The game is fantasy role-play with Cutlass style mechanics of event driven combat.
Chronicles of the Outlands is set in a river rich land east of the Western Barons. The players are heroic characters without class distinction, proto Vikings, exploring and adventuring in a broad continental land bordered by seas. Magic works. All the characters will slowly improve a magical sword and train a magical mount. Magic is an integral part to play. Yet there are no spells per se, as each player character grows in power through the actions of the game.
There are six principal traits of characters: Bold, Clever, Energetic, Gifted, Methodical and Rugged. There is no degree that measures a trait; they are either present or not. The absence of a trait denotes the character is not any better than the norm in that area. There are no hit points. Each hero is a couple of blows away from death, but the mortality rate need not be high for PCs. The monsters, on the other hand, might be brought down in scores.
The player characters will also acquire a special set of combat skills, called swaggering techniques, by engaging in battle. These will be personal fighting styles as well as techniques gain specific to their Blade, Mount, Longboat and Wizardry. The new (level zero) character probably has practiced and even fought, but only through often repeated exercise of the game mechanics will he obtain great swagger.
To gain levels the character must perform Ignoble Deeds, nine tests of worthiness. These will relate to game events of the following types: Adventure, Fame, Battle, Ingenuity, Magic, Profit, Forethought, Comradeship and Courage.
Magic is performed like any other skill. The player describes an action based on a wizardry technique, and the Referee decides the degree of difficulty that must be rolled to succeed. It’s that simple (or not). In combat however, the mechanics of each quick and dirty table apply. The various magical techniques will be seen as advantages, making the dice roll easier. Once the player discovers any wizardry techniques, he can shift to Recitation Method and use his magic for specific results. Yet, using magic dooms the character to slowly change to something less human.
How about this example of play? The player’s reach a river and need to cross. They do not have or can’t wait for their boat. Impatient fools, perhaps. What do they do? The obvious answer is swim, make the roll for each to avoid drowning. That Ref is dice happy in a bad way. Yet why not form a bridge of earth and stone (Geomancy). Open a portal connecting two sides (Cosmic). Fly (Shape Shift), get a tree to help (Animate Objects), flame or lightning a tree to fall across (Pyrotechnics or Voltaic), leap the river mightily (Demigod), float across clinging to the backs of the risen bodies of dead fish (Necromancy), command another to carry you (Thought Control), freeze the river (Celestial), and the list continues for another ten techniques. The player character’s Spirit Guide might alert the group to a shallow ford. Precognition could have warned the players to be prepared or take a different route. About the only one that gets me head scratching is Illusions? Make someone believe he can walk on water? Good for a laugh.
All those magical fields are in this game and more. I defy you to find in any other game system a means to get across as a party, one or no roll, on the first adventure, using new characters, not a natural twenty either, no one drowning or catching on fire. Okay, you might catch on fire in Outlands, but not because you’re new to spellcasting. It’s the veterans that are slowly moving toward magical mishap and oblivion.