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Author Topic: Fantasy Craft: Crafty Games Steal My Heart Again  (Read 5032 times)

Masked Brute

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Fantasy Craft: Crafty Games Steal My Heart Again
« on: August 24, 2009, 03:57:12 PM »
FOR THOSE NOT INTERESTED IN READING IT ALL: I'm a fan of what this group's done with D20 in the past, and feel they've really done well this time. It's got a nice spread of possible character types/supported concepts right off the bat, flavorful powers, a middle-ground between 3.X and 4e magic, and a slick villain/monster building system. Worth it if you are looking for an adaptable fantasy system and don't mind/actually like something on the crunchy side (and I usually lean away from crunch if I'm going to run something, but still like it).

Everyone Else...

When I was in college the D20 explosion happened, and among the vast amount of awkward adaptations or slapped-together new games a few gems arose; for me these would eventually be Mutants & Masterminds and Spycraft, but as big fans of Aberrant (White Wolf's flawed but flavorful people-with-super-powers game) we were unfairly biased against M&M.

We played the hell out Spycraft, though. It took a system that was still new to most of us, having only gotten into D&D with the 3rd Edition, and made it into an action-packed spy story. We escaped the inescapable, charmed the pants off of villains, used or destroyed bizarre super-tech, and generally had a blast. It took the D20 rules and did something new in a way that didn't come off as a cheap cash-in.

A few years later Spycraft 2.0 came out, falling from the sky and knocking me silly. It was a huge book, full-color in the original printing, and filled with not just rules for everything but options for almost every rule. There was an entire chapter devoted not just to "Campaign Qualities" (pre-tested houserules, basically) but sample campaign types that would use combination of those qualities (listing inspirational media for each type of campaign). They took the rules for high-speed chases from the first edition and turned them into an awesome abstracted Dramatic Conflict system. A rules-lite games guy on RPG.net expressed his astonishment at "a high-crunch narrativist game."

It was glorious for a fan like myself, but it was, frankly, too much game. I never have, and perhaps never will, get to play or run that game (though I did recently discover the SpyLite version of the super-simplified MicroLite20). I later discovered that they'd gone so far with it in large part because their bread and butter at the time was "Living Spycraft" and the ability of a GM to point at a page and say "Here's the rule for that" was a big priority.

Now it's three years later and Crafty Games, split off from AEG, has come out with Fantasy Craft and I think they're definitely showing off what they've learned. I got the book last Sunday and with casual reading (I've been doing lots of other stuff) I am three pages away from having read it cover-to-cover without ever feeling like I was going to doze off (though I did skim the actual spells and bestiary entries). Aside from the sorely missed, but understandably cut for space and simplicity, Dramatic Conflict rules they seem to have cut all that wasn't absolutely necessary and clarified the language on most of what's been left in.

The book weighs in at 395 pages, including a rather full index, and makes great use of that space.

There are 12 different playable Species (with a number of them having a default "type" that's customizable through first level Species Feats):
Drakes (basically dragons, who can go elemental or metallic if they'd like)
Dwarves (default or Hill/Lava)
Elves (of the three classic D&D types)
Giants (Elemental or default)
Goblins (default or one of 5 "horde" types)
Humans (see below)
Ogres (default or Earth/Fire/Water)
Orcs (default or one of the 5 "hordes" goblins are also part of)
Pechs (default is halflings, with Hobbits and Gnomes as options)
Rootwalkers (aka Ents, with a Species Feat that allows different specialties based on types of trees)
Saurians (default as lizard-people with dragon-people/frog-people/chameleon-people as options)
Unborn (metallic constructs, though you can take a Species Feat to be a Frankenstein-style creature, or a golem, or clockwork, etc.).

Then you add the Species to one of about 35 "Origin" professions called Specialties that give them other bonuses you might expect someone with that sort of experience to have. Humans get a Specialty and one of about 35 Talents (which are basically one-word descriptions and grant a Species-type attribute adjustment and some special ability).

Then you look at the Classes, of which there are 12:
Assassin (urban predator and master of misdirection, mostly)
Burglar (thief with a bit of D&D rogue)
Captain (military leader and strategist)
Courtier (the talker who can pull favors and other helpful bonuses out of thin air)
Explorer (basically the Spycraft class, Indiana Jones as a lifestyle choice, with luck and random knowledge and old buddies everywhere)
Keeper (healer, crafter, and skill-monkey)
Lancer (mounted fighter)
Mage (traditional caster)
Priest (divine magic user, not caster really, whose exact powers are determined by the Path they choose)
Sage (the jack-of-all-trades and support character)
Scout (master survivalist and ranger-type)
Soldier (the master of wading in and tearing people apart without peer)

I listed all of that in large part so that I could show you a few example mechanically supported character concepts:
Human Vigilant Corsair Captain
Dwarven Fencer Soldier
Elf Aristocrat Sage
Human Ruthless Ranger Explorer
Drake Lord Courtier

etc. with the Species Feats adding an extra wrinkle if you'd like.

Suffice to say that, for me anyway, having a character that feels (even before the usually flavorful first-level abilities from a given class) somewhat customized right from the start is great and just skimming the various combinations gives me a few ideas for characters.

Ack, I'm actually running low on time so let me touch on four quick things that grabbed me:
1) The Feats aren't as "holy crap" overwhelming in number as they were with Spycraft but still provide alot of options, and I really enjoyed how they and the Class features went out of their way to put interesting spins on what might otherwise have been a wall of rules variations in many other similar books.

2) The monster/NPC builder is very cool. You build the character by rating certain categories from I (1) to X (10) in terms of power... so if you wanted a Kobold you might put their Attack at III but their Initiative/Defense at VI. Then you either lock them in at a certain Threat Level (which runs from 1 to 20, is based on the level of the party and difficulty of this particular adventure) or scale them to the Threat Level of the adventure they appear in (Kobolds always being Threat Level 4 no matter what, or Kobolds being TL 3 in an early adventure but 12 in a later one). That Attack III means  a +3 bonus at TL 4 but a +9 bonus at TL 12.

It's simple enough for me, they provide plenty of examples, and they even spend some space giving concrete advice for those edge situations where the system might not work as expected.

3) Mages use spell points that refresh once every scene, having "spells known" that they are able to cast when they spend the Spell Points and meet the level requirement. Priests choose an alignment, which gives them access to Paths; Paths are alot like Domains, and as a Priest levels up they can take Steps down the available Paths. Path abilities are generally very useful, and those that give spells don't require rolls by the Priest, and the balance is that no Priest is going to get very many of them.

I like what they did with the Priests quite a bit, and Mages are easier for me to handle than the default 3.X system.

4) I just have to give a shout-out to class abilities like Only the Finest (you, and your compatriots just by being with you, get bonuses on social rolls), Subtle and Quick to Anger (a basic Mage class ability), Number One (your follower becomes a badass), Never Outdone (in an opposed check you can just set your result as opponent's +1), I'll Cut You! (a Burglar knife-related ability), and Letter of Marque (from the Swashbuckler advanced class, this allows you to get away with murder, or some other major crime, once an adventure).

I give it a huge thumbs up, and mark it as my new go-to book for fantasy adventure.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2009, 10:07:59 PM by Masked Brute »
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Masked Brute

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Re: Fantasy Craft: Crafty Games Steal My Heart Again
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2009, 10:06:56 PM »
Crickets. :)
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Luke

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Re: Fantasy Craft: Crafty Games Steal My Heart Again
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2009, 12:41:29 PM »
I looked over the preview.  Looks like they really put in a lot of work.  Sadly, it doesn't pass my "Can I do this with a system I already own?" test.

"Everything I do is the attitude of an award winner because I've won an award.." - Ron Swanson

Masked Brute

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Re: Fantasy Craft: Crafty Games Steal My Heart Again
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2009, 02:12:38 PM »
Fair enough.

I've got 3.5, True20, REIGN, Burning Wheel, and 4E but still feel that this game's got quite a bit to offer me that, depending on the type of game, those don't (though, really, it effectively replaces the first two of those almost completely). Perhaps we grade our tests differently.  ;D
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Luke

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Re: Fantasy Craft: Crafty Games Steal My Heart Again
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2009, 10:20:14 PM »
I see it as a toolbox for building a fantasy game, though one with some strong preset notions (classes).

I see nothing here that I wouldn't just use Savage Worlds for.  It's my go-to toolbox.

To each their own.
"Everything I do is the attitude of an award winner because I've won an award.." - Ron Swanson

Masked Brute

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Re: Fantasy Craft: Crafty Games Steal My Heart Again
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2009, 09:21:36 AM »
I see it as a toolbox for building a fantasy game, though one with some strong preset notions (classes).

I see nothing here that I wouldn't just use Savage Worlds for.  It's my go-to toolbox.

That makes sense, and I'd forgotten about Savage Worlds as an option (from what I've heard it fits the general "slightly crunchy fantasy adventure tool box" group) because I've never used it. It would appear to cover pretty much the same area depending on your preferences.
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alicia45

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Re: Fantasy Craft: Crafty Games Steal My Heart Again
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 11:20:36 PM »
I like this theme story, Read it completely... But couldn't find the logic to write...?  :-X