Tabletop Review: Goalsystem Delves

Goalsystem Delves
Publisher: Four Color Studios
Cost: $15
Page Count: 255
Release Date: 10/11/2012
Get it Here: WargameDownloads.com

Goalsystem Delves was a Kickstarter project that I backed earlier this year (July to be precise). I thought the idea of a rulebook that could use any fantasy miniature for either a full campaign instead of a skirmish game sounded like a neat idea. I had scads of minis from my days of being a competitive D&D Minis player lying around in addition to figures from various board games and the promise of all the ones coming from the highly successful Bones Kickstarter, so this seemed like a good investment. A little over 200 people agreed and the system was funded on August 5th. I originally got my PDF rules back on October 11th, but Four Color kept sending slightly updated versions with errata and typos cleaned up, so I decided to hold off for a while.

I will say that GoalSystem Delves is much more in-depth than I ever expected it to be. Clocking in at 255 pages, this is not a system you’re going to just jump into and play within fifteen minutes of picking up the book like some collectable skirmish games (which mostly don’t exist anymore save for Heroclix). That said however, the system is really easy to learn, all you need are a lot of D6s and it really is compatible with any fantasy miniatures. So if you have figures by Reaper, Chainmail, Games Workshop and pretty much anywhere else, you can use them with GoalSystem Delves. In fact the most basic rule you need to know is that you just roll your D6s and if you get a four, five or six it counts as a “success.” Rolling a six actually counts as two successes while rolling a 1, 2 or 3 counts as a miss. Get enough successes and you hit, jump, dodge or whatever action you are trying to do.

There are twelve core races and six core classes, with each class having between two and four subtypes. The races are: Dwarf, Elf, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Half-Elf, Halfling, Half-Orc, Human, Kobold, Lizardman, and Orc. The classes are Druid (Atavistic or Keeper), Fighter (Man-At-Arms, Spearman, Wild Slayer or Monk), Mage (Bard or Wizard), Priest (Cleric or Paladin), Ranger (Archer or Bladesmen) and Thief (Acrobat and Assassin). That gives you a wide range of starting choices. For those still looking for more though, GoalSystem Delves gives rules for designing your own class and race. Later on in the book, you’ll also get similar rules for Monster/Antagonist creation, although it does comewith stats for thirty-five creatures. This is definitely not enough for most gamers, so this is the one area you’ll definitely want to read over thoroughly to ensure you are making a well balanced foe for your players to do battle with. It is odd to see Goblins or Orcs as monsters and player races with completely different stats and creation methods though.

GoalSystem Delves isn’t just a system for a miniature based tabletop RPG. It also includes variant rules for skirmish style games such as point builds. Personally I would use the point builds in the campaign mode as well if I was running a game just to make sure enemies are neither over nor under powered. It’s a good way to check. After all. If you have a party whose total point build is 400 and the total points for the enemies they are facing is only 250…you probably have a cakewalk on your hands.

Goalsystem Delves is a pretty deep rule set. Every possible thing you could think up, from rules to swimming to over encumbrance are in here. This means the game can be as detailed as any other tabletop RPG or you can pare things down if you just want a fast paced skirmish game. The potential for customizing is nigh-limitless and there are so many different combat options, that people used to just playing things like Warhammer or Mage Knight might find themselves overwhelmed by all the possibilities. It’s a very well done system that has all the options a veteran gamer will think of and/or want, while also having rules that are accessible to the newest or most casual of gamer. That’s pretty impressive.

So let’s demonstrate how a character is made. I have a ton of Lizardmen because I was given a Warhammer Fantasy army of them, so let’s make one of those into a PC in Goalsystem Delves. If I look in the boom I see Lizardmen get +1 Toughness, – Defense and a Tail Attack. As well, a Lizardman costs an extra point to my PC build, which has a starting cost of 32, so this goes up to 33. The two favored classes for Lizardmen are Druid or Fighter. I decide to go with Fighter and, as mentioned earlier in this review, there are four sub-classes to choose from. Because my little Lizardman has a shield, I decide to go for Man-At-Arms, which is the defensive class. This costs 29 points, bringing me up to 62. I then scribble the four Man-At-Arms Powers on to my character sheet which are: Bodyguard, Defensive Fighter, Mighty Blow and Shield Bash. This gives me a total of five powers at Level 1, which will be handy.

Now for my stats. I get +1 to Toughness, +1 to my Class stat because I chose a favored class and -1 to my defense. So he would look like this.

Nameless Lizardman
Fighter: 5D
Strength: 4D
Defense: 3D
Toughness: 5D
Powers: Tail Attack, Bodyguard, Defensive Fighter, Mighty Blow, Shield Bash
Hit Points: 10 (All Fighters start with 10 HP)

Stats might change a little from adding weapons and armour, but that’s all there really is to making a character. Some race/class combos work better than others, but it’s really that quick to make a character of your own. You’ll spend more time learning the rules and when to use each dice pool than making your guy or gal.

Perhaps the only real weak spot in the book is the art. Goalsystem Delves uses several different artists, all with his or her own unique style, but I didn’t really care for any of them. Art is subjective though so even though there was nothing in the book that caught my eye, you might have a very different opinion of the pictures within. I’ve included a few pieces of the art here in this review for you to look at.

Because most minis games are really only for short one-off skirmish battles, I really liked how much attention Goalsystem Delves pays to the idea of a miniatures based campaign. Like the character and monster creating rules, the book has an entire chapter devoted to creating adventures for the system. It also includes three premade adventures for you (or whoever will be running the game) to test the system out with. It’s always nice when a core rule book includes a sample adventure to try rather than forcing you to purchase adventures separately.

All in all, I’m really glad I was a backer for this Kickstarter project. Goalsystem Delves is an extremely versatile book, allowing you to make use of all those minis you no longer have a use for or that have been sitting there unloved and unpainted. The fact you’re getting a full comprehensive tabletop RPG for only $15 is a wonderful deal. With easy to learn rules and an exceptionally fast character making system, you and your friends can have a skirmish game or start a full fantasy campaign where your minis level up just like with any other pen and paper product. If you have the fifteen bucks to spare, I strongly suggest you consider picking this up…unless of course you don’t have any miniatures lying around. Then you really won’t get much use out of this.

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