Praedor – Elegantly Brutal

Cover of the 2009 revised edition. © Burger Games. Used with permission.
Cover of the 2009 revised edition. © Burger Games. Used with permission.

Praedor is sixteen years old, and the old warhorse still has untold stories left in it. #praedor #rpg #burgergames

Praedor is a tabletop role-playing game designed by Ville Vuorela based on Petri Hiltunen’s comic about adventurers – praedors – in a medieval fantasy world. The comic ran in the gaming magazine Magus from 1994 to 2001 and has spawned four comic books, two novels, a short story collection, and an anthology. The first supplement, Salaisuuksien kirja (“Book of Secrets”) was released this summer.

The tone of Praedor would nowadays be called grimdark fantasy, the style popularized by writers such as George R.R. Martin. The adventurer’s profession is not glamorous, it’s dangerous. The praedors live outside of society, rootless and lawless. If a knight wears shining armour, it’s a sign of overwhelming vanity. Magic is difficult to use and rare. Life is cheap and death is commonplace.

The land of Jaconia is overpopulated, surrounded on all sides by the ruins of Borvaria, the remnant of a fallen empire of wizards. Borvaria is filled with monsters, areas of wild magic that bend and twist the laws of nature, and enough treasure to make the trip worthwhile. The influence of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic has been acknowledged.

It ain't easy being a praedor. © Burger Games. Used with permission.
It ain’t easy being a praedor. © Burger Games. Used with permission.

The game system itself is elegant and simple. Characters have no classes, and are mechanically defined by their skills and physical attributes. The game uses only six-sided dice. You roll a pool of dice and try to get a sum under the target number, which is the character’s relevant skill or attribute. The harder the task, the more dice you roll. In practice, the system is fast to learn and use, and intuitive to understand. Combat encounters tend to be brutal. Praedor does not abstract damage – if you get hit, you lose blood. Lose enough blood, and the pain and blood loss will affect you. Wounds also take time to heal, and it is perfectly possible to win the fight and die on the sickbed.

The 258-page rulebook is divided into three parts. There is the player’s section, which contains the rules of the game, and the game master’s section, which contains information on what the job entails as well as the usual advice and ideas and rules the players do not need to know. Finally, taking up nearly half of the book is the lavish setting description, which includes an overview of the lands of Jaconia in comic format.

Praedor is beginner-friendly and still rewarding to the veteran. Its clever mechanics and strong atmosphere make it an enduring classic.

Publisher: Burger Games
Platform: tabletop
Release date: 8th December, 2000

Disclaimer: the reviewer has previously worked for Burger Games, on a different product line.

One Comment