Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Arrows of Indra, a Dash of India

I picked up John Tarnowski's Arrows of Indra the other day. I've been trying to come to terms with doing decent role-playing in India since reading the start of the Bhagavad Gita and buying the 5th edition of T&T back in 1980. I can be said to have been into things before the subject actually sold out. Despite my terminal hipness, can't say I was disappointed with the work.
Pretty much how as I would envision a Bronze-to-Iron age India to look.
The rule definitely come off as D20-driven, mostly because they are. Out of 180 plus pages, about sixteen to sixty of them could be set aside for charts. Each of the Classes get plenty of their own charts. Quite a headache to me, a Trollhead not an all-night OSR-rocker, but well worth it, if only for RPGPundit' s, Tarnowski's alter-ego, amusing didactic tone, which means if you don't get the joke at least you might have questions like "why shouldn't there be a 'What is a role-playing game?' section in the introduction?" answered fully.

The author works the India of myth and folklore into classic D&D, AD&D, The Arduin Grimoire, and other works style and form of Pre-80sHistory in my mind's eye. For the types of characters the player can chose there is the Fighter, Thief, Magic User (Siddhis), Cleric (Priest), Paladin (Virakshatriya), Ranger (Scout), Monk (Yogi), and, yes, Assassin (Thugees).  The obligatory old school Alignment section is rather graceful with "Holy," "Neutral," and "Unholy," which I am sure anybody can add an adjective here and there to get the real black/white/or not figurative, but crucial, point keeping going. In this setting, more so than the Tolkien-based usual FRPG, it makes sense to a degree. If one goes too deep, one gets into the whole ethnocentric versus diverse thing and, in my opinion, should be the book goes into the detailed description of the most recognized and honest about itself Caste system in all of history. Interestingly enough, the Player-available fantastic species, Races, inhabiting the setting are strictly straight outta Magadha, just the Indo no Euro. Hold on T01k13nBOY#146, one can get in their Dwarf fix with a Yakshas while getting a monkey chaser (yes I said "MONKEY!!!") with the Vanaras. Of course when one gets to the creatures in the near back, there's a whole lotta book here, after the names, the reader will recognize more than few of the creatures of Greek literature, but still have a Yeti or two to spice things up.

What I liked most about is the indepth stuff that starts up about page page 153 (picked for a very specific item) and carrying on throughout the rest of the book. I'm not going into it, because it is the best portion of the work and you should read it. Nice take on the mythos, though, Tarnowski. On my personal scale of satisfaction upon the reading, I'd rate it a strong King Kong. There is little too much wrapping on the box, page graphics, and not more illustrations-- very personal taste there, I know. Like most OSR items, it reads like a textbook and the blocks text can more divergence than captivating. These bits are diminished by how much I am enjoying this well-researched and very gamer-minded the read is.

 NOTE: I only picked on T01k13nBOY#146 because it's such a kewl name.

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