Posted by : David Guyll August 08, 2014
I'm going to specify 5th Edition as that's the only one that I own right now, but frankly I remember them all being pretty complex, just not so complex that most of my group wouldn't even get through character generation before throwing their hands up and saying fuck this, let's do something else.
Maybe it's because we generally play 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons or Dungeon World, but I had to comb through the book multiple times to make sure that I had all my shit down. All told I must have spent several hours completing my first character, and I am not sure I filled in all the blanks or even filled them in correctly.
I remember it starts out talking about how the game works (general mechanical stuff), before getting into attributes, skills, magic, and gear. Except it only glosses over those things at first (which caused a lot of back and forth between the table of contents), and once you get past that you go through character generation for reals: assigning priorities to determine what metatypes you could choose from (including a strange side bonus listed in parenthesis), how many attribute points you could spend, how many skill points you could spend, how many skill points you could spend on group skills, etc.
After you spend all of your points you can then spend Karma to buy various qualities (and also flaws), which reminds me of feats from Dungeons & Dragons. Eventually you get to buy gear, which is not only explained waaay later but has a legality rating (how hard it is to get...or maybe it determines whether it's available at all?) and often a quality rating. There was also something about having an ID card (or SIN?), but I'm a bit fuzzy on the details at this point.
I'm sure once you get the hang of it and get the ball rolling this game is a lot of fun. For me it is another one of those games that I have yet to play, but am not really bummed about because I can't help but think I could get nearly the exact same tone and feel, just with a much sleeker, faster system.