Archive for the ‘Fantasy AGE’ Category


CaptureFantasy 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.

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The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook is available in PDF format from DriveThruRPG for only $15.99 or roughly Php 720.

This Let’s Study series made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!

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Welcome back!Today’s Let’s Study article will be a bit of a shift as we’ll be looking at the entire Game Master’s Guide section of the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook in one go, rather than by chapter.

Every basic rulebook should always be able to communicate and sell people on the idea of running a game. This means that they should be able to portray the act of running a game as a fun alternative to playing. To do this, they’d have to show both the mechanics that GMs use, as well as teach the psychology and methods that GMs apply in their games.

So how does Fantasy AGE measure up to that task? Let’s Find out.

The Game Master

The first chapter is all about the role of the Game Master. The book starts with a rundown of the GM’s list of tasks from learning the rules to preparing for and running a session. There are a few rules mentioned here, with an interesting section mentioning tricks like secret tests and even mention of GM fiat for circumstances where you have dumb outcomes that the GM can just overrule.

Creating adventures is also touched upon, with a few paragraphs dedicated to each step, from defining the challeng, outlining the plot, introducing subplots and encounters, and wrapping up the adventure. Running adventures is discussed next, with a few tips on information management by the use of tools like quick reference cards and initiative cards for help.

I’m particularly happy to see talk about knowing the group, and the problem player stereotypes as well as how to handle them (if possible.) Conflicting expectations in the form of “Assumpion Clashes” are also detailed, which is something that I would have killed for as starting advice when I was still a fledgling RPG hobbyist back in my first campaign.

Mastering the Rules

The next chapter talks about GM-specific rules minuitae, such as test difficulties, advanced tests, combat considerations such as morale and surprise and how to simulate various hazards and traps.

Adversaries

This chapter gives a quick selection of enemies that the party can go up against. Threat level is discussed, as well as how to beef up adversaries to stronger forms.

The list of adversaries in the book make for a decent selection of opponents, ranging from the Bandit to a Dragon. Each has access to stunts and even special qualities that give them an edge in a fight.

While there aren’t rules for Adversary creation per se, there is a handy list of special powers provided. Creative GMs can whip together a new adversary by reskinning existing ones and swapping out special abilities as necessary.

Rewards

The next chapter talks about the types of rewards that the heroes can gain from their adventures. Aside from the usual experience point rewards and treasures, it’s good to see a quick note about adding reputation rewards as well. It might not be something mechanical but it will go a long way to making the players feel like they’ve done something amazing.

Magic Items also get coverage in this chapter, with a quick talk about their rarity as well as a list of vairous enchantments that can be applied to various items, from bonuses to armor and damage, immunity to a specific hazard or effect.

Also included area small list of magic items that can be used in any campaign.

Campaign Settings

Fantasy AGE doesn’t begin with a campaign setting by default, but it does have a chapter about making your own campaign settings. They mentioned Green Ronin’s Freeport setting, with advice to check out The Pirate’s Guide to Freeport or Freeport: The City of Adventure.

The plug for Freeport aside, the rest of the chapters is a checklist of little considerations when making a setting. From adapting existing settings to making yours by yourself or with collaboration with the players, Fantasy AGE does a good job with opening the options to new GMs.

In addition, there’s a section called “Good Rules of World Building” which is full of neat common sense advice for new GMs.

Adventure in Highfalls Swale

Highfalls Swale is a mini-setting included with Fantasy AGE as a starter for new groups to get their feet wet. Starting adventures like these help a lot as it takes away a lot of the initial prepwork from a new GM and gets them going to the fun bits right away.

I remember when I was new, making stuff wasn’t high on the list of “fun” things… that comes much later on after I was already confident that I could run an adventure first.

I’d rather not go into too much detail about the adventure for risk of spoiling things, but it does offer a good starting point for Level 1 adventurers. There’s a solid mix of roleplaying, combat and non-combat encounters which makes it a great start for various groups looking to try Fantasy AGE for the first time.

Fantasy AGE provides new GMs with a solid foundation for starting a game. With so much advice and support in the second half of the book, I can say with certainty that new GMs will be in good hands. All that’s missing is the experience itself, and the adventure at the end of the book is a wonderful way to get people rolling (and talking) about new adventures to be had with Fantasy AGE.

After reviewing so many books, it’s easy to think that all GM chapters are the same, but Fantasy AGE certainly has a much more grounded tone, and the advice comes from someone who genuinely wants new GMs to give it a spin, by banishing fears and issues one at a time.

Definitely a winner as far as GM guides go, and it can certainly be worth the price of Fantasy AGE just for these chapters alone.

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The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook is available in PDF format from DriveThruRPG for only $15.99 or roughly Php 720.

This Let’s Study series made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!


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Today we’re wrapping up the chapters dedicated to the Players in Fantasy AGE with the discussion on Stunts. While we’ve already covered Stunts in Combat and Magic, there are two other categories of stunts available for players.

These stunts are Exploration and Roleplaying Stunts. Exploration stunts are stunts that kick in during adventuring rolls relating to exploring dungeons and other places. They’re most helpful in situations when your party is delving, are unlikely to come into play elsewhere. Most of the Exploration Stunts come in the form of improvements to Perception tests. Sadly these aren’t quite as interesting as the Combat and Spell Stunts.

Roleplaying Stunts on the other hand can kick in during personal interaction rolls. These might be difficult to incorporate sometimes due to the fluid nature of in-character interaction, but I can certainly see how they’ll be of use to groups who prefer to roll their character’s social interaction skills first and play out the results. The results are also pretty interesting, if from a perspective of “Social combat.”

Overall both are pretty interesting additions to the mechanics, and serve their purpose of adding an extra twist to things now and then whenever doubles are rolled.

The most interesting part of the chapter is the discussion on the proper use of Stunts and when (and how often) a GM should allow them. There is a rather frank discussion that certain players might try to game the system by trying to roll for every little thing, and that would certainly slow things down and make for some very strange effects. The GM is warned to make sure to keep an eye on such tactics to ensure that the game flows well.

This brings us to the end of the Player’s Guide of Fantasy AGE, and the rest of the chapters move on to the Game Master’s Guide.

I’ll be tackling these chapters as one large bulk, as it would be rather pointless for me to parrot every single tip given by the section. Instead I’ll touch on what stood out for me, and how this works as an introduction to GMing for people new to the hobby.

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The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook is available in PDF format from DriveThruRPG for only $15.99 or roughly Php 720.

This Let’s Study series made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!


Capture After yesterday’s foray into a detailed examination of the combat rules, we’re back to looking at one of the most important parts of the rules: Magic. ARCANA Fantasy AGE assumes 12 different Arcana for magic. These are: Air, Divination, Earth, Fate, Fire, Healing, Heroic, Lightning, Power, Shadow, Water and Wood. Each Arcana is obtained by learning a magic talent, each of which corresponds to one arcana. Each Arcana has 4 spells each, 2 at Novice and 1 for Journeyman and Master Levels. Starting Mages begin the game with the Novice degree in two magic talents. This means that they begin with 4 spells at level 1. MAGIC POINTS Magic is fuelled by Magic Points. This is a resource of magical energy inherent to the Mage. Calculating a Mage’s starting MP is done by adding 10 + Willpower +1d6. Further levels add Willpower + 1d6 MP per level. Every spell has an MP cost and this cost is paid when the Cast action is taken, regardless of whether or not the spell is successful. STRAIN Casting in armor results in encountering Strain. The heavier the armor, the higher the Strain value, which acts as a surcharge to MP costs. A suit of Light Mail for example, has a Strain value of 3, adding a 3 MP surcharge to the cost of casting any spells while wearing it. CASTING Casting spells is a special Variable Action that Mages can take. A Casting roll is made, which is an Intelligence Ability Test against the spell’s target number. SPELLPOWER Mages also have a Spellpower trait, which is a measure of how powerful spells cast by the Mage are. This is determined by the following formula: Spellpower = 10 + Willpower + Arcana Focus (If applicable) Spellpower is used as a Target Number for a spell’s target to resist against. SPELL STUNTS As mentioned before, the Spellcasting roll is able to generate Stunt Points that can be spent for Spell Stunts. These Stunts modify a spell in different ways, allowing for effects like granting a protective field around the caster that grants a +2 bonus to defense to making the spell deal more damage to its target. SPELL LISTS The rest of the chapter covers the spells inherent to the generic Fantasy AGE setting. Each Arcana writeup is accompanied with details on what a Mage gains upon getting each level of mastery in the Arcana, as well as a short listing of 4 spells per arcana. The spells are pretty interesting, and range from the useful like voices on the wind from the Air Arcana, which lets you listen in on conversations from up to 100 yards away as if you were right next to the speakers, to the more overtly blasty types like Firestorm, which does some pretty vicious damage to anything caught in it. — Surprisingly, the Arcana and Magic System of Fantasy AGE is pretty straightforward. Perhaps I had more expectations of it than I did, but it does feel just a little bit underwhelming. I’m willing to scratch that one off due to the fact that the magic isn’t grounded on anything, and that there wasn’t a setting to make the “metaphysics” make sense. Without a historical or metaphysical foundation, it feels like the usual lineup of spells. That said I imagine that adding a setting to this will improve this immensely. The mechanics are perfectly sound anyway, so I think all we needed here was just a little more flavor. Next up, we’ll be taking a quick look at the remaining section of the Player’s Guide portion of the Fantasy AGE book: Stunts. —- The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook is available in PDF format from DriveThruRPG for only $15.99 or roughly Php 720. This Let’s Study series made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!


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Hello again!

We’re taking a little break from book learning and moving on to a little bit of application with a short combat scenario. For the purpose of this article we’ll be using Roscoe from the Character Creation article. Let me go ahead and repost the final sheet below:

Roscoe Gemfinder
Level 1 Gnome Rogue
Upper Class Apprentice

Accuracy 1
Communication 0
Constitution 0
Dexterity 3 (+1 from Race)
Fighting 3
Intelligence 1
Perception 1
Strength 0
Willpower 1

Focuses:
Dexterity (Legerdemain)
Intelligence (Evaluation)
Communication (Bargaining)
Intelligence (Arcane Lore)

Weapon Groups:
Brawling, Light Blades, Staves, Black Powder

Health: 26
Defense: 13
Speed: 11
Dark Sight
Speak Gnomish and Common

Talents:
Contacts (Novice)

Class Powers:
Pinpoint Attack – Once per round, add 1d6 to the damage of a successful attack if your Dexterity is greater than your opponent’s.

Rogue’s Armor: Ignore Armor Penalty of leather armor.

Equipment:
A backpack, traveler’s garb, waterskin, light leather armor, a Short Sword and a Pistol. As a member of the Upper Class, I also start with 100 + 3d6 Silver pieces.

For his opponent, let’s grab your generic bandit. I’ll add a clip from the actual book below for reference.

bandit

Roscoe is on his way to ply his (questionably obtained) wares in the market. Unfortunately, an armed bandit decides that Roscoe would make for an easy mark and accosts him as the gnome takes a back alley shortcut to the market, longsword at the ready. Knowing that he can’t outrun his opponent (damn his short legs!) Roscoe resolves to fight.

INITIATIVE

Roscoe and the Bandit both roll for initiative by making a Dexterity (Initiative) Test.

Roscoe rolls: 1, 6, 4 for a result of 11, adding his Dexterity of 3 for a total of 14

The Bandit rolls: 1, 4, 3 for a result of 9, adding his Dexterity of 1 for a total of 10

Roscoe gets to act first!

ROUND 1

Unwilling to close the distance between them, Roscoe opts to draw his Pistol and fire at the miscreant!

Roscoe spends a Minor Action to Ready the Pistol, and uses his remaining Major action to perform a Ranged Attack. He now makes an Accuracy Test, against the Bandit’s Defense of 11.

Roscoe rolls a 6, 5, 5 +1 for a total of a 17! Since this is over the Bandit’s Defense, this means that the attack was successful! In addition, since he rolled two 5’s this attack generates Stunt Points. The Stunt Die (in green) indicates 5, so that’s how many Stunt Points Roscoe has to spend right now. This might be the shortest combat example I’ve done in a while.

Roscoe’s player decides to spend the 5 Stunt Points on the following:

  • Rapid Reload (1 SP) – Immediately reload a missile weapon
  • Mighty Blow (2 SP) – Deal an extra 1d6 damage on an attack
  • Defensive Stance (2 SP) –  Gain a +2 to Defense until the start of your next turn

A Pistol’s damage rating is 1d6+3, and adds Roscoe’s Perception score of 1 to any damage dealt. With the stunt and his Pinpoint Attack class power, we’ll be rolling 3d6+4, and deducting 3 points of damage rolled as the Bandit is wearing Light Leather Armor.

Roscoe whips out his pistol, bringing it level to his eyes and squeezes the trigger, not bothering to ask about the Bandit’s motives. The bandit’s eyes grow wide as he feels the bullet plow into his side.

Damage roll: 2, 4 and 4 for a result of 10+3, with a +1 from Perception for a total of 14.

We subtract the Armor Rating of the Bandit from that total for a final result of 11 Health worth of damage, leaving him with only 4 Health left!

The Bandit lets out a grunt of pain, and closes in on the Gnome, slashing down with his longsword!

The Bandit spends a Minor Action to Move up to his Speed in yards, closing the distance between him and Roscoe. He then spends his remaining Major action to perform an All-Out Attack to grant him a +1 to damage rolls at the cost of a -1 to Defense on the next turn.

Bandit’s Attack Roll: 6, 5 and 5 a 17, and that’s before his +4 Attack roll bonus! The Bandit easily overcomes Roscoe’s heightened Defense and scores 5 Stunt Points as well! The Bandit doesn’t bother with finesse, spending all 5 Stunt Points to perform the Lethal Blow stunt and add 2d6 to his damage roll for a staggering 4d6+2 damage roll.

Damage Roll: 5, 4, 3, 2 +2 = 16 damage, subtracting 3 from Roscoe’s own Light Leather Armor for a total of 13 damage.

The blow sends Roscoe reeling, a vicious gash running down from his shoulder to his midsection. It was far too close to try using the Pistol again, so he Readies his Short Sword and attempts to run the Bandit through!

ROUND 2

Roscoe’s attack roll is 1, 4, 4 with a +3 for his Fighting Ability for a total of 12, just enough to breach the Bandit’s lowered Defense score! He also manages to score 4 Stunt Points!

Roscoe’s Short Sword deals 1d6+2 damage with nothing from his Strength. To compensate, he relies on his Stunt Points to perform the following:

  • Mighty Blow – Deal an extra 1d6 damage on an attack
  • Pierce Armor – Halve an opponent’s armor (round down) on this attack

Roscoe’s damage roll is: 3d6+2 and the result is 6, 2 and 1 +2 for a total of 11, subtracting half of the Bandit’s Leather Armor value of 1 for a final result of 10 Health worth of damage. More than enough to fell the Bandit!

Roscoe grits his teeth through the pain, stepping into the space just under the Bandit’s swing and drawing his short sword while doing so. He brings the blade up, feeling it sink through the leather armor, straining as he forces the blade through the Bandit’s body. The man struggles for a moment, bloodied hands trying to pry the Gnome away, before his strength faded away.

Roscoe staggered back, looking at the dead Bandit, and then at his ruined shirt and the ugly wound underneath.

So much for market day.

Overall the combat system feels quick, and I have to admit that the Stunts certainly did liven things up beyond the usual “I go, you go” pattern of most games.That said, it’s absolutely terrifying what a good Stunt Die result can do for someone, especially if you’re on the receiving end.

I’ve had to keep in mind a few things for this fight, mostly the bonuses to damage from Class Powers, but most of the bonuses have been rather straightforward. I imagine that if I had filled out a proper character sheet, it would be much easier.

That said, I feel that combat in Fantasy AGE is pretty good, and holds up against the expectations set by the rules. I love that the Stunts serve as mini-rewards within the attack roll, letting players suddenly get tricky about what their attack does in addition to just simply doing damage.

The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook is available in PDF format from DriveThruRPG for only $15.99 or roughly Php 720.

This Let’s Study series made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!