"Talomir Tales - Distant Shores" is a "skirmish game" by Ed Teixeira, i.e. a mix between a tabletop wargame and a role-playing game, where you can manage a small group of adventurers and have them face different challenges. Ed Teixeira wrote many other games of the same category in his collection "Two Hour Wargames".
The book is 70 pages long and contains approximately 29 pages of rules, 24 pages of encounters and the "scenario", Distant Shores on 9 pages.
The rule system is quite simple and revolves around one Stat : Reputation, which can increase or decrease following the outcome of the Encounters, i.e. scenes where you face a challenge like "exploring", "carousing", etc. Similar systems are used in other titles of the collection and the issue with that "one-stat" is that you're either doomed to defeat, or that you can become near invulnerable after two encounters (and that's what happened to me in another title of the collection) if you're lucky.
But worse, developing a strategy is what makes the gist of wargaming, and even of tabletop RpGs; here, the boiled-down rules and the one-stat don't let you much space for strategy and you end up throwing mechanically the dice until you grow tired of it.
The fourteen encounters are the sole interest of that PdF even if they are of different qualities : the abstract dungeon generator does work, and the employment encounter can help you start some short adventures. However, on the contrary to his other works, Ed didn't bother/forgot to give us a random encounter generator. OK, you can start by carousing at the local inn, meet a potential employer and go wandering or delving into a dungeon. But there are no links to other encounters like "Explore"; that's why I suspect that Ed Teixeira just took back some material from his previous works ("Mission St Mary" ?), turned it into something medieval but forgot to fix the loose ends. The "scenario" doesn't help under such conditions : what's the point in having encounters artificially strung together and filled with heaps of enemies whose stats are desperately similar ?
My reply to Ed Teixeira's comment :
- OK, there are secondary skills, but they don't help much. "People" just helps you when you Interact with character (so : does the other guy attack me or not or does he accept to join my party, we are not in "Legends of Araby"); "Savvy" is just when YOU decide to have a challenge ("gain some info/solve a puzzle/find a person/object")... all of this is decided by the player himself and not the story, and these "challenges" are completely abstract, their sole impact is that you gain Decreasing/Increasing Rep.
- About getting a job by carousing, that's what I write just above : you can start by carousing at the local inn, meet a potential employer and go wandering or delving into a dungeon . But you don't answer why you didn't give an Encounter Generator as in others of your books, nor why some of the encounters are not connected to this job generator. (ex: Explore)