Let’s wrap this puppy up, shall we?
In my frenzy of Gen Con recapping, I missed two purchases. First off was Mechanical Dream, a product of my lust for weird French RPGs. Alas, Steam Logic Editions is actually from Quebec. However, that minor flaw doesn’t seem to have kept them from producing the sort of surrealistic dream of a roleplaying game that I expect from the French. It’s a bizarre industrial fantasy world without any humans at all; the social structure of the world is predicated on a specific kind of fruit. If you don’t eat one every week, you die. I have not yet penetrated deeper into the system than that.
Also, like everyone else at the show, I got Arcana Unearthed. It’s got a lot of really solid rules innovations, unsurprisingly. I like what he’s done with spells, and I like what he’s done with templates (extending them to weapons and spells). I really like his approach towards non-human PCs, as well; it’s a lot like Savage Species but a little more relaxed. Most of these mechanical tweaks could be imported into an existing campaign easily.
On the other hand, the book as a whole is tied very tightly to a given setting. Cook’s work on reimagining the classes is great, but it makes Arcana Unearthed almost useless for implementing an existing setting in D20 terms. You can simulate the Grey Mouser pretty well with fighter and rogue levels; you can’t do a damned thing with him under Arcana Unearthed rules. In a weird sort of a way, it reminds me of Talislanta and Jorune — the setting is not quite as baroque, but it’s certainly a deeply variant take on the whole fantasy concept. This is not a bad thing per se, it’s just going to be interesting to watch how it does in the market.