The Kalijor RPG got its first review on Drive Through RPG last night.

 

Usually, I love seeing reviews, even if they have negative comments in them. I think it’s largely because I work really hard at self-improvement and negative comments are generally able to be translated into opportunities for improvement.

This one though, I am having trouble with, and I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because the reviewer said the only really good thing about the book was the art. On the one hand, I like that they enjoyed the art. I worked really hard to pull together a bunch of artists that I thought could do the world justice and I am very proud of what they have produced. On the other hand though, many of the comments they made, I am having trouble seeing as anything useful, or even meaningful.

There were some valid criticisms, to be sure. One was a lack of detailed world info for both settings within the book This is something that I am painfully aware of and has been an issue that has been discussed at great length around the testing table for years. I know there isn’t a ton of detailed information about the setting, but there is enough to get things rolling. Unfortunately, I had to make a call on content. I had a lot of information to present, and the nature of the world I was describing sort of necessitated that both the fantasy and science fiction settings made their debuts in the core book. This meant pushing the volume of the book to pretty large proportions and, thus, raising the cost of the book to the end user, especially when the cost of art is considered. I had to draw a line in the sand and make a call on what would get into print, and what would have to be handled in supplements, or on the web site.

Maybe it wasn’t the best call, but I’m new at this and it should come as no surprise that I drop an occasional ball. I am currently working to rectify this issue by posting free campaign and world information on this very web site for players to avail themselves of. It may not be ideal, but I am trying to bridge the gap and show my support for those who have decided to give the game a shot!

The reviewer in question basically calls the Kalijor RPG a rip off of Palladium Books’ system. While I cannot deny that I am a huge fan of the Palladium Books game system, I really must take exception to a comment such as that. All I can imagine is that the reviewer looked no further than the most basic of combat mechanics, saw some similarity, and wrote off the entirety of the rest of the material without looking it over.

Is my combat system a copy of Palladium Books’ combat system? Hell no!

Are there similarities, even parallels? Hell yes!

It is in the DNA of every person alive to find deficiency, I thoroughly believe that. It’s in our very nature to identify the things we don’t like about, well, whatever it is we encounter/use. For a few, let’s call them creators, or maybe innovators, those deficiencies become the driving force behind entire lives.

We didn’t get from telegrams to super-phones in 200 years without people seeing how something worked, identifying things they didn’t like about them, and then hitting the books and work benches to make improvements. We can’t help it. As I said, it’s in our DNA.

The game industry is no different. Gamers the world around pick up books and play games for years, decades even, and without exception, they find little things about systems that they would change ‘if they had their way’, or ‘if they’d been in charge’.  Every RPG out there today is the direct result of players picking up the first one and saying to themselves, “this is pretty cool, but what if…”.

 

So, did I copy Palladium’s combat system? No. But I took the parts of it that I loved, and blended them with the parts that I, and others, thought could improve it. I did years of research, and more years of play testing with dozens of groups in cities all over the west and mid-west. I learned to do statistical analysis to arrive at the simplest dice solution that would result in the best, character driven combat solution that I could build, and would want to play with. I didn’t just copy the Palladium rules and change 1D20 to 2D10. I didn’t simply change one form of health/armor tracking to another and pass it off as my own. But it is likely that there are hints and glimmers of a bunch of different concepts from other game systems in mine. But I did tip my hat to a combat system that I grew up playing with, and still love to this day.

Beyond that, I wrote, from scratch, an entirely new system of skills, abilities, magic, alignments, and more. I’ve written a system that not only keeps the great, story-centric combat feel of Palladium, but also increases the importance and impact of skill selection, on combat. Not only that, but the system also goes to great length to make sure that characters with a strong mental focus can compete with those who have a strong physical focus in many stages; something the Palladium system does not account for. The Kalijor system can be played dieceless if players want, and it is dovetailed into the Grow With Me RPG system which means kids of extremely young age and people who’ve never touched an RPG before can learn to play with this system, then use it, with increasing levels of logistical complexity and detail, their entire lives!

I can’t even completely express how different this new RPG is from Palladium’s games, but this review makes it sound like it’s just a clone, or worse yet, outright plagiarized. Does it not occur to someone that something like a table can only be presented in so many ways? And of those ways, only a few carry a certain efficiency with them that works well, and quickly, in print?

 

I know it’s just one review, and I know it is, as the title of this tirade suggests, merely the vocal minority. I’ve had dozens of people email me or catch me at a con and tell me how much the love the game. Yes, there have been suggestions for improvement, and they are being  looked at very seriously. Yes there have been questions about world content and campaign tools, and those are also being worked on, and many of them provided for free on the new Kalijor (almost) daily page here at Kalijor.com. But feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

So, why the tirade? I don’t know. I think because the review seemed so… half-done? It bugs me that I cannot answer the review with some thoughts without seeming defensive. Maybe I am being just that here, but in the end, this is my blog and I can shout about whatever I want, right? I need more reviews to balance this one out, but the folks that play the game happily and enjoy it rarely write reviews. As with any product or service, the majority of folks only talk publicly about it if they have problems with it. But, since reviews do influence purchasing decisions, having only a single review that is largely negative is a bad thing, even though said review appears to be wholly incomplete and laser focused on a single aspect of the game.

 

I guess I’m whining because my job getting the word out just got much more difficult than it already was. I’ve chosen a tough, uphill fight, being a self-published author and game developer, and I know that public opinion is something that I will always have to contend with, and that it will not always be positive or supportive. But man, it feels like folks should take the time to look over and talk about the entire product before they speak out, you know?

 

Okay, I think that’s about enough of that.

 

In other news, the rewrite of ‘The Aegis Protocol’ is progressing nicely and the book is on track for release at StarFest 2014.

The RPG is heading back into the retail approval channel this weekend and will hopefully start showing up in book stores this year.

The web page is going to start sporting more source material for the RPG over time, and a couple campaigns have already been posted for your use.

The first two Kalijor RPG sourcebooks are fully written and just need editing, layout, and art, as soon as the core books are in the proverbial black, which isn’t too far off. I hope to be able to assign artwork beginning in first or second quarter 2014. Sooner would be awesome, but sales aren’t quite that high yet, and I am all out of conventions for the year.

Conventions are being added to the 2014 roster, and we’ll be at more than ever next year! Including a table and games at Genghis Con, massive participation at Anomoly Con, and much more.

Progress on the newest novel has slowed during the rewrite of ‘The Aegis Protocol’ but is still forging ahead.

The next novel, tentatively called ‘The Turin Gambit’ will go into revision and editing as soon as ‘The Aegis Protocol’ is buttoned up.

 

And… I think that’s about it for now.

I’m going to go create some stuff.

 

And remember, folks. Please leave reviews for the things you buy, but please make sure they are complete reviews, reflective of the entire product, not just the bits you glance over in passing.

 

End of Line…

 

Paul