[Let's Read] Fantasy Craft

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
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Treasure

Money. Gold/silver. Filthy lucre (depending on how often it gets polished). Jingle-jangle. I made that last one up, but you get the idea: anything not covered by Rep.

This section is mostly 11 pages of tables to roll on, not that it's a detriment. There are 5 categories (Trophies, Gear, Coin, Loot, Magic), plus Any in case the GM wants it to be a complete surprise. Trophies are bits off your opponent, body-parts or things they were wearing. Loots are gems, art, crafting materials, and stuff to trade with. In MMO-speak: "vendor trash". Magic is mostly consumables -- elixirs and scrolls -- but at really high rolls you can get magic items. Except for Coin a 49 is always a Plot Item.

Beyond the treasure tables are two more, one for determining which Species made an item (for a pieces of upgraded Gear) or which animal a bit came from (in case you find some taxidermy), and one for determining what plot a Plot Item starts. Given the examples this doesn't necessarily have to start a new adventure or subplot: it could just be a form of reward that doesn't quite fit on any of the other tables (best example: For "The item....it's an item." it gives one where it turns out to be an injured mimic who you can do an Androcles Lion on and get a free Animal Partner).

We also get a note after the Loot table on how to determine how much crafting material we can get out of a piece. And at the end of the Treasure section there's some text and a table in case the PCs also want to steal anything that is nailed down for even more crafting stuff.


Next: A bunch of GM stuff.
 
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Silvercat Moonpaw

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Campaigns

GMing advice about turning what they just said into a campaign, including pointing out how per-adventure refreshes are going to have to be re-adjusted if you do something that's continuous (such as maybe a sandbox), such as "per-X-sessions" (they recommend 3).


Running Fantasy Craft

This is 7.5 page of GMing advice. Really good advice, but for the purposes of this Let's Read I struggle to figure out what I need to mention. The one thing I can be certain needs to be found is Improvising Damage of p. 362: it tells you approximately what dice a given improvised weapon should do (plus the usual "If they set it alight change the damage to fire").


Next: Rules on how GMs use Action Dice. And also some for players. It's more like something that would be labeled "Appendix" in other books from here on.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

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GM Action Dice

Rather than give GMs fiat blanc, FC decides they should rely on a pool the same way players do. An interesting move, though based on personal experience most GMs don't make much use of meta-currency mechanics even when they have it unlimited. And it's a reasonable pool: # of PCs + 2x Menace. You can also gain more by giving AD to players and if they accept free clues/hints/nudges. One rule I didn't notice on my initial read-through was that standards always roll a d6 while only specials have a die type based on what PCs get.

Most of the AD options listed here are the same as used for PCs. Only three are different: you can promote a standard to a special, you can upgrade the scene to Dramatic, and you can add temporary Campaign Qualities.

Narrative Control: Like most systems with meta-currency Fantasy Craft lets you spend it to do a little scene editing. Unlike a lot of other examples FC gives you actual mechanical ideas: you can spend 1-4 AD, and they give 6 examples for each with even mechanical details such as being able to give some of your allies a +1 for things like fortuitous terrain or imposing a penalty on a guard's Notice and Search. They also gives examples of what the GM can do for Narrative Control, again giving examples across 1-4 AD that do have mechanical effects.

Player Narrative Controls are called Perks and GM Controls are Complications. After the ones I mentioned above some special kinds are given that require a bit more explanation. For players they can only use each special kind 1-per-adventure, which include things like Fast-Forward (get out of a scene at the cost of 4 AD and not gaining its rewards), worsening the odds (it's a Perk because it's going to result in extra rewards), and making a standard NPC sympathetic (more like indifferent, but nothing says you can't do it in combat). Some special Complications are introduced as well -- examples include that one iconic scene in OotS and introducing some weather -- though there's no limit.


Next: The scintillating world of Managing Skill Difficulties.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
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Managing Skill Difficulties

This section mostly exists to give you the optional rule of using skill DCs that scale based on the level of the character or party using them. I know there was a thing with this when 4e did it (though I can't remember how much of a fuss it was or what the exact argument was against them), but I'm someone who likes more of a variety progression than a power one (if I want one at all), so I like that it's here.

It's also not really that long of a section: a page of it is actually a table of various "Nature's Fury" events GMs can spend AD on to invoke things like weather and earthquakes. Something I should have mentioned in the last section.


Managing Downtime

AKA "Mostly stuff about traveling and random encounters". Though the opening part discusses some basic guidelines to follow (including telling GMs it's okay to have what at first seems like a longer Downtime interrupted), this section is mostly taken up by a table of travel speed modifiers (including DCs for getting lost) and the rules on "Travel Encounters", which can be random, though more often the GM is making a deliberate choice and has to spend AD. Those who remember a specific OotS comic will probably smile at the rule that Travel Encounters are only allowed once per Travel.

There are four tables to roll on to randomly determine what the part is encountering based on terrain, plus tables to roll on for "common" encounters (stuff you find everywhere), "exotic" encounters (stuff you find everywhere, but...like...really rare), templates to modify another entry (Rogue or monster), and one to determine if the adversary has a special bonus or penalty because they're wounded or asleep or something.


Next: Disposition and Morale.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

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Disposition

Fantasy Craft has 9 bands of how much someone likes you, as opposed to something like Pathfinder's 5, giving you a fine-grained approach. Mostly you care about the modifier to most social checks, but there's also a table to that give a number for the GM to roll under to randomly determine if someone of that attitude band will offer assistance. And don't discount that guy who hates your guts, because they'll still help you on a 1!


Morale

Optional system that'll probably be familiar to those who've read older versions of D&D: when certain "triggers" happen during combat (though it's all really about how outnumbered you are or how many of your group have gone down) you roll against a DC and how much you fail by determines what you do, which is basically some version of running away. Everyone is effected equally under this system: PCs get no special dispensation.


Subplots

Making on-going side-bits into something a bit more formal. Either players or GM can nominate something to become a subplot. 13 example types are given, sometimes even with mechanical effects (such as the Haunted imposing a penalty on checks).


Cheating Death

What it sounds like: 1/adventure the player can propose a reason their character actually survived. Everyone votes 1 to 5 based on how much they like the reason. The GM rolls 1d20 to find out what kind of penalty the character will be saddled with forever for doing so, with the severity determined by the average vote number. These range from Catastrophic fates such as loosing all Renown, gear and Prizes (except Contacts), permanent conditions, being a host to something that's going to randomly kill people when the character sleeps, acquiring Scrappy-level NPCs, or just letting the GM randomly give them a new Type or NPC Quality, to Petty fates that are just extra flavor text.

GMs can also do this for NPCs by spending 4 AD, though players don't get to vote on this one (the severity is randomly determined).


Fantasy Craft also has an Index. A good one. Given many RPG books don't (sometimes for good reasons) it's worth praising.
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Final Thoughts

Would I use this system?

Probably not. Not because I hate the way it does Fantasy D20 -- if I wanted to do Fantasy d20 this is probably on top of a very short list -- but because in recent days I've decided the inherent violence of d20 is turning me off right now. I'm not even sure how much I want Spellbound any more, and I've been waiting for it for 10 years.

Though I'm hoping someone reads this thread who needs to hear about how Fantasy Craft does Fantasy d20. Because it contains ideas Fantasy d20 could really use.
 

Felix

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Cheating Death

What it sounds like: 1/adventure the player can propose a reason their character actually survived. Everyone votes 1 to 5 based on how much they like the reason. The GM rolls 1d20 to find out what kind of penalty the character will be saddled with forever for doing so, with the severity determined by the average vote number. These range from Catastrophic fates such as loosing all Renown, gear and Prizes (except Contacts), permanent conditions, being a host to something that's going to randomly kill people when the character sleeps, acquiring Scrappy-level NPCs, or just letting the GM randomly give them a new Type or NPC Quality, to Petty fates that are just extra flavor text.
I love the idea of Cheating Death, especially because you can then easily do a low/no magic setting where dying isn't the end of a character. But I always felt that the actual implementation seemed really subject to out of game social considerations. There's going to be groups of players where it's considered downright rude not to vote Bob's PC straight 5s no matter how weak his story is, because Bob is really enjoying the character.

Final Thoughts

Would I use this system?

Probably not. Not because I hate the way it does Fantasy D20 -- if I wanted to do Fantasy d20 this is probably on top of a very short list -- but because in recent days I've decided the inherent violence of d20 is turning me off right now. I'm not even sure how much I want Spellbound any more, and I've been waiting for it for 10 years.

Though I'm hoping someone reads this thread who needs to hear about how Fantasy Craft does Fantasy d20. Because it contains ideas Fantasy d20 could really use.
I love what FC did with the basic d20 rules.

Actually, I think that when WOTC announced that it was coming up with Fourth Edition, I had been anticipating something very similar to Fantasy Craft. It fixes many of the problems inherent with the basic SRD -- uneven classes and minimal support for social interactions, for example -- and turns them into something elegant. Plus it keeps the over-the-top awesome nature of characters -- yes, you can play a dragon as a starting character; yes, of course you can spin your polearms around like a shield to deflect incoming missiles. It's got roughly the same mechanical complexity of 3.x, but it's tighter and much more refined.

I don't think you can really get rid of the violence in D&D-derived games; at its heart it's really a game about killing and looting, and that's such a part of its DNA if you remove it the game's not going to feel like a Fantasy D20. But if I was looking for a 3.x variant to play, FC would top my list. (And I fully put Spellbound into the vaporware category at this point.)
 

Litpho

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One of the things I liked about Subplots is joining the Wish spell to a completed subplot.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
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I love the idea of Cheating Death, especially because you can then easily do a low/no magic setting where dying isn't the end of a character. But I always felt that the actual implementation seemed really subject to out of game social considerations. There's going to be groups of players where it's considered downright rude not to vote Bob's PC straight 5s no matter how weak his story is, because Bob is really enjoying the character.
Though I don't know if I'd want to determine the severity completely at random. And I can't think of any completely fair way to do it.
I don't think you can really get rid of the violence in D&D-derived games; at its heart it's really a game about killing and looting, and that's such a part of its DNA if you remove it the game's not going to feel like a Fantasy D20. But if I was looking for a 3.x variant to play, FC would top my list.
I do think that I'd be fine with the d20 violence if I ran something where being a "hero" meant you were trying to be nicer about how you applied violence and everyone was a shade of grey, with occasional dark opponents because why not? It's just not my usual impulse.
(And I fully put Spellbound into the vaporware category at this point.)
At this point I bet the fans could put out the whole thing themselves. It's a seriously impressive community for fan content.
One of the things I liked about Subplots is joining the Wish spell to a completed subplot.
I bet if they needed to the GM could switch around which kind of Subplot they gave for casting the spell. If every Wish gave you a Curse you might get people spamming a few, but then after realizing how many penalties they now have they'd send themselves on a Quest. :D
 
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