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[Fantasy Craft] Explain it to me.

ezekiel

Follower of the Way
Validated User
I have heard the ranting, the raving, the morbidly fascinating textual squee.

I have heard the comparisons to various and sundry forms, richly connected to a tapestry of roleplaying antecedents.

I do not know what FC is.

How does it work? Why is it squee-worthy? What does it do that is a step above the old?

This isn't really a "sell me on," in that I have no disposable income at the moment with which to buy any products. I'm just curious about why people like this particular game enough to feel so enthusiastic about it--obviously they're quite excited!

Also, as a bit of background to help the explanation for me specifically, spoilerblocked for space:
Spoiler: Show
  • "Dissociated mechanics" and "mechanics-first design" are non-problems for me. I would never even have thought they were problematic for anyone if I hadn't been a forumgoer here.
  • As may be gleaned from the previous point (and my sig), I like 4e. I don't think I'd consider myself a fanboy of the edition as a whole, but I like many of its parts.
  • I'm a largely system-agnostic *player.* I'll give anything I haven't done before a shot if someone else is willing to run it. I may pass later if I don't enjoy the system, but I won't turn up my nose to an offered game unless I KNOW there will be problems.
  • As a further note about the sig: I really do love Paladins, I love Sorcerers almost as much, and I think Dragonborn are totally awesome. Any of these things that can be done (especially if the classes exist as distinct entities and the race doesn't require squinting to see) will be marks in FC's favor.
  • I have no dog in the "comprehensive vs. concise skill list" race. I can take 'em or leave 'em.
  • I strongly oppose caster dominance.
  • I abhor the "ability roulette" minigame (that is, I'll do it if the DM decides to use it, but *massively* prefer point-buy). I also dislike arrays, though only mildly.
So...please, good people of RPG.net, bequeath to me your knowledge, your understanding. I want to know!
 

timbannock

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I too am interested. I've read a couple reviews, and for the life of me, don't have any clue what's in the game. I mean, I know the idea, but I don't know mechanically what's so amazing about it. Supposedly, weapons are really customizable, and the maths are betterer than PF/3.5e. Fantastic. I have no clue HOW weapons are customizable, nor where the maths got betterer, nor how much betterer.

In short, I'd like to know more.
 

ForceflowX

A Fool's Burden
Validated User
First and foremost, Fantasycraft is a refinement of the 3.X mechanics. There's a good number of changes, but the base system is still d20. So if you're not a fan of 3.x, FC may not be for you.

However, if you liked 3.X, FC does a lot of neat stuff with the basic framework. Races, for example. You've got all the basic fantasy races available; dwarves, elves, orcs, goblins, humans, pechs, but you can also choose to be a dragon or giant right out of the gate. Or a saurian, or ogre, or rootwalker, or golem. They're all balanced and viable 1st-level character choices. They've made humans more interesting by swapping out the generic 'extra feat and skillpoints' bonus for a series of packages called talents. You're not just a human, you're a Grizzled Human, or a Wise Human, or a Methodical Human. Furthermore, all the races can be customized to an extent through racial feats, all of which are as useful as the other feat options available. You can make your pech a gnome with the Quick-Finger Folk feat, turn an elf into a Drow with the Spider Nation feat, or make an ogre into a troll with the Stone Brave feat. A Dragonborn would be a human, or possibly a lizardman, with the Draconic Heritage feat.

While I'm talking about feats, I'll go ahead and mention the combat feats. One of the ways they've lessened caster dominance is by improving martial abilities, and the main way they did that is feats. Each type of weapon has a 3-feat chain that lets you do awesome things with those weapons. Knives, for example, get extra sneak attack damage, the ability to always be armed, bonuses to feinting, the ability to inflict damage multiple times in one hit, and the ability to automatically kill minions.

Paladins are in the game as a prestige class, but since FC is much more flexible when it comes to multiclassing, you can also play a Soldier/Priest and achieve the same effect. Sorcerers aren't really in game, but that's because magic is majorly reworked from normal 3.X. The Mage class works off a pool of spell points that refresh every scene, and have to succeed at a Spellcraft check to cast their spells, while the Priest class utilizes Paths, themed abilities you choose for your character that give you innate bonuses or spells you can cast once per scene for no cost. This removes the need for rests from spellcasters, but the spells are all rebalanced to decrease their power somewhat, so caster dominance isn't really there. The magic sourcebook should be coming out soon, and will offer more specialized caster classes, but the balance should remain the same.

Abilities are point buy by default.

Any other questions you'd like answered?
 

Femme Firebird

New member
Banned
First and foremost, Fantasycraft is a refinement of the 3.X mechanics. There's a good number of changes, but the base system is still d20. So if you're not a fan of 3.x, FC may not be for you.
I feel I should add to this that FC resembles the 3.x D20 system about as much as 4E does. You can definitely see the family resemblance, but it is far removed from its roots. It's not like Pathfinder, say, which I consider more of a refinement of the 3.5 mechanics. Fantasy Craft makes changes as many and as drastic as does 4E or even M&M, in a sense, while keeping the class and level system. With very few exceptions (if any), it's not even directly compatible with 3.5 stuff, for good or ill (it's fine, in my case). I mean, technically you could port over a feat or monster, but you'd never need to. There are systems in place that allow you to pretty quickly convert anything, though.

Let's take a look at a feat chain from Melee Combat Feats for clubs.

Club Basics said:
You definitely bring the beat down.
Prerequisites: Blunt forte
Benefit: Each of your club attacks may inflict your choice of lethal or subdual damage instead of the weapon's normal damage (no penalty or damage decrease occurs). Also, you gain a stance.
Drivine Stance (Stance): Each time you hit an adjacent opponent with a melee attack, they're pushed 5 ft. away from you (assuming there's an empty square behind them). If they're pushed, you may move into the square they previously occupied.
Club Mastery said:
One look at you and people start to recall urgent appointments elsewhere.
Prerequisites: Club Basics
Benefit: When holding a readied club you gain a +4 gear bonus with Intimidate checks. Also, you gain a trick.
Brained (Club Attack Trick): This trick may only be used when inflicting subdual damage. If the target fails his save against subdual damage, he instead fails 2 saves.
Club Supremacy said:
You're like an earthquake — a thunderous, explosive, unstoppable force of nature.
Prerequisites: Club Mastery
Benefit: When you wield a 1-handed club it gains lure and when you wield a 2-handed club its Reach increases by 1. Also, you gain a trick.
Earth Shaker (Club Trip Trick): You may Trip as a full-action, targeting all opponents within 10 ft. You roll only once while each opponent rolls to resist separately.
Also, just for the heck of it:

Axe Supremacy said:
Mortal man or mighty oak — your sweeping blade cuts them all down with ease.
Prerequisites: Axe Mastery
Benefit: Your Strength score rises by 1 and you gain a trick.
Cleave in Twain (Axe Attack Trick): If your target is a standard character with a lower Strength than yours, he immediately fails his Damage save (damage isn't rolled). You may use this trick once per round.
Standard characters are minions, basically.

Here is the thread I started, which also has some good resources. Having learned of the awesomeness that is Fantasy Craft, I went ahead and created an unusual character here, breaking down the steps as I did so. It's Hal, a Rootwalker (think "Ent") Martial Artist. It's still only a taste, mind you, of the flexibility offered by the system. In this post I summarize his combat abilities.

As Force-kun said above, magic no longer dominates. In that thread on pages 8 and 9, I believe, you get to see some examples of some level 20 martial types. There are warlords and the like, too, so all of that is still there.

FC is kind of an impossibility in that if you liked 3.X, you will probably like it. If you like 4E, you will probably like it. It's flexible, it's robust, it's very modular.

Here's one that comes up a lot: creating monsters. There is an extremely robust system for NPC/monster creation, and what you end up with is a truncated stat block which is level-neutral. You can then apply a very simple formula given in the book to modify the basic stat block by threat level and there you go. It means monster writeups are useful at many levels.

Since it's big lately, let's take a look at the basic stat block of an Owlbear

Owlbear (Large Animal Walker — 66 XP): Str 14, Dex 10,
Con 16, Int 4, Wis 10, Cha 10; SZ L (2×2, Reach 1); Spd 30 ft.; Init
III; Atk VII; Def IV; Res V; Health V; Comp —; Skills: Notice IV,
Survival IV; Qualities: Damage reduction 2, fearless I, grappler,
improved sense (sight), rend

Attacks/Weapons: Bite I (dmg 1d10+2 lethal; threat 18–20), Talon II × 2 (dmg 1d8+2 lethal; threat 19–20)
Treasure: 2T

That's the basic stat block for an owlbear. Now, by using the Threat Level formula, this is what it looks like at level 20. By the way, whole

Owlbear (Large Animal Walker — 1320 XP): Str 14, Dex 10,
Con 16, Int 4, Wis 10, Cha 10; SZ L (2×2, Reach 1); Spd 30 ft.; Init
+12; Atk +27; Def +25; Res +12; Health +12; Comp —; Skills: Notice +21,
Survival +21; Qualities: Damage reduction 2, fearless I, grappler,
improved sense (sight), rend

Attacks/Weapons: Bite I (dmg 1d10+2 lethal; threat 18–20), Talon II × 2 (dmg 1d8+2 lethal; threat 19–20)
Treasure: 2T

Now, that Health score is if the owlbear is a standard character and makes Damage saves. If you make it a special character, more of an important foe, it has Vitality and Wounds like other special characters (like PCs, important NPCs, etc.), in which case it has: Vitality 500, Wounds 24. That's a tough owlbear! One could increase its damage and stuff, too, if wanted. Like I would probably beef up a level 20 owlbear's Strength quite a bit, and the damage grades on its attacks, but it's not necessary. Though making an Owlbear Titan or something would be fun!

You can increase the thing's attributes, too, which adds to the XP value. I'm telling you, the NPC creation system is a thing of beauty. I can't even do it justice here. Just about every option you could want is in the book, and as you add features and abilities, you add to this base XP total. It's done differently than the system for PCs, but is still just as robust. Now, the book even mentions that since you're using a basic template and then modifying by threat level, sometimes you might wonder just how it will interact with the party at any given level.

The Art of (Not) Killing the PCs said:
Because Fantasy Craft monsters don’t have “levels,” it can be difficult to judge their effectiveness against the player characters. Traits, skills, attacks, and other NPC options scale to the Threat Level, but that only toggles each graded statistic in a vacuum. It doesn’t take into consideration how the sum of the NPC’s parts rates against the party, which is the most important metric when building encounters. Fortunately, there’s another number already available for this purpose — the NPC’s XP value. You can gauge the threat of a single special NPC or a mob of standard NPCs with this handy scale.

Minor Threat (Up to 40 XP): The NPC(s) are pushovers, likely possessing sub-par statistics and very few distinguishing qualities. They offer little challenge to the average adventuring party. Examples: Kobold “warriors,” small animals, and most NPCs in the Rogues Gallery
Average Threat (41–80 XP): The NPC(s) are a fair-toimiddling challenge, with a few useful statistics or abilities. Given the right circumstances, they might prove a reasonable obstacle for the party. Examples: Basilisks, minotaurs, knights, and necromancers
Significant Threat (81–120 XP): The NPC(s) have a number of powerful statistics or unusual qualities that set them apart. The party should be cautious opposing them. Examples: Doppelgangers, trolls, and dire animals
Serious Threat (121–160 XP): The NPC(s) are extremely competent, with superior stats and powerful qualities that collectively pose a grave threat to the party’s wellbeing. Examples: Brain fiends, elder elementals, and many demons
Extreme Threat (161+ XP): The NPC(s) are party killers, best employed rarely or when the heroes are spoiling for a life-or-death battle. Examples: Dragons, greater demons, and watchers in the dark

As a rule, each additional special NPC or mob of standard NPCs increases the threat by one degree (e.g. from minor to average or from significant to serious).

Insight about choosing the right adversaries (beyond the numbers) can be found on pages 328 and 337. For help balancing encounters during play, see page 363.
 
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The Scribbler

A Flash of Hope
Validated User
I feel I should add to this that FC resembles the 3.x D20 system about as much as 4E does. You can definitely see the family resemblance, but it is far removed from its roots. It's not like Pathfinder, say, which I consider more of a refinement of the 3.5 mechanics. Fantasy Craft makes changes as many and as drastic as does 4E or even M&M, in a sense, while keeping the class and level system.
I explain it like this sometimes.

D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Pathfinder
D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Star Wars D20 --> Star Wars Saga Edition
D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Mutants & Masterminds --> M&M 2e --> M&M 3e
D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Spycraft --> Spycraft 2.0 --> Fantasy Craft

There's some distance there in terms of growth and mechanical refinement, and I think coming at the whole idea of using the system for fantasy from that angle also gave them an interesting perspective.
 

ForceflowX

A Fool's Burden
Validated User
I explain it like this sometimes.

D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Pathfinder
D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Star Wars D20 --> Star Wars Saga Edition
D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Mutants & Masterminds --> M&M 2e --> M&M 3e
D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Spycraft --> Spycraft 2.0 --> Fantasy Craft

There's some distance there in terms of growth and mechanical refinement, and I think coming at the whole idea of using the system for fantasy from that angle also gave them an interesting perspective.
I, being an incredible math geek, think of it as 3.5+1i, since it goes off at right angles from the progression into Pathfinder, which is pretty much 3.75.
 

Sangrolu

Social Justice Ninja
Validated User
I explain it like this sometimes.

D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Pathfinder
D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Star Wars D20 --> Star Wars Saga Edition
D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Mutants & Masterminds --> M&M 2e --> M&M 3e
D&D 3e --> D&D 3.5 --> Spycraft --> Spycraft 2.0 --> Fantasy Craft
If we're talking pedigree, Spycraft etc. came from D&D 3e, not 3.5.
 

The Scribbler

A Flash of Hope
Validated User
If we're talking pedigree, Spycraft etc. came from D&D 3e, not 3.5.
I was actually uncertain about that as I was typing it, but now that you say that I do remember playing Spycraft for a while before 3.5 came out. Blame it on the fact that I never actually owned any D&D books until 3.5 and so that period sort of blurs together for me. My mistake.

Of course I'm sure we could crack those steps open further to include stuff like what some of those games took from eachother, the Unearthed Arcana optional rules, supplements, semi-official hacks, etc. I was just trying to simplify and apparently overdid it. :p
 
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marleycat

Might not be a
Validated User
A few things that haven't been pointed out are that arcane magic users have about the same amount of total spells as a Pathfinder Sorcerer, actually maybe 70-80 on the generous side compared to 50+, you get a number of spells equal to your wisdom score + spellcasting skill ranks, there is a feat called Spell Library which gives you spells equal to Lifestyle (max 24).

Lifestyle is a fun subsystem that handles downtime quickly. Another great subsystem is Renown which sets the max magic items, contacts, favors, and holdings you can have. It's split in 3 tracks of 10 heroic, military, and nobility. So the more victories you achieve the more you can do and that the world recognizes you for good or bad. And it confers a different title for each level in each track recognized in the appropriate segment of society each track is keyed to.
 
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Alcamtar

Grog-nerd
Validated User
Is FantasyCraft e loosely compatible with 3.X? I know the classes and feats and stuff are all different, but are the basic mechanics and balance close enough?

For example, assuming AC and hitpoints and damage and skill DCs works the same way, and is balanced in the same range, then one would think I could grab a 3.X adventure and a PF Tome of Horrors and run them straight. For a 3.X feat or spell just use the 3.X books and ad-lib over the rought spots. For a required skill, just translate it into the nearest FC equivalent.

That's what I'm wondering. Are the numbers and basic systems close enough to fake it on the fly, without having to change the numbers? It would be painful for example to adjust all DCs by +25%, and if alignments don't even exist things can get awkward.
 
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