character which is unreasonably useless, either by accident or design? A low grade means it’s easy to fall into traps or have someone game the system; high grades mean clarity and transparency of what everyone’s going to get at the end of the process.
Practicality of Use in Play: When the rubber meets the road, how useful is this book for actually answering questions and resolving the processes of using the mechanics in play?
Ease of Running Sample Adventures: Are the adventures/campaigns included in the book something that can be run out of the box? Do they have traps where the story breaks if something unexpected happens? How familiar do GMs and Players need to be before they can safely play them?
Entertainment Value: Hard to quantify but easy to recognise: Is this a fun book to read?
If anyone wants to pitch new axis for us to think about, feel free to reply here or send us an email.
– A+ (90%+): Staggeringly high quality.
– A (85%) and A- (80%): A spectrum of excellent work.
– B+ (75%) and B (70%): Solid, but with some issues.
– B- (65%) and C+ (60%): Average. One positively inclined but average, the other negatively inclined but average.
– C (55%): Functional.
– C- (50%): Barely functional.
– D+ (45%): An attempt was made to produce something useful on this axis, but it failed.
– D (40%): Not much of an attempt was made.
– D- (35% downwards): Serious problems which sensible people (or even people just vaguely paying attention) should have been able to see ahead of time and say “That’s a really bad idea.”