Now that we’ve gone over the basics and the Combat Tiles of the Fantaji System, we’re going to spend this installment talking about how it all works.
Fantaji games are composed of Scenes, which are set up by having the following required tiles: Character Tiles, Obstacle Tiles and Theme Tiles. Condition Tiles are not a requirement, but some Scenes might start off with a few to denote key features of the environment or suggest a given strategy or approach.
After the tiles are set, the Judge then informs the players of how much Drama each of the Obstacles has. Most action scenes with opponents as Obstacles mean that they start off with some Drama to begin with.
Fantaji describes the actions in a game as a puzzle that the players have to solve. In some ways having a visual to rely on helps a lot in giving the players an idea in terms of how to tackle the various obstacles and just what was happening.
The Game in Motion
In Fantaji combat, each side takes turns until all Obstacles have been overcome or the heroes die. In a Round, all Tiles on one side takes a turn. As for the specific order by which the players act, that is left to the Players to sort out amongst themselves.
During a turn, a character can perform a Check or a Challenge. As discussed in our earlier article, checks build momentum or generate an advantage, while Challenges are direct actions or attacks against Obstacles.
Speaking of Obstacles, I think it’s a good time to go over each kind of Obstacle in further detail. Passive Obstacles are situations or hazards which do not include living beings or active agents. The important thing to note is that the challenge has no living will of its own.
Examples of these would be: Locked Door, Sunken Antidode Vial, Runaway Melon Cart or Impress the Local Crime Lord.
The Judge takes turns to build Drama for the Obstacle, representing the “countdown” I mentioned before, the point at which the Obstacle resolves unfavorably to the players.
Speaking of countdowns, Abstract Obstacles are those that make Checks specifically to build Drama, representing a rapidly escalating situation. Situations like a Crashing Ship. The Obstacle itself isn’t taking an action, but it does represent the progression of the situation towards a worse outcome.
Conditions are the most fiddly part of the game, and Fantaji spends a good amount of time discussing how to create them, as well as eliminating and Tripping them. The most interesting part are the guidelines on Skirting and Surfing Conditions. If a Condition can be tripped to trigger negative consequences, Skirting a Condition is taking an action that shows how a character takes care to avoid the Condition. Surfing a Condition is when a character takes an action that allows them to take advantage of a condition that was intended to do them harm. It’s a neat acknowledgement of player creativity and I expect to see that a lot in actual play.
This section is littered with examples, much to my relief. The mechanics of Fantaji are tactical, while still remaining rather abstract, so the examples are very helpful in keeping track of how things are supposed to work.
Next up, we’re taking a look at character creation!