I’m finding preparations to run The Secret of Zir’an to be equal parts awesome and annoying.
I’m creating pregenerated characters. Character creation? Awesome… and annoying. The concepts flow quickly. The process of creating a character uses a lifepath-like system that creates a well-rounded PC with unavoidable coolness. Unfortunately, the mechanical bits behind the lifepath system are less than intuitive and require a ton of picky steps. Moreover, the lifepath system it uses is so setting dependent that I am constantly peeking back to the setting chapter to figure out what everything means.
The rules? Annoying… and awesome. The rules are presented in a counterintuitive fashion and are overly complex. You have your stats (Physique, Mass, Intelligence, and Acuity). You have your derived stats (Reaction, Speed, Perception, Shadow, and Hand to Hand). You have your Aptitudes (Knowledge, Personal, and Social). You have your skills (too many to list). Each skill has a Finesse Level (Basic, Advanced, Expert, or Elite) and points of Practice. GAH! Of course, sometimes the Aptitude + Skill Practice is referred to as the Skill Aptitude. The infuriating thing? The mechanic is ultimately simple: add your applicable Stat + Aptitude + Skill Practice + 1d10. This could have been easily streamlined. The ‘Aptitude’ bit does some worthwhile work, particularly in the way that Aptitude is generated through the lifepath system, depending upon what skills you take. If you take a bunch of social skills, your Social Aptitude will likely go up, so your experience with some social skills bolsters your ability with others. This is kind’a cool… but I don’t think it is worth the craziness of the presentation that they put you through reading the book.