In the interest of disclosure, I would like to state that this review is made possible by the generosity of Patrick Kapera of Crafty-Games, who provided Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer with a PDF review copy of the Fantasy Craft Adventure Companion, the latest product from their excellent Fantasy Craft series.
Of the three Campaign Settings in the Fantasy Craft Adventure Companion, Sunchaser is closest to Traditional Fantasy. Not that there’s anything wrong with the genre, just that Sunchaser has so much more competition to go up against, that it does leave me somewhat concerned.
I don’t want to label Sunchaser as generic as it does have a unique spin on a creation myth, starting with humanity as slaves to the mysterious big bad of the Campaign Setting, known as the Crone. After struggling for an undetermined amount of time against the Crone, the humans found a way to break out of her bleak realm and escaped to a new world now known as Avva.
It’s refreshing to see that humanity found a way to be accepted by the native races of Avva, whether by guile or virtue, the Sunchaser setting implies that Humanity really is capable of doing great things. Rather than having a lot of distrust among the races, the inhabitants of Avva are all pretty much united against the Crone.
The setting itself is interesting, and I like the fact that Sunchaser has a very heavy emphasis on the symbolism and role of the river to the way of life of the peoples of Avva. There’s a lot of nice little cultural touches, including the fact that adventurers (the “Sunchasers”) are generally treated well and while some of the more sedentary folk find their wanderlust to be quirky, they still regard the profession with respect.
Out of all the three Campaign Settings, Sunchaser feels to be the most optimistic, with a lot of room for exploration without having to worry too much about the Crone busting into the world of Avva and destroying everything (though the GM always has that as a potential doomsday scenario.) That alone wins points for me, as it does preserve the much vaunted Sense of Wonder that a lot of rpg settings tend to downplay lately for the sake of being edgy and dangerous.
Just because it’s optimistic doesn’t mean that Sunchaser is drawn in crayon, however. If anything I can’t shake the feeling that Sunchaser is the Campaign setting that the author put a lot of thought into. The Chapter goes into a lot of detail about the various regions of the setting, making sure that each and every one of them has something neat. Whether they be various Noble Families, Guild Houses or other groups that wield considerable influence, Sunchaser has a little bit of everything.
I have to admit that I find myself in awe when it comes to the writing for this Chapter. At first I had difficulty getting into it, forcing myself through the opening sections in order to get to the meat, to find the hooks that would interest me. The more I read, the better I understood, and the more I realized that among the three Sunchaser actually has the most potential to run adventures of any stripe. The world of Avva is more receptive to do anything from anime / manga stylings to more traditional Forgotten Realm-ish stories of heroism.
Overall, I believe that Sunchaser is a solid showing of how Fantasy Craft can pull off Traditional Fantasy, but does so much more than be a basic case study. The world of Avva is rich, and full of potential, and I’m getting the vibe that the Author could easily spin this one off into a larger setting pdf, much in the same way that Cloak & Dagger and Epoch could.
I’ll come clean and say that when I first skimmed Sunchaser, I didn’t think that it was going to be something that would catch my attention, but I’m glad that I was very wrong about it.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the Adventure Companion’s chapter on crunchy goodness, one which a lot of Fantasy Craft fans will find a lot of fiddly bits to enjoy. New Classes, new Feats and even new Advanced Actions and Tricks are definite draws.
The Fantasy Craft Adventure Companion PDF is available now at DrivethruRPG for $14.99