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[Let's Read] Fantasy Craft

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
Fantasy Craft is Crafty Game's evolution of their Spycraft system, derived from D&D 3.0, for pre-industrial fantasy. They promise "Your Dungeon, Your Dragon, Your Way". That's hyperbolic ad copy so it's impossible for me to evaluate, but they do a better job of being adaptable than Pathfinder even including 3rd party supplements for the latter. It is a complete game in the core book except it has no setting.

There are two printings in existence. You want the Second Printing as it changed quite a few things with the Species (races) and probably others and is considered better.

There is one supplement out, the Adventure Companion containing three settings and a ton of extra character bits, and a few adventures. A supplement to greatly expand the magic options has been in the works for a long time. Supplemental materials are slow in coming: do not choose this game if you need a steady supply of new things.

This Let's Read will likely be a bit choppy as I am who can't always keep everything in focus. While the sections will be in book order I will frequently explain at least a little of any terms and mechanics we come across that will pop up later in the book so you don't have to wait and flip back-and-forth. This means some things will be explained twice. There will also likely be digressions aplenty as I mention anything else I consider relevant that isn't strictly in the book. If you want a Let's Read that's more linear there was an uncompleted one on this site some time back and there is a complete one on the Crafty site*.

I am a gamer who's only ever done it online: real-time chat in the beginning, play-by-post once my butt got tired of sitting all the time. I do not evaluate mechanics well. My tastes are toward something you might see on a kid's cartoon (with allowances for adults being the players).

* WARNING: At the time of this writing the Crafty site is having some problems being flagged as a malware site. They're dealing with it, but it's best to wait a while.

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
I thought there was a second supplement- Time of High Adventure, I think?
I tend to think "adventures" are their own category. But yes that does exist: it's mostly three adventures, with a mini-setting to tie them all together at the back.
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Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
I wrote some stuff on this, but deleted it in error because I thought I'd posted it. It's mostly not important: explaining roleplaying including spectrums of play style, explaining what Fantasy Craft is, and explaining briefly how to get started.

Digression: On Art
I will try to talk about the various pieces in the book. Hopefully someone else can evaluate the inclusivity rating of them: I don't really trust myself to know how to do that other than in a very imperceptive manner.

Chapter 1: Hero

Art piece featuring male with lots of hair and some (but not Franzetta amounts) muscles and a scantily-clad woman clinging to his leg as the male topples a huge idol, with multiple eyes on its fat belly and mouths for eyes, while robbed people with curved swords, one in the foreground having a 300-style Immortal mask, race up at them.

Fantasy Craft only has point-buy. Rolling is not even mentioned. In fact it's probably not even recommended. It uses the D&D six attributes and scores/modifiers. Scores start at 8 and may go up to 22 (I assume before racial modifiers) though you cannot voluntarily lower your score to gain points. Default is 36, though there are options in the last chapter to decrease or increase this amount.

The use of attributes and modifiers is the same as 3e D&D with a few exceptions: Fantasy Craft uses a version of the Vitality and Wound Points system, while Charisma adds to a new score called Lifestyle. Lifestyle can be divided up among two different scores, Panache -- gives extra money every month and boosts a score called Appearance that can add a bonus to social skills -- and Prudence -- determines how much money you don't fritter away during periods of inactivity.

All characters start with one free Origin Skill, which they may always put skill points into. Normally you may only put points into class skills for your current class, unless an option for the last chapter is used.

This is what Fantasy Craft calls "races". The actual terminology means squat: nothing in the text suggests one way or another if any of these creatures can breed and produce fertile offspring. There aren't, however, and mixed-species options, with one exception:

* Drakes
These are dragons. They just have a different name probably to keep people from confusing them with the dragons in the Bestiary. They're Large size (10 ft by 15 ft, with an extra 10 ft reach), breath fire, have bite and claw, and can fly. At 1st level. How does this work?

Those Species traits aren't necessarily as breaking as you might expect from their D&D counterparts: Large size doesn't give you quite as many bonuses, especially it gives no Str on Con boost (it does give you extra Wounds, so Large isn't as squishy as Medium); the breath weapon damage only scales with Con modifier, its DC requires you to take a certain kind of feat to boost, and fire damage is resistible by normal armor; you can't use both the bite and claw until you get a third natural attack from elsewhere; and flying makes you rather an easy target. Also dragons take extra damage and a condition from cold damage (but only have to eat 1 meal per day vs normal 3) and have an actual mechanical number penalty to social skills vs non-dragons.

Also they can't use any equipment not explicitly designed for use by non-humanoids. Did I mention they are considered to be of the Beast creature type? Fantasy Craft explicitly opens the door to having PC animals.

Still Fantasy Craft does assume a slightly more powerful start than D&D/Pathfinder.

Splinter Races: Elemental, Terrain (sort of like D&D chromatics except no Alignment, can give you a different damage type for your breath)
from supplements: wingless aquatic, wyvern (original version, not D&D's "has stinger"), wingless celestial, hydra, poisonous natural weapons

Looking Forward: Splinter Race Feats
Fantasy Craft has decided that rather than have to figure out how to mangle the base racial stats to give racial variants they instead put that those in feats that then add to the base. Ex: If you want to be a dark elf you take a feat. Some of these feats are only for certain base Species, while others, such as Elemental- or Dragon-blood, can be taken by anyone.

Digression: Species Creation
A semi-official point-based Species creation guide is available online. Plus there are several new Species over on the License to Improvise part of the Crafty Games form.
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Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
Art Piece: Line-up so you can see what some of the Species look like: drake, dwarf, elf, goblin. We have a drake who can't even fit fully into the picture and who shows just how big they are. Male dwarf in armor and gansta bandanna with a hammer -- he looks like he's ready to swing -- made from a fang. Female elf wearing some kind of bands-of-plate armor, maybe a boob plate but it's got a keel so no direction toward sternum; her expression and posture makes me think she thinks she's standing between two immature idiots. Goblin with hair like quills got his (I assume) tongue hanging out and flashing a "V" sign towards the dwarf makes me think he's flipping him off.

* Dwarf
Dwarves and dwarves as dwarves have always been. Medium Folk (FC's version of "humanoid"), hearty, slow, can see in low light (not in complete darkness) , can be better at crafting (you don't get a bonus, just a higher cap you may buy your skill up to), and stable. They do have two traits a bit different from D&D-type: thick skin that acts as armor, and any kicking attacks, jump check, and swim checks are considered "untrained".

Splinter Races: aboveground, made of lava
from supplements: seaside, casm, deep (as in drueger), desert sneaky, arctic, really-good-looking, mountain martial-artist

Looking Forward
There is only one Craft skill to put points in. What kinds of crafting you can do is based on choosing "focuses", which you gain every few ranks or by other sources.
FC armor is damage reduction. It can be considered partial or full, which determines how easy called shots are.
"Untrained" means you have a greater range in which you can be made to fumble, and you can't get higher than a 15.

* Elf
Pretty much standard elves, down to haughtiness, but no forest focus. Medium Folk, +4 Wis, fast, aloof (minor mechanical penalties to reading others), burdened by ages of living (any non-natural healing only heals 1/2 amount in Vitality), beautiful, good sight and hearing. No low-light vision.

Splinter Races: woodsy, even-more-aloof-because-they-like-the-night, underground-and-nobody-likes-them
from supplements: arctic, spiritual wild, aquatic, horse-rider, ninja, winged, martial-artist, warrior wild

* Giant
Big humans. Ties them in a bit into an idea of "descendants of ancient titans". Large Folk with extra reach, no Str bonus, fast walking speed, naturally skilled in throwing weapons, not easy to rush or knock over, have a Trample attack, and are resistant to critical injuries.

Splinter Races: elemental; from supplement: two-headed
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Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
Art Piece: Another lineup, this time of a giant, human, orc, and ogre. You kind of have to infer a bit that the one on the left is the giant and the one on the right is the ogre, as in the text ogres sound a lot like how the giant looks and giants sound......more attractive. Anyway we have a giant, scarred, hairy bald guy wielding a tree-trunk about to slap down the human next to him. The female human, meanwhile, is about to swing her flail -- the head of which looks like a spiked gauntlet -- into his face while she blocks with a shield that looks like a face. Her face is scarred and something's wrong with one of her eyes, though she's still attractive. Her breastplate has a v-neck (though it shows nothing), but otherwise her outfit is conservative. The orc has a crossbow on his back, and interestingly looks like he's trying to sell a necklace to the ogre. He looks a lot like an uglier elf. The ogre is likely some kind of spellcaster, given the robes and the staff and the wands stuck in a garter. She's horned, has clawed fingers, and swirling tatoos on her neck. Clevage and a leg are on display, but she's set up as if she's pissed off at the orc and about to curse him so no pin-up.

* Goblin
Rude, crude, exaggerated features, rough-and-tumble, scrappy, grew up in a warren and had to fight for attention. No mention of being evil or even cruel. Small Folk (so they have less Wounds), surprisingly a Str bonus but Charisma penalty, slow walk, slightly better Defense, naturally good at ambushes, low-light vision, can be temporarily blinded by bright light, extra Vitality per level.

Splinter Races: (Unfortunately goblins are tricky in that their Splinters sound like members of an extended army/horde but otherwise aren't terribly easy for me to summarize.)

* Human
When I originally read the fluff on humans they didn't seem as aggrandizing of the "human diversity" trope as other games. These days I've read it better and it's still there, but somehow it still doesn't feel quite as bad as other games. Perhaps FC actually makes it sound interesting, or maybe all the races get awesome-enough fluff that it doesn't matter. Humans are Medium Folk, average speed.......if you were reading this straight you could be forgiven for looking at the human Species stats and thinking someone forgot to give them anything. The confusion is caused by the fact that humans in FC do not have one racial stat block to represent all of them: they get what's called a "Talent" which count as their Species stats. There are 25 of them in the core: they are based on personality traits most often, with some physical ones. No ethnicities or cultures. In FC you can play a human-only game and have everyone have different starting racial stats.

Splinter Races: good outsider, evil outsider, draconic, elemental, fey-touched (Technically these are all splinter races anyone can take, but most splinter race feats have a second stage and humans are the only ones who can take all of these in second stage.)

* Ogre
Ogres are big and brutish, often ugly or odd-looking. They are basically the "ugly/scary giants" to the giant's "good-looking giant". Made out to be nomadic tribes and made out to be misunderstood rather than, again, evil. Large Folk, bonuses to Str and Con penalties to Int and Cha, can be better at Str-based skill (not a typo), may ignore some conditions first time per scene, hated, are always bad at non-violent persuasion, tactical maneuvering, and tumbling, and suffer less attribute impairment.

Splinter Races: ogre-mage/D&D oni, aquatic (entry here says "merrow", but feat calls them "formorian"), troll
from supplements: yeti/wendigo, cyclops, two-headed

Digression: Ability Timing
Likely to be the most controversial part of Fantasy Craft, all "per X" abilities are not based on real world time but are given narrative lengths: per "scene", per game session, and per adventure (I think there are also some "per combat"). Durations and natural healing still use round/real world measurements.

Some people won't like these because they won't know when a "scene" ends. Others will not like them because they take the choice to replenish abilities out of the hands of players (other than ending a "game session" early). I can sort of relate to both, and this would be my advice: remember that because these lengths are arbitrary you can give them real-world measurements and player-controlled triggers and the game will still work the same. "Per scene" could be "replenishes after 5 minutes uninterrupted rest" (as could "per combat"), "per game session" could by "after 8 hours rest", and "per adventure" could be "after 1 week of downtime". Modify to taste. The game actually acknowledges this at least obtusely by providing a variant rule in the last chapter that changes durations in real world measurement to work on per-scene basis.

Or just not like them, though be warned that if you can't deal with those Fantasy Craft has many nasty surprises for you: its intend is "action movie" rather than realism.
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Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
* Orc
Gives the "corrupted elf" angle from Tolkien (or Tolkien-speculators). They're "all savage", and are generally like Warcraft orcs with being warlike but not necessarily evil. Medium Folk, higher Str bonus than ogres, almost as-high Con bonus, big Int penalty, average speed, may always act when surprised , can be better at Intimidate, knock around opponents who miss for non-lethal damage, get temp blinded by bright light, not good at being calming, solving puzzles, or non-violent persuasion.

Splinter Races: (Orcs use the exact same race feats as goblins. Or the other way around.)

* Pech
Hobbits. Small Folk, +3 Dex, average speed, can be better at the skill for keeping your cool, can benefit from 2 food and 2 drink buffs per day (rather than standard 1 of each), and have natural thrown weapon proficiency.

Splinter Races: fearless adventurers, fey-blooded, gnomes
from supplements: river, deep underground, far wanderers, fey

* Rootwalker
Ents. With four arms. Large plant (which gives them a few immunities), average speed, take extra damage from fire, immune to bleeding, only require, penalties to Reflex and more-easily flanked, camouflage in choice of tree-containing terrain, and armor-like hide.

Splinter Races: six-armed, four-legged, evergreen, hardwood, forest protector, healing sap, inspiring, desert, viney, good-looking
from supplement: natural weapons

Art Piece: It's funny: these line-up have a sort of "escalating tension" theme going through the whole set. First picture they're just starting to get on each others' nerves. Second they're about to start fighting. In the third we've abandoned all pretense of standing around looking pretty. The saurian (with a feather mane) is loading his crossbow with a flaming arrow. The pech is running up the arm of the rootwalker -- who probably tried to smash her into the ground -- with two long daggers. The rootwalker is simultaneously roaring with his gaping-hole-for-a-mouth and trying to crush the unborn (rootwalker's a terror: he's got skeletons and armor impailed on the pointy branches that are his "hair") while he's got an axe in the neck and a flaming arrow in the elbow. The unborn is slicing into the rootwalker with a buzz-saw hand, is keep the rootwalker off with a shield in another, has a sword and a wand in the other two, and has extended a grappling tentacle. And we're not talking a humanoid golem here but some kind of technological floating sphere.

* Saurian
Reptilians (and, possibly, amphibians). Medium Folk, +2 Dex and surprisingly +2 any -2 any, +1 Defense, same "only 1 meal need per day but take extra cold dmg and condition" as Drakes, low-light vision, a bite attack and a tail-slap attack

Splinter Races: dragonborn (via a feat anyone can take, but only humans and saurians can take the second stage), chameleon, frog/salamander
from supplement: cobra, snake tail instead of legs, croc-men, basilisks, pterasaurs, poisonous natural weapons

* Unborn
Constructs. Their type gives the a ton of immunities, but can't heal Wounds naturally (Vitality works as normal, and no "healing magic only does half"). Medium size, +2 Any, -4 Cha, slow speed, take extra electricity damage, choose one skill to raise cap on, have 2 fewer Proficiencies, and penalties to Reflex and more-easily flanked.

Splinter Races: hovering/floating, six-armed, four-legged, brass (magic resistant), wet clay, speedy clockwork, Frankenstein, razor-sharp gems, stone, T-2000
from supplement: extra body designs like storage, built-in weapons, two-headed, wheeled

Looking Forward: Proficiencies: These are not just weapon proficiencies (of which there are only 7): these are combat maneuvers you can use as part of an attack. Gives martial combat more variety.

That's it for the Species section, apart from the human Talents: they come after everything else rather than create a big, bloated insertion in the middle of all the other Species.


Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Gives the "corrupted elf" angle from Tolkien (or Tolkien-speculators).
It's pretty explicit, it's just in The Silmarillion and his letters, not The Hobbit or LotR. How do they handle the elvish ancestry? Is there any backstory hinting at setting specifics, or is it very general?

The unborn sound... like a lot of attempts to make golems playable. Problem generally being that "only healed by magic" is rarely a limitation of any kind ever, because nobody ever uses the natural healing rule. And half effect just means they use up more of the cleric's (or FantasyCraft's equivalent) resources, which is a party/cleric limitation not one that specifically impacts the unborn character.

And I have to: "I am Root!"
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Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
How do they handle the elvish ancestry? Is there any backstory hinting at setting specifics, or is it very general?
"You’re an orc, a creature bred in a failed attempt by dark forces to forge elves for war and conquest."

That's it. That's all they say on the subject: FC wants to be a toolkit, but the designers recognized they were going to have to help out GMs and players with getting a feel for the species. So they gave them descriptions that are flavorful but generally generic. There is atomically-little to no implied setting.
The unborn sound... like a lot of attempts to make golems playable.
How so?

Though I'm not sure I disagree with you: there's only so much you can do while still keeping them generic. The beauty is usually in the Splinter Race feats.
Problem generally being that "only healed by magic" is rarely a limitation of any kind ever, because nobody ever uses the natural healing rule.
I'm not sure it's counted as much of a limitation: in terms of "race creation points" Construct costs 9 out of 7 allowed. They had to put in some pretty steep penalties to balance that out and still have any other features left.
And half effect just means they use up more of the cleric's (or FantasyCraft's equivalent) resources, which is a party/cleric limitation not one that specifically impacts the unborn character.
I said they don't have "magic heals only half".

Elves, on the other hand, do actually have a limitation on being healed which counts every effect that heals Vitality (not Wounds or anything else) except maybe natural healing.

It should be noted that magic recharges at the beginning of every "scene" and scenes are somewhat assumed to change faster, perhaps much faster, than D&D's "per day". Therefore FC assumes resource expenditure is less of an issue.

Though I have to agree in a way I'm not sold on having the elven healing penalty around.
And I have to: "I am Root!"
I bet you that's what it started as, and they just added a "g" to make it sound exotic/alien.


Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
"You’re an orc, a creature bred in a failed attempt by dark forces to forge elves for war and conquest."

That's it. That's all they say on the subject: FC wants to be a toolkit, but the designers recognized they were going to have to help out GMs and players with getting a feel for the species. So they gave them descriptions that are flavorful but generally generic. There is atomically-little to no implied setting.
I like that approach. It harks back to tradition, but it suggests rather than tells. The GM is free to wing it, without having to worry about getting all the canonical details right.

I said they don't have "magic heals only half".
Ah, missed that "no". So magical healing works just fine for the unborn?

(And it's interesting that they reversed the trend, and have them take damage from electricity.)

I bet you that's what it started as, and they just added a "g" to make it sound exotic/alien.
There are far too many monsters with suggestive names* in Tales to Astonish (where Groot first appeared) to think anything else. They also loved "g"s and the "ooo" sound**.

* Gargantus! Bruto! Mummex! Titano! More!
** Moomba! Grogg! Gruto! Rombu! Goom! Stay tuned next issue!
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