Over on one of the message boards I lurk about on, I was asked about the differences between this new edition and previous editions.
The first, and most significant change, is the organization of the material. The original book had two chapters and some appendices. The material in the 30th Anniversary Edition is broken into 5 chapters and appendices; it also includes a 6th chapter (see below).
Chapter 1 — is Character Creation and it is nearly identical to the original material. All that changed in here is spelling and grammatical fixes. I do not have the rights to the Druas, so they are no longer a part of The Arcanum.
Chapter 2 — is Skills and is very close to the original material. The majority of what changed is spelling and grammatical fixes. Other things include clarification on types of skills (i.e., percent skills, save skills) as well as a few minor adjustments to ensure common abilities were not more potent than trained skills. Also, some names were changed (the Thieving skill Hide became Hide in Shadows to avoid confusion with the Common Ability Hiding). Two common abilities (Finding a Track or Trail and Noticing Hidden Persons or Creatures) were combined into a single common ability (Searching) with the skill defined in a way as to distinguish that which is being searched for. There are also some clarifications on when an automatic success or failure with a skill has taken place.
Chapter 3 — is System Rules including combat; this chapter is very close to the original material. The majority of what changed is spelling and grammatical fixes. The rest is in clarifications.
Chapter 4 — is Magic (general magical rules and spells) and is quite close to the original material. The rules themselves have not changed; spells were clarified. For example, many spells were lacking vital information such as range or duration. Where these data were missing, they were included by comparing the spell to similar spells and seeing how a given school of magic tended to differ from another. Some spells had their name changed to be more consistent with other spells (e.g., all of the Command spells were renamed; originally they had names like Away (Command) or Stop (Command). These have become Command: Away and Command: Stop). A good chunk of the cleanup comes in this section of the rules. A few spells were added that seemed to be missing (i.e., the spell used by Thaumaturges to do what they do, the Divine Magic boons were missing some attributes).
Chapter 5 — is the Advanced Practices (all of the creation rules, alchemy, etc.) and is almost identical to the original material. Changes here were kept to an absolute minimum — in other words, spelling and grammatical, and the occasional clarification. Because of Chapter 6, anything that gave stats for creatures (e.g., Golems) was updated to that system.
Chapter 6 –is the Bestiary and it is all new material. I do not have access to the original Bestiary or Lexicon. As a result, in order to make a complete and playable game, I had to create a creature system and define the creatures. This chapter includes every beast that is directly mentioned in the rules. From Dogs to Drakes to Demons, there exist rules and stats galore. This chapter includes some templates that can be applied to other creatures, a discussion of Lycanthropy, and guidelines for using Deific-level creatures (e.g., Arch Demons, Arch Devils, Demigods, Lesser Gods, Greater Gods, etc.)
Appendices cover equipment, the notes on the original trilogy, the character sheet and other forms, designer’s notes, and a complete listing of skills and spells.
In other words, I am attempting to make Steve Sechi proud and produce the definitive version of the rules as they would have been done in the 1980s had affordable Desktop Publishing software existed back then…