Stolze's new game is a fantasy take on the One Roll Engine (ORE) that he developed for Godlike (and has seen further work in Wild Talents and Nemesis). The version in Reign is a little cleaner, with a few tweaks, but essentially the same as the previous versions.
The biggest addition - and the focus of the game - are the rules for companies. These are groups that the player characters are members (or leaders) of. The rules allow companies to be given stats, and contain rules for how companies can do things. These include how character actions can affect the company (e.g. you might do some individual mission that gives your company an advantage) and vice versa. These rules all fit in well to the existing ORE, and seem like a natural extension of it. Companies can be any organisation - a small street gang or merchant cooperative through mercenary band or spy network right up to an entire kingdom or empire.
The second biggest addition is the one-roll character generation system. There's a plain point buy option, but the random method is much more fun. You roll 11d10, and each set ends up being a job the character has done at some point in their life. Unmatched dice add random events to the character's history. Each job or event adds a few skills, special abilities, or a stat increase. Then you think about what you have and come up with the story behind it all.
These stories can be quite cool ones too. Here's one: disinherited as a child, he grew up as a beggar before becoming an infantryman. Then he got picked by a noble officer as a personal servant (complete with some education) before giving that up as a bad lot and running away to sea.
The setting Stolze provides is pretty cool, too. The game is clearly intended to be easily adaptable to settings of your choice, but the packaged one is strongly tied to all the esoteric techniques, martial arts and magical schools. The world is one in which the continents are the bodies of the gods - so that one country actually goes completely around an arm, for example (this is really neat but it makes imagining the geography really hard). There are four cultures detailed, giving a variety of places to start and plenty of ideas for characters and companies. The material is all evocative and seems well thought out, but I wasn't immediately grabbed by it. There is plenty of room to make it your own by filling in details and gaps left in the text, which suits me fine. The world is also very determinedly different to our own (far beyond the weird landscape), in a way that is kind of compelling.
The advice on running the game seems good, aimed at a traditional style game with a strong character focus. The expected mode is that the players create a company between them, then a character each who is part of it. Then the story will be about the company and what happens to it. Individual characters might die or retire, but the player can simply create a new one and carry on with the company's story.
As it's a traditional style game, there's a lot of crunch for combat there, but this is largely optional addons to the ORE (e.g. special combat maneuvers). Some of these are fantastic - like the 'Display kill', in which you gruesomely finish off a foe in an attempt to scare their comrades.
Stolze is supporting the game via supplements for ransom - after he writes each supplement, he requests a certain value in donations. When this amount is reached, the supplement is made freely available from his website. So far there are two available, both with some good extra bits (new magic schools, martial arts and the one-roll company generator stand out). The rulebook also inexplicably is missing a character sheet, but this too can be downloaded off Stolze's website.
Good presentation (it would count as fantastic if the print-on-demand process did full justice to the art, but it seems to lack some definition internally). The red, Daniel Solis, cover is beautiful and the hardcover seems very well constructed.
Overall: reads like a solid, dependable fantasy system with some good new ideas. Still basically traditional gaming style.