The Rules (Chapters 2-4)
School Daze relies on a single six-sided die (d6) for conflict resolution, and characters only possess a few pertinent stats: a favorite subject, such as Chemistry or English, and Ranks in something that stands out about them, such as Prank for the class clown or Tank for the not-too-bright but large linebacker. A roll of 5 or 6 is a success, and the character's favorite subject may add a +2 to the role. If it comes into play, the character's Ranks can add a +1 or -1 to a roll depending on the circumstances; an example being Lank, a tall character who uses their height gets a +1, but they're also somewhat clumsy and could get a -1 in other situations. Typically, the GM throws out a scenario, such as the Senior Prom or Zombie Apocalypse; players create a motivation for their character, something that gets them to get up out of bed and go to school, and the game starts from there.
In the final version, the rules are simple and straightforward with each of the first few chapters focusing on the Core Mechanic, Character Creation, and adventures called Group Projects in School Daze. There's also a cheat sheet in the back for groups who want to have a quick reference of the rules available during play.
The Settings (Chapters 5-7)
The setting for School Daze is completely optional, but Barnett provides some history and a whole cast of characters to populate Trowbridge High should a gaming group require it. These chapters contain a lot of faculty members with a diverse and engaging set of bios who are designed to make the lives of players just a little more interesting. There are no example student characters in chapter 5, but several pregens made it into chapter 7 and could just as easily be adapted to fill out players' classmates on the fly and serve as pregen player characters.
The alternate settings provide some cool ideas on how to adapt School Daze to fit specific genres or mimic certain beloved stories that take place in high school. The fluff text at the start of each is cute, but I wish there had been a few more example Group Projects provided for two of the settings which only feature two ideas each.
School Daze is a gorgeous book. The inside is designed to mimic a yearbook in backdrop and tone, but the background graphics aren't so much that they get in the way or obscure the text. Brian Patterson of www.d20monkey.com did a fantastic job on the art in this book. The Ranks for each of the stable of characters can be determined at a glance, and the sort of scenarios Patterson depicts are exactly the sort of wacky things likely to happen in a game of School Daze. My favorite pieces have to be in the alternate setting chapters where Patterson mimics certain beloved TV shows or book series for the characters but adds his own spin on them.
In all of his amazingness, Barnett continues to make the rules for School Daze available for free on his website, though if you want to see all of Brian Patterson's amazing artwork or support School Daze, you'll need to spring for an actual copy of the book, which can currently be done digitally for $10 over at DriveThru RPG with print purchases to be available in the future.