Fantasy Craft

Games to run for 2015

Given the changes in my life with the upcoming kid (very soon now!) I’m looking at how I’ll be working some gaming into my schedule. At the moment I don’t really see myself running long campaigns just yet, which makes me more than a little sad. However, it does open up the possibility of running all sorts of one-shot using game systems that I’ve not really had the opportunity to try.

Foremost among these would be Kuro and Numenera, two games that I’ve been very impressed with but have not had time to run. Also on this list is Fantasy Craft, and once I’ve read up on the novels again, the Mistborn Adventure Game. I’ve a few other games in mind as well, with an eye towards supers gaming (so AMP: Year One might see some time in my gaming table as well!)

That’s it for now, I can’t pin things down with specifics just yet, but I’m honestly a little glad to have been given a bit of a break from running games every weekend. I can almost feel my brain decompressing and soaking up new stuff to inspire games in the future. I really ought to take longer breaks more often.

12 Campaigns of Christmas #5 Dragon Chasers

Partially inspired by Monster Hunter and Shadow of the Colossus, The Hunters will be a traditional fantasy RPG with the players assuming the role of Dragon Chasers, courageous adventurers who travel the land to observe, study and stop / kill dragons and other titanic monsters who stray too close to human civilizations.

Dragons and other creatures are treated as natural disasters, and it’s up to the player characters and their know-how and courage to find ways to stop them from causing massive damage to the human population. One part storm-chasing and national geographic to one part monster hunter, the game will revolve around phases centered on study and observation (and survival) and coming up with a plan of action to stop or kill the offending monster.

Add rival guilds, opposing kingdoms, and the rediscovery of Beast Magic that can control such things and you get the opportunity to spin the game off into a more political campaign while still keeping the monster hunting core of the campaign.

I can see this campaign working very well with Fantasy Craft, but HERO can certainly pull this off as well.

[Fantasy Craft] Sample Combat: Impetuous Blade vs Bloody Rose

Hey everyone, today we’re taking a refresher course on Fantasy Craft combat with a sample battle between our hot-blooded swordsman, Impetuous Blade and his opponent, Bloody Rose, a female assassin from the Crimson Banner Sect.

Before we proceed, let’s have a look at Bloody Rose’s stats as a Threat Level 1 NPC:

Bloody Rose (Medium Folk Walker — 69 XP): TL: 1
Str: 12/+1; Dex: 16/+3; Con: 10/+0; Int: 16/+3; Wis: 12/+1; Cha: 14/+2;
Init: +5 Def: 14
Melee: +2 Ranged: +4
Fort: +0 Ref: +3 Will: +1
Health: +1 ~ 15/10
Comp: +1
Size: Medium (1×1); Reach: 1; Speed: 30 ft. ground;
Skills: Acrobatics V (Dex) +9; Bluff IV (Cha) +7; Prestidigitation IV (Dex) +8 ; Sense Motive VI (Wis) +8
Qualities: grueling combatant, rend.
Gear: Long Knife 1d6 Lethal, Threat 19-20, Finesse, Keen 4

Grueling Combatant punishes attacks that miss Bloody Rose by dealing 2 subdual damage each time, while Rend allows Bloody Rose to make a free attack on the same target after a successful hit.

Needless to say she’s probably very bad news for our hero.

The battle takes place as Impetuous Blade arrives at the Stone Gateway Temple to recover the Manual of Flowing Steel for his Sifu, only to find that the monks of the Temple have been slaughtered. He hurries inside the dimly lit main hall to find that Bloody Rose is there waiting for him and holding the Manual!


At this point, both parties roll for initiative. If this was an ambush, then the party being attacked would count as being flat-footed.

Impetuous Blade rolls a 3 for his Initiative, but adds his considerable +10 bonus for total of 13.

Bloody Rose on the other hand, rolls a6, adding her initiative bonus of +5 for a total of 11.

Impetuous Blade wins initiative and gets to act first.

Round 1:

Blade immediately closes in on Bloody Rose, not bothering to ask who she was or who she was working for.

He spends a Half Action to close into melee range, his Scholar’s Sword drawn. For his remaining Half Action, he goes for a Feint. This calls for a contested roll of his Prestidigitation against Bloody Rose’s Notice.

Blade’s roll of 9 is added to his Prestidigitation skill of 2 ranks, his Dex modifier of 4 and the bonus of +2 to Feint actions from his Scholar’s Sword’s Lure quality for a total of 17.

Rose’s Notice roll is a 12 modified only by her Competence modifier of +1 for a total of 13.

Blade’s opening Feint is successful, and the knife-wielding assasin shifts her defenses to her left, only to realize too late that Blade’s attack shifted its direction to her exposed side!

Since this maneuver renders Bloody Rose flat-footed, this triggers Impetuous Blade’s Fencing Basics Feat, giving him a free attack on her. Given that Rose is flat-footed, her Defense drops from 14 to 11, as her Reflex Mod no longer applies.

Blade rolls a 14 on his free attack, rolling easily over her reduced defenses. His damage roll is 1d8 for his weapon, plus 3 from his Dex Mod. He rolls a 4+3, for 7 points of damage. Unfortunately the damage from the free attack of Fencing Basics is halved. Blade deals 4 Vitality damage to Bloody Rose, leaving her with only 11 remaining.

Now it’s Bloody Rose’s turn. She hisses between clenched teeth as Blade’s sword grazes her side. She whirls around, swinging her knife towards Impetuous Blade’s exposed throat!

Bloody Rose rolls a 16 plus her combat bonus of +2 for a total of 18 way over Impetuous Blade’s defense of 15!

However, Impetuous Blade’s training kicks in as he parries the knife with the pommel of his scholar’s sword!  

Impetuous Blade’s player declares that he is taking this chance to perform the Parry maneuver and rolls an 18! Adding his +1 bonus for combat gives him a total of 19, successfully negating the damage from Bloody Rose’s slash to his throat.

Undeterred, Rose shifts from slash to thrust, angling her deflected weapon to a solid thrust towards Impetuous Blade’s solar plexus!

This is due to her Rend quality, that grants her a free attack in reaction to a successful attack to a target. Since the “hit” took place, and only the damage was negated by Blade’s Parry Manuever, Rose’s free attack still takes place.

Her second attack roll is a 7, and even with her combat bonus of +2, is insufficient to meet Blade’s defense of 15.

Blade jumps back just slightly out of her weapon’s reach thanking the Gods that he’d been paying attention during his Sifu’s lessons on fighting knife-wielding opponents.

Round 2

Impetuous Blade realizes just how dangerous an opponent Rose is, and decides to forego his usual flair and press his advantage. She’s already been hurt, and he’s eager to put her down before she has a chance to cause him any harm.

He decides to spend his two half-actions to attack twice in the turn.

Rather than let this fight go on any longer, Impetuous Blade goes on the offensive, his Scholar’s Sword a blur of deadly steel as he assaulted the knife-wielding assassin!

He rolls a 17 on his first attack punching straight through Bloody Rose’s Defenses!

Since this is a normal attack, Impetuous Blade deals full damage with his Scholar’s Sword, dealing 8+3 or 12 vitality damage on his first attack, more than enough to drop Bloody Rose’s vitality to 0 and deals 1 Wound of damage. Bloody Rose isn’t unconscious at this point, but is considered Fatigued, reducing her Strength and Dexterity scores by 2 points, and losing 5 ft from her total movement speed.

Impetuous Blade rolls for his second attack and rolls a 20! At this point Impetuous Blade’s player can choose to spend an action point to activate a Critical hit, but decides against it as all damage to be done on Bloody Rose will already go to wounds at this point.

Impetuous Blade rolls a 7 for his damage, reducing Bloody Rose’s Wounds to -1, knocking her unconscious and dying unless she manages to stabilize naturally, or someone stabilizes her condition.

Blade’s attacks pierce through her attempts to defend, his scholar’s sword finding its mark twice. The assassin fell backwards, bleeding from her wounds, the Manual falling from her grasp.

That fight was actually faster than I expected, honestly. But then again I think it was a decent match up. Some exceptional rolling on Impetuous Blade’s behalf, and the fact that he had access to the Parry Advanced Action was crucial for his avoiding danger. The rend quality for NPCs is scary, and if he had not parried the first strike, I’m pretty sure that Blade would not be walking out of this engagement unscathed like he did.

That said, I did find the combat maneuvers and how the Fencing feat tree  and the Rend NPC Quality gave the combat a dynamic feel, rather than just being a straight up “I go, you go” that I’ve come to expect from most systems. Of course this is still pretty basic, and didn’t take into account movement just yet, but perhaps I might be able to come up with a more complicated example with multiple combatants and some sort of map?

I’ll give it some thought.

[Fantasy Craft] Wuxia Sample Character: Impetuous Blade (long)

Now that I’m looking at a Wuxia Campaign for Fantasy Craft, I figure that it will be best if I go back to the basics and try my hand at character creation again, going over it in a step-by-step format.

I still remember some of the stuff from my earlier articles on Fantasy Craft, but I’m considering this as a refresher course.

So today we’re putting together a 1st level character, a wandering knight-errant (or Xia) by the name of Impetuous Blade. A young, talented and overconfident swordsman. This is a little longer than my usual articles so check the rest out after the break:

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[Fantasy Craft] Jianghu: A Wuxia Campaign, Subplots

I’ve been checking out the Subplots available in the Fantasy Craft core rules for the Wuxia campaign I’m planning so far, and I’m pretty happy to see that most of them work for any genre.

With regards to my campaign, I’d probably allow the following as they all suit the Wuxia Genre very well.

Cursed – This is a fun one, this can be a springboard for many interesting Xia which are working to rid themselves of a curse, or just lead to all sorts of happy complications of being plagued with misfortune.

Dependents – This is a tough one, but still fits Wuxia. From parents to siblings to loved ones, many Xia worry about those who might be targeted by their enemies. Perfect for games with characters sporting a vigilante angle like Iron Monkey.

Hunted/Wanted – Being the roving do-gooders that they are, the Xia can have this one as they gain greater infamy for fighting against the corrupt government. Likewise, bounty hunters and mercenaries might want them for the price on their heads.

Mentor/Patron – Sifu! Some Xia are lucky enough to have good teachers… others might find that the price of learning their martial arts is much more costly than they thought.

Military/Political Entanglement – An excellent Subplot for Xia courtiers and spies, as well as those who serve as Generals or Magistrates.

Mistaken Identity – This is as surprisingly common plot device in Wuxia novels. Many a Xia has cursed being born with a face remarkably like a famous (or infamous) person.

Nemesis/Rival – Ah, the eternal Rival. Nowhere is it more appropriate than in a Wuxia campaign that often culminates in the final showdown between bitter rivals.

Search – The search for the Azure Dragon Halberd or some other item of great significance is a central plot in many Wuxia fiction.

Secret Identity – Much like in Hunted/Wanted some Xia hide their identities when they spring into action to better operate in dangerous areas where the Empire’s forces are in full strength. Who would ever think that Li Ping the Physician was actually the notorious vigilante that calls himself The Silver Fox?

Troubled Romance – Romance has a strong place in Wuxia fiction, often with interesting twists such as mixing it up with the heros nemesis, who will only marry a man who can defeat her in single combat.

As you can see, all of these have a place in the campaign, and I might provide this shortlist to my players to work with when they put their characters together. I’ll see if I can also ask for them to pick Subplot elements that affect them as a group as opposed to just the character as well.

[Fantasy Craft] Jianghu: A Wuxia Campaign, Setting Elements and Parameters


Now that I’m going through the planning phase of the Wuxia campaign, I find myself considering the possible parameters of the game. It’s important to remember that when someone says “Wuxia” they’re talking about a genre that is as broad as the “Western” or “Sci-Fi.”

While certain elements, such as daring heroes, corrupt governments and martial arts are a staple of the Wuxia Genre, the scale and nature of these can run the gamut from low-powered Noir-with-Kung-Fu to Exalted-style Shenanigans. As such I’m trying to find a good “happy medium” as it were. Fantasy Craft lends itself quite well to scaling things up and down according to the kind of game that a GM might want to run, and the campaign.

I’ve gone over the exercise of setting the mechanical parameters of the game in Fantasy Craft terms before. But to recap:

Genre: Gonzo Fantasy (Wuxia)
Age: Reason
Alignments: Chaos, Order (Law), Good, Evil
Miracles: Yes (Restricted to 1 per Party)
Sorcery: Yes
Heroic Species: Human Only

Permanent Campaign Qualities:

  • Bold Heroes – Action Dice explode on a 1 or the highest value of a die. Also, Heroes begin with 2 more Action Dice.
  • Code of Honor (Xia) – Honor, Righteousness, Grace, Indebtedness to Others, Justice, Forgiveness and Compassion. Each time a hero goes against any of these virtues, he loses 2 Reputation.
  • Complex Heroes – XP rewards of subplots are doubled.
  • Wire Fu – Special characters may move in any direction and on any safe surface – even up walls, over water and through the air. If at the end of his movement he isn’t on a solid surface, he falls (or submerges.) Also all falling damage is halved.

I’m considering making a list of possible Subplots for people to choose from when they make their characters. This will be composed of various story hooks common to Wuxia. This takes the onus of having to build one from scratch away from the Players, and results in them only having to think of how to tailor their chosen subplots for their characters.

[Fantasy Craft] Jianghu: A Wuxia Campaign, Planning Mode On

At this point I can imagine several people I know quoting Tychus Findlay from StarCraft 2 “Hell… it’s about DAMN time.”

So I’ve decided to hit two birds with one stone sometime this year and run a Wuxia game with Fantasy Craft. I’ve been a long time fan of the Fantasy Craft system (and supplements) and being able to finally get a campaign off the ground is going to be a major achievement for me.

Because of that, I’m starting early with regards to the planning of the game. For one thing I’ll have to re-acquaint myself with the nuances of the Fantasy Craft’s Second Printing rules. Along the way I’ll be picking out the pieces that fit the setting I have in mind.

With regards to world building, I’ve actually had something of a small head start. I’ve been putting togther a Wuxia setting called Jianghu and I figure that this campaign will be a good way to see how my world building holds up in actual play.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Wuxia genre, and I’ve always found that the setting allows for a lot of Player freedom to go around and do some major league hero-ing. Wuxia heroes come in all stripes, from Assassins to Wandering Knight Errants, Mendicant Monks and Cunning Courtiers, there’s a place for nearly any kind of hero in it.

With regards to tone, I’m looking at trying to avoid tragedy and high-level politics. Travel might be a good thing, as Wuxia heroes very rarely decide to settle down, but there’s merit in “adopting” a location as a base of operations as well.

It’s still a long way before I run this, but at least I’m laying the foundation for it. With any luck this might be my next big campaign for the year, and I’ll be able to put up actual play reports and some additional insights on running and designing a Fantasy Craft Campaign.

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