I had planned on continuing posting about Fantastic Tales with a part 2 post. Since then, I had reviewed what the game had become in its theoretical stage and I was displeased.
So here I go, doing part 1 again, but this time more focused and pleased with the theoretical result.
To start with, I’ll mention again the source:
Warrior, Rogue & Mage, the rules-lite game by Michael Wolf of Stargazer Games, was a game I had grown a fondness for. Despite now having grown from it, I had wanted to hack it up into a more interesting and versatile game that fits long campaigns. At first I changed the dice mechanic, and then how skills worked and even more after that. I ended up with a nearly entirely new game, so I decided to cut the hackery and see if I can just design a game to my liking.
Now there is Fantastic Tales.
The first thing I have to say about Fantastic Tales is that it is a narrative game that draws inspiration from both retro-clones I’ve read and more modern games.
Despite combat playing a big part of the game’s concepts, it isn’t a central mechanic with a load of pages to mess with. Much of the combat is inspired by FATE and FUDGE.
A lot of what I’ve written in the previous post, here, still very much applies. Considering that, I’d like to rewrite most of it and add in things that should have been there in the first place.
Parts of a Hero (Character)
Every character in every game has mechanics that define him or her. The first defining point in Fantastic Tales is that a character is called a Hero. This is a designation, rather than a title. Other designations could be Fateborn, Chosen, Fatetouched or Paragon. I’ll refer to them as Heroes.
Every Hero has the following parts:
- 24 experience levels.
- The Three Attributes: Physique, Finesse and Intellect.
- Primary Attribute: a single Attribute, which has double the associated Points.
- Points: Hit Points (HP), Ability Points (AP), Mana Points (MP), Fate Points (FP) and Development Points (DP).
- Background Skills: Trade, Craft and Perform. A Hero starts with 1 Trade and any combination of Craft and Perform totaling 2 (2 of either, 1 of both). Some races have unique offerings for these skills that are unavailable to other races. Each skill is related to a likely attribute.
- Combat Skills:there are eight combat skills, as listed below, that relate to physical combat. All the skills are listed with their related attribute.
- Unarmed – Physique (Brawl) or Finesse (Martial Art).
- 1-Handed Weapons – Physique (or Finesse using an ability).
- 2-Handed Weapons – Physique.
- Polearms – Physique.
- Heavy Thrown Weapons – Physique.
- Light Thrown Weapons – Finesse.
- Bows – Finesse.
- Firearms – Finesse.
- Magic Skills:there are 6 magic skills, as listed below, that relate to personal spellcasting in an immediate nature. All the skills are related to Intellect.
- Social Skills: there are 4 social skills, as listed below, that relate to acting in particular social manners and ways. All the skills are related to any of the 3 attributes, to the player’s discretion when picking them.
- Everyman Skills:there are 14 skills that relate to none of the other categories and could technically belong to any person.
- Sleight of Hand
- Abilities: every hero as an assortment of abilities. These are akin to Feats in D&D or Advantages in GURPS. There are too many to list, and they currently mostly do not exist.
- Heroic Abilities: Heroic Abilities are special abilities that are awarded very rarely. These abilities are the effective super-traits of the Hero, allowing him superiority in many fields.
That summarizes the basics each Hero has and what will be on the sheet besides equipment and wealth.
The resolution mechanic relies on a dice pool. There are three steps to resolve an action in play.
- Determine skill (and attribute): determining the skills for the action automatically implies the attribute. This defines the size of the dice pool (the attribute score) and the success chance (skill rank).
- Determine Difficulty/Defense Factor: this acts as a mitigator to the dice pool by decreasing it the amount of the factor. Some DFs would be higher than the total dice pool, making some things effectively impossible.
- Roll: with the dice pool set in size, the player rolls. He aims to get a single success at least to succeed in an action. Overflow serves many purposes, but primarily combat.
Assuming a single success was rolled during resolution, the action succeeds. Most actions are active, with a few exceptions being reactive.
To delve deeper into how exactly skills work in the resolution mechanic, read below:
- Each skill has a rank. This rank determines the threshold for success on any single die.
- The ranks are 1, 2 and 3 with success being at >=4, >=3 and >=2 respectively.
- Levels 1 through 5 allow skills of only rank 1, 6 through 11 allow to get to rank 2 and 12 through 24 allow rank 3.
Additionally, Abilities and Heroic Abilities could influence dice pools and success rolls. Heroic Skill doubles the basic pool and Skill Adept allows to Auto-Ace (About Aces below) possible skills.
Aces are what can happen when you roll at least half your attribute in dice. If at least half of your attribute in dice are rolled as successes, you Ace the action. Acing has the following permanent benefit: each Ace refills either 1 or 2 points to HP, AP or MP – 1 point for non-Primary attribute and 2 for the Primary one. Lastly, if the points are at maximum, temporary points are added on top of those.
Additionally, rolling Aces sometimes gives additional bonuses – for instance, in melee combat, an Ace is what a critical would be in other games: doubles damage output.
Converse to Aces are Flops. Flops are what happens when you roll a failure, but that also at least a single die shows a one. On a flop, besides failing, you lose points from HP, AP or MP, depending on the attribute, at rates the same as Aces. Additionally, a GM may add many other effects to Flops, like fumbling weapons, breaking tools or otherwise creating inconveniences.
I think that covered everything I had wanted. I intend to cover everything I mentioned in Parts of a Hero (Character) in a linear fashion in following blog posts.
I’ll be back, I hope tomorrow, to cover what happens when a Hero levels up, how the different points work and what they do, what the attributes precisely are and how background skills work.