Fantasy AGE comes an an interesting time for the RPG industry. With D&D 5e launching with its leaner, more accessible focus, Fantasy AGE is up against the biggest of opponents for mindspace given that both of them are looking at the traditional Western fantasy as a default setting.
However, Fantasy AGE has a lot of advantages going for it. For one, the fact that the entire game is available in a single book, rather than being spread across three different (and fairly pricey) volumes is already a strong advantage. Add the increased visibility thanks to Tabletop’s TitansGrave: The Ashes of Valkana and you have more than enough word of mouth to get people to check it out.
Thankfully, what they’ll find is something of really, really good quality. Fantasy AGE is turning into my knee-jerk recommendation as a gift for new GMs and groups who are novices to roleplaying games. The artwork and layout is superb, accompanied with writing that focuses on accessibility and readability to make for oen of the most painless introductions to the hobby I’ve had the joy of reading.
The mechanics are simple enough, with the Stunt system adding a bit of flair to a rock-solid foundation of mechanics that have been around for years. Making it a fairly generic product allows for anyone to slap on their favorite fantasy setting and still expect it to work.
That said, the Magic system does feel a little lackluster, but not for lack of trying. The bits are all good, Magic Points, various Arcana, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen all of this before. Maybe I’m just feeling a little less innovation in the Magic rules as I have in everywhere else, which is a shame as I had initially wanted to play a spellcasting character.
That said, it does give the feeling of being a “foundation” product for all sorts of projects, and with TitansGrave already out, and Blue Rose successfully kickstarted, I can’t help but feel excited to see what other settings they’ll be able to come up with for Fantasy AGE.
Overall, it’s a brilliant addition to an already overcrowded market. Fantasy AGE might not be breaking new ground with regards to settings, but the rules and the ease by which people can get started with it will make it an easy favorite for new GMs, and more experienced GMs will appreciate having a new game to look into and try in the future.