Fantaji uses four “Tiles” that make up the Fantaji Engine: Characters, Obstacles, Themes and Conditions. Most of you will recognize that these are the primary building blocks that compose a scene in most stories, and each of these Tiles works with the others in every stage of the game.
Character Tiles are essentially the character sheets in the game. They represent the heroes and occasionally the villains (though most of the weaker opponents count as Obstacles instead.) We’ll get into more detail regarding these once we get to trying out Character Creation.
Obstacles are most enemies, monsters, problems and events that get in the way of the characters. This makes it suprisingly versatile in simulating a host of situations from passive obstacles like a locked door, to something more elaborate like being attacked by a velociraptor. Obstacles are composed of Traits, Resistance (which is the “health” of the Obstacle) and Special Powers & Rules for that particular Obstacle.
An interesting twist on the Obstacle is the “Abstract” Obstacle. This represents a type of timed conflict, where something bad will happen if the Obstacle amasses enough Drama over a set amount of time. An example of this is a time limit to stop a rampaging monster to preserve the goodwill of the people.
Theme Tiles set the scene’s emotional or thematic tenor and how characters can gain experience. As discussed in the previous article, all participants in a scene can play to the Themes of a scene. Players who enact a Theme most in a scene win the scene and get the Tile as an experience marker. These can be then redeemed later for character improvements, but more on that later.
Condition Tiles are the last of the four different tiles. Conditions are new elements that players and Judges introduce to combat in the middle of play. Unlike the Themes which are constants, Conditions are made to happen by the actions of the players. Conditions are forced upon targets, and when tripped, impose a sanction on the Drama that the target can generate. Part of the “tactical” nature of the Fantaji System is managing Conditions to drain the most Drama from your enemies while you set up for a perfect moment.
The four tiles are definitely interesting, and the system is slowly falling into place in my head. Managing Momentum is a mechanic that is quickly gaining popularity in multiple systems, and seeing how Fantaji is implementing it in such a lean manner is pretty impressive.