Drinking & Dragons

User:Wizardoest/Read/Arcanis (New) Fastplay

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Arcanis fast play cover.jpg

Upset by WotC's draconian Game License for 4e, the folks at Paradigm Concepts decided to develop their own system for Arcanis, divorcing it from d20. These are my thoughts on the fast play rules (sign up required to download).


Editing on this book maintains the low standards that I saw in the d20 Arcanis books. Sentences just end without warning. Considering that this was designed to be the first intro to the system, I find that to be awful.

Basic mechanic

The basic rolling mechanic is rolling 2d10 plus attribute die, which ranges from d4 to d12. The attribute die can infinitely explode. Attributes as dice instead of a flat bonus is interesting. Not sure if I like it though.


Initiative is done using a twelve-tick clock. You roll multiple dice for initiative, picking the lowest. Each action has a speed that adds to the clock. Daggers have a speed of 3 and a greatsword has a speed of 6. So let's say you rolled a 2 for initiative and you attack with your dagger. After you resolve the attack you move your clock to 5. Once the initiative gets to 5 you get to act again.

Would like to see this in action. Feel like it could be abused by stacking bonuses to damage on smaller weapons. In twenty ticks on the clock, a dagger could strike six times and a broadsword could strike three times. So a greatsword would do 3d10 (3/16.5/30) damage and a dagger would do 6d4 (6/15/24).

So the attribute die is added to damage as well. Assuming a d10 attribute, over twenty ticks of the clock a greatsword would do 3d10+3d10 (6/33/60) damage and a dagger would do 6d4+6d10 (12/48/84) damage. It's pretty clear that this heavily favors the faster weapons. (This brings to mind the 2e days when darts were the most deadly weapon.)

In addition to tracking your turn, different spells and maneuvers have a cool down time until they can be used again next. So in addition to tracking your initiative, you must also track cool downs.

As a DM I already have to track a lot of things. I think this initiative system may be a bit to complicated for it's own good.


On your initiative you may move, attack, or cast a spell.

Move your Pace for Speed 3, double it for Speed 4. There is an option of paying a higher speed to not provoke AoOs when you move. Standing up from prone is Speed 2. May move 10' as part of another action but this adds +1 Speed for each 5'.


Arcanis uses Stamina and Wounds and they mirror nonlethal and lethal damage respectively. A character has very few Wounds. Armor absorbs damage and most damage is Stamina damage. Wound damage usually only happens on a critical hit (two 10s on the dice). Each Wound gives a -1 penalty to all actions.

When Stamina or Wounds run out, a character is Vanquished (out of play) and not usually dead. If in this state due to Wounds, a roll is needed to stave off death. This is a single roll.


Comparable with Action Points, Conviction, etc.


Spellcasting (and Weapons) are skills. To cast a spell you figure out the Casting Target Number by using the base spell and adding modifiers, like multiple targets, if desired. If this number is your passive casting value or less the spell is cast, if this number is higher, you must make a skill roll. Failure loses the spell and your clock advances 1 tick.


The system that Paradigm has built reminds me of Fantasy Flight board games, overly complicated for no good reason. There are a few things that I like:

  • Ability to move slower to not provoke AoOs.
  • Vanquished does not mean dead. It means out of play (though usually unconscious).

I also really like the new identity for Arcanis.