New reviews Sept – Dec 2021

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  • #3527
    Hans Hellinger

    (These are all on DriveThruRpg)
    John S 09/21/2021

    I am a long time DM, who plays a fantasy campaign, but with a nod towards history. I appreciate the fantasy aspect of role-playing, and I certainly love a well placed fireball. However, I’ve always tried to connect the history, to the combat. So, for years I created my own alterations to the DD system, to accomodate my wants. i like when the fights really mean something, and are a highlight of our gathering.

    Because of my interest in historical combat, I ended up getting involved in Hema. So, it’s a wonderful discovery to find a system based upon these historical techniques and manuals, and written by someone that actually is inolved in the community.

    It’s a lot to chew on, but it achieves my interest in making the fighting sequences more climactic and chess like. And to see all the terminology from the medieval manuals as actual terminology in this book is exhiliarating.

    I prefer to focus on storylines, so when I do get to a fight sequence, I am willing to put in the effort to make it significant – not simply some quick rolls, and off to the next pack of kobolds.

    I kind of have my own fantasy elements, so I don’t know if I would go with every aspect of this book. I might take what I need to add to my current campaign. But, if I opt for a full historical campaign, down the line, this seems like the way to go (even though there is still a magic system within Codex).

    As a side bonus, the historical aspect of this book is compelling from a purely historical perspective. It feels like I am actually learning about the tried-and-true methods of how combat actually unfolded, and classes of people from the past, places, etc.Then to add this to my existing campaign is seriously fun!

    Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]

    Hans Hellinger

    Iason-Eleftherios T. 10/19/21

    TLDR: Best realistic combat rules to be used with their source game or easily convertable to d20 game systems.

    Codex Martialis offers a unique way for running combat. As a professional historian dealing with martial culture and armaments I found the rules the best around in reflecting dangerous and complex actions that have consequences for the actor and their target. As an RPG GM I fell helmet over sabatons for this system because even though it looks complex it is straightforward, easy to learn and teach, and above all it provides a framework for turning combat into a narrative of its own. The book can be used with its mother game (Integrum) or easily adapted to d20 systems with micro-adjastments. I have used it now for a few months to spice up a DnD 5e campaign for a few months and players love the depth added to melee combat that has gone away from actions to simply hit and has turned into a series of calculated maneuvers that nearly always results in memorable combat narratives. The main axes of the book is the use of a dice pool over actions, that dictate the type of maneuvers and their effectiveness as chosen by the players. The second identifying feature is the ‘Feats’ designed for the system that allow melee characters to feel trully expert in perfmorming some actions and facilitate more complicated maneuvers. Finally, the weapons segment is amazing in diversifying how some of these objects were used rather than treating them as reskins. There is genuine thought behind why certain weapons fit the build of characters and how they can be used tactically. Optional rules for injuries are included and in my opinion they are a great working framework for use in most d20 rpgs that want some realism but do not want to reach the other end of unrealistic over-the-top gritty-gruesomeness that is often prevalent is some systems.

    Hans Hellinger

    Sean D 12/03/21

    This book is my favorite RPG supplement for any subsystem. It fixes every issue I’ve had with other combat systems, and every original concept is a winner.

    We all have our preferences as to what gets abstracted and what gets simulated, but these rules are right in-line with what I want in combat: Armor as damage reduction, individual defensive values for weapons, un-nerfing of shields, combat experience contributing to your AC, and more. The addition of the “onset” range to combat is brilliant (AFAIK, this is a Martialis Codex original idea), as is its implementation. Giving each weapon separate bonuses for onset range and melee range fixes one of my biggest gripes about traditional RPG combat. I’ve always found it unacceptable that a guy with a dagger can face off against a guy with a long sword, and the dagger-weilder’s chance to get in for a strike against his opponent would be no different than if his opppnent was also weilding just a dagger. The rules for grapple-range combat are also of the “that’s how it should be done” quality.

    My only criticism is that the rules could be clearer at times. I’ve had to compare the same rule on different pages once or twice to get exactly what the rule is. But (one of?) the author has been helpful in clarifying, and I wouldn’t let that hold you back from buying this book.

    Hans Hellinger

    Achilles A 12/16/21

    I got about halfway through the first page of chapter 1 when I blurted out, “Damn, this is going to be a fun game.”

    In the Codex Core Rule book, you’ll find a dynamic game system that prioritizes strategy without sacrificing speed or pacing. Not an easy feat to accomplish, but they did it. Within the book you’ll find a system for armed and even unarmed combat. There is a large number of rules to this game, but you will find these rules easy to understand, remember, and intuitive. That’s why the Codex system can center on strategy without ending up bloated or slow. Your strategic options are numerous but easy to understand and fast to execute.

    Codex focuses on armed combat and historical martial arts. This game offers a few options any GM should take seriously. First, it’s very modular. This system can be effectively adapted and combined with another TTRPG. This would be particularly useful for a low magic setting, but not, by any means, restricted to that type of game. Any homebrewer that enjoys tinkering with game mechanics should pick up this book.

    If you have been playing the same TTRPG for a while and want to try something new, the Codex Core Rulebook is worth a read. A series of modules and adventures can also be purchased with this book. Codex isn’t just a alternative combat system. It’s a total game system that can, as an option, be adapted and assimilated by other game systems. Still, it’s totally playable independently.

    One of the unique features of the Codex Core Rulebook is its focus on historical European martial arts. The book uses authentic illustrations from historical combat manuscripts. These illustrations offer the reader insight into the Codex world. You have a sense of realism with this combat system, and when combined with the illustrations of real combat techniques as well as the strategic nature of the rules, you get an elevated sense of immersion. Just reading the rules gives you a sense of what it would have been like to live and fight in medieval Europe.

    Another element the writers of Codex ingeniously employed in their system, dice focused gameplay. As opposed to modifier focused gameplay. You build your character with different features that can be chosen as you level up. However, instead of simply adding a modifier to your character’s stats, you get more dice or can use your dice more strategically. I believe this is a trend that the TTRPG industry is headed towards, and Codex is there now. Rolling dice is fun, it’s suspenseful, it’s why we play tabletop games. Just like any other RPG, you build your character, but you don’t lose the excitement that comes along with the element of chance.

    Codex blends strategy, immersion, and excitement in a new approach. It can be adapted into a campaign you’re in the middle of or a system that you love but needs some freshening up, but it also manages to stand alone as an independent and fully functional game. Any GM can find something worthwhile in the Codex Core Rulebook. This is easily one of the best gaming systems I’ve read this year.

    Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]

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