I want to start by saying my first impressions are very enthusiastic despite the likelihood of my being about to afford a trip to Wellington in August are slim. Fingers crossed.
I think everyone would benefit from a further elaboration on the intentions of the GM and game style. While you have pointed out that this isn’t a “prepare to die” game, being inspired by Dark Souls puts me in mind that you’re aiming toward a action-oriented fantasy adventure in which most problems players encounter would be solved by beating it up. Which would be great for me, because I have a fighter character that I’ve been playing with for a while that fits well into the current write-up, but if you’re aiming for a more slow-paced experience that balances combat with political intrigue and personal drama it would be good to know now.
My main area where I’d like to offer some criticism is your approach to armour. I love that armour is only effective when it is directly hit and you should definitely keep that but your location rules have me scratching my head. I apologise if this is not the case but the first thing I thought was that this was conceived by someone with little experience wearing armour. So we have 5 main locations - arm, arm, torso, leg and leg - but the armour skills allow wearing armour in 2 or 4 locations. If we apply this thinking to the simplest medieval armour such as a hauberk from the Seeker gear that are common these days, torso plus short sleeves is 3 locations, requiring heavy armour training and adding bonus hitpoints into the mix. Many of these hauberks hang over the thighs to some degree and I have one more armour location, so are my thighs protected? Do I have to specify which upper leg I have armoured?
I understand this was probably written with balance in mind, but I don’t think armour is as dangerous as you currently be thinking and that a change to 3 and 5 locations for light and heavy training may work better. Firstly, that would allow for full, symmetrical armour. I have a full head-to-toe suit of mail that I think is really cool but currently I would have to have one chain legging missing which would look stupid and be weird. Secondly, defeating armour is actually pretty easy. With your two types of damage - arcane and normal - almost all characters can have some ability to break armour, bypass it or strike with 2 damage.
If game balance is a concern, I would change the bonus combat perk. I’m not sure what I would change it to currently but by getting rid of bonus hit points we get a maximum of 4hp with the Resilient perk. Thus, a person wearing armour is not innately more powerful than others but just well protected, as in real life. They can walk over a non-combatant character who has no arcane power or additional damage but other fighters will still be a challenge. Someone with a polearm and Two-handed aptitude is striking them 3 or 4 times, rather than 5 or 6.