" A very comfortable fantasy setting. Unless while your role playing a dice bounces off the table and gets jammed in your nose, then it's very uncomfortable. "
Title: Iron Claw by Sanguine Productions
Format: Anthropomorphic Role Playing
Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult
The Hype: Furries (humanoid animals) are big, medieval role-playing is big, so why not combine the two? Iron Claw goes into that realm where, surprisingly, few have gone before. Duel as a deer, fight as a fox, go on raids as a rhino and cast spells as a skunk…all within a very comfortable fantasy setting. Unless while your role playing a dice bounces off the table and gets jammed in your nose, then it's very uncomfortable. And, if when you go to reach for it you accidentally push it in further, it's down right painful, and if when you go to the emergency room nobody believes that it was all a freak accident and they accuse you of blatantly shoving dice up your nose like a four year old- then it's not only painful, it's embarrassing. But, going on the assumption that you're not Cornelius, let's move on with the review, shall we?
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Drama: One of the most surprising, but also incredibly common, things about "historically" set games is the general lack of background they give- and unfortunately Iron Claw isn't much of an exception. I suppose you can argue that, given it's close relation not only to our history but to other games of its genre, that it doesn't need to waste a lot of space on setting. Still, I've always been a little disappointed in the standard fair just the same. Iron Claw, to be sure, certainly does better than a lot of what's out there but with just over 30 pages of background I guess it seems to feel a little light in my hands. Not that it's a huge deal, what with the typical fantasy adventure having little more setting than "this cave" or "that dungeon", but this short and broad, if not dynamic, description of the world of "Calabria" left me wanting. 2.5 out of 5
Layout and Presentation: : Smooth, clean, and concise, navigating your way through Iron Claw shouldn't pose any kind of real problem. It's laid out intuitively, which is always nice, and is definitely designed to facilitate playing as fast as possible. The artwork is pretty sweet, if not a bit inconsistent at times, and sets the tone of play rather nicely. Even cooler was the presentation of little comic book pages throughout the volume to help stimulate the mind and give your mind little breaks as you digest the rules. My only gripe, and it's a small one at that is the presence of only a chapter only table of contents when subsection listings would have come in very handy. 3.75 out of 5
Playability: When you boil it down, Iron Claw uses a simple "High number wins" gaming system. What makes it interesting, though, is the presence of multiple dice that are stacked based on your race, skills, and career. Basically, each of the 3 may or may not have a relevant dice rating (such as d4 or d12). You take the appropriate dice for your task and toss 'em all at the same time. Single highest number is your score. What's neat about that particular concept is that it manages to give skilled but inexperienced characters an advantage (since you can arrange to have several chances to roll on low numbered dice) but still lets veterans kick their tails because the high dice they'll have access to often yield much higher totals. When it's all factored in, you end up with a nice and fast but surprisingly diverse system that works very well. 3.75 out of 5
Desired Content: Fun and well balanced, Iron Claw really does lend itself nicely to fantasy gaming in a fur filled world. The equipment is well done, the spells are all reasonable, the character (animal) types and careers are all balanced, and even the adventure in the back of the book played out nicely. There is also more than enough gear and weapons to keep you happy for quite some time. 4 out of 5
|All in all, I wound up thinking of Iron Claw as more of a new resource than a game unto itself…and that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, the system is cool, the balance is good, and the format has appeal. It just means that, in the end, we wound up back in a fictitionally furry populated medieval England rather than in the world they'd intended us to.|
The Good: Nice game system, good balance.
The Bad: Not enough story and a very limited table of contents.
The Overall Ugly: If you're a furry fan you really should own this game.
What it's Worth: Market.